So much is written and spoken about happiness these days but it seems a lot of it adds to over all confusion rather then clarity on the subject. Another problem here is the most simplistic version of happiness also have undertone to sell something like yoga or book or life style or acquiring virtual user base (hmm I am founder of one such site – laywi.com)
But still I would try to put my thoughts on the subject, rather I would try to share my on going learning around the subject.
So what is happiness to me
Living a life which I think I desire – easier said then done in today’s word – when we are getting bombarded with messages, opinions all the time from all directions like TV shows, blogs (like this), celebrity shows, New paper articles, social media, books and so forth.
But my desire of happy life have to be sensible and constitute the following –
1. Socially (relationships) well engaged in a society one lives as that’s one of the innate need we cannot replace or ignore to be happy.
2. Security (financial aspect), absence of security causes of a lot of grief in life, of course one should know when security cross over to luxury. Here we are just referring to basic needs! Luxury could be another goal but not basic need to be happy.
3.Well-being (I love the WHO definition of well-being, it is “Well-being is a state of complete physical, mental and social well–being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.“) and
4. Personal achievements (recognition in one’s social circle) – feeling of pride and sense of achievement.
Reason I consider these 4 points essential is due to the reason we now know that 50% (roughly speaking based on various genetics and neuroscience study) of our happiness is dependent on our genes or inherited from our forefathers. But rest 50% we can change, of course it takes efforts and these efforts make our life worth living – Purpose for one’s life.
Whats the problem
Happiness is not merely absence of misery or problem in one’s life but actually pursuits of goals which are directly related to happiness and contentment. For my decades qualified people like psychiatrist believed that if we remove misery from people’s life then they would be happy but result was just zero – people didn’t have misery in life but still no happiness – reason absence of problem or unhappy moment does not make one happy – it just empty feeling and people soon slipped back to misery. So Misery and happiness aren’t extreme end of same system but two separate system. We all have seen a severely disabled person or a poor person in life but still happy – that because they pursue happiness even in presence of misery or problems.
Another point here is people living in western society are generally more happier then they realise – we regularly try to measure our happiness from different criteria everyday that make us less happy, less in control and take away sense of well-being! We need to have a definition of happiness and well-being which is consistent between years and does change every day or week though it should change with decades as we mature (happiness for young person is different than for middle aged person to old person).
So don’t wait for problem to get over, start today on your goals which bring happiness.
What’s the solution
As it goes “Its simple to be happy but difficult to be simple”. Simple itself has so many meaning in society today – like shunning materialistic life fair to certain extend but if everyone goes for non-materialistic approach, worlds progress would come to stand still. Remembering money or material is not a problem but greed for money is. Honestly speaking a lot scientist have made more difference to life then religious institution or Bill Gates (not with Microsoft but with his philanthropic endeavors) makes more difference to world then monks.
To some people “simple” means, shortest path or easiest approach, laziest option or effortless course of action.
“Simple” does not mean any of above but simple is, something which is easy to understand but not necessarily easy to implement. Human desire to fly was simple but execution was complex (invention of Airplane).
1. Define your life (would take time to arrive where you stand today)
2. Examine your current standing – Evaluate 4 important areas of life (as above)
3. Write you vision (Where you want to be in 10 years time)
4. Make a plan to bridge your today and tomorrow (vision) … for happiness lies in expecting and achieving, on progress, in journey to your desired destination but not in possessing something or shunning something. Happiness is a state of being which is congruous to society we live in but still leaving our own definition of life and happiness.