One of the hardest things to find these days is content. Despite having everything required to live a normal life, people lack the sense of satisfaction and completeness. As a result, they attribute this to the feeling of ‘something missing’. There is no denial that something is always missing in our lives. But the question is not about having more, but being thankful to everything that one has.
This assumption of ‘scarcity’, is a creation of mind. Mahatma Gandhi described the mind as a “restless bird”. According to him, “The more mind gets, the more mind wants, and still remains unsatisfied. The more we indulge in our passions, the more unbridled they become.” Likewise, Gautam Buddha attributed the cause of all sufferings to “desires”. As a remedy, he advocated “the middle path” which means abstaining from the extremes of anything.
This might sound very simple, but isn’t it something, that almost all of us are miserably failing to achieve? We all are trying to find our middle path between the two extremes of black and white to guide us towards happiness. While lying on the bed, we decide to transform our life from next morning, but we end up spending the whole day in the same monotonous way. Thus, we are trapped in a vicious cycle of over thinking, depression, pessimism and all sorts of negative emotions.
But Can’t we liberate ourselves from the clutches of negativity?
Life is an art that can be mastered with practice and efforts. When a person is born, all that s/he knows is to cry. While growing up, s/he learns from society. So, everything in this world can be acquired and learned. Likewise, living happily is also a skill that can be learned and achieved.
Learning To Live Happily
» Valuing Every Emotion Equally – Our mind is a repository of thoughts and emotions. While valuing our emotions, we are biased towards those that bring positivity, pleasure and energy. The other emotions that make us sad, uneasy and cause pain are unwanted. This is how the utilitarian psychology of human beings work i.e., maximising the pleasure and minimising the pain.
But, we forget that every emotion has its own intrinsic worth. Being sad is as important as being happy; being tired is as important as being cheerful and so on. Pain, sadness, weariness etc must not be treated as a disease. What we need to learn is to properly ventilate every emotion in one way or another. You might have heard the instances of heart attacks from extreme happiness and exhilarating joy. So, the first step to be happy, is to learn how to tame our emotions.
» Setting The Right Priorities – Most of our actions are directed by the perceptions and modalities of society. Peer pressure, family expectations and societal considerations decide our parameters of success. We set priorities that suit the society. As a result, most of the time we strive to achieve something that is not meant for us. Realising our potential and setting the right priorities for ourselves is the second step to being happy.
» Accept Yourself – Nobody will appreciate you, unless you learn to appreciate yourself. I have come across many people who keep criticising themselves. We seek others to accept us, but isn’t it that, it is us who are unwilling to accept ourselves? Accepting the self doesn’t mean appeasement or flattery. It’s about understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses. So, the third step to be happy is to appreciate and accept the way we are.
» Compartmentalisation – We create different folders in a computer to avoid confusion and intermixing of information. In our life, we have many acts to perform. We have to make a balance between personal life and professional life, needs and income etc. Sometimes, we are loaded with so much information, tasks and responsibilities that confuse us and may cause restlessness. Dealing with this requires Compartmentalisation of life into different folders. This may include allotting specific time to every task and responsibility as per the hierarchy of importance that we attach with them. This is the fourth step to having a happy life.
» Have Faith – Having faith doesn’t mean believing in one God or the other. It’s a belief in the silver lining of clouds. It means to be hopeful, that one will come out of every situation. Remaining optimistic all the time is a strategy that pays off. So, the fifth step to be happy is to have faith in the certainty of outcome.
» Self-belief – The sixth and final step to live a happy life is self-belief. Former president of U.S.A Roosevelt said – “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. There is one common thing that can be found in the stories of all successful people and that is their firm ‘self-belief’.When we lack self-belief, we fear to fail. As a result, we never begin. The only way fear can be conquered is by developing self-belief.
At the end, I just want to say that happiness is not about being too affluent. It’s about enjoying every small thing in life. What matters is to keep going on at a pace that suits our mobility. In the words of Gandhiji, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.