Everybody wants happiness. And often we pursue it. But in our wanting and pursuing, we lose it. The very fact that we want and pursue happiness makes it illusive.
There is a psychological reason behind this. Let’s see it through an example. Many people in the world are single, and are unhappy about it. They tend to think, ‘When I find the perfect partner, I’ll be happy’. Years and decades pass by looking for the perfect girl or guy. But the pursuit doesn't end, it becomes a habit. Even if we have a partner or spouse, we are not satisfied. Nobody can easily fit in our definition of 'perfect'. We cannot be happy with what we have, because we are in the constant mode of wanting somebody perfect to come and make us happy.
Another example: Suppose we are doing a certain job, and are unhappy about it. For many of us, the current job sucks. Either the boss is too demanding, or the colleagues are too nagging. Or maybe the organization is not the best place to be in. Or the job doesn't fall in the definition of our so-called passion. We start thinking, ‘I'll be happy when I find the perfect job’.
But what happens when we find that perfect partner or job? For a while, we think we are happy, but then the mind starts finding faults. After all, we have trained our minds not to be satisfied. The mind works based on how it has been conditioned. We become conditioned or habituated to what we do repeatedly. So when we have spent a lot of time being dissatisfied with our job or in wanting a perfect person, it has already become our habit. So we start wanting something else. This habit of dissatisfaction spills over, making us unhappy with every other thing coming into our experience, not only the partner or job.
We set many such conditions for happiness: ‘I will be happy when I have a certain amount of bank balance’. Or, ‘I will be happy when I complete my project’. Basically we make our happiness hostage to some other thing or person or situation, either having them or not having them. Sometimes we outsource our happiness to absurd things. ‘When the king is gone and a president is put in place, I will be happy’. ‘Free market sucks, if we have a controlled social and economic order, I will be happy’. ‘If I have a Labrador instead of this Bulldog, I will be happy’.
But wanting and pursuing happiness isn't bad, is it? Everybody wants to be happy. So, why not pursue it?
The answer to that question lies in knowing our reality. To know the reality, we need a scientific approach. If we look deep within ourselves objectively, without making any judgements, we can see that the source of happiness is within us. We can see that it is our reality, our fundamental nature. Then wanting and pursuing ends.
How can we pursue something that is already within us, that is already our own fundamental nature? Have you ever noticed a one-year-old child? Do they need a gold medal in swimming or a posh house to be happy? Not at all. If their stomach is full, they are naturally jubilant and playful. They have not gotten the happy state by wanting or pursuing. Nor have they taken any crash course on happiness. Once their survival is ensured, they are blissful just like that. We were like that when we were kids.
Let’s say we are already in Kathmandu. Not knowing, we want to reach Kathmandu and we set out for it. We may even take a flight to Kathmandu. We can reach anywhere but Kathmandu! It's like that with happiness. Happiness is IN us, we were all born with it. But as we grow up, we obscure our minds by wrong views and habits and forget about this fundamental quality. So we take a flight away from ourselves. No wonder we end up wanting and pursuing happiness, never finding it.