Eternal Happiness

Without checking with every individual of this world, I am taking the liberty of concluding that most of us, if not all, are not happy or rather are not as happy as they would like to be.  Irrespective of the way it is paraphrased, most of us would agree that the ultimate aim of our life is to attain eternal happiness.

Before talking about the ultimate aim of our life, let’s first look at what our life, as human beings, is all about and what the common understanding of happiness is.

Let’s start from where it really started which is when we were born. Let’s face it; we are not born as equal individuals. The moment we are born, we get classified as a gender, a race (white, black, brown etc.), a nationality, a religion, a community, a city, a locality, a family and a parentage.  All these factors play a significant and long lasting role on our future life. These factors although, hugely important but are beyond the control of an individual. Our fate (using the word loosely) is sealed based on each of these factors before we open our eyes in this world. On top of this, biologically also, not all individuals are same. Some are born weak or even with an illness or a handicap and most others inherit all sorts of illnesses through their genes which will manifest later in their life and would in some cases make their life miserable. In addition to this, the intelligence level of each individual is different and we have a whole range of possibilities starting from mentally retarded cases to born geniuses. A good part of our future happiness and sorrows would depend upon the intelligence level we were born with. All in all, the beginning of our life is like rolling the dice. Some would be extremely lucky, some would be extremely unlucky and most would be somewhere in between. For our entire life, we would struggle to come to terms with, accept and learn to live with all these factors constituting what we are born as. As time passes we go through the biological aging process and growing old brings a whole new set of sorrows both physical as well as psychological.

Our first experience of life starts from the point when we become conscious of our existence and since that point in time; we are made to join a rat race which continues till we breathe our last. Throughout this race we are chasing short term goals. The goals are set by the society in general which manifests itself as our parents, family, teachers, superiors, friends etc. New goals are set as soon as current goals are achieved, not achieved or become redundant. In fact, these goals are like a carrot and stick to lure us to keep pulling the cart of the life. Life thus becomes an endless struggle for virtually no reason and our happiness and sorrows mostly emanate from the outcomes of our struggles. Depending upon the hits and misses, a person is deemed to be successful or a failure in life which most of confuse to be synonyms for being happy and unhappy.

Statistically, only a handful of persons reach the top of the society as highly successful while rest of us end up as mediocre or failures. Those who don’t reach the top think that they are not happy in life because they have not reached the top. However, those few who do reach the top realize to their utter disbelief that although they have achieved success but happiness still eludes them. Some of them would tell you that a man living a simple and humble life has a better chance of achieving eternal happiness as compared to those who reach the pinnacle in life and have to keep struggling to maintain their position.

Some seek eternal happiness through religion, so called god men, self help books etc. Problem with most of these is that the persons behind these are more interested in running their shops rather than being truly interested in showing the correct path.

The good news is that, in spite of all its complexities, life is, or rather can be made, fairly easy to live. Our happiness and sorrows have very little to do with our achievements and failures. Rather the key to happiness lies inside us while we waste our time and energy to look for it in external objects.

The above discussion might have sounded a bit boring and you may be wondering what’s new in it. In fact, there is nothing new. We all knew it all our life but never sincerely believed in it. We seldom find time to pause and listen to our inner voice.

Anyway, it’s never too late. Here are a few simple tips which I hope some of you would find useful. If this can help in making even one person happy, I would consider this to be a job well done.

1 – Happiness lies within ourselves.

Happiness is a state of mind when we are in peace and equilibrium with ourselves. Happiness is beyond the worldly highs and lows. Happiness that depends upon external events or objects can never be eternal as all external and worldly events and objects are transitory, unpredictable and largely beyond our exclusive control. On the other hand, our inner world is entirely our creation and only we decide how to shape it. We are the only inhabitant of our inner world. There is no room for anyone else – no matter how close or dear the person is to us. Happiness belongs to our inner world and that is where we must seek it. Most of us rarely get the time to see this inner world. It is because we are never alone. Even when we are, we are indulged in an external object – TV, book or even our thoughts about external events and objects.  Yes, even bIt is because most of us are not even aware of the existence of our inner world and therefore we do not know how to be with ourselves. This may require a bit of practice and effort in the beginning but once we learn it, we will soon be able to connect with our inner world even when we are in a crowd.

  2 – If we try to get rid of our sorrows, we also lose our happiness.

Let’s use a simple example to explain this. Let’s assume that life is like a power supply with fluctuating voltage. Happiness and sorrow could be compared to be high and low voltage. The voltage level is never constant and there are small fluctuations both up and down all the time. We are happy one moment and sad the next. Normally, we can live with these fluctuations. What we don’t want to face is a low voltage spike and what we wish to have is high voltage most of the time. Continuing with our voltage analogy, the way to guard against a low voltage spike is to install a voltage stabilizer. The downside is that it will cut off both low as well high voltage spikes. If we wish to completely eliminate or minimize to the maximum extent the low voltage spikes, we get a more efficient stabilizer but it will also eliminate or minimize the high voltage spikes. In simple words, if we do find a way to eliminate of minimize our sorrows or rather their effect on us, we will also insulate ourselves from extreme happiness. We can certainly strive to achieve a stable voltage supply. Such mental state may be termed as “eternal contentment”. This is possible to achieve by practicing total detachment. The question is do we want to get rid of our sorrows at the cost of losing our happiness. Not an easy question to answer.

 3 – Never postpone your happiness.

Most of us have this habit of chasing the mirage of happiness and not trying to live the moment. This comes from our training of chasing goals all the time. We make the mistake of associating our happiness to achievement of these goals. What we forget is that as soon as we go past one goal (with or without achieving it) we are handed over the next and therefore we never get a chance to enjoy little moments of happiness that occur in our life every day. As a start, we must learn to delink our happiness from the goals we are chasing. Happiness is not all about passing an exam, getting a job/promotion/bonus, wedding of your son/ daughter etc. The problem is that we judge our moment of happiness by other’s perception and appreciation. We should make an effort to see Happiness is also listening to our favorite song, being with our loved ones, enjoying a good view, going for a morning walk etc. etc.

 4 – Stop living for others; start living for yourself.

Most of us live under an imaginary scanner of the society and in the process unnecessarily stress ourselves. Most of our happiness and sorrows stems from this. In reality, what we think is the society is just a few people from our immediate circle – our neighbours, relatives, friends and colleagues. We feel happy if we buy a new car not because of the new car but because it is better than those in our close circle. And what is even more paradoxical is that in reality we feel happy not because our close ones will be happy by our achievements but in most cases just the opposite of that. We feel happy because we know so and so would be so jealous of our achievement. The more jealous they are, the more happiness we draw from our achievement. This works both ways. If we encounter a failure, it makes them happy and which in turn makes us even sadder as compared to what we would have been due to just the failure itself.

We must put an end to this highly negative approach towards life. We must learn to draw happiness from our achievements and also to deal with our sorrows.

5 – Money can buy you comforts but not happiness.

Stop chasing money for happiness. I am not suggesting that you become a recluse. We must live a normal life, earn money, have a job, have a family but at the same time be fully mindful of the fact that money is merely a tool for comfort not happiness. Happiness comes from within; comforts are for our outer self. The difference is subtle but extremely important.

6 – Stop expecting from others – expectations breed unhappiness

 All of us have expectations. The closer the relationship, the higher the expectations. However, what we don’t realize is that expectations are a sure shot recipe for unhappiness. Firstly, it places a big obligation on the person from whom we are expecting something. He has only two options – either comply with it reluctantly (in most cases) or not comply and be a target for criticism. So, irrespective of whether he fulfils the expectation or not, he is more likely to be unhappy. On our part, if the expectation is not fulfilled we’d surely be unhappy. The chances of having unfulfilled expectations are at least 50:50 (more in most cases) and hence we ourselves set the unhappiness trap not just for ourselves but also for the other person (who is more likely to be one of our near and dear ones). What’s is worse is that one expectation generates another and soon a vicious circle is created. We need to break the shackles of expectations and free ourselves (and our near and dear ones) from it to promote happiness.

7 – Never seek happiness in others sorrow. Spread happiness to get happiness.

If happiness lies within us, it can’t come from others sorrow. Worse is trying to cause harm to others for our happiness. Remember, in life, we get back what we give to others. So spread happiness not sorrows but don’t boast about it. You have no choice but to be nice to others to keep yourself happy. It’s not being philanthropic, it’s rather being selfish.

I could think of a few more but truly speaking it would be superfluous and hence unnecessary as understanding the first point (Happiness lies within ourselves) is good enough in itself and all the following points are at best corollaries of the same.

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  • Tricia  On March 6, 2012 at 12:29 am

    I enjoyed this very much. It holds some very solid and thought-provoking truths. Thank you for posting. ~ Tricia

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