Happiness depends upon ourselves… Aristotle
The happy man is not he who seems thus to others, but who seems thus to himself… Publilius Syrus
My friend, what is that which gives you happiness? Successful career? Fulfilling relationships? Beautiful home? Intellect? Money? Children? There are as many reasons to be happy, as there are people on earth. We seek happiness in our own unique ways, and go about trying to create those realities that we hope shall help us attain this, somewhat ephemeral, goal.
A dear friend quoted Osho a few days ago: ‘I’ll tell you a spiritual secret, be the cause and the effect will follow; but I’ll tell you an even deeper spiritual secret… be the effect and the cause will follow.’ This is the key to happiness as well. If we live our lives in ways that make it impossible to be happy, how can we ‘effect’ happiness into our lives? A pessimistic outlook, a harsh and critical eye, a complaining tone, a suspicious mind, a dissatisfied heart, these hardly constitute the ‘causes’ that attract happiness.
The irony of life is that though our feet chase the rainbow of happiness, our hearts are never quite full, as there is always that certain someone who has more of that certain something. Lack is a state we fall into so easily that even before we are aware of it, the mire has come up to our waists. Our expectations and anticipations are, often, our greatest obstacles to happiness. Never being satisfied with ‘enough’, and constantly needing ‘more’, this anticipation of a happier tomorrow robs us of the joy of today.
We spend our lives demanding happiness as though it were a fundamental right to be handed to us without our making any effort towards its attainment. Yes, we all have a right to be happy, but this right has to be earned. You cannot lead a dull and sedentary life, and demand that life be exciting. You cannot be mean and penny-pinching, and demand to enjoy the fruits of abundance. You cannot be constrained by ignorance and stubbornness, and demand that the gems of wisdom be endowed upon you.
Change comes in many forms, and often change takes on a garb that seems frightening and cruel. But it is true that when one door closes, another opens instantly and simultaneously. We do not see this open door because our eyes are still fixed upon the closed one. We moan and lament about the past, and fearfully look ahead into the dimness of an uncertain future. The happiness of the door that has opened NOW is seen only when there is nowhere else to look.
Too much significance is attached to one event, one person, one possession, thus its absence or loss brings on a melancholia so unbearable, that the skeptical mind begins to believe that happiness is but a fleeting fantasy. We do not call upon the spirit of endeavour and enterprise that each human being is gifted with; we are blind to the light of hope that heralds our dreams; we lose the courage that places our feet upon unbeaten tracks. And all because of one event, one possession, one person.
Just as we hold on selfishly to all our possessions, we also tend to hold on to our happiness. We do not share it with others believing that the unhappiness of another will deplete our stock. How tenuous is our hold over happiness! Lord Byron said, ‘To have joy one must share it. Happiness was born a twin.’
Happiness does not happen as a reaction or a response. It has to be caused to happen. It has to be chosen. No one and nothing can make you happy when you choose to be grouchy, resentful, and sullen. Beloved friend, only you can command your smile to spread its radiance, just as only you can take responsibility for the frown and the furrows.
When you are happy, you are too busy to be tired, and weariness is a strange feeling that you hear others talking of. To be happy, you must have a very short memory so that you do not carry the past into your present. The burdens that we carry, often, belong to a time long gone, but because of the significance we have attributed to them, they have only grown in weight. To these burdens we add the weight of jealousy, possessiveness, greed and resentment.
Your circumstances do not make you happy; your attitude does. Dissatisfaction with what you have is the surest way to be unhappy. You will never have all that you want, but if you are content, you will recognize that you have all that you need. And you will begin to enjoy all that you have.
Reaching the goal is often not as important as the journey itself. Choose where you wish to place your feet on each step of the way so that happiness does not wait for you at an unknown destination, but is your constant companion as you journey through life. When you do not need a reason to be happy, you are happy all the time.
Do not ask yourself, am I happy? Instead assert I am happy!