IntroductionWhat is real happiness? Does it differ from person to person? How can one pursue real happiness? What are the steps involved? The answers to these questions have been sought to be explained by hundreds of philosophers, social scientists, leaders and a huge number of management experts as well. Still, there is maximum confusion as the world itself as become a huge commercial melting pot where money does make a huge difference. Specifically based on a number of real world experiences, pursuit of real happiness can be discussed with specific reference to a) embrace spirituality to at least some extent b)look for the larger good c) look around for triggers of happiness d) involve family members e) look for larger purposes of life.
Embrace spirituality to at least some extentEven the most advanced scientists and technocrats from the developed West agree that there is a God, a superpower that controls us. Different religions have different ways of praying to God. Yet, the belief in God makes us humble. It restores the vital balance that we seek in our lives. It makes us a lot more level headed and somewhat philosophical. It will make us believe that happiness is something that comes only when we take time off to pray to God. For example, in most Hindu families even young children are taught to recite the "Vishnusahasnamam" in praise of Lord Vishnu. This brings happiness and peace at home. In Christianity and in the Islam religions there would be special prayers like this. Every religion has something special.
Elders often ask people to at least listen to Vishnu Sahasranamam, as it is very complicated to recite the Sanskrit slokas. I have personally experienced the difference. It is simply superb even to hear this. Our mind automatically becomes very calm. The peace of mind that we experience cannot be expressed in words. Get on to something like this and at least hear the audio tapes.
Spirituality has several advantages. It calms down our mind. We relate to others in a very calm manner. We often develop empathy and reach out to more people. Spirituality also makes us more healthy in the sense it makes us automatically do some breathing exercises when we recite the mantras. There are various forms of worship in all religions but the net result is the same. We become better human beings with empathy for others. This is a huge plus.
For instance, during the Tamil month of Aaudi( starting mid July), there are huge temple festivals all over the State of Tamil Nadu. The main deity is oftentimes taken out in a procession. The free food that is offered to the devotees has to be seen to be believed. There are hundreds of sponsors who offer food in various forms. Since the season is quite hot, there are a variety of juices and butter milk offered to all devotees totally free of cost. This promotes happiness all around. Small shops selling a huge variety of bangles,unbranded textiles, home made sweets and the like suddenly appear from nowhere and make huge business. The festive mood is simply superb. Spirituality mingles with social objectives and the net result is that everyone is happy.
Look for the larger goodThis simply means that we should go towards seeking solace in social relationships. This can also mean social causes.
For instance, in Chennai, an Indian Overseas Bank Officer called Nirmal was aghast with the kind of garbage near his house and other neighborhoods as well. He himself took personal interest and made a whole lot of other people also take personal interest. This movement was named Exonora. Today, this organization, which is totally private, is still working towards making the metro cleaner. The happiness associated with such tasks has to be seen to be believed.
Similarly, if you can take up a small social cause in your neighborhood, there are chances that you will experience happiness that touches your heart and your soul. There will be a big enthusiasm all around you.
Dr Shantha of the Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai is one such person who has always worked for the larger good. Medha Patkar, the noted environmental expert has involved herself in causes that affect thousands of people. She has oftentimes been branded as "anti-development". This has never affected her zeal even one percent. In fact, her resolve to do good has only grown bigger.
Associate yourself with something similar. The cause may be small, but the collective effort that you need to do with your friends, will always give you happiness. It is often seen that this happiness is much more than even a one hundred thousand rupees of cash on hand. This is because this kind of happiness touches our heart and is intimately connected with our feelings and emotions. The likes of Ratan Tata and Narayanamurthy have always worked for the larger good of not only their own employees but for the entire society as a whole. In fact, Infosys Technologies has a very big scheme of helping its own employees contribute to social causes. The happiness that comes out of such activities is immense.
Look around for triggers of happinessHappiness has many triggers. These can happen from our own neighborhood. Simply playing with a small child of two years can bring us happiness. Going to a lush green farm can bring us happiness. Chatting over Skype with friends can bring us happiness. Just closing our eyes for fifteen minutes and totally relaxing can bring us happiness. Just taking off and seeing a movie can bring us happiness.
The list is endless. You need to find out which of these or any other trigger, will interest you, in your quest for happiness. And then just do it.
Involve family membersIf you involve your family members in your quest for happiness, you will observe that you are actually more happy at any point in time. This includes the jokes, the small little things that help us play around, the pranks of our children as well as the jokes that they exchange with our parents and so on. Each and every moment can bring us happiness. All that you need to do is to try. There is always so much of scope for real happiness within our own families. This is the only selfless unit of society still left out for real happiness.
Look for larger purposes of lifeThis is another important dimension of your quest for real happiness. If you look around, you will notice that those who are always happy are those who tend to pass on good messages to others. If you are good son or daughter and a good husband or wife, this itself will bring happiness to all other family members. They will always look towards you for their happiness in some form or the other. The process of being a good husband or wife is never so easy, given the complexities of modern life. Yet there is an imperative need to be role models. That is, you should be able to inspire others. When you do this constantly, there will be happiness all around.
ConclusionThe quest for real happiness is a journey. It is not a destination. There is always some scope for better efforts. Once we understand where we are, it becomes easy to get there. The path may be challenging. Even daunting. But when we try to find real happiness with all sincerity, we can make it very successfully.
The pursuit of happiness is a lofty life purpose and it is well explained in the article. On the other hand, there is also no need to make it so complex and make it elusive and unattainable for yourself.
The author lists the possibilities of searching for happiness in the simple pleasures of life as well as spending quality time with family. In doing good for others as well, we see that is we who are benefitted ultimately. There is immense satisfaction and happiness in knowing that we could be of some help to others.
Overall, happiness is everywhere and in the simplest of things. We just need to have the eyes to observe it.
Thank you Dipti. Am afraid I have not covered one important point.
Spending some time in natural environs can also make us very happy. Some years ago, when I was employed in a very senior position in HR, I had huge moments of tension.
A friend of mine and a close colleague would literally take me away to nearby farm houses where the inner roads would be sort of enveloped with trees on both sides. A walk down the road with the huge number of birds chirping all over would really help both of us to unwind. Informal conversations with the owners would relieve me of all tension. 6 to 8pm spent in this fashion on so many days would make me very happy.
Angamali near the Cochin International Airport is a paradise on earth. Such places are also gateways of happiness.
I guess we miss so much of so many hundreds of happiness in our rat race. In our moments of truth, we just cannot forget these lovely natural environs. I guess they will make just about anyone happy.
Yes, sir. Nature is a natural healer, if we may say. Be it a walk in the woods or a stroll on the beach, a calm and quiet feeling will take over all other emotions of distress. The sound of the waves crashing on the surface of the earth is next to meditation. A human being is so very quick in taking the stress and creating tensions but nature is calming always. Being in nature brings immense peace and happiness to all.
The author has rightly observed that possession of wealth does not have any linkage with the attainment of peace. Spirituality is the essential component triggering happiness but so far as I think real happiness can be achieved with a little practice- by engaging oneself with such assignments that would help one to derive satisfaction internally.
There are numerous ways which can yield happiness such as coaching children belonging to poor families without having expectation of money, to feed some helpless patients regularly with the sole purpose to alleviate their hardship to some extent or distributing the old clothes to the needy people. There are innumerable jobs and if engaged in such jobs with selfless motives one can derive true pleasure.
The author has enlisted several points which would serve to achieve real happiness. We need to look around the surroundings and act instantaneously to change the same in a positive way. To create pleasure in other's life should be our aim in order to get real happiness.