Elusive Happiness. Really?

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 β€˜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.

Bon Voyage!

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58 comments

  1. Beautifully wrought! Remind me of one of my favourite quote of all time…
    “People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace.
    They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within.”
    ~ Ramona L. Anderson

  2. A great read. Let me tell you about my experience of attempting to reduce my craving/desires to own materialistic objects. Initially, it all started to go well. Unlike my peers, I developed a habit of not going crazy for things that promised to improve my ‘status’. I started to feel self-satisfied. But being a youngster it all started going wrong when I started to feel I was being stupid to be having such mentality of minimalism when all my peers seemed happy with their objects of desire and improving ‘status’. The scary thought of being considered a failure in life for not having loads of money made me change my mind and attitude. Also, I felt I had lost my passion for my ambitions.

    And I think that’s where the problem lies. Everyone desires to have a lot of money and fame as you mentioned and it is hard to run away from that fact in the present scenario

    1. Well, everyone’s given a choice; go through the roller-coaster of money, fame etc & then reach there whilst believing that you’ve proven to others you aren’t dumb. Or the realise the futility of it all without going through it. It’s a personal choice…each one shall tread the path as he thinks right.

  3. Nicely written, Sanjay. I like the way it emphasises the fact that the road to happiness is nowhere but within. As Martin Luther King Jr., said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”, taking the first step to disconnect is the most important one. I wish everone the resolve to start with this and reap marvels on their chosen journey.
    (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth103425.html#ixzz1hg0SBykm)

  4. Sanjay, so well said – DISCONNECT. A difficult task in today’s world. People have so much insecurity that, they feel that if they disconnect….. they may loose an important call or an opportunity to gain something……. yes, how many of us can disconnect the mobile while doing a certain task – not only disconnect during meditation. I feel we could begin by putting ourselves each day into a task without any outer disturbance. A talk with the children, discussing a family matter with the spouse, attending to a much needed chore or attending the office files without disturbance switching off the mobiles, saying no to visitors etc.) is also a form of meditation which brings a realisation of the many ‘hulchuls’ in our lives which need to be attended to. Hence, I feel, the first step to disconnection and realising one’s self …. is by learning to say NO to the petty disturbances in life, and prioritizing life’s various activities………..then realization will surely dawn……. and the next step to meditation will be easier……for if one can disconnect with the world with open eyes……… doing so with closed eyes and introspecting one’s self will be an easier task….and the right step in the right direction.

    1. True, it’s like there is only one cable, either you use to to connect to the external world or the one inside. So unless a total disconnect is achieved from the outside world for sometime, how can internal communication be established. Simple to say, difficult to achieve πŸ™‚ Thanks for making the effort to respond πŸ™‚

  5. The best form of happiness is when you connect with everything animate and inaninimate and see divinity in every being. Man was born divine and dies divine. As a friend of mine says, compare the laughter of a baby and that of an aged saint and you see the same divinity.
    Its true that the world is materialistic.. every one needs wealth, power, growth. But at the same time, one should not get attached to these. Because when you are attached to something not permanent, pain is inevitable, at some point or the other. Our aim should be to lead a normal life but in the process get attached to the nature and the divinity around us, which is permanent.

    1. Absolutely correct; though it has to be experienced that way, which is the difficult part. Have been trying it with some limited success..have a long way to go tho’…thanks so much for the response πŸ™‚

    1. Same here Shilpa, I try and do that too regularly and am glad that not too many attractions of the world hold a major draw to me.. but i know i have my imperfections and a long rod ahead.. thanks for your response πŸ™‚

    2. Same here Shilpa, I try and do that too regularly and am glad that not too many attractions of the world hold a major draw to me.. but i know i have my imperfections and a long rod ahead.. thanks for your response

  6. I am so “Happy” that I got the opportunity to read this so wonderfully written article on Happiness! Thank you so much for directing me to this page Sanjay! Thank you so very much.

    Humans generally have the tendency to operate from the paradigm – Have -> Do -> Be.
    Implying, If I “HAVE” this -> I will “DO” that -> and thus “BE” that (For the future)
    &
    If I “HAD” that -> I would have “DONE” that -> and thus “BECOME” that (For the past)

    However, if we were to keep questioning ourselves on the purpose of our existence, my take is that we exist for the purpose of being Happy!

    Now, if that is true, then we should reverse the paradigm and “BE” Happy and “DO” everything that gives us joy & Happiness and the whole world shall connive to make us “HAVE” everything & more than we need to help us “BE” Happy.

    Here comes the interesting part.
    Humans are one animal who is Happiest when “Giving” Happiness!
    So, what should one “Give” ??

    There was this absolutely wonderful lady who was Happiest when she was serving and helping the destitute women & children in the streets of Kolkatta. She knew how to “Love”. Her passion was to “Serve” with whatever she was good at, and she was good at “Loving” and taking “Care” of people. She decided and made it her life mission to take care & “Give” the abundance of “Love” that she possessed. She did, what she was BEST at, and she gave her whole life to fulfill the one purpose she had, and it was not in taking, it was in giving her everything to love and take care of the destitute women & children of the streets of Kolkatta. She was awarded the Noble Prize amongst so many other awards, she is known as a Saint. We all know what a wonderful, caring, loving & Happy human being that Mother Teresa was.

    What I have learnt from the above is that, I must find my life purpose, I must find what am I good at, I must find what gives me joy & Happiness, I must find my passion, and having found it, I must share, I must show others the joy that I have and how everyone can possibly have the same joy & Happiness by sharing & giving & loving & just by being a good human being.

    There is enough and more in this world for Mankind’s needs. It is Mankind’s Greed that is causing all the problems.

    I have no clue if my rantings above make sense.. or even if they are the real truth, but lately I have come to believe in this, and find that I’m so much a Happier person.

    Sanjay, your words above have renewed my faith in Humans and my quest to “Find” happiness. Once again, grateful to you for directing me here!

    Take Care!
    @AnimeshBhatt

    1. Animeshji,

      Awesome…you have embellished and added all that I may have missed. And i love this comment which is longer than the post. Thanks so very much & grateful for the various perspectives…

  7. Its indeed a very good read Sanjay. I feel human beings are unhappy because they are SCARED of loneliness. Simply Scared to be left alone unlike a bird or a butterfly. Bank balance, big house, vacations…are’nt they means to bribe our loved ones. If I learn to walk alone- I will be the happiest person in this world. Free like a bird..colorful like a butterfly..But lets face it..we are humans and not Buddha..if desires is the root cause of all evil…what would you live for if you don’t have desires……unless you are enlightened one :)….and what if you are still unhappy even after a journey alone..isnt happiness just a state of mind????

    1. Payal, even the Buddha suggested the golden mean for ordinary mortals like us..& it’s the change of direction from outwards to inwards that’s the important issue. As no change happens overnight, it shall be a gradual process of groping & growing.. πŸ™‚

  8. Nice. In today’s materialistic world very few people seek inner peace and happiness. Life greeting fast with each passing day and we forget to give time to self. At the end of the day we get nothing but depression.
    Thanks for reminding us this awesome way to get inner happiness.

  9. there is a total unexplored treasure in the realms of our inner self……craving our attention!! there in lies the key to unending eternal happiness!! a state they say, ” happy for no-reason”

  10. Well done, must admit perfect timing too. We are responsible for what we are and become, there is no two ways of looking at it. I follow a simple thumb rule keep your expectations low your disappointments are low ! I recommend Eckhart Tolle The Power of Now ! A great book

  11. “The only happy person in the world is the one who think he is” said someone and how true he was. Beautifully written piece. Liked your views and appreciate your efforts in trying to make people understand the need to reach out themselves, that is where the whole happiness lies. Could not agree more. A good take. Looking forward to hear more from u. Keep writing πŸ™‚

  12. Sir…I simply loved your post!!! but I am left with a question mark……it becomes difficult for a kid like me to understand the very definition of being happy………..till now i was a student where i had no worries…..all I used to be tensed about was my studies,about learning to work well on my patients and things like that…….but now when i have steeped out of my college,i realize how scary the outside world is!!!!
    At these critical turning point of my life,i don’t understand what is going to make me happy?
    reading the quote above,confused me is left with a question as to whether i should dream of being a good doctor, dream big or simply let my life be contented with little aspirations???

  13. Chanced upon your piece via the Ad Club site on FB, and a phrase that comes to my mind after reading this is – ‘You get what you need and not what You want’ – happiness to me or lack of it, is a function of the head space you’re in at the moment. While it is relatively easy to say ‘search for happiness within’ – the outward existence is one that I find impossible to stave off. Not necessarily reliant on aquisitions or success as defined by the work place or even personally – happiness is a fairly subjective affair. And even though I recognise the abstract and esoteric part of life in general, the ‘happiness quotient’ is a tall order. I have made a concious decision not to chase it or look for it. If it is meant to be mine it will come – much like anything else in life. I will continue to try. Thank you for writing with such clarity of thought.

  14. Dear Sanjayji,

    Greetings !!

    This one is gr8 too !! Further i would like to say ” JAHEY VIDHI RAKHEY RAM TAHEY VIDHI RAHIYE SITA RAM SITA RAM KAHIYE ” OR IF YOU MEET ” SANTOSH ” U R LUCKY !! I AM STILL UNLUCKY !!

    ON BRANDING ALSO IT IS GREAT THAUGHT NEXT VISIT INFACT AFTER OCT 2011 MY VISIT IS DUE . THIS TIME WILL CERTAINLY MEET UP IF YOU HAVE TIME OR IF YOU COME DUBAI WILL MEET UP ONCE !!

    CHAT TO CHAAT …………………..

    It is innovative as it is going with time ( samay key sath chal raha hai ) this confirm that any such innovation or idea’s are not confine with the help of education & Experience ? Some time it comes with inspiration !! Good that your all post are highly appreciable & amazing … In fact ek Nazar dekhana aur dekhkey bhul janey wali cheez ek bhi post nahi hai !! carry on such khoz & do post !! I am sorry I regularly irregular on Face Book but when ever i visit next i will certainly check your all post…… Take Care ,
    Ashok Upadhyay ,
    Ashok Tours LLC , Dubai / Ashok Tours , Nagpur.
    MBL – 09422136342 / 00971558836342 !!

  15. Chief you’ve done a brilliant job in explaining that there is no way to Happiness, Happiness is the way!
    And have Β linked it extremely well with Peace and shown us that
    to be at peace with ourselves we need to know ourselves.

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