When I was a kid, every time I got a new toy or a video game, I was electrified. I jumped around the house and celebrated the arrival of my new gift. And when I first touched the gift; the feeling was exhilarating. But, that was it. It was the highest point of happiness and the feeling only faded away as I spent more time with it. I wondered why? But I could never find the answer. Years later, I think I have some understanding of this puzzle.
The above example may appear a simple case of the impermanence of materialistic pleasures but there are several other factors that are involved in our happiness especially as we grow up. The fact that we are dependent on various other things for our happiness apart from video games or toys, complicates our journey towards happiness. Some people suggest that happiness is about staying in your childhood which not just sounds childish but is in fact far from reality. Ignorance is bliss – but in this age of information, knowledge and extraordinary levels of connectivity, how would you make someone ignorant. And when we are not ignorant, we need to figure out the pragmatic ways to discover happiness.
Now let’s talk about the ground reality. There are countless things in our lives which affect us and our state of mind. Broadly these things could be classified in to the categories – work(karma), relationships and personal. Note that the personal here refers to what we feel about ourselves. It is interesting to see that in each of these categories how we make slight change and it completely changes our inner happiness levels and consequently the outlook. Let us try to see how…
Work – which occupies most part of our adult life is crucial in determining the happiness. Our ambitions drive us and take us to the different places in our career. However, there is a catch. While most of aspire to achieve something great in our career, we often forget about the value that we are providing for whom we are working. Our dreams are often restricted by achievements and accomplishments, which often limit our ability to contribute that we could have made otherwise. But how is it connected with happiness? It certainly is. Our happiness is derived from our work, the difference that we are making in this world and not from what someone else is giving us in form of rewards, compensations and prizes. The difference is that the latter give you the temporary pleasures and are crucial to motivate you but when it comes to everyday happiness, they have no significance.
Relationships are equally important in determining our state of mind. The relationships here refer to every interaction, every conversation and every meeting that one has with others who could be known or even unknown to that person. In some cases even without any interaction, there may exist a relationship. For example, how good or bad iPhone designers are, influence our happiness levels to some extent. In today’s world the influence and relationships are highly complicated and therefore it may be difficult to examine the case. Also, as we have covered the work part earlier, we could focus only on those relationships which directly influence us. For the sake of simplicity we will consider only those people whom we directly interact with. In this case, as soon as we spend some time with people we start to develop certain expectations from them and if they do not meet those expectations the feeling of liking may fade away. The closer we get to a person, more are our expectations from him or her. Once again we are making the same mistake here. Instead of making them feel happy, we are expecting happiness from them, which is not justifiable. For your happiness only you are responsible, no one else. And same is about your sorrows. Find some time to make others happy and you will be happy too.
The most important thing is – what we think of ourselves. Think about it. At the end of the day if you talk to yourself and no matter how much you have earned or learnt, there is no way you can be happy unless you feel proud of yourself. That you are living your life to the fullest. And what if it was the last day of your life. There wouldn’t be any other justifications but a simple thing in your mind – whether you lived your life or not. In case the answer is no, you are lucky that you still have some time left with you.
The answer is simple – give more than you take. Make a difference to this world so that the world before and after you is not the same. You are here for a reason – discover that reason, chase it and do what your heart says. If you do that, you don’t need to chase the happiness, but the happiness will chase you.