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Inner happiness vs striving/pleasure



New member
Oct 11, 2018
Hello, I'm new to this forum so please forgive me if this post is not really right for this section of the forum!

To give you a bit of a background, I'm 37 and have suffered on and off with anxiety and depression for my entire adult life. The last year or two I've had something of a dip after around 4-5 years of relatively no anxiety or depression at all. Anyway, my anxiety will obviously - as is its nature - take the form of repetitive thought and endless dialogue in my head.

Anyway, I have found that mindfulness, Buddhist teachings etc have helped me somewhat in my recovery, but one thing that has been particularly troubling me recently centres on a central teaching of mindfulness/meditation/Buddhism etc that I simply can't get my head around. Essentially, one of the core beliefs is that happiness comes from within and should not relate to external conditions, successes, circumstances. Which leads me to the question of what the point of really doing anything is??

For example, I love travelling and am looking forward to my next trip. However, this is an external thing, so essentially why should I bother travelling to Berlin or Seville or Budapest or Vienna or any of these places excite me, when supposedly I should be just as happy sitting in an empty room surrounded only by four walls. Likewise, why should I get excited/feel happy when my football team win a match, because surely I should derive my happiness from within and therefore be equally pleased with a 5-0 defeat as with a 5-0 win. This idea troubles me greatly, and leads into an existential minefield of anxiety, because it just makes me think that everything is meaningless and pointless.

This teaching also then leads to a very overwhelming and severe feeling of guilt whenever I enjoy something/feel joy, because I start thinking "stop it, you shouldn't be feeling happy your team won/you had a tasty meal/you're visiting a new place, because happiness should NOT be linked to external circumstances, it should be just derived internally!!"

I appreciate I may have misinterpreted (or rather the anxious voice in my head has) this teaching/concept, and would like people to put me right on this and explain their own interpretation of the "happiness not based on external circumstances" concept. I play this argument over in my head over and over and over again, and I really wish I could find some respite from it, and something that helps me understand this teaching with more clarity. Please help.

Many thanks


Well-known member
Jan 19, 2018
Happiness is overrated!

Hiya and welcome Knocky;

I attended a lecture at Uni a while ago called; 'Is happiness overrated?' It explored the pro's and con's of expectations and lifestyles, but didn't actually explain what happiness was because it's so subjective.

In my opinion, you should be thanking the Universe for those 5 yrs. I mean, how amazing is that?!!! Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING after mental illness is a huge bonus! A trip around Europe? Oh how wonderful for you! Please my sweet; accept joy, peace, love and eager anticipation for what it truly is...a beautiful privilege.

After breaking my brain and suffering debilitating anxiety/panic, my happiness was found in 30 seconds of peace in my mind and body. That calm cannot be expressed as anything but pure happiness. Not the kind that has you jumping for joy; the kind that makes sense and helped me heal giving me the will to live.

You think too much! Happiness 'is' found within you. The Buddhist's are correct in this respect. It's the feeling you get from being grateful that God put you in a position where you can travel and see the world.

We all have a purpose; I've learned not to question the gifts God provides no matter their origin, or how painful or beautiful they might be. On your trip, you may find an opportunity begging you to take it up with both hands - and leads to greatness. Your happiness and ability to overcome great suffering is an absolute asset.

If you're not experiencing life, then you won't have anything valuable to offer your community. You're not a monk, you're a person born to certain privilege, so why feel guilt for that?

Sending kind and warm thoughts your way...

Macka :flower2::hug5:


Meditation and the practice of mindfulness is something that I’m still learning but try my best to practice in correlation with my own faith However, I can't speak of Buddhist teachings as it's not something I practice nor have much understanding of and so I don't want to offend. Perhaps our idea of mindfulness/meditation is different and so my answer won't be of much helps in regards to your own beliefs/teachings.

In short, Mindfulness is essentially to be 'present' and to gain self-awareness and understanding, if not 'control' of your own feelings and emotions. It’s kind of like taking an inside look at yourself from the outside. I too have the belief that 'happiness' should be derived internally first and fourth most, and that external aka 'worldly and material' things and circumstance will only give you happiness that is fleeting and temporary - as they say; 'money can’t buy you happiness'

However, that’s not to say that you shouldn't do the things you enjoy, like going on holiday because it makes you feel happy. You shouldn't feel guilty for feeling joy. If you have the chance to enjoy life then take it! If anything, I feel blessed to have things that make me feel anything good because as someone who has depression, I struggle immensely to find anything that makes me feel happy , and God knows I struggle to find it from within, but when I remember to be mindful, I remember to feel blessed, and to feel gratitude speaks much for you as a person.

It really is who you are inside that counts - your soul, if you will. That’s why mindfulness is such a great practice, it makes you self-aware and to be self-aware allows you the chance to self-improve. Happiness in general is quite subjective, I find. I haven't really figured it out yet myself.

All the best!
Poopy Doll

Poopy Doll

Well-known member
Jun 13, 2015
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
"stop it, you shouldn't be feeling happy your team won/you had a tasty meal/you're visiting a new place, because happiness should NOT be linked to external circumstances, it should be just derived internally!!"

Basically, you are 'shoulding' on yourself. Don't 'should' on yourself. You are where you are at and can identify this, where you are at.

Being disabled, I wish I could travel like you. When I do travel a little bit locally, I am aware that it is all maya but I enjoy a little maya. It's a gradual process to become disenchanted with the outer beautiful things. You don't become disenchanted by next Tuesday because you learned some concept from a book or a meeting or even a teacher. Tiring of the world's enchantments is a later stage.

Just a few thoughts. Hope you are well.