Happiness in life
“Life is there to live and live happily”
“It is good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you have not lost the things that money can’t buy” George Lorimer
Introduction – Life is there to live and live happily Almost everyday people, people wish to their near and dear one, ‘be happy’, ‘enjoy the day’, ‘enjoy life’, ‘enjoy the trip’ ‘enjoy your holidays’ etc. etc. But the irony is that hardly most of them know or understand what is true happiness, how can they be happy.
Issue – But how? The main problem is how to make people realize what is happiness, how can they be happy and what they should do or what are the ways and means to achieve it.
What is happiness? – For many people, for enjoyment and happiness they should have muscle, money or political power. Some get happiness lies in getting name, fame, wealth or in securing for themselves important positions in the corridors of authority – be it social, political or economic. For them, authority over others is enjoyment. They like to control the destiny of other people around them and have a say in all important matters of society/nation.
Youth of the day find happiness in visiting and holidaying in world’s most exotic locales, purchasing expensive goods and clothes, providing best education to their children, buying expensive cars and residences in exclusive areas and ultimately retire rich. For fulfilling all these desires, they would require a handsome amount of money. Without enough money at hand and good bank-balance, they feel insecure and restless.
Does material success give happiness – Material success does matter in life and is necessary to be comfortable and to enjoy in life. There is nothing wrong to pursue ambitions and self-interests and make efforts to be successful in life. All are supposed to lead an active and happy life especially when they are young, because youth is the most energetic and most enjoyable period in anybody’s life. As far as possible, it should be free from worries and tensions. Nature offers maximum opportunities to young people to utilize their intellectual and physical capabilities and enjoy the life the most.
In Hinduism, ‘Grihasthashram’, (young couples leading a family life) are advised to work for financial and material gains, get involved in economic activities of the nation and fulfill their dreams and ambitions. But at the same time, they have certain duties/obligations towards society. They are the trustees and managers of social estate. They are supposed to fulfil their duties towards family members – parents, wife/husband, children and elders; towards the rest of the society, helping other people in need of protection/help; and towards nation by observing the law of the nation and pay taxes honestly on their income.
Young couples are the main contributors and ‘Society’ is the recipient. They are supposed to make direct/indirect contribution to the society consistent to their capacity, knowledge and conscience. Taking proper care of toddlers and elderly/old people, proper maintenance of institutions of learning, NGOs involved in social service and support the poor etc. are included in their duty. They are also supposed to be sensitive and compassionate to the problems of weaker sections of society.
Can only money make one happy? – George Lorimer suggests “It is good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you have not lost the things that money can’t buy” (George Lorimer, TOI, Sacredspace, P.16)
A million dollars question arises – Can only money or material success buy happiness? Such questions are being asked from time to time. People thought over it, tried to get an answer but have never been satisfied with the answer. The answer depends on just what one means by ‘happy’. Present generation born and brought up during the era of materialism and consumerism regards money the most important thing in life. Many people are running after money blindly. It needs to be understood that money is the means, not an end in itself. Money is not the master or sole aim in life. It is supposed to be the servant. Money is important and useful for meeting day to day requirements and basic needs of the life, but ‘greed’ or aspiring for more and more money does not make a person happy. More one has, for much more he desires. Once craving for money starts, there is no end to it. ‘Satisfaction’ with what one achieves in life or possesses and living within its limits gives more happiness than always craving for ‘more’.
What money can’t give – Some successful persons feel that happy and satisfied with what they have earned or achieved in their lives. But most of the times, such happiness is superficial and short-lived. Money and material successes can make one happy for a short period, or provide comforts in life or satisfy their ego up-to certain point, but can not buy sustainable happiness in life. People keeping themselves busy in earning money, hardly get time to enjoy life’s little pleasures.
There is a large number of persons, who are poor, unemployed or underemployed. It is difficult for them even to fulfill their basic requirements. Unemployment is continuously increasing and prices of commodities are soaring after the great economic depression of 2008. Because of the lack of opportunities, money and numerous temptations, many of them are tempted to adopt wrong means including extortion, violence etc. to become rich overnight. These are one of the main reasons why corruption, crimes, violence or thefts are increasing amongst all the sections of society every day. It is becoming very difficult for the government to maintain law and order situation properly. There seems not much hope for the improvement of the law and order situation in near future.
What is happiness according to Hindu Philosophy
According to Hindu philosophy, real enjoyment/happiness (आनन्द) means ‘Satchitanand’ which includes in itself three things –
Cit (चित्), and
Sat (सत्) or path of righteousness – Sat refers to what is true and real. It inspires one to be true/honest to oneself and to others. It enables a person not to live in an illusionary world, but to accept the facts or realities of life and then decide his/her course of action.
Tremendous will power and a strong character is required to follow the path of ‘Sat’. It is difficult to follow the path of ‘sat’ for persons with weak faculties of mind. One needs to control or abandon passions like lust, anger, greed, vanity, conceit or over-joy, as it leads only to sorrow and distress.
Cit (चित्) or mindset/consciousness, knowledge, awareness or wisdom, Wisdom controls passions. It leads to balanced mind-set and controls irrational desires or passions. A balanced mind directs a person towards path of righteousness and achieve in proper manner desirable objectives.i
Ānanda (आनन्द) or happiness – Usually a common man devotes his/her time, effort and energy in satisfying the physical basic human needs. Real happiness lies in the development of ones inner self. One needs to have a balanced mind for being happy. Whatever comes on the way in life, one must accept that. Indian value system teaches an individual to accepts his surrounding, as it is and try to extract from it, whatever happiness he can. An Indian does not find life a vale of tears, from which to escape at all costs. It is said that Indians do “not count wealth in money alone, there is richness in their poverty.”
A person, whether rich or poor can be happy if he is able to keep a balance between his material (physical body) needs (be it money, attachment, material pursuits or ego) and spiritual needs (of soul).
How to achieve ‘Satchitanand’?
For reaching to the stage of ‘Satchitanand’, it is necessary –
- Positive attitude
Role of knowledge – It is not the money but acquisition of Knowledge, which is necessary to become happy. For real happiness people focus on pursuit of right kind of knowledge, maintenance of harmonious relationships with fellow-beings and health are more required rather than anything else.
Knowledge is essential the purpose of giving activities, their due meaning and value and make a person happy. Even a wise man may get puzzled without knowledge, as to what he should do or should not do. Therefore acquisition of knowledge is the most important thing in life. It is only after gaining knowledge, a person could understand well the real nature of work and could distinguish correctly between action, forbidden action, and in-action.
Positive attitude – A person is, what he thinks. Negative thought generates negative energy that is transformed into illness/bad feelings. Negative thinking pushes a person backwards. It pushes away the solutions and enlarge problems. It leads to pessimism. It is better to light a match that to regret the darkness. A bee is small, but produces one of the sweetest things -honey – that exist.
Positive thinking brings happiness, serenity, blissfulness and sensitivity. It helps one to achieve success and to reach up-to great heights. Positive attitude towards life inspires in human beings qualities like sincerity hard-work, honesty and uprightness. For leading life in a positive way, one’s actions(Karmas) need to be performed with balanced mind. A person should adopt the path of righteousness without any bias.
True education is self-acquired and leads to self-awakening and to live with wisdom. Self awareness brings in love, peace harmony, joys and ‘Bliss’ Formal education in schools usually teaches to maintain external things or what exists – to preserve the systems, culture, religion and philosophies and prepares people for employments. All the time people worry about losing in the maintenance process. Human life is to live, not just to maintain.
Contentment – Contentment has an important role in life to make one happy. There is enough for everybody’s need in this world, but not enough even for a person’s greed. Contentment can generate happiness or feeling of real enjoyment in life amongst those who have enough money for fulfilling their basic needs. Hindi poet Kabir has said –
“Godhan gaj dhan baji dhan aor ratan dhan khan,
Jo ave santosh dhan sab dhan dhhuri saman.”
(meaning all kind of wealth in this world can not bring that kind of satisfaction to human beings as contentment brings)
In India, it is a proverb that Lakshmi, ‘the goddess of wealth’ is quite unpredictable. With great effort a person learns to earn the wealth righteously, spend it properly and keep it safely. (Lakshmi bahut chanchala hai, isko sambhal kar paana, rakhana aur kharchana, teeno bahut tapasya ke baad aata hai. Quoted from the booklet Anmol Moti, written in !940’s by Shri Bhagwati Dayal Khare , an Advocate, Barabanki, U.P.)
Indians believe that achievements only at physical plane do not always make a person happy, successful and strong. Such a mindset gives rise to greed, anger and passion and most of the times (s)he is not able to maintain good relations with others. Materialism, consumerism, ruthless competition for positions of power, money and VVIP status in society or desire to have all the pleasures of life at others cost have brought some unpleasant changes in the mind-set of people in recent past and is increasing every day in the character, role and inter-relationship of the following main constituent of the national elites – political executive, legislators, businessmen, media, organized workers, surplus farmers and bureaucrats etc.
Winding up – With positive thinking and contented mindset, child-like innocence is also required for happiness, which guides one to forgive and forget easily, carry no grudges against anyone, focus attention on the present, and keep always alive curiosity to understand new things and spirit of adventure.
True education and learning removes ignorance and trains the faculties of a person towards positive thinking and channelize his/her energies towards right direction. Positive thinking inculcates in human mind discipline and productivity. A knowledgeable person does not believe in discrimination. All persons rich or poor, high or low, forward or backward appear equal. Detached mindset helps them to live together peacefully in this world.
Positive-thinking leads towards clear objectives. Clear objective decide the right course of action. Choosing right path or course of action makes a person happy and contented. For happiness knowledge, wisdom and intellectual intelligence is necessary. Intelligence itself brings in financial independence. Limit one’s desires/over-ambitions. Even best ones are short-lived. Whatever comes in the way, one must accept it gracefully with positive mind-set and try to make efforts to extract the best out of the worst circumstances.
i Manusmriti, II, 94.
ii Bhagwat Gita, IV 14,15,16,and 17
iii Manusmriti, II, 3 and 5.
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