True happiness comes from contentment and a deep sense of understanding
I want to talk about Happiness especially in relation to how it is often confused, which is with joy, or more specifically euphoria. Joy and happiness are often thought of synonymously, but I believe when we examine them deeper, they are different. I believe that joy is a feeling, and that happiness is more a state of being. One can and often does experience joy when they are happy but to be joyous or euphoric does not necessarily make one happy.
In particular it is the ephemeral and superficial nature of joy that contrasts it with happiness. Joy is typically caused by outside events or happenstance, which we by now know are things that are outside of our control, and which can be taken from us. We can be joyous at getting a promotion, but we can be crushed when the company downsizes 4 months later, and we lose our job. We can experience joy when our team wins a game but then crushed the next night when they choke in game 7 to lose a series (Atlanta/Georgia sports fan here so trust me I know pain). Likewise, we experience joy when we do a line of cocaine, the pleasure center of our brain lights up, but the next day, with our serotonin depleted and our high gone, we feel miserable.
Joy is impermanent, and fickle, it can turn to loss, heartbreak or despair at the toss of a die, and for gamblers it is. Happiness is different. Joy is dependent on things, circumstances, things outside our control while happiness is learned over time and comes from a deep sense of knowledge of oneself, their place in the universe, and their inherent sense of self-worth, things that cannot be taken. This level of understanding takes time and as it is learned it is strengthened, and it cannot be easily taken away. Just as an athlete spends years developing their body and skills, which will remain mostly intact even after periods of inactivity, so , too the happy person is able to remain happy.
The high of a huge raise or winning the lottery eventually wears off
Being happy does not mean constantly joyous. The happy person will experience pain and sorrow when they lose a beloved, like the woman who loses her husband after 50 years. Yes, she hurts, but if she is truly happy, she will be able to remain happy throughout. By being happy in herself she has prepared herself for this loss, and though she misses him, she carries on, head held high, grateful for the love they shared, and grateful for the life she is blessed to carry on living.
To know true happiness is to make oneself more robust to pain, and sadness. Not immune, but certainly more resistant. Rather than chasing that which brings joy: a new car, a buzz, a better job, an orgasm, instead cultivate happiness, be grateful for yourself and be resilient. It takes time but when you get there, it will have been worth the battle.