6 Questions to Ask Yourself If You Want to Feel Happier

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Happiness can be a loaded word and can mean something different to each person. But here at Buddhability, we want to share a few questions we ask ourselves to check in on how we’re feeling and if we’re actually living a happy life. Because remember, happiness exists within us.

  1. Do I feel fulfilled on a daily basis?

Right from the jump this question could feel a little intimidating, but it’s an important question to ask ourselves. If you answer, No, that’s okay! And if you answered, Yes, that’s great!

What helps is, at the start of the day, write out a few tasks (how many is up to you) that you want to accomplish that day.

  1. What’s my morning routine?

Nothing is more impactful on our day than our mornings. For Buddhists, the morning is a fresh start, regardless of what happened the day before. There’s no guilt in Buddhism, and it’s all about looking forward, not being a prisoner of our past.

When we do our Buddhist practice on the daily (chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and reciting brief portions of the Lotus Sutra, which most learn within the first few months of practice), we are choosing how our day will go.

Our morning routine begins with tapping into our Buddhability. It’s the best way to start the day.

  1. Am I staying true to myself?

We live in a time when it’s getting harder and harder to decipher right from wrong with the influx of misinformation and social media. So, how can we stay true to ourselves?

The Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda shares how:

You must respect your life. You will be unhappy if you allow yourselves to be swayed by society’s prejudices, passing trends and contradictions. Never forget to live true to your convictions.

Discussions on Youth, p. 27

Staying true to ourselves doesn’t mean we ignore self-improvement. Rather it begins with respecting our life and staying true to our convictions.

Staying true to ourselves doesn’t mean we ignore self-improvement. Rather it begins with respecting our life and staying true to our convictions.

  1. Do I turn to negativity first?

Having an optimistic attitude has nothing to do with glossing over or not acknowledging the real pain of a situation. There is no denial of suffering or traumatic experiences in Buddhism.

Rather, when we talk about optimism, it’s not toxic positivity, which seeks to deny the harm that can exist in our lives and society. Ikeda elaborates on what it really means to have an optimistic or positive attitude: 

To regard everything in a positive light or with a spirit of goodwill, however, does not mean being foolishly gullible and allowing people to take advantage of our good nature. It means having the wisdom and perception to actually move things in a positive direction by seeing things in their best light, while all the time keeping our eyes firmly focused on reality. Faith and the teachings of Buddhism enable us to develop that kind of character.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, p. 17

The starting point of our Buddhability is that the power to change our life exists within us. Nowhere else. While squarely facing reality, we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the belief that within our own life exists limitless possibilities. With this belief and action, we can achieve seemingly impossible results.

Ikeda continues:

Mahatma Gandhi was, in his own words, an “irrepressible optimist.” But his hope was not based on an objective analysis of the conditions that faced him. Rather, it was based on his absolute faith in the “infinite possibilities of the individual.” In the same way, the great dream of equality and human dignity that possessed Martin Luther King Jr., was a dream upheld by the force of diamondlike faith and will.

Daisaku Ikeda

  1. Am I living courageously?

If you’re reading this, then you are! Why? Because it takes courage to make efforts toward creating a happy life. Ikeda shares how courageous people can create the lives they want:

If you summon your courage to challenge something, you’ll never be left with regret. How sad it is to spend your life wishing, “If only I’d had a little more courage.” Whatever the outcome may be, it is important to take a step forward on the path that you believe is right. There’s no need to worry about what others may think. Be true to yourself. It’s your life, after all.

Discussions on Youth, p. 329

  1. How tolerant am I?

Happiness is not something that just exists in isolation. It’s important to be broad-minded and open people whose presence puts others at ease. If we constantly judge or criticize others, that is a major sign of intolerance.

Happiness is not something that just exists in isolation. It’s important to be broad-minded and open people whose presence puts others at ease.

Ikeda emphasizes the quality of tolerance contributing to our happiness, which doesn’t mean “anything goes,” but rather that people enjoy being around us because they feel respected.

When we check in with ourselves and ask these six questions from time to time, we can get a sense of what we can do to polish our humanity. Some of us may relate to and some of us may struggle with these 6 questions, and that’s okay! Buddhism is about the present and the future. Just by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo regularly and making efforts to positively contribute to the relationships and communities in our life, before we know it, all of these qualities will become our strengths.

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