First and foremost, to be happy is to realize that we are unhappy . Lest you misunderstand me, by “luck” in this context I don’t mean feeling when something nice happens to us. Happiness in this context is not about doing what you love, being surrounded by dear people and generally enjoying every moment. We are talking about absolute happiness here . Absolute happiness is a permanent state in which there is not even a twinge of misfortune and which is unchanging regardless of external influences. He who has such happiness is equally blessed and carefree when everything goes as bad as it does when he is ill, sick or dying.
By realizing that we are unhappy, we have already taken the first step towards happiness, and the second step is to understand why we are unhappy .
Why are we actually unhappy?
Although at first it may seem like a complex issue and there are so many reasons why we are unhappy, in fact most of our unhappiness can be grouped into only two groups :
- We are unhappy because we want something and we do not have it (for example, youth, loved one, reputation, better financial situation).
- We are unhappy because we do NOT want something, and yet we have it and we cannot avoid it, so we have an aversion to it (for example, illness, old age, bad habit).
What makes us unhappy is not the object itself, such as illness. What makes us unhappy is the inability to influence the object. If illness were the cause of an accident then all who are sick would be unhappy, and yet, there are people who are sick and not unhappy.
Therefore, the cause of the accident is not the disease per se, but our aversion to the disease, the desire to be healthy when we are not. That desire for something we don’t have creates frustration , and frustration makes us unhappy.
The same thing happens with the loss of a loved one or any other cause of an accident. It does not make us unhappy alone, but our desire to change the current and real situation.
That unfulfilled desire creates craving, and very quickly craving turns into frustration. We feel frustration and we usually call it misery, sadness, depression …
How to deal with an accident? How to Become Happy?
This is where I give the word to the Buddha who has dedicated his whole life to this topic (Buddha is not a god, this is a person who sought and found a way to happiness, about him on another occasion).
The Buddha came to the realization of what we call today – the four universal truths (universal because they are valid always and everywhere, often referred to as “4 noble truths” in Croatian literature).
He who recognizes them (these 4 truths), but not at the philosophical or logical level, but at a deeper level, he leaves all his misery behind and becomes enlightened / happy.
The first truth is – Disaster is all around us. We are born crying and then as we grow older, that crying becomes quieter, so we somehow cry more in ourselves than out loud. Throughout life, we inevitably need to feel pain, sadness, the loss of a loved one, illness, old age, and ultimately, dying. The suffering at the time when the Buddha lived in India was called Dukha (read Duka).
The other truth is – The cause of suffering is our attachment to transient things, and all we know is transient. Something will take longer, something shorter, but everything will pass. We bond, and not just for people or things. We are tied to worldviews, to political commitments, to religious commitments.
Then when someone says what is in line with our commitment, we feel good. If he speaks against our commitment or our dear ones, we feel hurt. And all because of the binding. To make matters worse, we are not only tied to our dear things.
We also relate to bad things, such as people who have caused us pain. We bond with them so we think about them a lot of time, though we don’t like them. In this thinking, we may also create hatred or sadness.
Our bonding takes away our control. When things are going the way we want, we are tied to our success, we are also tied to our ego, which grows with all the praise from the environment. When everything goes downhill then we suffer and we are tied up again, and we all know how often things go downhill.
The third truth is – cessation of suffering is possible. If suffering is a stone that we carry with us, then to lower the suffering we need to lower the stone. We just need to stop wearing it and it won’t bother us anymore. But the biggest problem is identifying that stone. The Buddha identified him – the cause is our ignorance / blindness (in the absence of a better Croatian translation of the word Avidya ). Blindness makes it impossible for us to see that everything is transient ( Anicca ) and therefore the attachment does not make sense. The Buddha not only gives us the assertion that everything is transient, he systematically teaches us how to know it (not only theoretically but in practice, through meditation ).
The fourth truth is the path that frees us from the blind (suffering, sadness, adversity). What remains after that is happiness, peace, prosperity … This path is practical, it has no mysticism. Each step is explained and each step takes us closer to the goal. The first steps lead us to understand suffering (the first universal truth).
After that we need to understand the true cause of suffering (the second truth). When we understood it, or pictorially, when we identified the heavy stone that we carry with us, then it was time to lower the stone (third and fourth).