There are so many unusual things in this world.
For example, a durian. The people who like durian say it's the king of fruit, with a unique taste that leaves a delicious aftertaste. Those who dislike durian think it smells awful and stay far away from it. Then, does a durian actually taste good or bad?
Another example: naughty kids. Some think such children have bad manners, while others think they are energetic. If kids are not naughty, some think they are obedient and steady, while others think they are lacking in creativity. Then, are naughty kids good or bad?
Human life, in fact, is a reflection of the outward world in our mind. It is always the case that we react, judge, and feel because of outward things. This inward feeling is what we call "affliction" or "happiness".
Reaction to outward things is determined by our knowledge, experience and mental structure. What is the difference between a person who feels upset when he is stepped on or bumps his head and someone suffering from a fatal illness who hopes the doctor treats him as soon as possible? In this case, he is willing and eager to accept even injections and operations.
Thus, it is clear where both affliction and happiness derive: mental structures, together with outward things, create all kinds of happiness and pain.
Generally, we seek from what is outside of us with all our efforts, such as material things, hoping to change others, deal with everything skillfully , and expect everyone to be nice to us.
However, outward things and experiences are usually out of our control. We are not sure when in the future there will be an earthquake, or when we will come down with a fatal illness. We do not even know who we will run into at the next street-corner, or if our heart will cease to beat in the next instant.
Therefore, we cannot find happiness relying on what is outside of us, because it is ever-changing. Within our mind, however, we have the power to change by ourselves. Mentally changing a way of judgment is far more reliable than changing a durian's taste or a child’s personality, or finding out a method not to get ill and die.
It is quite possible to change our mind to be brighter and brighter, more and more compassionate, more flexible, and more generous and assured so that we are empowered to meet whatever comes from outside of us, to be always happy and far from all that might bring us pain.
There is a saying in Buddhism: do not seek from without.
Happiness, if established on an outward basis, will not be stable. If we think we can obtain happiness by getting something from without, we set up the wrong goal. We, therefore, will not be able to gain neither happiness nor peace of mind.