My Account

What Is the Difference Between Happiness and Peace?

The heart opens and closes like a flower.

My Heart Has to Be Fully Open For Me to Be Peaceful, Is that True?

Happiness and peace are confusing words. It depends on how you define them. For me, happiness means sunshine, smiles, getting what I want. And peace is something quiet inside of me that is there even when I don’t get what I want.

My heart opens and closes like a flower blossom in reaction to everything I experience. I experience happiness when my heart is open. And I don’t experience happiness when my heart is closed.

Most of my life has been spent trying to find ways to keep my heart open, so I can keep enjoying the happiness. This often involves trying to “set things up” in my life so that I will have sunshine, and smiles, and green fields around me.

But It Never Really Works

The problem with sunshine is that it only lasts half the day. The problem with smiles is that they only last a few seconds. The problem with green fields is that they eventually turn brown and die.

So my happiness is always dependent on something that is changing. It is insecure. And I live in hopes of finding more happiness and in fear of losing any happiness that comes my way. It makes me want to control my world. And it makes me feel frustrated when I can’t.

But Peace Is Something Different

For me, peace is a quietness inside. An awareness. That does not depend on good or bad. My peace does not depend even on the degree of openness or closedness of my heart.

Peace feels closer to just simply who I am. The one who experiences both the ups and downs of life. When I identify with this, I do not need to control my world. I can be peaceful even if I’m not getting what I want.

The Work Helps Me Find Peace

By balancing out my wants.

When I question what I want (sunshine, smiles, and green fields), I often find that not getting what I want is also fine with me. Through inquiry, I often come to see surprising value in the darkness that comes every night so I can rest my eyes, and in the frowns from time to time that test my evenness, and even in the brown, dying fields that lay compost down for the next year’s growth.)

The Work helps me find balance. “Good” is no longer everything to me. And “bad” is no longer so bad to me. I become less attached to good, and less averse to bad. I become less craving of happiness, and less scared of unhappiness. I start to care less about whether my heart is open or not. I stop trying to control my world. I stop trying to control my heart.

This is Peace

And ironically, it is the door to happiness. When I no longer am fighting to keep my heart open. When I no longer am fighting to keep things happy and good then, ironically, my heart starts to open anyway.

Because it has no reason not to open. My mind is open to finding the good in everything. And when my mind sees no badness, my heart has no reason not to stay wide open. Which is, of course, my favorite thing: pure happiness.

Weird how letting go of my attachment to happiness leads me closer to happiness.

Have a great week,

“Happiness is the natural state for someone who knows that there’s nothing to know and that we already have everything we need, right here now.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.