The Zen Way of Live

Choose your Type of Happiness

In the previous article, I discussed  our struggles with finding happiness and how two parts of our brain have to work together to make the right choices in life.

Two Types of Happiness

When we take a closer look at what happiness is, we have to understand there are two ‘types’ of happiness: pleasure and bliss. We can say that pleasure is the type of happiness that makes us temporarily feel good. It is the happiness we feel when eating something nice, getting something we want or when we think, we have won something in a relation. These things mean we are more secure and so our body releases the chemicals that make us feel good and relaxed.

Desire or Disappointment?

However, these are all short-term gains; in a few hours, we feel hungry again, want something else or are disappointed in somebody’s behavior. So most of us will start to chase some other desire (and find it unsatisfactory once they fulfill it). It is actually amazing how we keep believing the fulfillment of our next desire will really-really-really make us happy. It is impossible to stay happy for long by trying to fulfill your desires: the list of desires is endless; nothing ever stays the same, and so your pleasure will fade away sooner than you think.
We can say pleasure is a result of listening to the monkey mind (our small brains). It is short-lived and will often leave you more depressed than you were. A pleasure is after all just a temporary feeling caused by the hormones released as a ‘reward’ by the monkey mind because it thinks it has done it’s job: survive and increase safety. It doesn’t know total safety is an illusion, so it keeps trying. And so will you if you keep listening to your monkey.

In the next article I will explain what bliss is and how to work on this instead of your desires.


This is the second in a series of articles about the core aspects of Zen. Concepts like the search for happiness, the illusion of self and the need for compassion seem unrelated. However, by exploring these facets one by one I hope to show how they together form a beautiful and practical guide for life: the Zen philosophy. You can read the previous article here:

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