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.

Emotional Dependence vs Love.

In fleeting happiness we get pleasure from feeling that others belong to us. We see people as ‘my’ partner ‘my friend’; we expect them to treat us in a certain way. Real love does not expect from others, but only gives without demand; this enables a real abiding happiness. When we inwardly demand people treat us in a certain way, we will always be disappointed. But, if we love unconditionally, we are buffeted from the expectations of the mind. (see: Meaning of Love)

“The mind finds it difficult to be happy, precisely because the mind consciously enjoys the sense of separativity. It is always judging and doubting the reality in others. … But we also have the aspiring heart, the loving heart. This loving heart is free from insecurity, for it has already established its oneness with the rest of the world. “

– Sri Chinmoy

Self Giving.

When we live only for ourself, we are permanently striving after the elusive goal of happiness. When we serve others cheerfully and unconditionally, we feel an abiding happiness. Why? When we are self giving and think of others, we expand our sense of self, we ignore the demand of our ego and develop compassion for other people. When we think only of our own desires, we live in our limited ego bound mind which is limited in its capacity to feel happiness.

All who would win joy, must share it; happiness was born a twin.

– Lord Byron

The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.

Mark Twain

Photo by: Pranlobha, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries.

9 thoughts on “The Difference between False Happiness and Real Happiness”

  1. I really enjoyed this article – concise yet detailed. I really resonated with the passage about praise because my father raised me and my siblings in a praise-focused environment. I was only marginally affected, whereas it has caused major psychological issues in my sister.

    For others who are particularly interested in exploring the concept of praise and it’s relationship to unconditional love more closely, I highly recommend this book:

    “Unconditional Parenting” by Alfie Kohn

    After reading it, it radically changed not only the way I planned to parent (my son had not yet been born), but it also changed the way I use and respond to praise.

    Even though the book is parenting focused, I think it serves as an excellent read for anybody on a spiritual journey.

  2. Goethe is great!

    A lot of his thoughts were reworked by Rudolf Steiner who was cutting edge too.

    Eckhart Tolle is another wonderful individual.

    Nice site +_+

  3. ” Real love does not expect from others, but only gives without demand”

    That’s a great point. Sometimes I’ll find myself being nice to others or doing things for other people primarily for the reaction, and then I’ll be disappointed when I don’t get the response I am seeking. When that happens, I have to look at myself and say that I was not being kind, but I was just trying to flatter my ego.

  4. Great! So now we know what to strive for…. The problem is getting there. Human as we are.

  5. Most agree that to love others we must love ourselves. To love ourself means to accept ourself whether we’re happy or sad. The wish is not Be Happy but rather Just Be.

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