First the bad news. As a country we are not very happy and the overall level of happiness in the United States has declined over the last few decades. Using a common happiness measure, many countries are much happier than we are. Probably of greatest concern is that the level of depression is at epidemic levels. It is at levels that are two – three times higher than the not too distant past. Add to this the ever increasing and tragically high levels of suicide among the people who are defending and have defended our country and you have an urgent and tragic situation.
I wrote Ultimate Happiness, Best Proven Western and Eastern Insights About How to Be Happier Today at a point in my life when I wanted to know how to be happier. What I discovered as I began my learning was that there was some emerging insights from Western science and very deep, centuries old insights from the Eastern wisdom traditions. I also learned that there was no single source for the best Western and Eastern insights. I decided to write Ultimate Happiness to be the first comprehensive book combining the best insights from both sources.
Important point: happiness is an inner experience. Trying to seek greater happiness through the external world and things like material possessions and changing others is doomed to failure. I realize what I’ve just said is at odds with what the vast majority of people think. They think if I could only have a better car, better job, more money, and change the irksome behavior of others, then I would be happier. This is why so many people are frustrated. At some point they start to realize that greater happiness does not happen when we go down this path.
The inner work required to be happier is multidimensional and extensive. I am not going to try in the short space of this blog to even attempt a succinct overview. But please recognize that the internal work requires significant change in personal expectations, beliefs, and behaviors. Please understand that we are not “hard wired” and that because of brain plasticity we are capable of bringing about major changes in our life. To be clear, this change does not happen overnight and without consistent, persistent, purposeful effort.