“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” ~Norman Cousins “What is happiness?” What a completely dense and loaded question this is. If I were to write a paper about happiness, I would then need to operationally define happiness in terms that allowed everyone to understand what I was referring to. The problem with this, however, is that we then merely repeat the best definition we come by, thinking we understand the meaning while never truly questioning our own thoughts on the matter; therefore never truly experiencing it. I believe this happens in the majority of circumstances, and know that I did this for many years. It is much simpler to just go along with life rather than ask yourself those true and deep questions that will rattle your world. I believe happiness is the complete mindful attention and bliss found in the present moment; the present moment is beautiful and fundamentally perfect.
Therefore, one must choose to be happy right now in the present, because this is all that exists. Many years ago, I read a quote by the Dalai Lama, which I think is very applicable to this. He reported that when something is wrong, you can either fix it, and therefore it will work out and there is no need to worry, or there is nothing you can do, and therefore worrying about it is moot. When one truly and with every fiber of their being accepts death and the mystery of the future, there is nothing left but to appreciate the present moment. I believe this is where happiness stems from because it really puts things into perspective.
I have been experimenting with this, and as a person who frequently worries, thinks too much, and feels often overwhelmed by life, I have found immense peace and tranquility from this acceptance. For me, it completely shifted my perspective on everything. I have been able to stay calm and resilient in situations that would normally bring on a panic attack or devastate me. This, of course, doesn’t mean that my life is now all roses and butterflies, but that this new perspective aids me in gauging situations and reacting to them as I think I should rationally, not instinctively. Ultimately, there is no way to know how your life will play out in ten minutes, and hour, or a week. Happiness is the value of every moment and the full attention paid to it.