If you were to ask me, “What is the key, essential component of happiness?” or, “What is a fundamental element of happiness? my answer would be simultaneously simple , yet very complicated. Here, I’d like to explore the fundamental element of happiness. When we “get it,” when we understand it, when we live by it, we will be happy. What is it? What is the fundamental key to happiness? Though it may seem very easy, finding the key to happiness can be one of life’s most difficult and elusive tasks; yet it is possible. It is absolutely possible.
First, let’s explore what causes suffering. Why do we suffer? Some time ago, there was a woman with whom I worked who really struggled with life, although she was a wonderful person. One of the biggest sources of her unhappiness was her weight. She felt as though she was too heavy and thus unattractive, and she was very self-critical of this fact. She once related to me an episode that had occurred years and years ago, perhaps 10 years prior to the time that I worked with her, when she and her husband were out on a dinner date. Her husband made a comment about her weight which wasn’t kind. He immediately took it back, and apologized profusely for what he had said, but in her head she kept hearing the hurtful remark over and over again. His words stayed in her mind and unfortunately, she added to this barrage of negativity by commenting upon her own weight over and over again in very damaging ways. Even though her husband had only made the comment once, ten years prior, his words kept resonating in her brain and his remark, along with her own negative self-criticism, caused her great suffering.