Cheerful indicates good attitude. Happy goes with sad; one of the 8 worldly dharmas. The idea of saying ‘cheerful birthday’ is wishing that someone will maintain practice discipline rather than wishing that they’ll have pleasure.

It’s “some sense of upliftedness, actually”. You could also use it as a [[credential]] - some words and phrases that are used as a kind of self-medication to subtly or not so subtly prop-up yourself. Speaking party line rather than thinking for themselves.

“cheerful birthday”

Even when we are indulging in the pleasure, extraordinary sybaritic pleasure—delightful, beautiful, fantastic, deep, profound pleasure, pleasure that is physical, psychological, reassuring, solid, textural—even that contains a tone of suspicion constantly. Even if we have millions of guards to protect our pleasure domain, still there is a tone of pain happening. However extraordinarily happy we may be, there is still a tone that suggests that the whole pleasurable situation might possibly be extraordinarily painful. There is a sense that we are dwelling on, digging, the pleasure for the sake of the pain or digging the pain purely for the sake of the pleasure. It feels questionable—our mind is completely intoxicated, so we are uncertain whether we are digging the pleasure to defend against the pain or digging the pain to defend against the pleasure. That is the quality of self-existing pain. Pain is definitely not fun, not particularly pleasurable.

The second kind of pain is the pain of change. You think you have pleasure happening in your existence. You feel you are involved in a real, good, solid, organic situation of pleasure. The pleasure feels extremely definite, even to the point where you no longer feel you have to defend your pleasure or compare it with pain at all. You are out on a sailboat, enjoying yourself, sunning yourself on the deck. The water is beautiful. The sea is smooth. The wind direction is good. You had some nice food before you went out, and you have a nice companion who sparks your wit and takes care of you. It is an absolutely ideal situation. Suddenly a storm comes, a hailstorm. You don’t have a chance to get yourself together, to protect yourself. Your boat is tipped over. Your wittiness is unable to continue. Instead of wit, aggression now becomes a problem. You blame your companion. You feel it is his fault, because he didn’t take precautions against such a thing. You regret that you didn’t have a life jacket on board. You are just about to die. You’ve sailed too far out into the ocean, because you wanted to be alone and enjoy your friend’s companionship. You have sailed out too far for anyone to rescue you. You regret that. You have killed yourself.

That is pleasure changing to pain. By the way, the traditional analogy for that is being at your wedding party and suddenly having the house collapse due to earthquake, or whatever. That is the second type of pain. The first type was self-existing pain, within pleasure.

The third one is the pain of pain. In this case, you are already caught up in pain, extreme pain. Real, juicy, good pain. For example, you are experiencing the acute pain of just having been in an automobile accident. Your ribs have been fractured, and you can hardly breathe, let alone talk. Even if somebody makes a joke, it is painful to laugh. You are in extreme pain. Then you catch pleurisy or pneumonia. You can’t talk because of your rib fracture, and now you catch pleurisy or pneumonia, and you can’t even breathe without extreme pain. Or it is like having leprosy, being ridden with leprosy, and then having a car accident on top of that. Or you are already bankrupt, and then on top of that you are kidnapped, and the kidnappers demand more money.

Those three types of suffering are part of the display of impermanence. Suffering happens because impermanent situations exist. Suffering cannot