Have you ever asked yourself what happiness really is? To some people, happiness seems like an illusion, something unreal or, at least, a state that doesn’t last long. Maybe you’ve decided that to feel happy you need to buy a big, beautiful house. So you work month after month, year after year, to save enough money. One day, you finally move in to the big house you worked so hard to achieve. But time passes, and you soon realize that your search for happiness has begun again. When will the cycle end?

Happiness is real, but it is a state of mind. It’s like a cloud that comes and goes across the sky. Clouds have many interesting shapes and eye-catching colors. And just like clouds, happiness is always moving—moving from one thing to the next and the next. That is its nature.

But joy is different from happiness—it functions in the heart. Joy is like the blue sky that is always there behind the clouds. With joy, you have to discover what you already have, accept it, and truly live it. Yet almost no one wants to make the quantum shift necessary to discover joy.

The goal of all Eastern training and spiritual practice is to discover joy. Yet, in order to feel happiness or joy, your body has to function in balance so your mind can be balanced. Deep meditation and Qigong teach you to have a peaceful, empty heart. While the mind can be peaceful, that’s not the deepest level of practice. In the East, we believe the mind is supported by the heart. A peaceful mind is never talked about as the ultimate goal—it’s opening the heart, having a peaceful heart full of unconditional love.

Happiness is a “positive” emotion. Our bodies, minds, emotions and spirits are interconnected and each aspect of being has a great impact on the health of the whole individual. So happiness is a good emotion to have. But a state of happiness cannot be maintained indefinitely. Grasping for happiness all the time will make you unbalanced, and when it leaves, you will continue to search for it without end. When will the search be enough? When will you be content with what you have?

Joy is not achieved. It has to be discovered. Joy is deeply woven into your body, mind and spirit. It’s within, just like your innate healing ability. But we become distracted and unaware of what is really ours, and then we confuse happiness with true joy. Yet no matter what, joy is there all the time underneath everything else. It’s with you all the time. Discovering joy requires a change in consciousness.

Joy does not rely on action, or on external circumstances or events. It’s something that comes internally. When you are happy, you always want to continue doing something, to extend the happiness with more action. Happiness is more on the superficial or physical level: you can see it, think about it, and feel it—it’s outside, it’s external.

Joy has great depth; it is an invisible aspect of this reality. Happiness manifests itself in the visible; it has no real depth. In a way, they reflect Yin and Yang, the duality of our existence. Can you see the difference in your life?

Mind, Body, Spirit, TCM

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