A Thoughts friend recently asked on a blog, “What is happiness to you?” I was going to comment but it felt more respectful to write a blog.
It is a question with which I long struggled.
Actually, in my opinion, this question can only be resolved privately and subjectively. Each of us can offer how we have resolved it but the solution is too personal for a fit-all. As soon as someone offers the answer, you will say, "Yes but you just don't know what I am living!" You would be correct; no one can understand your reality but you.
Nevertheless, together we share an overall dimension where nothing is permanent and all states of being are temporary. Happiness as a permanent state is an illusion. From birth to death, pleasure and pain are locked in a dance spiraling through every second of our lives.
It is in the acceptance of this fluctuation where we find some peace. Of course, acceptance poses a challenge whose depth is dependent on several factors.
The primary factor would be into which lineage one emerges. This primal consequence defines the depth of a being's exclusive struggle. Imagine how challenging a refugee's resolution of happiness would be. However, when I muse upon how Nelson Mandela processed his prison term, emerging peaceful and wise, I know answering the question of happiness requires the realization of conscious choices or steps.
Through my own introspection, I propose the first step would be acceptance of one's unique reality. I am guessing that he must have idled some time in raging at his miserable fortune, as we all do, when misfortune befalls us, but at some time, by evidence, he understood resentment was not benefiting him. Emerging peaceful and wise after an imprisonement of twenty-seven years, is an example that we who battle with our lot would do well to consider.
Therefore, in this, no matter where we find ourselves this moment, it is accepting we are where we are - no more - no less - but that - we are here where we are.
Once feeling this acceptance we will find the next, the second step. While we continue analyzing and comparing our fortune with others, the next, second step remains hidden.
Acceptance creates a relaxation that brings the positive into focus. Spotting the negative is easy when its threat’s fear lays us flat. But the truth of life is not in the sole view of the negative. This myopic fear concentration does not help us solve our problems. It is when we accept life and our luck without reservation that we notice - whatever our fortune, there is a positive side. It is here that we then see the dance of both the negative and the positive and learn - nothing is permanent. One moment we feel sad, then angry, then peaceful and suddenly happy as we munch on something delicious only to be sad again once we have finished eating our delicious.
No state of being is permanent. Even our state of consciousness is destined to change into we know not what. Permanence is an abstract belief that has no supporting attestation. In contrast, impermanence proves its existence. In fact, it is in the understanding of impermanence where you will finally find a treasure called contentment.
Accepting the dance of temporary waves of existence - of negative and positive - will reward you with the realization that life is a daily set of problems pressing for answers, harboring a rest in between. Most define the resting as happiness. This is a truth for each of us no matter what our circumstances.
Rich and poor alike, all deal with a daily set of problems demanding solutions with pauses of happiness in between.
Moreover, if you think the rich or anyone else has it easier, you have not really had a good think. Everyone is struggling to keep up with this dance of impermanence.