The Difference between False Happiness and Real Happiness

mt rainer

It seems we are all striving for happiness; but, what do we actually mean by happiness? There is a big difference between a fleeting pleasure and an inner happiness independent of external events. These characteristics help to differentiate between real happiness and false happiness.

Peace and Happiness:

Real happiness brings inner peace. When we are sincerely happy we are at peace with the world and with our self.
A false happiness will be accompanied by insecurities, doubts and worries. We think our happiness could easily be spoilt by external events. To cultivate  happiness based on an inner peace it is necessary to be detached from the worries of the mind. We should not have a feeling of indispensability, but a calm acceptance of external events.

He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.

– Johann von Goethe


A false happiness comes from a feeling of superiority. We feel that happiness depends on proving to the world that we are better or more indispensable than other people. A close relative of pride is jealousy of others whom we can not surpass. Real happiness takes joy in the achievement of others; in real happiness there is no feeling of inferiority and superiority, but only a sense of oneness. If you are constantly judging yourself against others, real happiness will remain elusive. If you can gain joy from others success, you have discovered a secret of real happiness.

Praise vs Detachment

If we are praised to the sky we are in the seventh heaven of delight; when we are mercilessly criticised we feel in the depths of hell. Relying on the praise of others can, at best, only give a fleeting happiness. Permanent happiness comes only when we maintain a sense of self esteem which is detached from the volatile opinions of the world.

To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.

– Buddha
Success vs Self Transcendence.

Success gives us a temporary feeling of euphoria; we have fulfilled our desires and now we can be happy. But, the joy of success is temporary and short lived. No success is permanent, and often we are often left with a desire for an even bigger and better success. Self transcendence is the ongoing process of self development and self improvement. The happiness of self improvement is not in achieving, but in the process of aiming for a better life. The joy of self transcendence is not confined to the odd victory, but, is the permanent journey of self discovery.

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The Art of Forgiveness

primrose hill

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.

– Paul Boese.

Forgiveness is a powerful way of moving on from unfortunate experiences; it is a way of illumining a darkened past. Without forgiveness we dwell on the negative attitudes of other people and the limitations of our own self. True, it is easier to talk about forgiveness than actually do it; but, if we can forgive, it is a powerful way to let go of negative experiences and make a fresh start.

Why We Need to Forgive

Hatred makes us feel miserable.

If we are unable to forgive and forget the misdeeds of others we will carry a heavy burden around ourselves. It may have some justifications, but, hating others means that we will make our own lives difficult. When we concentrate on the bad action of others, we give too much importance to these negative qualities and invariably they become part of our mindset.

We cannot live in the past forever

Forgiveness is a way to move forward. If we are unable to forgive we will always be thinking of the past. By thinking of past blunders we will not gain illumination. Forgiveness means we allow a new chapter to be written and prevent the old mistakes and difficulties being repeated.

Mistakes are inevitable

We cannot expect ourselves or other people to be perfect. Mistakes are an inevitable part of life. Even if people are trying to do their best, they may often behave with the wrong motives and actions. If we expect anything near perfection from others, then we will always be disappointed. To be forgiving means to be flexible, tolerant and accommodating.

To err is human.
But be careful,
Do not over do it.
If to forgive is divine,
Then rest assured,
You can never over do it.

– Sri Chinmoy

A person is more than certain actions

Often our judgement of a person depends on a particular action of theirs. When someone does something wrong, we inwardly label them as a bad person.This is a mistake; someone may have unfortunate habits or bad actions, but, this is only one aspect of that person. We would not want ourself to be judged on all our mistakes; we have done wrong things, but we know this is not the sum of our person. Forgiveness means we are able to separate a person from a bad action. We are not condoning the bad thing they do; it just means we acknowledge that anybody who does wrong things also has the capacity to do good things as well. Somebody may tell a lie, but that does not mean we have to think only of them as a bad person.
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Harnessing the power of self-giving

Flower from Bikash

One great theme which psychologists have sought to address over the last fifty years is why so much human energy is directed to serving the needs of others. From the millions of people who give their time and energy looking after kids sports teams or working with the homeless, to extraordinary tales of ordinary people sacrificing their lives for people they have never even met, there is an enormous amount of care and giving out there, sacrifices that often do not get due attention in a media preoccupied with negative stories. For psychologists, it can be very hard to reconcile this behaviour with the evolutionary principle that we are all individual agents in a battle for ‘survival of the fittest’.

Giving comes from the heart

Undoubtedly, the notion that we are all looking out for ourselves and our progeny does indeed have some foundation in truth. There is no denying that there is an animal part of our nature which is still a considerable force to be reckoned with – the world is still rife with ‘survival of the fittest’ behaviour, jostling for position, and looking out for number one. When we live in the mind, it is this kind of behaviour that takes prominence. The mind tends to cut us off from others’ hopes and feelings and induce feelings of ‘them’ and ‘us’, with all the feelings of superiority and stereotyping that come with that.

However, those of you who are frequent readers here at Sri Chinmoy Inspiration know that many of our posts are given to exploring a deeper part of our being beyond the mind. In the heart – that space in the middle of the chest where we can feel the core of our being – we have a part of ourselves that we often only connect with in moments of great beauty or silence, a part of ourselves that comes forward when the mind is still, and a place where all the best impulses of mankind are located – empathy, brotherly love, and oneness. We have the saying ‘my heart went out to him…’ and this is exactly what happens when we see someone in a state of distress; we instinctively empathise with his condition and and we can feel a part of us wanting to overcome the self-obsessed aspects of our nature and help. This is the root of all true self-giving. Continue reading “Harnessing the power of self-giving”

Keeping Things in Perspective

sunset Hawaii

A sense of perspective is vital to keeping sane and avoid small problems that can unnecessarily overwhelm us. If we lose perspective we can end up worrying for hours about things that may never even happen. To keep things in perspective it is particularly important to live in the present moment and avoid being overwhelmed by fears and concerns about the future.

Here are some tips to keep things in a sense of perspective.

See Things from other people’s point of view.

This is something that can be quite difficult to do. When we feel aggrieved at a situation or person, try to place yourselves in their shoes and try to understand their motivations and actions. We don’t necessarily have to agree and sympathise with them. But, if we can really look at an issue from other people’s perspective we can sincerely understand a very different perspective on the issue. This will help us be more sympathetic in our judgement and response.

Does it matter what other people think?

If someone makes a critical judgement, don’t let it be the end of your world. Just because we have received some negative feedback, it doesn’t mean it is entirely true or that we should take it to heart. Criticism invariably results from some small mistake; and doesn’t reflect on our overall character.

Are You misjudging other people?

Sometimes problems occur because we wrongly assume other people are acting from a certain motivation. The mind suspects and assumes the worst, yet, often we are incorrect in our assumptions. If someone fails to acknowledge our presence or contribution; we should avoid making the jump to assuming that they therefore no longer like us. The mind can be very tricky – it can take a small incident and magnify it out of all proportion. It is important to be very careful in judging people’s motives, especially when we assume them to be negative. If we suspect the worst we lose something precious within us.

Does this cause any major problems?

Sometimes we can get worked up about problems that are very insignificant. Perhaps we like to keep things in a certain order, but our house companions fail to clean up. It’s a bit inconvenient if people leave dirty washing in the sink; but, at the same time it’s not the end of the world. Think about the things that have concerned you in the past few days; and be honest in questioning how important they really are.

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Real Happiness and the Heart


Recently, I wrote an article for Pick the Brain – 6 characteristics of happiness.

John Wesley also wrote an interesting discussion about the meaning of happiness here.

I think in some ways, everyone is trying to aim for more happiness in life; sometimes people’s methods may seem strange but our decisions tend to be driven from what we think will be good for us. In a sense, everyone is trying in their own way to do the right thing. However, the problem is that what we think will bring happiness often doesn’t. Because it is so important, it is worth taking the time to think carefully what really brings happiness. We also need to have a willingness to challenge long cherished beliefs.

Since the age of 18, I have been a ‘seeker’ consciously looking for what gives genuine happiness and satisfaction. I have pursued many different strategies, read many books and tried many things. From all these I feel that the most fruitful way to cultivate happiness is ‘to live in the heart’ As an academic and believer in the power of the mind, this hasn’t always been easy, but, these are some of the characteristics of living in the heart.

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How to be kind to yourself


We all know we should be kind to animals and considerate of other people. But, are we actually kind to ourself? If you regularly find that you are beating yourself up or are plagued by guilt, it is worth making an effort to be a bit kinder to yourself. Here are some ideas so that you offer a bit of support for your good self.

The Past is Dust

‘The Past is Dust’ is one of the favourite sayings of my Spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy.

“I always say the past is dust. By thinking of it and brooding over it we cannot change the past or free ourselves from guilt. If we have done something wrong, it is past. Let us think of the immediate future and allow it to grow into the immediacy of today.” [1]

When we live in the past, we become plagued by regrets and guilt. By constantly reliving the past, we cannot change what has gone before. If we have made mistakes in the past, we should not feel that this is our permanent reality. Focus instead, on the present moment and see how you can improve and go forward. It is only by focusing on the present and doing the right thing, that we can learn from the past.

Do One Thing at a Time

We have all tried to juggle several things at once. We also know how stressful and difficult this is. Sometimes when we try to do several things at once, we give ourselves an exaggerated feeling of self importance. However, don’t pile pressure on yourself; value simplicity and do one thing at a time. When you focus on only your current activity, you are not only being kind to yourself; but, also will be able to do things much more effectively.

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The Source of Happiness


Happiness is an elusive bird that we all wish to catch. Consciously or unconsciously we are striving for happiness in both our inner and outer lives; but, what is that really gives us happiness? If we can know the source of permanent and abiding happiness we can help to make it a reality.

Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

– Nathaniel Hawthorne:

Self Giving

It is a tendency of the mind to feel that happiness is in the fulfilment of our desires and pleasing our self. However, when we pursue our own selfish interests, happiness remains strangely elusive. Through self giving we can learn the real art of happiness. Self giving is an unconditional offering to others. Through self giving we enlarge our sense of self; self-giving helps us to identify with a larger, vaster consciousness. It is through self giving that we can learn the true meaning of oneness with others. Oneness is another name for love. If we feel others as part of our own self, is this not real love? It is this expansion of consciousness that is a source of abiding happiness. It is not the selfish human love that demands and expects from others.

I am very happy
Because I have conquered myself
And not the world.

I am very happy
Because I have loved the world
And not myself.

– Sri Chinmoy

Peace of Mind

Peace of mind means that we are at peace with ourself. Peace of mind means that we are not striving and pushing to be something we are not. To have peace of mind we need to be able to control our thoughts; it is only our own thoughts that can rob us of peace mind. If we depend upon the appreciation and respect of others, we will never have peace of mind. To make peace of mind a permanent reality we need to control our thoughts and think of others, not just our own self.


Gratitude is cheerful acceptance. Gratitude brings to the fore our best positive qualities. If we can have a sincere feeling of gratitude for even the smallest of events we are taking the positive cheerful frame of mind. If we have no gratitude we develop a feeling of self sufficiency. This self sufficiency creates feelings of both pride and insecurity. Gratitude is the most effective remedy for these emotions. In gratitude we give due value to others and also the natural wonders of the world.

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10 Tips to Avoid Becoming Depressed

sunset game

Is it possible to avoid depression? What is the secret of cultivating happiness and avoiding periods of unhappiness? To a large extent, we determine our own frame of mind; we shouldn’t feel that we are a helpless victim to depression. Depression is something that we can avoid by cultivating the opposite – happiness.

Here are some tips for avoiding depression

1. Offer goodwill to Others.

If we seek to make others miserable how can we expect to be happy ourselves? If we offer goodwill to other people this creates a powerful positive energy. Focusing on other people’s good qualities can definitely help improve our own state of mind. There is a principle that what we give out, we get back. Therefore, by offering positive energy to, at some time, we will also be the recipient.

2. Learn to Detach from Thoughts

Thoughts play a very significant role in determining our state of mind. If we pursue negative thoughts then we give them greater power and influence over our state of being. However, it is possible to decide which thoughts to allow and which to reject. We have to learn to be vigilant and prevent negative thoughts from taking hold. As soon as we become aware of negative thoughts we should let go of them. We can imagine that we are throwing them out of our mind into a cosmic dustbin.

3. Keep Busy.

If we struggle to detach from negative thoughts we should just throw ourselves into other activities. When we get involved in other activities that we enjoy it takes us out of ourselves. Activity forces us to do something constructive, and does not allow us to dwell on our depressed state of mind.

4. Avoid Feelings of guilt.

If we have made a mistake, harbouring feelings of guilt will not help alleviate the situation. In particular, we are seeking to avoid feelings of guilty for minor events of no significance. Often we have done nothing wrong, but, others seek to make us feel guilty for their bad fortune. Instead of feeling guilty we should seek to concentrate on doing the right thing.

5. Live a Balanced Life.

In life we need to make room for different aspects. If we focus all our time and energy on work then we will have no time for relaxation and cultivating other aspects of our life. If we pursue an unbalanced life unhappiness is more likely to occur.

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