It is easy to be happy.
( This is the first thematic article that I had written soon after tendering my application for voluntary retirement – uploaded on my blog “Different Strokes” on 10-08-2008. Those were the days when I was consciously trying to clarify my own definitions of some significant terms to myself!!)
Today I was looking at this picture – stuck on my daughter’s cupboard door – almost torn by sides, but preserved fondly. That is actually one of the first print-outs taken at home at Mumbai about a decade back, when we had purchased our first home PC and her birthday fell soon after. It was designed by me . Ha, ha – so.o. amateurish it looks now ! But it did capture what I wanted to say – she was actually having this whole lot of hair on her body when born, reminding me of the pretty little chicks. As a child, I always loved chicks and when I saw this pic of a chick just hatched and out of the egg shell – in the clipart – it instantenously reminded me of my first-born. Anytime I see this birthday message designed by me, I feel very happy… a feeling of pure happiness – no conditions attached, no expectations attached – brought back by just the memory of that moment when u hold your baby – your creation – for the first time !
Pause a little … you too must be having a lot many simple things to be happy about.
Let me try to observe myself – dispassionately from a distance, without being judgemental ( for example, oh, I am happy cooking – what an ordinary mortal I am – happy about something so.o. mundane and un..intellectual ! ). Well, let me list out when I feel happy or what makes me happy .. from mundane to profound ( so called) .. not necessarily in that order !!
Before I proceed, let me clarify why I want to reflect on my own self for understanding the dynamics and dimensions of happiness. Definitely not because I think too much of myself. Reason is very simple : I can not claim to know what is going inside the consciousness of other beings. At the most, I can make an attempt to understand self, via which at least some ( if not full ) understanding of the universal issues pertaining to human nature and human behaviour would be possible.
[ Good Lord, even knowing your own self is something symbolising the highest wisdom, in pursuit of which, wise men down the ages have devoted their lifetimes – the pursuit is still on for all of us !! ]
Coming back to what makes me happy ? Well – just amazing – perhaps I was not consciously aware earlier that there are so many little little things, so many simple events that can make me feel happy .
– When I sing
– when I listen to good melodies
– when I listen to nice foot-tapping westernised fast numbers
– when I listen to heart-rending sad numbers
– when I listen to the inspirational or devotional songs
– When I cook
– When I experiment a new recipe
– When my dish is appreciated
– When I taste or learn about some yummy recipe
– When I come first in any exam or competition
– When I first cuddled my new-born baby
( both times. I was as ecstatic about it when my second daughter was born as when my first daughter was born ! Of course, becoming a mother was a slightly more overwhelming experience the first time. But when it comes to the baby, there is no first or second – both times, it is a bundle of joy. )
– all the firsts as I watched my babies growing up
( the first smile, the first step, the first word spoken etc,etc, )
– when I see any baby
– when I smile
– when I giggle
– when I laugh
– when I get funny
– when I encounter something funny
– when a see another happy face
– when I see a beautiful lady ( yeah.. ! )
– when I see a beautiful flower
– when I hear the birds chirping early in the morning
– when I feel the cool breeze on my face
– when I listen to the music of a cascading water fall
– when I savour the greenery and scenic beauty while travelling
– when I read something interesting or insightful
– when I do a flawless job
– when I try something with my heart and soul (although I fail many a times)
– when I succeed
– when I get a compliment
– when I resolve issues at my level
– when I made it to a prestigious institute like Delhi School of Economics for my post-graduation
– when I got my promotions
– when I missed promotion and found people shocked that I could also miss
– when I gather myself to forgive someone’s mistake ( you know – that sense of magnanimity !!)
– when I share
– when someone accepts my gift or donation
– When I learnt from my daughter how to create my own blog
– When I actually uploaded my first post
– When I say “thank you”
– When I give the credit to someone else
– When I find my children doing some worthy stuff
– When I see a reflection of myself in my children ( this is actually mean, but I had promised myself not to be judgemental about the things that make me happy .. hence .)
– When I just have something to do
– When I watch a nice, neat movie
– When I watch a perfect movie like Lagaan
– When I watch the reality shows and start getting amazed – so much talent exists !!
– When I do something original or out-of –box
– When I meet a deadline
– When I first donated blood
– When I first drove the car all by myself
– When I first sang on stage
– When I create something
– When I get to express myself in any creative manner – a new/improvised
recipe , singing , bringing out bulletins etc
– When I get to exercise my freedom of will – without hurting any other soul
– When I accept a challenge ( for a worthy purpose)
– When I relate to people
– When I stand up for a cause
– When I come upto the expectation of those who matter to me
– When I brave an odd and get to where I wanted to
– When I feel harmony ( I am doing something in alignment to my values)
Yup!, listing was a bad idea – how many things can I jot down ?
The list can never be exhaustive and can contain:
-anything that makes me feel good about myself,
-anything that makes me enjoy the simple pleasures of life,
-anything that makes me learn some lesson or something new
-anything that sort of connects me to the Creator,
-anything that makes me feel free and creative ,
-anything that challenges my abilities and inner strength
-anything that makes me feel grateful
-anything that taps at my positive energy and zest for life
Ask yourself ? Is it not the same with you ? I am sure, it is.
I am convinced – there are infinite reasons to be happy about- once you decide that you shall be happy. That does not mean that moments of unhappiness will never be there – no , they will be very much there (otherwise , how will you recognise happiness as a distinct experience ? ) – but when you choose to be happy , and you find something in the situation that is causing you unhappiness, then instead of sulking, you will work towards a situation that would remove that cause for unhappiness and create circumstances that give you happiness .
When I ask myself what would I like to have in my lifetime … so many things cross my mind, which, on a deeper introspection, boil down to one experience – that is happiness . I am sure, it is the same with every individual. What could be different is perhaps the way one looks at it ..believes what happiness is.
As I understand, so long as you confuse sources of happiness for happiness, the experience of happiness in the true sense would keep eluding you. Happiness is a state of being, not a physical object or phenomenon, that can be possessed. In fact, I think, it is the other way round – it is happiness that can possess you, if you get it right.
Someone rightly said, “It is an illusion to think that more comforts lead to more happiness .Happiness comes out of a capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely and to be needed .” ( Sorry .. do not remember , who said it . But this is one quote, which I have virtually got by heart, because it captures the essence of happiness in such a simple and brief manner ). I would just add one more thing:
Having a goal is a state of happiness .
When you are depending upon things or events external to you to make you happy, you are basically confusing the source as the ultimate happiness and obviously, you can not remain happy for long, as you do not have full command over things external to you and hence there is no guarantee that your source of happiness will continue to be there for ever. In such cases, happiness is just a feeling, that too transient, not an experience, which lingers on even after the cause is no longer there. What is worse, if happiness flows from an external source, then be sure that the moment the source ceases to exist, it will straight lead to unhappiness.
To give an example, when I purchased my car, I was definitely happy for a while – in the sense of happiness being a feeling coming out of the fact that now I possess a car. Car was only the external source of happiness. But what made me truly happy was the fact that thereby I gained mobility – a freedom to move as I like. This experience of freedom generated within is something that is going to stay whether this car stays or not.
I am getting ready to quit my job now. I feel both unhappy and happy. Unhappy – because the organisational tag ( source of happiness ) that I had for my identity will no longer be there. Happy – because these 25 years of experience in this organisation has made me what I am today, has helped me grow as a person and as a professional, capable of venturing out for a newer horizon. This is happiness as an experience – that stays on even after the source ceases to exist. Actually, the moment you awaken to the realisation that happiness is something that springs from within, you will discover yourself free from the compulsive need to look for the sources of happiness in your external environment. And then, to your ecstacy, you would discover that your own conscious is full of moments of happiness – which you were oblivious of earlier.
Anything that produces zest and energy is sure to make us happy. Learn to enjoy everything that you do in the normal course of life – you will be happy. Learn to have worthy goals – small or big – you will be happy. Getting fresh vegetable from the market for the family is as much a worthy goal as earning a handsom profit for the organisation that u work for or doing some charity for the needy. One is your love for your family, the other is your commitment towards an entity that gives your livelihood and the third one is your gratitude towards the society in which you grow . Will you remain happy if you have to neglect any of these?
Ask yourself – what is it that makes you happy and then, commit yourself fully to take such action as would lead you to your cherished state of being. This way, not only you will be happy about the result – the end-state, the destination; more significantly, you will be happy through out your journey towards your destination. And is n’t life a journey ??
Let me share here something I had read somewhere a long time back and just saved the contents, without the author’s name ( sorry !! – wish, I could have given the credit to the original writer !)
Isn’t it amazing how few of us ask ourselves the important question?
Several years ago I ( the author of this book ) was invited to hear an important speaker address the student body of a small college in South Carolina. The auditorium was filled with students excited about the opportunity to hear a person of her stature speak. After the Governor gave the introduction, the speaker moved to the microphone, looked at the audiencefrom left to right, and began:
“ I was born to a mother who was deaf and could not speak. I do not know who my father is or was . The first job I ever had was in a cotton field.”
The audience was spellbound. “ Nothing has to remain the way it is if that’s not the way a person wants it to be ,” she continued. “ It isn’t luck, and it isn’t circumstances, and it isn’t being born a certain way that causes a person’s future to become what it becomes.” And she softly repeated. “ Nothing has to remain the way it is, if that’s not the way a person wants it to be .”
“ All a person has to do,” she added in a firm voice, “ to change a situation that brings unhappiness or dissatisfaction is to answer the question: “ How do I want this situation to become ?” Then the person must commit totally to personal actions that carry them there. “
Then a beautiful smile shone forth as she said, “ My name is Azie Taylor Morton. I stand before you today as Treasurer of the United States of America. ”
Actually I feel happy and a lot energised when I read something like this. Because, I also believe that happiness emanates from committed personal action to make a difference – small or big- in the desired direction, be it in your personal life or professional life or social life around you- instead of whining about problems with other people or in the circumstances.
At times it may so happen that originally you set out for a particular destination, but after covering a significant stretch, you find a bend or a road block or a dead end. Never mind – take a detour and explore a new route or a new destination altogether, which might be a worthier goal, but was not within your sight earlier because of the bend or the distance. At the end, the highest reward for one’s perseverence is not what one gets for it , but what he becomes by it ( that is, a more evolved, wiser and happier soul ).
Friends, ever reflected on how you feel as a parent when you see your child grow – I will put it as pure bliss, real happiness. That is actually a gift from our children to us. Similarly, what we, the children of God, are deep within is God’s gift to us; but what we become is our gift to God . And just the way parents derive happiness from growth of their children, so will God ( the Creator) be happy to see us grow in life .
So … Let us be happy and make all others happy, too . It is easy to be happy .. just decide it for yourself and see the magic work .