Young children are generally happy for no reason, as are enlightened beings.
What do these two groups have in common?
They are both in close contact with their original authentic nature - their true, unconditioned selves.
As we grow up, we gradually become more and more identified with our mind-based self-image - a bundle of ideas we have about who we are and what a happy life "should" look like.
Rather than being innocently absorbed in the beauty of each unfo;ding moment, we experience life second-hand through the complex filters of our conditioned minds.
In doing so , we lose the connection with our true essence, which is already happy for no reason, and begin to search for happiness on the outside.
Here is an analogy.
Imagine a lamp with a 100W bulb shining brightly. Now imagine if you were to cover the lamp with a cloth.
Although the brightness of the light hasn't changed at all, you would experience it as being dimmer.
Now imagine if you were to cover it with another cloth, then another, then another.
Pretty soon you wouldn't be able to perceive any light at all, although the source itself remains unchanged.
Like the lamp, your original nature, remains unchanged throughout your life.
Superimposed upon it however are the multiple layers of beliefs, concepts and ideas we hold about ourselves and our lives - beliefs such as not being good enough or being unworthy, ideas about how our lives 'should' be and all the things that need to be different in order for us to be happy.
Being free of the burden of a complex self-image, children are free to be happy for no reason, which is no more than our natural, unconditioned state. The cloths of self-judgement and self-doubt have yet to appear.
Saints, or people who meditate regularly, have the cloths in place (picking up a distorted self-image is an unavoidable part of growing up) but are not identified with the passing thoughts that come and go as being who they are.
They have learned to fix their attention on the unchanging dimension of themselves (the light bulb) which is aware of the movements of the mind.
In the page definition of happiness, I describe the 3 types of happiness as pleasure, satisfaction and happy for no reason.
When we are primarily identified with our ourselves as being our self-image, we will inevitably seek to change ourselves through self-improvement or seek to change the circumstances in our lives in order to find happiness.
Ultimately, authentic happiness comes from discovering who we really are beyond thoughts and thinking - the unchanging awareness which is always happy.
For me, a regular meditation practice has helped immeasurably in learning to break the identification with thoughts and reconnect with the unchanging awareness which is ever at peace.
The biggest block to happiness for most people is addictive thinking - the compulsive preoccupation and identification with with the contents of the mind.
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