Nothing can be more misleading than saying that happiness is the absence of suffering. ‘Absence’ here does not mean suffering does not exist. It is very much there but you have either learnt to live with it or have reached a state of mind that joy and suffering make no difference at all.
As someone had said man is the only creature with the power of laughter, the reverse too can be a statement of profound truth. One can say man is the only creature that can understand and minimise or dispel the very root of suffering. We know that suffering can be caused by various reasons, external as well as internal. Internal reasons for suffering are because of your inability to tide over it. It can happen when one, instead of resolving a problem philosophically, gets bogged down into serious grief. The fact that many of us don’t understand or do not try to understand the inevitability of certain things like death and our inability to learn to live with tragedies can be the most potent causes of suffering.
In such cases, instead of plunging into grief, one has to let oneself understand and have “This too will pass” kind of attitude. That means it is basically the state of positive mind that can control your attitude either way.
Sudesh Sehgal, in The Path to Spiritual Healing, has illustrated this with a beautiful example. When there is a heavy storm, and if you look at the top of a tree with swinging branches, you might feel that it would fall. But if you look below at its strong and unshakable trunk, you get a different picture.
That is it. It all depends on how you look at things---the bright or the shady aspect. Both exist simultaneously and one has the option to choose. A little bit of understanding and philosophical approach makes it easier.