Happiness is often thought of as a state of mind. This assumption is both right and wrong. It is right because when you are happy, you usually have happy thoughts in your mind. You have a positive outlook and your mood is generally elevated. Your outlook on life is one of hope and abundance.

I started by saying the assumption that happiness is a state of mind is both right and wrong. How can it be wrong? If it were just a state of mind, you should be able to will yourself happy at anytime? You should be able to go through life with an eternal smile upon your face, just by willing yourself to be that way. Logically, this does not make sense.

When you have some tragedy befall you in life, you will feel emotions such as sadness, despair, fear or anger. It is not possible to just feel happy. Have you ever heard someone say, “Stop being depressed, just be happy.” So while, happiness is part of the equation, it is not the whole equation. There must be something more.

What I propose is that happiness is a state of BEING. This has to do with perception. Your mind constantly gathers information about its environment through your physical senses. Your perception of sight does not exist in your eye it exists in your mind. Your brain takes electrical impulses and translates them to sensory information.

The next thing that your mind does is evaluate that information. Is it a good sensation? A bad sensation? Does the smell of cookies unlock a memory of childhood? It is our perceptions of our environment that elicit certain emotions. These perceptions are unique to the individual.

For instance, suppose the smell of cookies makes you think of home and the holidays. It can be a positive emotion such as happiness that can occur. But let us suppose that it reminds you of your grandmother, who recently passed away. The same sensation can create a feeling of loss and sadness.

If you can change your perception of the world into a positive one, then you can unlock sustaining happiness. Sure, there are moments in life that do not make us happy. If you exist in a state of happiness, other emotions such as sadness will not be so deep and enduring. You will return to your state of happiness much quicker if you cultivate it.

As I am writing this, I am reminded of the monks in Tibet. They spend their entire life, living in a state of happiness and contentment. When you see pictures of the Dali Llama he is usually smiling. If you know anything about the situation in China right now, there are plenty of things for the monks to be afraid of, yet they pray and continue in a state of happiness.

For most of us, meditating and praying all day may not be possible, however when you have moments that can be filled with these things, then your shift towards enduring happiness can occur. Take a few moments each day and think about all the things that you are thankful for. Hold these images in your mind and bask in their glow. Even as the images fade, the feeling will continue to exist in your heart.