The phrase “happiness is what you know” recently popped into my mind. As in dreams, where our understanding of the story is deeper than the semantic plotline, I understood the meaning of this phrase beyond the particular words that carried it--I reckon it meant that our sources of happiness needn’t necessarily be limited to our circumstance at any given time.
You know what I’m saying: the farmer may endure heartbreak and financial hardship amidst her physically taxing work, but she is made happy by the knowledge that her products sustain her customers and her land. Things like that.
(And there are probably other words for this than happiness. Satisfaction, for instance. Or maybe joy. But those weren’t the words that popped into my mind, so I’ll leave it be).
Sometimes when I want to be happier, I go for eating chocolate or taking a nap. Delights such as these are characterized by experiencing stimuli instead of savoring our thoughts. Pretty available to anyone not living in abject poverty. Sometimes pleasures like these are just the ticket, but other times they lead us astray.
And sometimes things get really bad, and we find ourselves in such dire straights that we can’t contrive a single experience to make us feel happy. But we always have our brains with us; we always have our minds. Its storehouses are full of things we know. We can delight in those, too.