What Is Happiness?

Everyday I chant for John’s happiness, for my own happiness, and for our happy marriage. John often asks me whether I am happy with my own life, and with our marriage. Generally speaking, I am happy. Not all the time of course, no one is 100% happy all the time. My life didn’t turn out as I had wanted it to when I was in my 20s, but I am learning from my experiences, and doing my best to create value out of the past while keeping an eye toward the future. My marriage, my family, my husband’s family, and my Buddhist practice are the greatest fortune I have in my life. Many people struggle with achieving happiness. I have also found that many people look for happiness in the wrong places. SGI President Daisaku Ikeda writes:

What is the purpose of life? It is to become happy. Whatever country or society people live in, they all have the same deep desire: to become happy. Yet, there are few ideals as difficult to grasp as that of happiness. Happiness is not a life without problems, but rather the strength to overcome the problems that come our way. True happiness is to be found within, in the state of our hearts. It does not exist on the far side of some distant mountains. It is within you, yourself. However much you try, you can never run away from yourself. And if you are weak, suffering will follow you wherever you go. You will never find happiness if you don’t challenge your weaknesses and change yourself from within. – Daisaku Ikeda

Happiness is a very difficult concept to grasp. What is happiness for you? What is happiness for me? I used to think that I would be perfectly happy spending my life reading a book on a tropical island somewhere. I’m sure this fantasy is what many people would equate with happiness. Maybe earning more money, or driving a fast car, getting an exciting job, or buying a luxurious home are more examples of what people believe happiness is. Unfortunately, money doesn’t last, cars get into accidents, employees get fired, and people lose their homes. Does happiness then disappear? Where is happiness found?

I believe what Daisaku Ikeda states in this essay, that true happiness is only found within ourselves. We need to have the courage to bring it out, rather than rely on external objects or people to bring happiness to us. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes effort, practice and persistence. Daisaku Ikeda continues:

The challenges we face in life can be compared to a tall mountain, rising before a mountain climber. For someone who has not trained properly, whose muscles and reflexes are weak and slow, every inch of the climb will be filled with terror and pain. The exact same climb, however, will be a thrilling journey for someone who is prepared, whose legs and arms have been strengthened by constant training. With each step forward and up, beautiful new views will come into sight.

In order to be happy and enjoy life, we need to be strong and fearless, like a mountain climber. For me, I need to challenge my weaknesses, my fear of other people, my fear of socializing & engaging in conversation. I need to open up to my husband, to my family and my friends and share with them my true thoughts, feelings and emotions. Of course this change doesn’t happen overnight, but rather through consistent effort and practice. I’m looking forward to our future together. John and I have been through a lot, but I know we’ll make our marriage stronger and grow closer together. I love you John!

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