Happiness can be described as"a state of well-being & contentment"or"pleasurable satisfaction".Using this parameter to gauge the level of happiness many of us will fail the test because we are seldom satisfied with where we are & what we have.No wonder, we feel restless & off-key.If we are living on rent we want our own house.When the house arrives we soon want a bigger one.Having one car is not enough,we must have at least one more--the bigger the better.Our kids must go to the priciest school.Having good clothes is not sufficient,they must be branded.So on &so forth.
We make untiring efforts to achieve all the lollies we yearn for.They give pleasure for a short while.But after that,what?The same hunt starts all over again.We are convinced that once we arrive at the next milestone we shall be completely happy.But this milestone keeps shifting farther &farther.We strive & struggle to achieve the next goal.We are convinced that this is the goal of our happiness.Is it really so?Actually it is the goal of a swanky car,a high profile job or the membership of an elite club.How can we get something for which we are making no efforts at all?Happiness comes from satisfaction, but we are disgruntled all the time.We want more & more of everything.There is no limit to our desires.As soon as we tick off one item at the head of our wish-list,a new one is added.We ourselves defer our happiness to the next acquisition.No wonder stress & depression take over.
We need to realize that happiness does not depend upon money,status,power or materialistic acquisitions.It goes without saying that some amount of money & basic necessities are essential for happiness.Scientific research also proves that it is only for those who live below the poverty line,that getting more money adds to their happiness.But once a decent standard of living has been attained,the accumulation of more wealth only gives momentary satisfaction.One gets used to the new acquisitions very soon.
Actually what is needed in order to be happy is-a sense of balance & gratitude.A person who is grateful will be happy at any rung of the ladder.Today we give more importance to garnering the tokens of a successful life, of having arrived;rather than enjoying the fruits of our labor & looking for joy in our surroundings.
Problems start when we compare ourselves with those who are better placed than us & we begin to compete with them.Or we want to prove to our equals that we are a cut above them.All this stress & strife is detrimental to physical & mental health.Having said this let me hasten to add that i do not advocate a supine approach to life.But comparisons lead to dissatisfaction & jealousy,which are the anti-thesis of harmony.As we speed along the path of progress,the competition should only be with our own self rather than each & every person who is ahead of us.
Even as we try to better our own performance,it will be prudent to set realistic goals,so that the chances of failure are minimum.One more point--we cannot be happy if we find ourselves isolated & friendless.While striving for personal advancement we must take care not to sacrifice loving relationships.It is these relationships which provide help,support & advice when we are distressed.
Thus we see that our attitude is the major deciding factor whether we are happy or miserable.Now about the external factors.Sure there is no dearth of precipitating factors which could push us to the depths of despair.Everyone has to face misfortune,failure,death,disease,disappointments & setbacks sometime in life.But each one of us reacts to adversity in a unique manner.This indicates that it is not the stimulus itself ,but something in us, which determines whether a situation will leave us dazed,disappointed or dejected.If we learn to control our reactions, we can be calm even in the face of misfortune.Incorporating equanimity in daily life will go a long way towards enabling us to handle tough times in a mature & efficient manner.A person who goes overboard in good times is more likely to fall into the dungeons when good luck recedes.
While equanimity helps to conserve our sanity,flexibility helps us to glean happiness from the debris of broken dreams.Life does not run along predictable lines.When a cherished ambition is thwarted,it is prudent to change course & settle for the second best.But a mere change of course, is not sufficient to guarantee happiness.It depends upon how we do it.Just being resigned to it is not enough.It is imperative that we shift to the new alternative whole-heartedly--giving it all we have.We need to look for advantages in the new situation & make use of them.Only then can we find happiness in the aftermath of an unwelcome change.Flexibility & positivity make a good recipe for happiness.
Embracing positivity also involves shedding negativity.Negativity thrives in emotions like hatred,jealousy,anger,fear,vengeance & remorse etc.As long as we harbor such emotions in our chest we cannot be happy.As soon as a negative emotion appears,it is best to have a positive one ready to replace it.Likewise with negative people-avoid them like the plague!
Going a step further ,geniality,empathy,friendliness,helpfulness & kindliness--all contribute to a feeling of well-being & peace of mind.Compliment someone,lend a helping hand,appreciate somebody's efforts ; & the smile you get will suffuse you with warmth.
One essential prerequisite of happiness is self-esteemIf we are not comfortable in our own skin nothing can make us happy.We can get rid of low self esteem by making an inventory of our plus points & learning them by heart.Negative self-talk is taboo, & so is magnification of one's flaws.Do not underplay your achievements.
Happiness is a state of mind.The mind has to be conditioned to receive it .Once we have done this, an untoward event may cast it's shadow,but it will be easy to spring back & recapture our peace of mind.In the words of Sri Sarada Devi "Difficulties always come, but they do not last for ever.You will see that they pass away like water under a bridge"
The picture above has been taken from the web.