For many people happiness is the uncatchable butterfly in the garden of life. Imagine a young child in the garden on a summer day. The child sees a beautiful butterfly flitting from flower to flower. With eyes of wonder the child wants to see it close up, touch it, and hold it in their hands. They run towards the flower that the butterfly is resting on, with arms out stretched, only to find as he just gets in reach, the butterfly moves to another flower. The child follows the butterfly to the next flower, and then the next, but the butterfly always stays just out of reach!
As adults, happiness can seem just like that butterfly, always just out of reach. It becomes almost an obsession and the words "if only" become an increasingly large part of our thoughts. If only I had more money I would be happy, if only I was in a great relationship I would be happy, if only I could have a different job... and the list goes on. Even if we achieve one of our "if only" desires, the happiness we seek is still just out of our reach. If this becomes your focus, we find that unhappiness just keep growing in your life.
You won't satisfy your unhappiness from the outside. No one and nothing can "make" you feel happy if you don't feel it inside first, and that comes from internal peace. Things that happen to you, or things people say to you, can make you happy for a moment but they really won't effect your inner self.
That's because true happiness is an emotion, and it comes from inside. When you find and embrace who you are as a person, you get closer to feeling happiness. When you take care of your mind, soul, body, and heart, you start to feel happier in your day-to-day life. You take care of those things by working on your thoughts, your finances, your relationships, your health, and your spiritual practice.
Contentment is the feeling of happiness lasting for longer than a moment, and you will start to feel contented when more and more of your inner life (what you think) and your outer life (what you do and say) matches your values.
Is happiness an elusive butterfly for you? Spend some time in quiet reflection. Are you neglecting one of the four important parts of who you are and experiencing a sense of emptiness within? The more you discover, embrace and accept your uniqueness and purpose, the more you will experience the butterfly of happiness alighting on your shoulder.