Yesterday was the International Day of Happiness, So I thought we should explore about Happiness.
Although this subject matter can be discussed upon for hours together I tried keep it as short as possible. But it is a bit too lengthy as I tried to explain each and every sentence.
Please leave your comments/feedback after reading. Please comment for any clarifications(if needed). Make sure not to miss the TAKEAWAY in the ending.
What is that one thing we all want in this life?
No, not money.
In the food, we eat…
In the dress we wear…
In the movies we watch…
In the music, we listen…
In the parties we attend…
In the blogs, we read… 😛
In the life we live, what is that one thing we all look for?
मजा आना चाहिए!!! 😃 (Pleasure is must!!!)
Yes, that one thing we all seek for is HAPPINESS.
And so as we try to LOG IN into Happiness, it asks you for the password.
When we don’t know the correct password, we try many passwords and keep waiting to get connected to Happiness — we end up either illusion-ed or frustrated.
So what is the correct Password for Happiness?
Let’s check with people around us… When we ask people about suffering and happiness. Different people respond differently -
- Some people counter you asking “Who said I am suffering?”
- Others say “We have to learn to live with this menace. What to do?”
- Some others argue, “How can you relish happiness in life unless it is mixed with some sorrow. Let’s learn to love sorrow.”
- Some say that “We are at the peak of Advancement”, but the stats say something different.
In The American Paradox — Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty, Prof. David G. Myers compared American statistics indicative of overall wellbeing across nearly half a century from 1960 onwards, The statistics are as follows.
- The divorce rate has been doubled.
- The teen suicide rate has been tripled.
- The recorded violent crime rate has quadrupled.
- The prison population has quintupled.
- The number of illegitimate children has sextupled.
- Depression has soared — to ten times free pre — World War 2 level.
If we still think that we are advancing, it is just an illusion.
Just like this kid. :D.
We can cannot reach to a conclusion by arguing this way, So let us listen to the person who has created this world — Because only the creator of a commodity has the perfect knowledge about it. So what does the Supreme Lord have to say about this world?
The Supreme Personality of Godhead — Sri Krishna in The Bhagavad Gita declares this material world to be duḥkhālayam — “The abode of miseries”(BG 8.15).
So can’t we be happy in this world!!!??
Don’t panic, there is a way.
This is just like a warning like “Beware of Dogs” or “Trespassers will be prosecuted”, anyone who ignores such warnings will have to face the consequences.
Not knowing this, People either simply struggle on or try making adjustments and securing their place in this world but not understanding that they are being controlled by someone higher.
And we stay pre-occupied by temporary and immediate problems not concerned about the certain and REAL PROBLEMS of Life. REAL Problems are those which are COMMON for all, UNAVOIDABLE by anyone and NO ONE WANTS them.
The problem is we don’t know what is the problem.
The REAL problems of life are Birth, Death, Old-age and Disease. — jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca (BG 2.27) (Translation: One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again.)
So, let us explore further into the realms of Happiness.
What is Happiness?
When we ask this question
Some people answer that “Happiness varies from person to person.”
If you also think the same. Sorry to say but Happiness is not a variant from person to person. The problem is that in today’s modern world, we mix up HAPPINESS and FUN.
- HAPPINESS is that feeling of peaceful contentment and inner fulfillment.
- Whereas FUN is the modern world replacement for Happiness where you just stop thinking about the reality. And thus think that you are HAPPY.
Some say that only Happiness in this world is To LOVE, and BE LOVED.
Yes they are True, But there are two problems with the LOVE of this world:
- It is bound with EXPECTATIONS.
- And if it is self-less love, it is bound with TIME. Time will take away one of the two leaving the other person in agony.
So, What should we LOVE and How should we LOVE? Let us listen to the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus in his commandments instructed as follows: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and your neighbour as yourself.”
This must be the motivation of the LOVE we give and the LOVE we seek.
HAPPINESS in other terms can be defined as follows:
HAPPINESS >= The difference between (Your EXPECTATION of how life should behave) and (Your PERCEPTION of how various events happen in your life).
Hence, it is our Expectation(Desire) and Perception, which are responsible for your happiness.
Now let us solve the Problem of Happiness in a logical way from the root cause.
Once there lived a Brahmachari with his Guru. One day the Guru has left on a long pilgrimage instructing his disciple to do his sadhana sincerely.
Then every day in the morning when the Brahmachari goes for the bath, he used to dry his loin cloth on a branch of a tree. One day a rat came and started biting the loincloth. Then he gets a cat to keep the rat away. But this cat started meowing loudly for milk. So he gets a cow to provide milk for the cat. But, now this cow needed someone to take care.
Then someone advised him to get married, and unfortunately, he gets married to a greedy woman. Now his greedy wife started demanding him for money, jewelry and everything. 😀
And thus he gets ENTANGLED in this cycle of needs — when his guru comes back and get shocked to see his disciple in this situation.
What is the problem with Material Desire?:
If we could not fulfill our desires, LUST turns into ANGER. If we fulfill the desire, LUST turns into GREED.
( LUST — “I want to enjoy” GREED — “I want more” ANGER — “Why can’t I have what I want?”)
And why can’t I fulfill my desires?
- The world has enough for everyone’s need but not enough for anyone’s greed. Hence by sheer logic “Everyone cannot fulfill their material desires.”
- Material desires multiply faster than you can satisfy them.
Now if you fulfill the material desire, what you get is Material Happiness. So what’s the problem with Material Happiness?
- Material things being CHANGEABLE and PERISHABLE, they cannot give lasting Happiness.
- All Material pleasures are DUAL in nature — They give short-term pleasure, long-term misery.
- All worldly things are RELATIVE. — Something best today will no longer be the best tomorrow.
So should we GIVE UP Material desires?
No, you just need to shift the focus of your perception — i.e. from Self — centered view to God-centered view… How does this work?
From the below picture, You can observe that when we all are self — centered, we intersect and cause disharmony, But when we are centered at God, we all can stay in harmony at our own level.
And this practice of staying God-centered is emphasized on in the The Bhagavad Gita. Where in the 6th chapter, verse 35, Krishna instructs Arjuna that one should follow a “suitable practice” and “detachment”.
Engaging oneself in the selfless service of the Supreme Lord and thus the whole humankind. and Remembering the God at all time by Chanting of his holy name(Mantra Meditation) is the Suitable practice prescribed in all world religions.
Detachment does not mean “not owning anything”. Detachment means “Not being owned by anything”. Detachment here is the detachment from lower things in life and getting attached to the higher supreme truth.
This Detachment is attained by performing certain AUSTERITIES and developing the HIGHER TASTE.
What is Higher Taste?
Happiness can broadly be classified into 5 realms:
Physical Happiness — Food, Sweets, Massage, Intoxicants.
Emotional Happiness — Movies, Watching Sports, Listening songs, Maintaing happy Relationships.
Intellectual Happiness — Getting good grades, solving complex problems, Exhibiting creativity, talents.
Egoistic Happiness — Professional Achievements, Financial advancement, Luxurious Cars, Homes.
Enlightened Happiness — Selfless love, Selfless service of the Supreme God, and thus the Humankind.
So we should develop taste for Higher happiness by which we can get detached from lower Hankerings.
So can I be happy by doing this?
The answer is Yes. In the heart of Bhagavad Gita comes the verse 9.2, where the supreme lord affirms as follows:
pavitram idam uttamam
su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam (BG 9.2)
Translation: This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives a direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.
6 Habits of Happiness:
Daily Gratitude: Gratitude is something we have to express every single day. Gratitude helps you refocus the way you see the world. Maintain a Gratitude Journal, write down about everything you are grateful for every day in the morning.
Start your day and end your day with a prayer to the God expressing your Gratitude for whatever you got. Also practice to pray before every meal expressing your gratitude to the Supreme God and also everyone who made your meal possible.
Savour Life: Remember to savour life, For example, when you are eating food, savour the taste of the food. Avoid watching Television/ using mobile when you take food.
Find meaning in the work you do: All work is a chance to be helpful to other human beings, All work is a chance to positively change the world, All work is a chance to serve the Supreme Lord.
Live for a MISSION larger than yourself. Besides following your PASSION, have a PURPOSE you live for. Because Passion is for yourself, whereas Purpose is for the world.
Regularize Life: Follow the principle “Early to Bed and Early to rise”. Follow certain rituals to increase your productivity and enhance your Life.
Meditate: Meditation is the chance to connect your SOUL to the SUPERSOUL, It is the way to realize your SELF. For more explanation, please read http://qr.ae/TU1NUV
Render God-centered selfless service in some way in your capacity regularly: This is the way to have that sense of inner fulfillment which, unfortunately, most people lack today.
Remember, Life starts with B — Birth, ends with D — Death and what is in between is just a matter of C — Choice.
Thus I conclude that engaging oneself in the self-less devotional service of the Supreme Lord and remembering him always by chanting his Holy name is the PASSWORD for HAPPINESS.
Understanding Happiness through Neurochemistry,
(Only for those interested in science)
Diving deeper into Neurochemistry, we find the there are 4 primary chemicals associated with Happiness. They are Dopamine, Endorphin, Serotonin and Oxytocin.
Dopamine is what we normally think of as the happiness drug. However, that’s a big misconception. Dopamine is actually involved more with anticipation than the actual “happiness” feeling. It is described as a striving emotion.
Dopamine is released when you completed tasks and achieve goals. You probably bought all the things you’ve ever wanted, which contributed to your happiness — temporarily.
Endorphins are responsible for masking pain or discomfort, which explains their association with the “fight or flight” response. When it comes to designing happiness, endorphins help you “power through.” For example, X is an avid runner. Endorphins allow him to push farther and harder as he works towards distance goals.
Endorphins are released when you start exercise to become fit, to cope with the pain of physical exercise. You probably began to enjoy exercise as you got more into it, and the endorphins made you happy — temporarily.
Oxytocin is the neurochemical that has allowed us to become social creatures. It makes us feel empathy which helps us feel close and bonded to others when it’s released.
Oxytocin on the other hand, is released in varying amounts when we become close to another human being. When we hug a friend,or shake someone’s hand.
Serotonin is believed to help regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. As the precursor for melatonin, it helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycles and the internal clock. It is thought to play a role in appetite, the emotions, and motor, cognitive, and autonomic functions. If you’re in a good mood, you’ve got serotonin to thank. And if you’re in a bad mood, you’ve got serotonin to blame.
Serotonin is released when we act in a way that benefits others. When we give to causes beyond ourselves and our own benefit. When we connect with people on a deep, human level.