We spend most of our time seeking to become happy, as though something important needs to be found, accomplished, or otherwise added to our experience in the present moment. We’re always solving problems—meeting deadlines, running errands, fulfilling desires, defending opinions, reacting to other people—and every implied end to our efforts reveals itself to be a mirage.
The question of finding “meaning” in life is just a component of this search. We want to be able to tell ourselves a satisfying story about who we’ve been, who we are, and who we’re becoming. Of course, it makes sense to do whatever we can to secure a good life—to find satisfying work, to maintain our health, to form deep friendships, and to create a happy family. But it is also terrifying to have our well-being entirely depend upon the shifting sands of experience and the stories we tell ourselves.
The great power of mindfulness is that it can reveal a sense of well-being that is intrinsic to simply being conscious in each moment. This is a deeper discovery than finding “meaning” in one’s life, though it is entirely compatible with it. Through mindfulness, we can discover that whatever we may seek to accomplish in life, we can never truly become happy. We can only be happy. Making this discovery, again and again and again, is the essence of the practice.