I agree with Dan on the topic of “ synthetic happiness”. We all do have an innate ability to synthesize happiness. Once you get adept at it, you can’t tell the difference between natural and synthetic happiness, because it just becomes a state of mind. Happiness is very often a choice based on our decision.
Dan has collected scientific data to show how choices lead to unhappiness and I have collected enough non scientific data to prove the same. I met various highly accomplished individuals who had too many choices and were unhappy and on the other had individuals both accomplished and accomplished who had chosen to be happy under the given circumstances.
A few years ago , I met a lady, a very attractive Korean lady married to an attractive, very affluent man who loved her immensely. I was in a very similar situation, but both of us were miserable . We had all that a woman in her 30’s would want, loving and successful husbands, lovely children, house cars, club memberships and the works, but the basic ingredient – happiness was missing.
We met for coffee one day and tried to analyze, why we were so unhappy . We were both fairly attractive and therefore would get a fair amount of attention from the opposite sex . Instead of making us happy this was the real cause of our unhappiness. We always felt we had a choice of walking out of our marriages in search of greener pastures. We did and the results were disastrous. There were lots of tears and heart break. The green pasture was not so green after all. It was because we had taken our unhappiness with us on our travels .
Starting middle of last year, we both made a conscious effort at “synthesizing happiness”. I started appreciating my life and started looking out for what was right and not that was wrong or missing. Yes, Buddhist teaching , meditation and company of enlightened individuals helped a great deal.
I was addicted to pain killers and at one time , I was convinced I had Bipolar disorder. In my pursuit of happiness , I actually chased it away. Since I started synthesizing happiness, I have not needed any painkiller of any sort. Its now been almost two years that synthesized happiness has been my painkiller.
So getting back to the question of synthetic happiness and natural happiness , in my view it is all a matter of choice and outlook. If we think about the law of impermanence, we can rest assured that whatever it may be , happiness or misery , it will not endure. So choose happiness .