I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness.
When we speak of this inner discipline, it can of course involve many things, many methods. But generally speaking, one begins by identifying those factors which lead to happiness and those factors which lead to suffering. Having done this, one then sets about gradually eliminating those factors which lead to suffering and cultivating those which lead to happiness. That is the way.
Our feelings of contentment are strongly influenced by our tendency to compare… Constant comparison with those who are smarter, more beautiful or more successful than ourselves also tends to breed envy, frustration and unhappiness. But we can use the same principle in a positive way; we can increase our feeling of life satisfaction by comparing ourselves to those who are less fortunate than us and by reflecting on all things we have.
If we utilise our favourable circumstances, such as our good health or wealth, in positive ways, in helping others, they can be contributory factors in achieving a happier life. And of course we enjoy these things – our material facilities, success and so on. But without the right mental attitude, without attention to the mental factor, these things have very little impact on our long term feelings of happiness. For example, if you harbour hateful thoughts or intense anger somewhere deep down within yourself, then it ruins your health; thus it destroys one of the factors.
The greater the level of calmness of our mind, the greater our peace of mind, the greater our ability to enjoy a happy and joyful life.
As long as there is a lack of the inner discipline that brings calmness of mind, no matter what external facilities or conditions you have, they will never give you the feeling of joy and happiness that you are seeking. On the other hand, if you possess this inner quality, a calmness of mind, a degree of stability within, then even if you lack various external facilities that you would normally consider necessary for happiness, it is still possible to live a happy and joyful life.
Taken from a guide by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.