Why does happiness never last?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
MrLearner
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:32 pm

Why does happiness never last?

Post by MrLearner » Mon Aug 29, 2016 4:48 pm

Hello everyone,

While this is a fundamental truth in buddhism. I would like to know why this is? I have noticed that we often think

when I buy a new car I'll be happy
when I buy a new house I'll be happy
when I go on vacation I'll be happy

but after a while this happiness vanishes and does not last. Is their some scientifice or some buddhist explanation for this.

Also if happiness never lasts, why does goal in life should be trying to live a happy life, when you know it wont last long anyway.


Thanks

User avatar
ryanM
Posts: 355
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:13 pm

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by ryanM » Mon Aug 29, 2016 5:01 pm

Just a quick response, but happiness is dependent upon the conditions from which it arose. Sorry for the wording, but that's how it makes sense to say it in my head. Sensual happiness is always short-lived because it requires physical stimulus for the most part. Since we have to eat, sleep, clean and defecate, it requires a lot of energy to sustain that level of stimulus. Our minds don't tend to stay with one object for too long anyways.

Anyways, best of luck!
sabbe dhammā nālaṃ abhinivesāya

"nothing whatsoever should be clung to"

User avatar
Virgo
Posts: 1446
Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:52 pm

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by Virgo » Mon Aug 29, 2016 5:12 pm

MrLearner wrote:Hello everyone,

While this is a fundamental truth in buddhism. I would like to know why this is? I have noticed that we often think

when I buy a new car I'll be happy
when I buy a new house I'll be happy
when I go on vacation I'll be happy

but after a while this happiness vanishes and does not last. Is their some scientifice or some buddhist explanation for this.
Happiness based on impermanent nama and rupa, which just arise and fall, will never be true, lasting happiness. Our mistake is we see what is not lasting as lasting, what is not self as self, what is not pleasurable as pleasurable, and so on.

True happiness can never come from clinging to worldly phenomena, because what we desire is based on causes and conditions and inevitably fades away, changes...
MrLearner wrote: Also if happiness never lasts, why does goal in life should be trying to live a happy life, when you know it wont last long anyway.


Thanks
Because of our underlying tendencies of attachment, aversion, and ignorance, which are so strong... so deeply rooted. It's hard to see how things are without very strong concentration and mindfulness, that is why insight meditation is recommended, so we can develop lasting insight into phenomena.

User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
Posts: 3754
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Aug 29, 2016 7:15 pm

That's like asking “Why does water always flow downhill” or “Why do people get old?”
Virgil wrote:“The way down to Hell is easy.
The gates of black Dis stand open night and day.
But to retrace one’s steps and escape to the upper air —
that is toil, that is labour.” (Virgil, the Aeneid)
The thing is, we have the opportunity to renounce the inferior happiness of sensual pleasures to pursue the higher happiness of spiritual development.

A former king who became a monk attained Arahantship, and enjoyed the bliss of nibbāna. When he started going about uttering, “Oh, what bliss?” his fellow monks thought that he was recollecting the former sensual pleasures that he had enjoyed as a king, and reported the matter to the Buddha.

The Buddha explained that he had attained Arahantship, and so enjoyed the incomparable happiness of liberation.

Even if we cannot attain such spiritual heights, we can compare the happiness and peace that comes from meditation to that which comes from mundane pleasures like listening to music. Both are pleasurable and bring happiness, but which is better?
BlogPāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

SarathW
Posts: 10514
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by SarathW » Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:24 pm

Also if happiness never lasts, why does goal in life should be trying to live a happy life, when you know it wont last long anyway.
According to Buddha's teaching Nibbana (unconditioned) is the highest happiness and last long.
The other happiness are based on conditioned objects so they are impermanance and Dukkha.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Dan74
Posts: 3012
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:44 pm

The way I see it, there is a deep dissatisfaction, a hunger that cannot be truly satiated with worldly things. We get a bit of a buzz, a temporary distraction from this hunger when we get something. But once the novelty wears off, we become once again aware of it. This is the deep dukkha at the core of our delusions and ignorance.
_/|\_

SalomonGhebrey
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:06 pm

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by SalomonGhebrey » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:31 pm

What is happiness?
The best you get is desire, hatred and delusion and you confuse that with happiness?
There is some pleasure derived from the fulfilment of desire and for some in hatred and delusion. I can understand to have a lifestyle based on desire, especially how woman's body can be so appealing drenched with desire. Unless you are free from desire, hatred and delusion you won't have the contrast to understand how much desire energy is painful and "undesirable".

So what is happiness? Freedom from desire, hatred and delusion. I am sure few like to be angry or delirium from excess of delusionary energy. But desire is more tricky, very appealing so don't confuse happiness with desire because this is really what you get when you are happy in your state of mind.

Meggo
Posts: 94
Joined: Tue May 07, 2013 2:42 pm

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by Meggo » Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:45 am

MrLearner wrote:Hello everyone,

While this is a fundamental truth in buddhism. I would like to know why this is? I have noticed that we often think

when I buy a new car I'll be happy
when I buy a new house I'll be happy
when I go on vacation I'll be happy

but after a while this happiness vanishes and does not last. Is their some scientifice or some buddhist explanation for this.

Also if happiness never lasts, why does goal in life should be trying to live a happy life, when you know it wont last long anyway.


Thanks
There is anticipatory hedonism and consummatory. The first depends on dopamine the second on endorphins. I think you are especially talking about anticipatory and mistake it for consummatory. Why? Because everybody does ;) So, if i am not wrong, then the fleeting feeling of happiness has to do with the with dopamins function in the first place. It is used by the brain to generate motivation to get something. This motivation can also be experienced as anticipation, presence of mind, extraverion, an upbeat fealing which will of course subside as soon you get what you wanted. It can last a little longer usually because the newness of the thing is still there and especially dopamine likes new things and unpredictability. The longer you know the thing you bought the less new it is and the more predictable it will become, so there goes your dopamine. Also if you like to pursue several things at once and/ or are rich and are able to buy stuff all the time then receptor down regulation will become an important factor, which of course is part of the cycle of drug addiction.

binocular
Posts: 5638
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by binocular » Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:13 am

MrLearner wrote:Hello everyone,
While this is a fundamental truth in buddhism. I would like to know why this is? I have noticed that we often think
when I buy a new car I'll be happy
when I buy a new house I'll be happy
when I go on vacation I'll be happy
but after a while this happiness vanishes and does not last. Is their some scientifice or some buddhist explanation for this.
Also if happiness never lasts, why does goal in life should be trying to live a happy life, when you know it wont last long anyway.
There are people who don't have this problem. It seems society at large encourages everyone to be like that -- to not view ordinary existence as unsatisfactory.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 1772
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by Bundokji » Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:31 pm

In my case, its difficult to give you an honest answer, because somehow i know that worldly happiness never lasts, but at a much deeper level, i am still asking the question and worldly happiness still matter to me.

When we ask the question "why" it implies that somehow we are convinced that things should not be this way hence we need an explanation. We ask the question because things has to make sense to us, or to put it differently, because things as they are do not make sense. This in itself is a sign that we started to notice something which the average human don't even notice it or make a big deal out of it.

The difference between the wise and the unwise is that the wise sees that "happiness never last" with a lot of clarity to the extent that he completely stops hoping or getting fooled that this world can provide lasting happiness, which is the end of disappointment/suffering.

The wise obtains a clarity of vision to the extent that the question loses its meaning, then you might get an answer like:
That's like asking “Why does water always flow downhill” or “Why do people get old?”
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

User avatar
No_Mind
Posts: 1911
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 4:12 pm
Location: India

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by No_Mind » Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:47 pm

Ask yourself the converse question. What would happen if happiness lasted?
I know one thing: that I know nothing

JohnK
Posts: 674
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:06 pm
Location: Tetons, Wyoming, USA

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by JohnK » Tue Aug 30, 2016 2:01 pm

Mr. Learner, have a look at this recent thread if you haven't seen it.
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 40#p386240
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

Dinsdale
Posts: 6135
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:11 am

binocular wrote:It seems society at large encourages everyone to be like that -- to not view ordinary existence as unsatisfactory.
There is a large advertising industry specialising in that very thing.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

binocular
Posts: 5638
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:53 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
binocular wrote:It seems society at large encourages everyone to be like that -- to not view ordinary existence as unsatisfactory.
There is a large advertising industry specialising in that very thing.
Sure. The implication in that if one hasn't found happiness in material pursuits, this means one has not tried hard enough -- either in terms of not having accumulated enough material possessions and experiences, or in terms of "being too spiritual."

I think this is something to think deeply about before one dismisses materialistic pursuits of happiness and embraces or tries to embrace a traditional Buddhist view. Maybe those materialists are onto something after all!
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

JohnK
Posts: 674
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:06 pm
Location: Tetons, Wyoming, USA

Re: Why does happiness never last?

Post by JohnK » Wed Aug 31, 2016 2:05 pm

Perhaps "ordinary" existence IS satisfactory if by ordinary one means experiencing things as they really are w/o overlays of decorative mental proliferation and unnecessary grasping and identification. ;)
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider], Bing [Bot] and 60 guests