Are those three words synonymous? I don't believe so. In this writing, I will endeavor to explain three different aspects of your being and apply one of these words to each.
Happiness is a human societal construct, applied with a broad brush to a wide range of life situations. You may be happy with your significant other, family, animal companions, home, career, possessions, etc. The deeper question is, are you happy with yourself?
Many corporations bet a lot of their marketing dollars that you are not happy with something about yourself. For many people, the outward appearance of happiness may be disguising something they do not wish the world to see or know. Pharmaceutical companies spend billions to treat or help minimize your physical and emotional limitations. The general message from their advertisements is that you will lead a happy life with their ongoing treatment. Cosmetic companies make billions helping you mask visual imperfections. They would have you believe that you cannot be happy with your appearance, unless you apply their visual enhancements. Alcohol companies are counting on your need to fit in with the crowd, mask your emotional difficulties or find a non-spiritual shortcut to relax and unwind. In their advertisements, everyone typically appears happy and well adjusted while consuming their beverages.
Some people even turn to chemically manufactured drugs not produced by the pharmaceutical industry. Those people are seeking the next high, or to sustain an emotional condition, in hopes of finding their elusive happiness. In those cases, word of mouth or encouragement by a "friend" usually serve as the marketing campaign.
Whether you WANT or NEED that drink or drug, is simply an exercise in verbal gymnastics. The common thread is that they are affecting you spiritually in a negative way. If you disagree, ask yourself one question. How have alcohol or drugs contributed in a positive way to your lasting happiness, spiritual growth, or the peaceful fulfillment of your soul?
Whichever product, substance or behavior you utilize as a tool to seek happiness, remember that perceived happiness is elusive. True happiness can only be achieved through self fulfillment. What is the difference between happiness and fulfillment?
Fulfillment is a soulful knowing, loving and therefore, satisfaction with every aspect of your self. Physical, emotional and spiritual needs are in harmony with the universe. The connection between body, mind and soul are understood. Self discovery and awareness of this harmonious balance usually begin with a spiritual awakening.
If the signs of a spiritual awakening are welcomed and your path is followed, fulfillment will feel like the next step in your journey. Fulfillment is not a final destination, it is an ongoing journey.
Whether or not you feel happy with your significant other and family, do they understand and help fulfill all of your physical, emotional and spiritual needs? While a big house, nice possessions and a good career may make your feel some happiness, do they contribute to the harmonious balance of your mind, body and soul? Do the cosmetic enhancements, pharmaceuticals, alcohol or other substances help complete the connection between body, mind and soul?
Aside from family and significant others, the most any of these things can contribute is a temporary feeling of happiness.
What you have (possessions) can bring fleeting feelings of happiness, what you give (self) can bring lasting fulfillment. Giving of what you have is easier than giving of your self. Try giving of your self to someone you know cannot, or will not repay you.
Who you are (self) is more important than what you are (career) in terms of fulfillment. How you earn your money is more important than how much money you give. Earning at the expense of others by manipulation, misrepresentation or inequitable distribution are unfulfilling endeavors.
Who you are (self) is more important than your outward appearance. A healthy body and healthy mind are the most important physical contributions to a fulfilled soul. Allowing yourself to be subject to the judgment of others may bring a shallow and temporary happiness, but it detracts from the fulfillment of your soul.
Altering the personality you put forth with alcohol or any other chemical substance is a fleeting and empty happiness. You are judging yourself to be incapable of enjoyment in a social setting or incapable of tolerating your life circumstances without chemically altering your personality. Use of these substances is perhaps the most anti spiritual behavior you can partake in. This is a perfect example of where following the crowd will lead you astray.
Essentially, any behavior that attempts to modify who you really are, in favor of something you are not, is an unfulfilling pursuit of happiness. Fulfillment comes from discovering and living your life as the loving and compassionate soul that you were born as. That soul does not judge or allow itself to be judged. That soul has no ego, fear, anger, greed, jealousy, intolerance or violent tendencies. All of those behaviors are learned. Awakening and fulfillment are not as much about discovering who you are, as they are about releasing what you are not.
Peace is knowing you are a soulful being with a purpose. Recognizing that judgment, ego, anger, greed, jealousy, intolerance and violence are not of light and love, and striving to remove them from your life are steps in the journey toward peace.
Peace has no fear of human death. Peace knows there is no death, only transition from living with a human body, back to a pure, energetic existence. Peace is the ultimate achievement of our human existence. Fulfillment is the journey toward peace. Happiness is a human pursuit that often leads us astray on that journey.
If you are offended or feel defensive about anything I have put forth here, the question you should ask yourself is "why?" What emotion is driving those feelings in you? Is it love? Or is it ego? That which is rooted in love needs no defense. Ego deflects and defends our actions when we are influenced by human emotions and cannot resist temptations.
There are no shortcuts to lasting happiness, spiritual fulfillment and inner peace. If it were easy, everyone would have all three. You have to do the spiritual work, make sacrifices and resist temptation to achieve that which serves your soul. Although the path may seem difficult, the reward is beyond imagination.
I have never been comfortable as a follower or as a leader. I simply share my words and demonstrate with my actions, you can choose whether or not these words make a positive contribution to your spiritual journey.
If you would like to learn more about your individual journey toward peace, please contact me or schedule an appointment via my website.