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Sharon Salzberg Explains Real Happiness

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 02/16/11 03:44 PM ET Updated: 11/17/11 09:02 AM ET

Sharon Salzberg

What is happiness?

According to Sharon Salzberg, renowned meditation teacher and author of the new book, "Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation," many of us only think we know.

Salzberg recently sat down with ABC News' Dan Harris to discuss her new book, what real happiness is -- and what it is not.

Although there are many things that can make us happy on a day-to-day basis -- for Harris that would be winning a tennis match or an argument -- Salzberg believes it is necessary to "self-generate a sense of stability and presence and love" and find a source of happiness "not dependent on conditions." A happiness too dependent upon external factors leaves us "devastated" when it goes away, she warns.

Salzberg hails her discovery of meditation in college as the key to unlocking that self-generated sense of happiness, something that helped her overcome a painful childhood filled with trauma and instability. In the 30 years that she has taught meditation, she has helped countless students achieve that same resilience.

She admits that she does not feel happy all the time, but her mindfulness training allows her to "watch her mind" and keep those negative emotions in check. For example, if she feels anxiety or distress, she can "feel a surge of anger... watch it arise and then pass." Who wouldn't want that?

Salzberg's new book aims to erase the stigma associated with meditation and challenges us all to find real happiness.

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