Happiness defines our quality of life and is no small matter. The quest for happiness drives every action of our life from womb to tomb. It is the goal of all goals.
Unhappiness and Happiness
Unhappiness is the beginning of the effort to seek happiness. Even the simple effort of itching causing us unpleasantness is an effort in this direction. Every effort in our life is in pursuit of happiness. Unhappiness comes to us without any effort. Unhappiness helps us learn to appreciate happiness. Without suffering, we will not take an extra effort to solve problems in life.
There is nothing called perfect happiness in the world. There is no person in the world that is happy as life is a continuous event of joys and sorrows. What gives us happiness is the cause of sorrow when it ends. When sorrow ends, the same sorrow becomes the cause of happiness. The greater the sorrow, the greater is our experience of happiness and vice-versa.
We become happy when we get what we want at that point in time. Our wants have become more important than what we get. Happiness is in accepting what we get, even if it does not match what we want.
Pleasures keep the hope of happiness alive but they also lead to a miserable world where we want more of it. Pleasures, when consumed in excess and variety, become an addiction or do not last, causing misery. Both pleasures and sorrows are temporary; we are seeking an everlasting happiness even though we only know pleasure as happiness.
The world is made of objects, emotions and thoughts from which we derive pleasure is constantly changing. Our own body mind and intellect are also constantly changing. So trying to find permanent happiness within these two changing factors is also the cause of unhappiness.
The traditional Indian wisdom defines what gives us happiness. It starts with dharma(meaning of life, integrity and doing beyond our smaller self) as the foundation of life, then artha(worldly success), kaam(pleasure) and moksha(liberation). When actions in life start with a discipline or dharma instead of first chasing pleasures and money, it will protect us from suffering. If we still fail, the laws of karma that govern happiness helps us learn from our suffering so that we can go back to living a disciplined life.
Love and Life
“Where there is love there is life,” said Mahatma Gandhi. Love is a magical emotion. Mere thought about love brings happiness in our mind. Love has the power to override sorrows. We need love even to meditate well. Each part of our body is different but they become a harmonious whole because we accept them as our own. Likewise, happiness is easy through love and acceptance. When we are inclusive, everything becomes part of us and there is no resistance.
Meaningful deep bonding with people and not objects is the greatest wealth that brings happiness. These meaningful exchanges of love bring fulfillment and true joy to the heart. Sorrow is reduced when it is shared with others and happiness multiplies when it is shared with others.
We also become happy when we are with people who are happy. To be happy, we should give happiness to others around us. Our positive thoughts and emotions will influence others and attract such people towards us. A sad person does not attract anyone. When we are sad, we should try to be in the company of people who will make us forget our sadness.
Past, Present and the Future
Our unhappiness is either due to what happened in the past or what may happen in the future.
Both past and future do not really exist, and they still make us unhappy in the mind. Our past is history, a mere memory and alive only in our mind; the future is a mystery, just an imagination or projection of the past. Only the present is real, but we live in our past and the future. We either tend to recollect unhappy memories and lose our present moment or think we can repair the past in the future. We can only experience the present. The present holds the possibility to wash away the bad past and create a good future.
Happiness and Money
There is a lot more in life to enjoy than what money can buy. People who only have money are the poorest people in this world. If objects provided happiness, every rich person in this world would be happy. Working for money is fine, but thinking that money will give us happiness is the cause of sorrow. Most unhappy people are those with either lot of money or no money because all they do is think about money. We should make life such that we have just enough to be satisfied and not have to worry about money.
I and We
When we work only for our own happiness, we are unhappy. When we work for our expanded self or other’s happiness, it gives us happiness.
We are born from two parents. Our two parents were born from four parents. If we go back 40 generations or 1,000 years back, we will find one billion people responsible for who we are. Going further back will lead to our origin, which is infinity. This fact itself should help us feel connected with everyone around us. When we create differences based on religion, race, color, gender and other things, we drive ourselves and others towards unhappiness. We have a deep yearning to go beyond the temporary nature of human life, disease, sorrows and death; we seek permanent bliss because we are infinite beings.
When we are not happy within, our family cannot be happy. If our family is not happy, our community cannot be happy. If the community cannot be happy, then the world cannot be happy. When we think of just “me” or “I,” it leads to illness or unhappiness. When we think of “we,” it leads to wellness.
Even though through generations of human evolution comforts and pleasures have increased, happiness levels have decreased. It is because we have defined happiness as getting what we like. Happiness should be liking what we get and being happy with what we have. It doesn’t really matter, and there is nothing wrong if we wear expensive brands or drive expensive cars. It’s just that we are so focused on increasing our standard of living that we forget the standard of our life.