Differs from being at peace
One may liken being at peace to cruising down a slow river...comfortable, soothing and relaxed.
But happy? Happy is an elevated form, a few notches up from the state of peace...it’s like rafting down a semi-rapid river...
A little reckless yet surreal...rather unsettling yet exhilarating.
At its peak, it's a wonderful combination of a sense of freedom, lightness, expansion, aliveness, vitality, and a hint of excitement and uncertainty that keeps one anticipating. One looks toward the future with optimism and eagerness.
The reason some people may mistake feeling at peace as happy is because these two share an intimate relationship:
In order to be happy, one needs to be at peace. Think of peace as the gateway to the ocean of happiness. The more open the gateway (the more at peace one is), the easier, smoother and abundant the flow of happiness. If one isn’t at peace, one might be able to feel joyous momentarily but can't help feeling that something is still weighing them down.
Manifests itself in the form of attitude
Attitude, not expression is a more accurate gauge of one's psychological state - a confident and positive outlook being the most obvious sign of a happy person. While a sad soul might wear a smile, a composed individual could be bubbling with joy within, so much so that it leaks - through a pair of lively eyes; lighter footsteps; a relaxing tone of voice; an approachable demeanour; and a mien that illuminates.
Hence, is not a feeling
Happy is not a shallow feeling that comes and go. Pleasure is.
Instead, happy lingers. It is a psychological state that the happy ones build into their core. It is less dependent on outside conditions and a lot more on inner cultivation, which this site proposes.
One can still be happy despite feeling other emotions. How can one not be when his/her core is intact; it's just the situation that has changed. What makes one happy, still makes one happy.
What makes one happy isn't that:
one has everything that one desires;
everything is going well; and/or
there is no struggle.
But knowing that:
one's journey is authentic; hence is open to experiences and challenges that will strengthen one's core and develop the self, with the ultimate goal of illuminating itself, and have its brilliance warm other people as well.
We are really just happy or unhappy with ourselves, not with our circumstances or other people.
Anger, sadness, frustration, disappointment etc - these are feelings, and are triggered by outside circumstances. When we are in the thick of things, these feelings come up to the surface and we feel something else other than happy momentarily.
The happy ones are aware that such feelings are fleeting and so we are comfortable letting them arise, feel it completely and then let it go.
We know we will always return to our base and dominant state - the state of happy.
“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success.” - Henry David Thoreau