Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t want to be happy?
Yet how many people do you know who are genuinely happy?
Not many, I am sure.
I am not speaking about the passing happiness of buying that new dress that enamoured you in the show window, or your team winning that major league championship or even getting married to your sweetheart, which may last a little longer.
I am talking of happiness that’s more permanent, like a part of a person’s very existence.
Why is happiness so elusive and ephemeral?
Common sense tells us that being happy should have been as natural as breathing.
No other living creature seems unhappy except for us humans.
Have you seen a sad butterfly or a depressed bird?
Seems to me the blame lies squarely at our doorstep. It is we who have made life so complex and by looking for happiness in the wrong places.
Even trying to define happiness can make it complicated. Anything the human being touches becomes complex.
For simplicity’s sake let us say happiness is a state of feeling content and complete, looking forward to life with zest and energy. The closest most of us come to experiencing happiness is when our desires are fulfilled. The big contract, the new car, the promotion or the bonus. But no sooner does that happen, like the full moon, it starts waning and with each passing day it reduces till finally it’s back to square one. Darkness once again.
This is transient happiness.
What this tells us is; nothing that comes from outside can ever give us permanent happiness. There is some void, some great emptiness inside, which we in our ignorance try and fill with external possessions. It is an attempt in futility. It is akin to a blind man trying to fill a bucket that has no bottom with water, he can keep pouring in water all his life but the bucket will remain empty.
Why don’t we realise that only something that arises from within can fill the void inside and no amount of external possessions can ever do that. And yet even the most intelligent amongst us keep trying to achieve it by accumulating more and more, whether it’s bank balances, larger houses, vacation villas, the latest gizmos, the snazziest cars or fame & power or even the pseudo-friends who we party with.
It seems that we have created a whole facade to mislead ourselves; the great pressure to perform, the deadlines, the packed schedules, the achiever syndrome.
And our vacations are packed with even more activity, from one great sight to the other. From one picturesque location captured in our digital cameras to the other. Only serving to update one Facebook status update after the other cramming our online albums to show off and expecting to see the pictures some day. Pictures of the vacation that we were too busy shooting pictures of to experience. Of our leisure the less said the better. Glued to our smart phones, tablets, iPods & readers.
It is almost as if we want to be connected to everyone else in the world but ourselves. Too scared to all of a sudden be confronted with a stranger called ourselves. And that is the crux of the issue. If this constant outward journey has brought nothing but misery, isn’t it time to change its direction?
If our innumerable attempts of playing into the hands of our desires and ambitions have brought us no lasting happiness isn’t it time to try a change of tactics. No I am not for a moment suggesting that we give up everything one fine morning and become an ascetic.
Let’s take a few baby steps to begin with. Of all the human faculties the one most precious is our ability to think and analyse. It would be a good beginning to start with using it.
The first step would be to totally disconnect from the world outside for sometime everyday, sitting in solitude and trying to connect with oneself. Gradually increasing this time where undisturbed, eyes closed you try and delve deeper into yourself. Just watching yourself like a witness becoming more aware of yourself as time goes by. Not attempting to ‘do’ anything, in fact drop all the doing and simply watching. This simple step will result in a tremendous transformation; suddenly you will start experiencing a centering within. You will gradually start seeing the futility of all those things you loved doing earlier. And more importantly you will start looking forward to this time with yourself more and more. Desires will slowly start blunting; they will not possess you, driving you till they were fulfilled. A new kind of contended existence you had never known should follow.
You will be surprised by an inner calm and an overall feeling of well being that doesn’t need to be fed by constant stimulation from the outside. This is just the beginning; there are many more treasures to be discovered in this inner journey.
And all it needs is only a small first step in the right direction. Inwards.