Annapoorani Barani feels that real happiness is what we are—that which is the cause for celebrating life and not the effect of endless endeavours
Consider a man who is wealthy and healthy. He has a palatial house, luxurious cars, a wonderful family, and a contemporary life. This man thinks he is the happiest man in the world. Don’t many of us see happiness the way this man does? Obviously, yes! But is this real happiness?
Happiness has always been a state of mind that constantly dances to the tune of our life’s happenings. An achievement in a contest, award of appreciation from a teacher or a friend, or a distinction rank will brighten our day. The very next day, a rude remark, a silly fight with a friend, or the loss of a loved one makes us gloomy, and our happiness gets interweaved with sequences of sorrow, making happiness an externally triggered temporary feeling.
However, happiness lies within and is permanent.
Let me illustrate this with an example. Say, you want to hang out with your friend because you feel it will make you happy. Here, your happiness is the outcome of spending fun time with your friend. A number of things can go wrong if your happiness depended on the outing plan. For example, if your friend refuses, your happiness will be lost. On the other hand, consider that you are intrinsically happy.You request your friend for a night out, and if your friend refuses, you will still find ways to express your happiness within by indulging in some other activity. When happiness is a consequence, it won’t last long. But when happiness is a cause, you will find a hundred motives to keep it alive and everlasting. Happiness must always be the internal trigger for doing anything and must not be regarded as something that must be gained by doing something.
Attachment to experiences
We can learn how to be happy from the inside when we are emotionally detached from what happens to us. What would we say to someone who plummets into depression because of failure? Undoubtedly, we would explain to them the factors that could have gone wrong, encourage them with the scope for bountiful other opportunities in future, tell them to believe in the limitless expanse of their inner potential, and advise them to reduce their anxiety levels by focussing on the present. The list is endless. As a third person, we would rationally analyse what went wrong with them without getting emotional. But when we undergo the same, we become emotionally attached to our experiences and consequently suffer. By viewing our experiences too from a third person’s lens, we would learn to rationally respond by analysing and taking a logical and corrective course of action while simultaneously continuing to hold on to our happiness.
Choosing to be happy
Retaining our happiness this way will help us achieve a seamless balance across the multiple roles we assume in life. In this balanced state, we won’t let the consequences of any shortcoming hamper our roles and responsibilities. I have noticed this astonishing state of balance among many working women, who, despite experiencing a hard day at work, leave no stone unturned to play with their kids and care for their family every day. For them, their hardships at work won’t stop them from being a loving spouse or a caring mother. This is representative of the ‘inner happy emotional balance’ that women possess.
History has shown us how we can find happiness even in the midst of adversities. Finding happiness under trying circumstances has created legendary works in the past. Many famous musical compositions emerged from the Holocaust. One composer, Pavel Haas, though initially depressed with the inhuman conditions of the camp, found happiness by producing some of his famous compositions such as ‘Study for Strings,’ which deeply resonate with people even today. In fact, the work he produced in captivity is more famous than all his earlier compositions. Anne Frank found her happiness through writing when her family was hiding in a secret attic under the Nazi rule. Written in a personal style, the diary’s heart-breaking narrative is laced with jokes and beautiful quotes. Penning her suffering emphatically was a way for her to invoke the latent happiness within. During 27 years of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela wrote hundreds of beautiful letters to his friends and family. Even under such harsh prison conditions, he found a way to ignite his happiness by connecting with his near and dear ones. Had these individuals let their adversities snatch their happiness, history would have been different. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, people danced around firehouses in New York. Despite facing extreme mental and emotional trauma, these people found their happiness. These scenarios are a testimony to the fact: One is the reason for one’s own happiness.
Meditation unleashes happiness
Recent research shows that meditation boosts happiness from the very core of our being. When we meditate, the circuits in the brain that are connected with making us feel good get stimulated, releasing endorphins or ‘happy hormones.’ This finding has led to the emergence of the ‘Happiness Meditation’ technique, where we initiate ourselves into entering a state of eternal happiness by meditating on feel-good qualities such as kindness and love. Also, many mindfulness training sessions have started to focus on reflecting the ‘feel-good’ elements in their sessions.
The Bhagavad Gita says, “Happiness is of the soul. The soul can never be cut to pieces. Nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water or withered by wind.” The happiness that resides in the soul of each one of us is pure and doesn’t perish. We all realise it’s sanctity when it gets involuntarily elicited from within, when we watch the smile of a little baby that possesses the same soulful happiness when it enters this world. Being blessed with this characteristic unblemished happiness, we need to own it and exude it every minute of our lives and not make something or someone outside of us responsible for it. In fact, the happiest place in the world is the cemetery because it’s the place where departed souls radiate pure happiness that wasn’t realised when they were alive. The best we can do is to not make it happen for us. So, keep yourself happy and be happily successful!
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