Bestowed with intelligence, comprehension, and the ability to express like no other living being under the sun has ever had, man is ironically the most unhappy creature on the earth. With every advancement man has made throughout the history of human evolution he surely has scaled greater heights of measurable successes which unexpectedly transformed into an inverse relationship with the happiness quotient which is intangible. Well, this is not another cliché lecture about “Money can’t buy happiness” or ” Successful doesn’t mean happy”, because one can be both successful and happy at the same time. In fact. They are not interchangeable but can co-exist. It is about introspecting the horizons of happiness that we have demarcated for ourselves.
Let me ask you one thing. Rather I would prompt you to do this exercise yourself, ask yourself a question – What makes you HAPPY? How often happy you are? Does your happiness require quite an investment? Does it take a custom-made validation rule book for moments to qualify as happy ones? What is the contribution of things, people/relationships, events/moments in constituting happiness for you? How do you handle failures and rejections, to be precise for how long do unfavourable circumstances in the due course of life keep you bogged down and disturbed?
A detour: Think about the saints or sages who practiced rigid austerity both materialistically and emotionally. They were like the lotus leaves, dwelling in the water yet never drenched or drowned in it. Their soul has experienced detachment from every bond, no rejoice in gain, no remorse in loss (Bhagwad Geeta’s essence), and consequently attained eternal happiness. Now let’s talk practically, about people like me, you and us.
We ain’t saints. We are very much attached, materially and emotionally. We associate our actions with the results, and when the results don’t meet our expectations we experience remorse, frustration, anger putting both our bliss, concise thinking and, faith in jeopardy. In short, we are stark opposites to those whom I did mention above. But then they were born with blood and flesh like us, then what did they do differently to attain that state of Paramananda (highest point of happiness, ultimate bliss) especially when the soul is willing but the flesh is weak (A Bible quote).
Few hypothetical examples –
- You have put in a lot of hard work and finally got your appraisal (though the percentage or the position wasn’t up to your expectations) and on another occasion, you helped a needy person without expecting anything in return.
- You have invited a person in a powerful position and heaped the same with gifts and praises with an ulterior motive of reaping some benefits in your favour. On another occasion you have aided a child from a marginal family (and in no relation) to attain education with the only intention of giving that child a chance – a chance to gain knowledge, better the future and probably induce a butterfly effect on the society.
- In the surveillance of a camera or a cop you abide by the rules (due to the FEAR of not getting caught or given a ticket). On the other hand, you act out of LOVE for your family and friends.
In each of the examples, the first part of the act was done in expectation, greed, and fear. The majority of our actions align with those lines. We expect results, we have greed driving our intentions and We fear God (to a greater extent the society as well) and put a charade of being good. And as Newton’s law states “every action has an equal and opposite reaction” all these actions do have reactions. Might be momentary gains or grief (to nurse it or not is our prerogative). Coming to the later part of the examples – No expectation, pure intention, and Love. No points for guessing what such acts mean to anyone – Pure Joy.
Coming Back To The Point: It’s all about the Practice: I believe it’s clear from the examples above as to what differentiates us from saints or what is hindering/ narrowing down our horizons of happiness. To begin with, we must firmly believe that God isn’t a separate entity. He dwells very well within us. That belief when strengthened would gradually encourage us to act in his light out of love and not fear (often wrongly used interchangeably in the context of God). Act and not expect, finally the mantra for a blissful life.
Well, that was straight from the philosophy. Or we can say practically not possible in the competitive world we live in. What we need to put into practice to reach that stage is to keep our intentions pure (the least we can do, to begin with). A petty example: Make it a habit to contribute a small percentage of your earnings to whatever cause you to believe in, that would cover two bases – No expectations, Completely selfless, Pure Intention – (MY friend, Siva Priya and my uncle &aunt are few examples of selfless service for me to follow, they live exactly the way that would induce eternal happiness). When the intention of our actions are more inclined and reserved for the greater betterment, driven by compassion we won’t expect anything in return other than the fulfillment of the cause we have served. And when such acts performed more often, that would naturally serves as the breeding ground for certain detachment necessary for a happy being.
Additional Tips: Accept own faults and flaws (blame game is lethal), spend some time in silence with self, understand the difference between price and value (sometimes learned really hard ways). Everyday when you pray try asking the God for universal happiness (for everyone) “Sarvejana Sukhino Bhavantu” . And not to forget to be always grateful for what we have.
Hope we all raise and expand our horizon of happiness and help each other in this journey.
Special Credit : My friend Vinitha Viswanath put it correctly “Happiness has to be chosen, momentary or eternal are the options”