What Is True Happiness?


You’d think humans would have happiness all figured out.

It’s human nature to be happy — isn’t it?

But at the same time, happiness can feel so fleeting — and people spend countless dollars trying to attain it.

If happiness is our nature, then why isn’t it simpler?

Why do we find ourselves in pursuit of it?

Here’s why: there are actually two different types of happiness, and most people only know one of them.

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Most of us experience what’s called object-referral happiness, and it has two key qualities…

1. It comes and goes.

2. It’s dependent on something outside of you — a person, place, or thing.

For example:

  • I’m happy because I’m on a beautiful beach.

  • I’m happy because this cheesecake is delicious.

  • I’m happy because I got a raise at work.

  • My friends and family make me happy.

Object-referral happiness feels great, and there’s nothing wrong with it. However, it’s inherently fleeting because it comes from something external, and the external world is constantly changing. Anything external that makes you happy is unsustainable. This is fine if you can live in the moment and enjoy things as they come. But if you’re interested in deep, lasting happiness, you’ll want to expand your horizons — and self-referral happiness is where it’s at.

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Self-referral happiness comes from within, and it’s sustained.

It isn’t swayed by the world around you or your current situation. Self-referral happiness doesn’t depend on anything outside of you because it’s already within you — you simply need to access it.

Happiness is what we are at the most essential level. As we continue to accumulate stress (via physically and mentally overwhelming experiences), we get further and further away from it. Think about children who haven’t accumulated much stress yet — they may be thrilled by toys and saddened by scraped knees, but they’re also happy to just exist. And when kids get upset, it doesn’t last long — the feeling washes over them like a wave on the shore, and they quickly return to their baseline state of self-referral happiness (aka being happy for no reason).

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So how can we access self-referral happiness as adults? We settle down to our least excited state in meditation. When the body and mind are awake, yet settled, we enjoy deep rest. We release the stress, fatigue, and tension that accumulate in the nervous system and obstruct our natural state of inner contentedness. We also release “bliss chemicals” like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin when we meditate, which allows us to feel happy without the aid of anything external.

Inner peace has become a cliché, but it’s really a synonym for self-referral happiness — and it’s an absolutely attainable state. All we need is a seat and a simple technique.

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“Life finds its purpose and fulfillment in the expansion of happiness.” ~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi