In the Pursuit of Happiness
The great saint – philosopher and one of the last Maharishi from India, Ramana Maharishi, said, “From the moment a child is born it starts seeking pleasure and shunning pain. It is, therefore, but natural for human beings to pursue happiness and it is for this very reason man, who is nothing but a miniscule and integral part (Atman) of the creator of the universe (Parmatma), should try to realise Him through meditation that will elevate him to the level of eternal happiness and bliss.”
While most of us may not be able to reach the plane advocated by Ramana Maharishi, it is well within our hands to remain as happy as possible by having positive thoughts, healthy attitude and approach to life and by doing noble deeds all of which may eventually help us to elevate ourselves as near to Parmatma as possible.
Human beings sweat and toil to fulfill their various needs and wants but the bottom line is always peace and happiness, which however eludes most people.
Two important aims of people are success and happiness.
Most people believe that success would automatically lead to happiness.
Unfortunately not only it is not true but also the opposite of it is true.
Recent studies reveal that smile is a better route to success. According to scientists, if you want to really succeed all that you have to do, in short, is smile. They have found that happy people tend to achieve more than those with a sad and miserable outlook. This is because happy people are more likely to accept challenges and seek new goals.
Happy people are found to have positive attitudes and that make them energetic, outgoing and friendly.
All these attributes help them to do well in whatever they attempt.
These people also become popular because of their outgoing and friendly nature and they become natural leaders. Their cheerful attitudes help them not only succeed in whatever they do but also enable them to have better relationships.
When people feel happy, they tend to feel confident, optimistic and energetic and others find them likable and sociable.
Happy people are thus able to benefit from these perceptions.
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, who led the study at the universities of California, Missouri and Illinois, says that people with cheerful and happy disposition are more likely than their less happy peers to have fulfilling marriages and relationships, high incomes, superior work performance, community involvement, robust health and even a long life.
The psychologists’ findings contradict the traditional assumption that possessing money, wealth, ideal job, or a perfect partner lead to happiness. They say that it is the other way round. If you want all these things, you need to put on a happy face first. The study concluded that chronically happy people generally achieved more across many areas of life than those who were less cheerful.
To become happy and remain so all the time may appear to be a daunting task, but it is not impossible.
There are plenty of things around us which can make us happy, and equally there are plenty of other things around us which can make us unhappy too. It depends on us to choose what we want.
Life’s happiness is not in what happens to us but in how we react to it. The choice of reaction is always with us.
Ifyou really want to be happy all the time, look at children.
My friend, philosopher and guide is a two year old child in my neighbourhood. He is happy 24 hours for seven days in a week. You can see him smiling and laughing all the time. He has an ever ready hundred watt smile to flash upon every person or object that comes within his orbit of vision. I have not been able to emulate him in smiling all through the day, be it just after he wakes up or just before he drops into sleep.
Happiness is writ large across his face with mirth dancing in his eyes and smile singing on his lips. During the hours he is awake, I have hardly ever seen him idling his time awake doing nothing or wondering what to do. He is always something up his sleeve to do to keep his every moment occupied. He is so creative that he invents at least a dozen games every day to amuse himself.
It is said that you should do at least one new thing every day if you want to remain happy.
How many of us will be stumped for an answer if someone asked us “what was the last time you did something new for the first time?”
Not so with my friend, philosopher and guide. He does more than a dozen new things every day. He is also easily contented with whatever he gets and amuses himself with that.
If, by chance, he gets hold of an object that can hurt him and if it is snatched away from his hands, his disappointment over deprivation of the object of his liking will not last more than two minutes during which he will emit a mock cry and he will then forget about it and look for something interesting elsewhere. He has taught me to look inwards for satisfaction.
Anything and everything around him interests him and there is nothing which does not arouse his interest. His curiosity to know, learn and imitate, his contentment with whatever he gets coupled with his attempt to get more, his creativity, his ever ready smile, his ability to laugh at everything that happens around him, his boundless energy, enthusiasm, his continuous non-stop occupation with doing something or other all help him in keeping his every moment interesting and happy.
A child smiles about 400 times a day and an adult about 20 times a day. As we grow up, the upbringing and the environment makes us take life so seriously that we lose our inborn ability to smile and laugh.
If he can awake the dormant child within us, if we can become child-like innocent and pure in our thoughts, speech and action, if we can get satisfaction from small little things which life offers and above all if we can keep a smiling face and laugh ever so often, we can remain happy all through our life.
If only we can experience pleasure in everything that befalls us, be it positive or negative, enjoyable or painful, favourable or adverse, we can create our own paradise wherever we are, wherever we go. And it is not impossible to do so, for it is a matter of mindset and attitude.
Down the ages and across the continents many people have demonstrated that they enjoyed everything good and bad in their lives. They bore their untold sufferings and miseries with fortitude and with such an attitude as if their miseries were a kind of pleasure and to achieve their goals some of them even paid with their lives happily. They stood their ground for what they believed. They had values and principles in life and they stuck till the end to what they deemed as right. They were steadfast in following their beliefs and principles.
Examples of such people are many. Gautama Buddha, Socrates, Jesus Christ, Joan of Arc, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior, Nelson Mandela and Aung Saan Suu Kyi come to mind readily. They had charity towards all and malice towards none. They were as happy in their adversity as they were in their prosperity and pleasures.
We would do better by reminding ourselves that every blessing has a curse attached to it and every curse a blessing.
When you change your attitude so as to accept with equanimity both your pleasures and sufferings equally, the slings and arrows of an outrageous fortune will sail past you without hurting you the least.
Hindu philosophy says “Anyone may hurt your body but no one can hurt your soul”.
We see all around ourselves all the time people wallowing in wealth grumbling and complaining and people living in poverty laughing and singing.
It all goes to prove that one’s attitude decides one’s altitude.
O’ Hidden Life! vibrant in every atom,
O’ Hidden Light! shining in every creature,
O’ Hidden Love! embracing all inOneness,
May each who feels himself as one with Thee,
Know he is also one with every other