Oakville Zen Meditation

#145 Happiness vs. Serenity Is there a difference? Feb. 04 17

                               Happiness vs. Serenity. Is there a difference?

Too often we equate happiness with serenity but their origin, meaning and purpose are totally different. To achieve serenity, it is important to differentiate them.

Happiness (end of XVI c= hap= “good fortune/luck “ is a genetically programmed, ego driven, genuine and transient emotional reaction whereas serenity is a state of mind that must be learned. Big difference!

In our secular Western society the search for ongoing happiness is a must whereas the search of serenity sounds to be limited to few esoteric, mystic and spiritual weird people.

Live must be exiting and good for you because you deserve it! This is how marketing genius are manipulating us.

If y we are not happy all the time, there is something wrong about because we should be able to be happy all the time. New car, new house, new job, new partner, new cruise, new adventure, etc....

The four main characteristics of happiness are:

  • Is a genetically programmed, &ego driven: happiness is a transient emotional reaction generated in our limbic system or reptilian brain. Search for happiness is normal, constant and very powerful.
  • External sources: We are seeking happiness always from outside self and not from inside because we believe that happiness cannot be self-induced but generated by numerous and various external triggers coming from somewhere or somebody else. This is why we are endlessly seeking, experiencing and accumulating new exciting stuff.
  • Length: happiness is, usually, a short lived emotion since, as soon we get what we want such as relationship, material stuff, , professional success, social status, control, etc., happiness dissolves rapidly and we automatically seek for new stuff to make us exited and happy again.

There is, in this subconscious process, some sort of addiction where we are looking for more and more of new stuff, new fun, new excitement to achieve and maintain the same level of happiness.

  • Always Up and Down like a Yo-Yo. It is impossible to stay happy for too long because, as soon as we get what we want, happiness evaporates and we are immediately looking for something new. The list of our desires and dreams is endless and our happiness will fade away sooner quickly. In other words: more stuff for the same degree of pleasure. This is called habituation and dependency.

What about serenity?

Serenity ( Latin= peaceful/calm) is a permanent state of mind that can be learned and practiced. It is not a transient emotion.

Serenity is already inside our true, genuine self but totally buried by our ego-driven mind.

Serenity is permanent inner peace like equanimity . Meditation or contemplation are the tools to achieve it.

You discover your innate serenity in many ways:

  1. When you accept things and people as they are and not as we want them to be because, most of the time, we cannot change them. This is the opposite of resisting which is causing suffering, dissatisfaction,unhappiness, anger, frustration, fear and resentment. Accepting things is key to serenity.

2) When you are not chasing for more and more new stuff all the time.

3) When you become aware of the notion of selflessness, enabling us to experience harmony with others and nature.

4)Also, serenity is achieved when, sooner or later, you realize that:

  • Nothing last including yourself and
  • We do not control anything.
  • You are not a permanent, unique, independent, self-intrinsic and separate self entity but, on the

contrary, totally interconnected and depend of your surrounding and the universe.

  • Past and future are fictional and the ways used by the mind to fool you since you exist only in

the present moment.

  • Our mind is a wonderful instrument but also our most very deceptive friend as the main source of

suffering coming not only from our ego but also our mindset in which we are stuck.

  • Our thoughts are just that: thoughts. They do exist but, being just illusions, they are not real.

We trust them only when we need them for decisions.

  • We are not what your thoughts are telling you but something far deeper.

Our true, genuine and innate self has nothing to do with your acquire, artificial, societal self.


There is nothing wrong to look for happiness and fun. No one wants to be masochistic. The message is to realize the limitation of extrinsic happiness such as its transient nature and, rather, to develop serenity.