Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On happiness

What is the one thing that everyone either consciously or unconsciously wants? I think it is happiness. The primary instinct in any animal including man is survival, once survival is not a major issue then the second most important instinct, the need for being happy takes over. Though most of the animals are pretty much satisfied if their primal instinct is met, man is most likely the only exception. The desire of being contented and happy is infact the major driving force for majority of mankind. But what exactly is this happiness that we are running after?.

I decided to introspect to find out when was it that I felt really happy? The day when I got my first job, The day I got a good salary hike, The day I came first in the class, The day I got my Engineering seat, and few more such things. But the novelty of all of them faded within a few days, that is I got used to them and the situation came back to normal. Also the momentary happiness that you experience at an achievement or attainment is directly proportional to the amount of sorrow or hardship that you have endured to get it, say if a person struggles for a long time to find a job, then the joy he experiences at finally getting it will be manifolds greater than the person who gets a job without much struggle. But is this the right kind of happiness that we are seeking? Personally whenever I struggled to achieve something, I always felt that I will be happy after achieving it, but as most of us know through our experience that it is not true. Life is a constant struggle, our achievements will only determine how well prepared we can be for the next battle that is around the corner.

I have also felt another kind of happiness, When I have tried making others happy, when I have helped someone etc, acts done without any expectations. Though in terms of intensity it may not be able to match the momentary delights but still a positive vibe gets generated in the mind after such acts and a sense of fulfillment is ever present. Acts of compassion and love whether be it towards other people, animals or even to nature, from time immemorial has been linked as one of the pathways of attaining god and in fact the advaita philosophy says that subconsciously we are ever trying to seek god the true and complete happiness, but deluded to take the right paths. Also children are said to be closer to god as they enjoy each moment of their lives without any burden of the past or the future.

So what should we do? should we dump all our ambitions down the drain and become social workers or a sanyasi. It will certainly not be an option for many of us because unless there is a strong inclination to become a sanyasi, we may just be deluding and piling on a new problem on ourselves. The best option would be to continue what we are doing but with a realigned outlook, Let us constantly try to purify our senses and cleanse our mind of all the impurities, while still performing activities which we are inclined to pursue. Taking some time out for meditation, for exercise to keep body fit is also very essential. Reorienting life towards discipline and god consciousness will make life much more enjoyable and help us in enjoying life's fleeting moments more rather than being engulfed in a state of fear, greed or avarice.

Armed with above road map, I have started treading the road, Hope will reach the destination soon.

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