Western and Eastern Views of Happiness

Western Ideas of Happiness

In the West, happiness is often associated with conquest and acquisition.  At a more personal level, this tends to equate to materialism and striving for more. More money, greater beauty, more sex or more power. Yet, this striving has the potential to undo the very thing that we are searching for.  An inexhaustible appetite for more, means that our satisfaction is only ever, at best, temporary.  It is not long before we are wanting more. Social media exacerbates this tendency to compare ourselves, and inevitably we judge ourselves as lacking. This mindset of striving also makes it difficult to feel satisfied with what we already have, or to live in the present moment.

Eastern Ideas of Happiness

Eastern philosophies offer a different perspective.  The mind is regarded as the seat of happiness. Happiness arises from within. Happiness can be cultivated by settling the mind and letting go of striving.  This brings contentment, one can be at peace with what is.  However, this is not a passive process.  Far from it.  Acceptance is an active process of letting go, remaining present whilst not falling into detachment. 

Happiness arises from our Mind

Typically, our mind is a busy place. Thoughts arise unbidden, seemingly often from nowhere.  The mind is impossible to control.  Yet, it is our mind that interprets the world and determines our experience within it.  We can observe our mind and in so doing, come to understand more about how it works.  For example, the mind tends to split things into good or bad, black or white.  The mind also likes to hold on to certainty and resist the discomfort of change, fails to recognise that all things are always changing.  The mind is also inclined to isolate us, to overlook that we are interconnected with other people and the environment.

By training the mind, it becomes possible to live more in the here and now.  This is distinct from detachment.  A less reactive mind is a more equanimous, accepting mind, this is the path to true well-being.

In conclusion, philosophy serves as a rich tapestry of wisdom, offering diverse perspectives on the pursuit of happiness and contentment. By drawing upon these philosophical insights, individuals can embark on a journey of self-discovery and cultivate a deeper sense of fulfillment.

At the Centre for Clinical Psychology we understand that trauma, anxiety and depression can detract from wellbeing and treatment can help people get their lives back on track. Call to book with one of our psychologists. We know trauma therapy and we can help you with depression and anxiety.  We can also support you to find greater peace and wellbeing.  To speak with one of our psychologists, call to book an appointment 03 9077 0122 or book online at www.ccp.net.au.