Scriptures inform us that human beings are spirit souls with material bodies. A soul is constitutionally eternal, conscious and blissful. The soul always seeks happiness, which is its natural state. One can understand this by an example of a child who is naturally playful. However, having accepted a material body, a human being comes under ignorance and his consciousness gets polluted. The soul gets bewildered about what is true happiness. For example, some people consider heavy drinking, meat-eating, illicit-sex, smoking, gambling, etc as true happiness.
So, what is real happiness ? Is it peace of mind or good physical health ? Or, is it being wealthy ? Are bodily sense pleasures, like eating a hearty meal, true happiness ? Or, is it a prospect of a secure future ? Will doing what a person likes give him happiness ? Or, is it being satisfied, gaining name and fame that brings happiness ? Some people say that they feel happy since they sleep well. Others who eat heartily consider themselves happy. Those who have set lives – a nice routine - consider themselves content. Being relatively free of problems is also considered happiness. Westerners coming to India are amazed to see labourers engaged in breaking stones in extreme heat and still chatting happily. Are these labourers happy ? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, because they have found some happiness. No, because happiness is much more than that.
So what is true happiness ? We can understand happiness by the example of Mother Teresa, who was a true embodiment of happiness. She used to be brimming with energy even into her eighties. She had all the opulences ; received big donations ; was famous ; was knowledgeable, was greatly renounced, evidenced by her spartan living quarters – that is, being without even a fan in hot and humid Calcutta - and she was beautiful with her inner glow. Yet, she remained most humble. Above all, she was constantly engaged in helping and serving others.
We learn from the scriptures how to obtain happiness. A person feels happy when his mind is peaceful. Only a healthy and controlled mind can be peaceful. Mind is fickle, agitating, strong and obstinate by nature. When not controlled, it tends to attain these qualities, which are painful for the soul. Mind is like a helicopter - a very powerful instrument in the hands of its owner but if one loses its control, one is doomed. He then needs help from God. Lord Krishna confirms in Bhagavad-Geeta : "One who is not connected with the Supreme can have neither transcendental intelligence nor a steady mind, without which there is no possibility of peace. And, how can there be any happiness without peace ?" (2.66) And, God is ever willing to help the surrendered souls. "By surrendering to Me, you shall become free of fear” (18.66).
The next requirement is to serve God. Human beings, as souls, are fragments of God. These parts must serve the whole because that is their constitutional position. One can never be happy without serving others. Generally, a person remains busy in serving his own senses and mind, which refuse to be satisfied. One must serve, like Mother Teresa - selflessly and sincerely.
Additionally, one must be free from the defects of lust, anger, greed, illusion, envy and pride, since they pollute the mind, thereby making it unhealthy. Material body has four demands - eating, sleeping, mating and defending. These, however, should not become one's life. Lord Krishna disproves such a mentality of considering sense gratification and opulent life as everything (2.42-43). Therefore, giving too much importance to such activities does not indicate a high level of real spiritual intelligence.
Spiritual intelligence provides the information for being able to connect with God, a necessary condition to control one’s mind. Therefore, to be happy one must connect to God, which shall ensure a controlled mind. Such a person lives every moment of his life. He will be naturally inclined to serve others. He then attains the constitutional position of the soul, that is, sat or security, chit or pure consciousness. Only a pure mind can be peaceful and blissful. This state is the state of true happiness.