Basic Reason Why True Happiness is Evasive!

GoodpalStarred Page By Goodpal, 31st Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Mental Health

Happiness is the driving force of every human action – whether right or wrong. People work hard, pile up tons of stress, accumulate wealth and technological gadgets, abuse drugs, become suicide bombers, invade other countries, starve to get skinny, turn recluse to meditate, eat loads of junk food – what for? Just to be happy! Yet real happiness remains miles away. Why? This is the basic quest of this article.

The Elusive Happiness

What everyone wants from life is continuous and genuine happiness. – Baruch Spinoza

Why is it that happiness always eludes us? Why we never experience inner peace and if we do why it is always short lived? We apparently have everything – money and comforts – yet we hardly ever feel satisfied with life. The so-called normal living is unsatisfactory; it only offers momentary pleasures and never any meaningful lasting sense of satisfaction and joy within. Why? We all run around and work hard, but somehow never seem to get any long lasting happiness and sense of satisfaction. Therefore, what is it that we are missing or confused about?

This is the basic quest of this page.

Do You Really Know “Who You Are?”

This fundamental question has occupied inquisitive human minds for ages. Great minds have given various understandings of how a person should take him or her self. Leaving aside the differences we easily come to the conclusion that a person is made up of two entities:

1. Body and

2. Life-force (Myself, Self, Consciousness, Life, Soul or Spirit).

This distinction exists in every “living person.” It is easy to understand that a “dead body” has no “Life”.

(In any case, a “dead body” does have to worry about silly things like happiness or inner peace! It is just like a log of wood which can be simply buried, burnt, or thrown into water and it does not get up to protest or protect itself! At least that is my understanding!!)

The reason why I am trying to distinguish between the two will become clear as we go along the following sections.

There is no dispute that we all have a body – we all can see it and know that it is made up of flesh, bones, tissues, and blood. However, there may be some disagreement on the second part: Life-force. People, particularly spiritual and psychologists, have given various names to this second component and have different concepts and ideas about it, but even that is irrelevant for this article. It serves the purpose as long as we agree that any human being is the symbiotic sum of “body” and “Life-force”.

I propose that not knowing this basic separation is the root cause of human suffering. This leads to Identity Crisis, which is the basic reason why real happiness eludes us.

Want to find out, how?

Please bear with me through the following analysis.

Identity Crisis!

Most of us assume that the “my body” and “me” (or “myself”) are just one and the same thing and go about working hard to be happy. In today’s materialistic social culture, all we do is make as much money as we can and then use it to acquire various things and facilities that we desire. When we have a lot of money we buy a lot of things; and when we have less (or no money) money we become miserable, almost robotically.

And this is precisely what we are busy doing all the time. So, what is the problem?

In order to understand this, we need to figure out what satisfies the two entities – the “body” and “Life-force” (or “myself”).

Body’s needs are simple, limited, and easy to meet. It needs limited amounts of food, water, and air for its sustenance. It needs continuous supply of air for breathing but food and water only at intervals. Its communication is also simple: hunger is the signal to eat and thirst for water.

In nutshell, as long as body gets regular nourishment it has no complains – plain and simple.

It is another story that we have the habit of making things complicated – just talk to people who stuff their bodies all the time and then complain of obesity! It is nothing but abuse of the body. A lot of people inject drugs and chemicals into their bodies or inhale tobacco smoke to “get high.” But be very clear that the “body” does not need such things to maintain it. All it needs is healthy food, water, and air; and that too in limited quantities.

The “life-force” or “myself” does not require material things. It has needs but they are not tangible and are non-material. It is here that the confusion arises. We will come to the needs of this “self” later but let us see why we tend to get identified with the body and ignore the needs of this “life-force” which is “myself” which is at the core of our unhappiness.

Sense Faculties: The Real Culprits

The real culprits are our “sense organs” – the faculties of taste, smell, feel, sight, and sound. They provide sensations that lead us to sense pleasures. The sensations can be traps, particularly when they are pleasant, and can easily lead us on the path of over indulgence. Since all the senses are connected to the body, we come to erroneous conclusion that we are nothing but the “body” only. Besides, over-indulgence in the sense-pleasures is a dominant reason for most of our pains and dissatisfactions.

Meditators and Yogis are generally clear about this pitfall and how sense-faculties create the impression that we are nothing but the “body” only. They can easily see the hollowness of sense-pleasures because they are short lived and change.

In fact, any sensitive person can learn to distinguish if he is eating to satisfy body’s hunger or it is just a pleasure-eating. In fact, all the five sense organs exist for just two basic reasons: 1. to protect the body from harm and 2. to enable the body to function properly and efficiently. But as things stand, we are a bit too clever and devise ways to abuse them for short term pleasure!

What are the Needs of the “Life-force” (“myself”)?

The needs of the “self” are continuous. The basic reason why sense pleasures don’t provide real satisfaction is that they are short-term and temporary; they don’t last for long. Therefore, any effort to sustain sensual pleasures – which are by nature transitory and unsustainable – will only prove futile.

To make the point clear, let me ask you something. Suppose you are really fond of, say pizza, ice-cream, or even sex. Can you keep eating pizza or ice-cream, or indulge in sex non-stop endlessly? Certainly not. Sooner than later you get fed up – and can’t continue any longer. Whatever satisfaction you got did not stay any longer. You are now back to where you started. There is a limit beyond which senses can’t please or satisfy you.

This is why you can’t be permanently happy chasing sense-pleasures.

The needs of what I am calling “Life-force” or “my-self” are continuous and they are based on mental states. These are mental/emotional needs – trust, respect, security (freedom from fear), and love. Clearly, these can never be met by running after sense pleasures or through material accumulations.

"All I ask for is an opportunity to prove that money doesn't buy happiness." – Anonymous

Happiness is a mental state. It includes sense of personal safety, contentment, and assurance of trustful interactions. It also includes the feelings of being respected, loved, and cared-for. All these necessarily imply predictable and positive behavior.

In brief, “my-self” needs share-and-care; hence, is interpersonal. It is only possible through proper relations with others. Now you see why humans are called social-beings. The concept of individualism has been taken to extreme in many societies which has deprived the nourishment of “self” by underplaying relationships.

Finally, the Formula for Real Happiness!

If I have to be happy, I must satisfy the needs of both my-body and my-self. Money and material facilities provide comfort to the body and are certainly important but not enough. Today’s society is focused only on these two things; therefore, it is almost materialistic. Consequently, our actions are limited to earning more and consuming more, believing that greater physical comforts means greater happiness.

On the other hand, the needs of “my-self” depend on relations I have with others – in the family and society. That in turn depends on my own conduct – my behavior, beliefs and attitudes. When relationships repeatedly become difficult, many people take to spiritualism in the hope that it will ultimately make them happier.

In many ways, materialism and spiritualism are two extremes: Materialism says physical comforts and sense-gratification is all you need to be happy; Spiritualism says mind is supreme, so take care of what you think and you will be happy. An ordinary person would do well if he stays away from over-denial (spiritualism) and over-indulgence (materialism) in sense pleasures and try to have a healthy body and a healthy mind. He must always keep in mind that the body is just a vehicle or a home for the “self” or the “life-force” to live in. A healthy well-nourished body and skills to create an atmosphere of trust and respect can create a life where happiness becomes not only infectious but also multiplies. All that is needed is the right understanding of “who I am.” And the action starts right inside you and then around you, then in the family, then in the society, then in the world...

I just hope that I was able to convey a relevant message that will help at least some readers be more realistic in approaching happiness in life. Enjoy the following quotes on happiness and do share your views through the comment section.

Happiness Quotes

All the following quotes will sure convey the message that happiness has basically nothing to do with money and material possessions.

  • Moderation. Small helpings. Sample a little bit of everything. These are the secrets of happiness and good health. – Julia Child

  • A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy? – Albert Einstein

  • What will they think of me?" must be put aside for bliss. – Joseph Campbell

  • It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere. – Agnes Repplier

  • Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there's always something we could be grateful for. – Barry Neil Kaufman

  • The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. – Victor Hugo

  • Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase, if you pursue happiness you'll never find it. – C. P. Snow

  • If only we'd stop trying to be happy we'd have a pretty good time. – Edith Wharton

  • If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. – Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

  • Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. – Albert Schweitzer

  • There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life – happiness, freedom, and peace of mind – are always attained by giving them to someone else. – Peyton Conway March

  • The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet. – James Oppenheim

  • Happiness, it is said, is seldom found by those who seek it, and never by those who seek it for themselves. – F. Emerson Andrews

  • Remember happiness doesn't depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think." – Dale Carnegie

  • Happiness is something that you are and it comes from the way you think. – Wayne Dyer

  • Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling. – Margaret Lee Runbeck

  • Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get. – Dale Carnegie

Reading Further

If you liked this page, you may also be interested in

Feeling Stuck? You need to break the Mental Barriers Holding you Back
What to do When You are Feeling Empty and Useless?


Consciousness, Elusive Happiness, Happy Life, Happy Lifestyle, Identity Crisis, Peace, Real Happiness, Satisfaction, Self, Soul, True Happiness, Who Am I, Who Are You

Meet the author

author avatar Goodpal
I am a keen practitioner of mindfulness meditation for past several years. I firmly believe in "goodness" of people, society and world. I regularly write on personal growth and social topics.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

A very creative look within ourselves, thanks Goodpal

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