1. Notice what your mind does when something good is happening to you. Is it able to stay fully present and really receive the joy of it? Or do you start thinking about how the experience could be even better or how you could have more of the source of your happiness? Or do you start thinking about something else that’s unpleasant? When you catch your mind acting in this manner, go back to experiencing the happiness with gratitude.
2. Begin to familiarize yourself with each of the three kinds of happiness that are discussed in the article “Three Kinds of Happiness.” Can you find examples both past and present of each kind of happiness in your own life? Be particularly interested in distinguishing between happiness based on conditions and happiness that comes from being in a good mood.
3. Observe those moments in your life when happiness is replaced by suffering. They may be small moments of happiness, such as finding a parking space or enjoying a good meal, or something greater. But notice that when your happiness is based on conditions it always disappears or changes. Next observe that at times your happiness is so buoyant it is not affected by unpleasant conditions that arise. Begin to observe that these states of mind also don’t last. Be interested in what causes them to disappear.
4. You are most likely able to get a foretaste of absolute happiness during meditation practice or immediately afterward. Your mind will be characterized by stillness and spaciousness in which painful body sensations or thoughts concerning difficult situations in your life may arise, yet they don’t disturb your mind. Although this foretaste may be brief, notice that your mind doesn’t object to how life is in such moments.
5. Begin to place more attention on those times when you’re happy, and deliberately pay less attention to those times when you’re discontent. Notice if you’re more compassionate toward others when you’re happy and if your heart is more open such that you see more clearly what is suffering and what is not.