Posted on 4th Aug 2014
Happiness is “mutuality and generous altruism” (1). According to Matthieu Ricard, joy can only be a form of happiness if its nature is inherently good and both or all people involved are joyful. In his book he teaches how to develop happiness using the Buddhist and Cognitive Psychology Teachings.
The true cause of happiness is internal. Happiness is a state of mind. If our source of happiness is external, for example if we ate something delicious or if we received rewards and praise, we could notice how this can be fleeting that could end right away or could even proceed to being fed up with it. If we now notice that happiness is in our minds, how we react to circumstances, then we now become aware of where to direct our minds and how to perceive the external world.
Training the mind through meditation is one of the keys to happiness. During meditation one can learn mind control, attention, mindfulness, and concentration. Matthieu Ricard teaches how to meditate by focusing on just one object like a rock and letting our minds go back to the object of meditation when our mind wanders.
The difference between joy and happiness is that happiness is devoid of negative emotions while joy could have “schadenfreude (... relishing someone else’s suffering, such as through revenge.)” Since there is this form of joy that laughs at others misfortunes, then it isn’t truly happiness which is again “mutual and generous altruism” in its core. To develop happiness then is to develop altruism.
(1) Ricard (2006). A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill Happiness. New York: Little, Brown and Company
Happiness must be a combination of inner causes and outer causes in order to come about (14th Dalai Lama, 1982.) For example if outer factors like good weather and delicious food is present while you are internally sad at the moment, the presence of outer favorable factors will not give you joy at all. However, [...]