“Throughout history human beings have sought to improve their external situation, yet despite all our efforts we are no happier. It is true that from the point of view of material development many countries are making progress. Technology is becoming more and more sophisticated, and worldly knowledge has increased dramatically. We know so many things we did not know before and can do things we never even dreamt of. Superficially it looks as if our world is improving, but if we look a little more deeply we shall see that there are now many problems that never existed before. Terrifying weapons have been invented, our environment is being poisoned, and new diseases are appearing. Even simple pleasures like eating or lying in the sun are becoming more dangerous.
The result of an unbridled pursuit of happiness from external sources is that our planet is being destroyed and our lives are becoming more complicated and dissatisfying. It is time we sought happiness from a different source. Happiness is a state of mind, so the real source of happiness must lie within the mind, not in external conditions. “If our mind is pure and peaceful we shall be happy, regardless of our external circumstances, but if it is impure and unpeaceful we can never be truly happy, no matter how hard we try to change our external conditions. We could change our home or our partner countless times, but until we change our restless, discontented mind we shall never find true happiness.
If we have to walk across rough and thorny ground, one way of protecting our feet is to cover the whole ground with leather, but this is not very practical. We can achieve the same result in a much simpler way – by covering our feet. Similarly, if we wish to protect ourself from suffering we can either try to change the whole world to make it conform to our wishes, or we can change our mind. Until now we have been trying to change the world, but this clearly has not worked. Now we need to change our mind.”
Excerpt From: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. “Eight Steps to Happiness.” iBooks.