Where happiness really comes from & why it matters

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No one who is truly happy is an asshole.

Many people appear to be full of joy, until something goes “wrong”.  The restaurant has a 20 minute wait.  Suddenly their demeanor changes.  They argue with the host and complain to other waiting customers.  Or they spend the 20 minutes in silent frowning distress until they are sat.  Only then do they allow themselves to try to regain their happy attitude, but often discover it is difficult, and they blame the restaurant.

This is how it usually happens when we’re relying on external circumstances to fuel our mood.  It often can work and feels great, until something doesn’t go according to plan, and then you are suddenly left in the cold to either begin to fuel your own good mood, or give it away to the power of something outside yourself.

True happiness is inner happiness; it is self-sustaining and doesn’t rely on anything or anyone to supply it.  When you have inner happiness, you are kinder, have more energy, are healthier, more creative, and much more resilient. You are able to give so much more to the world and other people.

This doesn’t mean that unforeseen complications won’t be an annoyance, but the person with inner happiness deals with life’s difficulties with much more ease.  You are able to spend more moments in the range of joy rather than stress.

But relying on external happiness is much more common because it’s so easy.  We just react to what is around us — easy!  We’ve been doing it since we were kids.  If we feel unhappy, we blame someone or something else.  It’s easy, we never have to take responsibility.

Inner happiness is an easy concept to understand but takes much more effort to allow.  Especially in these times we are so over-stimulated by the outside that we’ve forgotten how to get back to that internal fuel.  It’s there — it’s always been there and always will be; it just takes work to uncover it and allow it to be while we move through the world.

Both sources have been in full effect since we were kids, but now as adults we have the capacity to choose which one we want to use more.


Taking a closer look at internal & external helps us realize which one we’re relying on more at the moment.   There’s nothing inherently wrong with either mode of happiness, it’s just very important to know the difference and the need for a balance between the two:

External Happiness is reliant on something outside of yourself to be a certain way:
Weekend trip going perfectly.  Partner acting the way you want.  Enough money in the bank.  Friends remembering your birthday.  Going to Disneyland.  Getting liked & acknowledged.  Having a good hair day.  Getting the role you wanted.  Your team winning.

Often feels like: indulgent fun, a thrill, an escape, excitement, elation, smug satisfaction, justified manipulation

Relying only on he external will never secure happiness.

If you’ve been wondering why life feels like a ride of immense peaks and valleys, it’s because you’re looking mostly to the external to determine your mood.

I’ve gone through dark times where I’ve tried to control the outside to feel how I wanted on the inside.  Ironically this preoccupation with control made me feel so out-of-control and neurotic, because I saw that I could never control anything outside of myself.  Ever.  I would be frustrated over how I could be so elated one moment, then so pissed off the next — it was because I was willingly putting my emotions out there for the world to mold for me; I was shunning all responsibility and choosing to be powerless.

We were teenagers and my boyfriend could hardly manage his own emotions, so why was I relying on him for sustaining mine?  I became mean and manipulative. It took much drama and heartbreak for me to realize the futility of this, and through my regret I began my search to learn how to fuel my own feelings.

When you’re relying too much on needing the right conditions to be happy, it’s like being empty inside and continually trying to vacuum in all that you think you need to fill you up and create that sense of joy and well-being, but it’s never enough.  You’ll be walking a shaky bridge that could run out of flooring at any moment.  It takes a lot of energy and robs you of enjoying life.

It is an enormous waste of time and effort, and is inherently doomed for failure because we don’t live in a perfect world.




Internal Happiness comes from the inside and isn’t reliant on anything outside:
Feeling proud about what you’ve accomplished.  Enjoying an activity.  Appreciating what you have in life.  Loving someone as they are.  The thrill of the freedom of making a personal decision.  Knowing that you’re pursuing your dream.  Feeling good about yourself.

Often feels like: unconditional love, unconditional fun, self respect & care, curiosity, intrigue, playfulness, joy, openness

Relying on the internal is the only genuine, surefire way.

It’s how we felt at our core as little children.  It feels like good energy that comes up from inside and allows us to be and act in the world as a whole person, not someone searching for stuff from everyone else.  It is always there and can always be tapped into.  It feels like love and worthiness, joy and excitement of life itself.  Dare I tout that it’s all natural and organic?

When I’m able to get into this mode, the world feels like an amazing, interesting place, even with all it’s problems.  I feel open to whatever is happening at the moment, and I feel like I have so much to give out to others, regardless of how they receive it.  It’s not so much about spreading rainbows of joy as it is about just being open and happily allowing whatever comes up.  And being intrigued by it, as a little child is with everything.  It feels playful.  It feels slightly scary at first, yet surprisingly natural.

One of the amazing benefits of this is that a lot of things I wish I could improve, like judging people less and accepting the moment, automatically happened when I get into this mode.

And I didn’t lose my ambition or desire for change, like I had originally feared.  I was loving the moment while working towards something even better, and that was a feeling that was unlike any other externally-induced excitement.  I saw that the power for change was completely housed within myself — I lost all desire for even the most subtle manipulation or approval-seeking. It felt so free.  I felt like I could give more of myself to the world than ever before.


Mix internal and external together and you’ll have an amazing time.  But the external always has some kind of deadline of let down or disappearing.  The internal can come from the inside-out no matter what the circumstance.

I like to view it as having a sure back-up.  If the external fails to provide, I always know I can rely on my internal to fuel me through the moment.

Inner happiness makes you:

–Kinder to others, you can give so much more.

–More energy to focus on better things

–Looking for the good in life means you notice more good and starts multiplying

–Keeps you much more supple and resilient; you bounce back quicker.

–Open to more friends & opportunities

–Attract others like you

–Healthier, less stress!

–More creative, less blocks & fear

–Not needy.  Instead independent, empowered, in love with what is already here.

–The more happy moments you have, the more of a happy life you will have.

If you think about it, this true happiness is all we really want.  Everything we do has behind it, the motivation to feel a little better.  We can see that one can have too much power or too much money, but never too much happiness.

Happiness is really all we want.  It is the base of our life pursuit.  It was written into the Declaration of Independence. 

It always boggled my mind that if this is our ultimate life desire, why aren’t we focusing on achieving it in a way that is self-sustaining?  Why are we always trying to reach for the things that can be easily taken from us?

It appears to be more fun and easy to reach for the glittery stuff, but to spend an entire lifetime chasing after it and then discovering that it doesn’t hold everything you were hoping for is a wasted life.

But you can do both.  You can reach for the fun stuff while dedicating your life to practicing the inner stuff.

Realizing the difference between these things is easy to see, but is quite complicated when trying to figure out how to make a balanced shift.

This is just the basic foundation of something I have dedicated myself to studying and have been actively practicing this in my daily life. I know so many of you are also on this journey, and I will be writing about this much more in depth and sharing my findings in the upcoming posts.

3 thoughts on “Where happiness really comes from & why it matters

  1. recrudescencelotus says:

    Well said. Inner happiness changes your whole attitude and outlook on life. People are always drawn to happy positive individuals. It is as if being around people with inner happiness makes you feel lighter somehow. Thanks for this….

    • The Life Monk says:

      Thanks! That is true…I wonder how able we are to tell if the happy individual has true inner happiness or is more putting on a show? I’d like to think that as we become more aware, we develop better bullshit detectors. What do you think?

      • recrudescencelotus says:

        I agree. The truly happy people don’t try and impress, it’s effortless and it doesn’t look put on. I feel they don’t need to prove anything to anyone because they are content with life and don’t need anyone’s approval.

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