A while ago, I came across a comic strip depicting a man asserting,’I want happiness!’ The other man in the comic strip erases the word ‘I’, saying that it stands for ego/selfishness, and then the word ‘want’, that stands for one’s desires. The only thing left in the speech bubble is ‘happiness.’
It is quite a well known Buddhist maxim that limiting one’s desires can increase one’s happiness. We will always have desires – we can’t get away from that fact – but we can take care to not have too many, too trivial ones. There is nothing wrong with the desires themselves, but when they aren’t brought to fruition, we feel upset, sad or angry.
Thus, happiness is born within us when we are at peace with the world around us. Quoting John Stuart Mill, “I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them.”