It doesn't matter what your answer is in the and it all boils to one simple and common answer.
It is to become happy.
Whatever country or society people live in, they all have the same deep desire: to become happy. Yet, there are few ideals as difficult to grasp as that of happiness. In our daily life we constantly experience happiness and unhappiness, but we are still quite ignorant as to what happiness really is.
The secret of happiness lay in building a strong inner self that no trial or hardship could ruin. Happiness for anyone - man or woman - does not come simply from having a formal education, from wealth, having power or from marriage. It begins with having the strength to confront and conquer one's own weaknesses. Only then does it become possible to lead a truly happy life and enjoy a successful relationship with others.
Happiness doesn't exist in the past or in the future. It only exists within our state of life right now, here in the present, as we face the challenges of daily life.
You know best whether you are feeling joy or struggling with suffering. These things are not known to other people. Even a man who has great wealth and social recognition may still be shadowed by indescribable suffering deep in his heart. On the other hand, an elderly woman who is not fortunate financially, leading a simple life alone, may feel the sun of joy and happiness rising in her heart each day.
Happiness is not a life without problems, but rather the strength to overcome the problems that come our way. There is no such thing as a problem-free life; difficulties are unavoidable. But how we experience, confront and react to our problems depends on us.
Buddhism teaches that we are each responsible for our own happiness or unhappiness. Our vitality - the amount of energy or "life-force" we have - is in fact the single most important factor in determining whether or not we are happy.
True happiness is to be found within, in the state of our hearts. It does not exist on the far side of some distant mountains. It is within you, yourself. However much you try, you can never run away from yourself. And if you are weak, incapable to deal with your own vulnerabilities and mistakes, suffering will follow you wherever you go. You will never find happiness if you don't challenge your weaknesses and change yourself from within.
Happiness is to be found in the dynamism and energy of your own life as you struggle to overcome one obstacle after another. This is why I believe that a person who is active, free from fear and strong to stand for his/her faith and belief is truly happy.
The challenges we face in life can be compared to a tall mountain, rising before a mountain climber. For someone who has not trained properly, whose muscles and reflexes are weak and slow, every inch of the climb will be filled with terror and pain. The exact same climb, however, will be a thrilling journey for someone who is prepared, whose legs and arms have been strengthened by constant training. With each step forward and up, beautiful new views will come into sight.
A teacher used to talk about two kinds of happiness - "relative" and "absolute" happiness. Relative happiness is happiness that depends on things outside ourselves: friends and family, surroundings, the size of our home or family income.
This is what we feel when a desire is fulfilled, or something we have longed for is obtained. While the happiness such things bring us is certainly real, the fact is that none of this lasts forever. Things change. People change. This kind of happiness shatters easily when external conditions alter.
Relative happiness is also based on comparison with others. We may feel this kind of happiness at having a newer or bigger home than the neighbors. But that feeling turns to misery the moment they start making new additions to theirs!
Absolute happiness, on the other hand, is something we must find within. It means establishing a state of life in which we are never defeated by trials and where just being alive is a source of great joy. This persists no matter what we might be lacking, or what might happen around us. A deep sense of joy is something which can only exist in the innermost reaches of our life, and which cannot be destroyed by any external forces. It is eternal and inexhaustible.
This kind of satisfaction is to be found in consistent and repeated effort, so that we can say, "Today, again, I did my very best. Today, again, I have no regrets. Today, again, I won." The accumulated result of such efforts is a life of great victory.
What we should compare is not ourselves against others. We should compare who we are today against who we were yesterday, who we are today against who we will be tomorrow. While this may seem simple and obvious, true happiness is found in a life of constant advancement. And the same worries that could have made us miserable can actually be a source of growth when we approach them with courage and wisdom.
The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life. ~Muhammad Ali