Happiness is the experience of frequent positive emotions such as Pride, Joy, Gratitude, Interest, and infrequent negative emotions such as Sadness, Anxiety and Anger. Happiness is related to life satisfaction; moments of pleasure and appreciation of life and it is a state of the mind. You must understand that positive emotions do not indicate the total absence of negative emotions.
A happy person experiences the spectrum of emotions just like anybody else but the frequency by which they experience the negative one is very less. Regardless of where you are on the happiness spectrum each person has their own way of defining happiness. Ancient Greeks have defined happiness the joy that we feel when we are striving after our potential. Micheal Fox has rightly defined it this way: “My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance and in inverse proportion to my expectations”. Happiness is also defined in a mathematical term as the ratio of Desires fulfilled and Desires conceived. Happiness = Desires fulfilled/Desires conceived. It implies that happiness is dependent upon the expectation level, the desire conceived and your state of mind. Expectations play a vital role in making you happy or unhappy. Let me narrate how. One of my friend’s father named as Mr Vikas Jain was hospitalized because of the suspected heart ailment. When I came to know I visited him in Military hospital, Secunderabad. He was in stable condition though he was told not to speak more for a longer duration. I was surprised because he was doing very well in his business and he was a person who was always supported by his able children. When I went to inquire about his health and asked, “Uncle! What is the reason for your ailment?”.
He replied, “I have suffered a heavy loss”. On asking him how and what has happened. He replied that he has purchased cotton from the farmers worth 20 Lac rupees; the price has gone up to 50 Lac for the same amount of stock. But that time I could not sell at that rate, now the price has come down to 30 Lac for the same amount of stock and thus I have suffered a loss of 20 Lac Rupees; and this is a very big amount. I could not understand his calculation at all and I asked him, “Uncle! You have procured the stock at 20 Lac and still, you are getting Rs 30 lac for the same stock? So, to my mind, you are still gaining 10 lac rupees of profit”. But he was not getting my logic and he was pleading that if I could have sold the stock 2 months earlier I could have got the profit of 30 Lac. Therefore, the perceived loss of 20 Lac he suffered a heart attack. This is the best example how expectations play with our state of mind. The unreasonable expectation is the root cause of unhappiness. This reminds me of another story.
In the state of Mithila, there was a cobbler. He was very contented and happy. He used to do his daily job very religiously and whatever he used to get he used to feel satisfied. King Janakof Mithila once declared that I wish to reward the happiest man of Mithila. A jury was formed to select the most contented and happy man of the kingdom and they have selected this poor cobbler for this esteemed reward. King has rewarded him with 10 thousand gold coins. The Cobbler was initially very happy to receive the prestigious reward. He received the reward and reached his house and he dug the floor of his house to ensure the safety of the gold coins. Since the day he received the gold coins he was not able to sleep in the worry that somebody may steal the gold coins. Within a week due to lack of sleep, he became sick and he was unable to eat anything he gave it a thought that these gold coins have become a burden on me. It has made me unhappy and sick. He went back to the king and he offered that king should take away 10 thousand gold coins and use it for the well-being of the people of the kingdom. As he thought that the root cause of his unhappiness was the possession of the gold coins.
King agreed to his proposal and he used that money for the well-being of the people. No material possession, however precious it might be, will give you happiness, real happiness can only be achieved if you are working on giving pleasure to others. I must not miss out on this interesting story taken from Markendey Puran: There used to be a young couple in the city of Ujjain. They used to lead a very happy life. At times, they used to think that how long they can sustain this happiness in their life? One fine morning they came to know that a renowned religious saint is reaching Ujjain to give his discourse. The young couple approached that religious saint and discussed their problem that they wanted to avail sustained happiness throughout their life. Could the religious saint suggest something so that they can enjoy happiness throughout their life?
So religious saint told him that it is very much possible but for that, you must visit the entire state of Ujjain and take out a piece of cloth from the shirt of the happiest person and as long as you will be keeping that piece of cloth in your possession you will remain happy.
They started looking for the happiest man in the state and they found a very rich couple enjoying their life nicely. When they approached and asked them, “Are you the happiest couple of the state?” He replied, “We are very happy but we have no children, once I will have my own child I will be the happiest man”. They continued their mission finding out that he is not the right target for us. Then they searched another person who was appearing to be very happy and on inquiring he told, “I am very happy but I have been separated from my wife that is the only problem which makes me unhappy”. To cut the story short they saw a shepherd boy, he was enjoying, singing and dancing in the forest. When the couple approached this boy and asked, “How happy you are?” the boy replied, “I am the happiest man in the world”. Then they requested him to give a piece of cloth from his shirt and he replied, “I am sorry! I don’t have any shirt”. This story gives an obvious meaning that, absolute happiness is a Utopian dream. Material possession can never lead to happiness. Your happiness depends entirely on your Karma (actions), if you do well to others your self-esteem will be enhanced and you will remain happy. Happiness depends on your attitude.
I remember a seminar which I had attended at IIM, Indore. The Seminar was taken by Prof. P.K. Singh, in between the seminar he took all the participants to go to next conference room where they have kept a greeting card for all the participants. The number of participants was 35 and he gave a condition that if you find out the greeting cards of your own name within 5 minutes, you will be rewarded and once the event was started there was a total chaos and everybody was asking about his own card. As a result, nobody could find out his own card. Later on, Prof. PK Singh told that happiness is like the card, you have not been able to get your card because you were focusing on your own card. If everyone would have announced the name of cardholders than I am sure all would have received their own card in the stipulated time period. The lesson this story brings is that you should find your happiness in the happiness of the others. Everyone is frantically looking for happiness all around, not knowing where it is. Our happiness lies in the happiness of other people. Give them their happiness; you will get your own happiness.
Counting your blessings will always help in knowing why you should be happy. I can explain this better with a story. In a village named Avantipura, there used to be a poor young boy. His father was running a small shop and he runs his household and meets him and his family both ends with great difficulty. The boy was a good footballer and had been selected to the football team of his school. He was not in a position to purchase the football shoes; he used to play football as a striker and always used to score goals. He used to be very upset as his father was not in a position to get him the football shoes and he expressed the same to his father. His father took him to a school where physically disabled people used to study. He saw a large number of students in that school who were not having legs and his father told, “In comparison with these people you are very fortunate. You are not having shoes but think about those students who are not having their legs”. The lesson from this story is if you see people in the worst condition and compare yourself with them, you will feel happy. If you see people who are in better condition than you and compare yourself than you will feel unhappy. Therefore, one should not compare himself with others as the comparison may give you unhappiness.
Circle of Happiness: With a view to lead a balanced and happy life, we should have a balanced development in the areas which are given in the circle of happiness.
Health: You may possess all valuables in your life but without good health, you will never be able to enjoy and be happy.
Family: You need to have an understanding family as happiness is the outcome of love others and being loved by others.
Wealth: It is a necessary evil without which you can never be happy. You should be contended with what you have.
Success: It is a realization of your goals which enhances your self-esteem and makes you happy.
Mental Peace: It is required to avoid unnecessary worries and anxieties.
Spiritual Health is a must to accept what comes in our life as acceptance gives you happiness.
12 Golden rules for happiness:
1. Unreasonable expectations are a root cause of unhappiness. Therefore these should be avoided.
2. More desires lead to unhappiness. Therefore limit your desires.
3. Never compare yourself with the people who are perceived better than you as comparison gives rise to unhappiness.
4. Mere achievement of goals will not lead to happiness as happiness is a journey and not the destination. If your goal is to climb Mount Everest and somebody will drop you with the help of helicopter on Mount Everest than it will never give you happiness.
5. Happiness is instantaneous. If you wish to purchase Mercedes, the moment you will be handed over the key to the car you will feel happy. But soon after you will have many worries such as Indian road conditions, maintenance and repair cost of the vehicle etc.
6. Selection of your profession (work) in the area of your passion gives you happiness.
7. Remain in the company of your friends that leads to happiness.
8. Express your feeling without any fear gives you pleasure.
9. Spend some quality time with your family members add to happiness.
10. Positive attitude and attitude of making others happy will keep you happy always.
11. You cannot be happy just because you wish to be happy. Once somebody has asked Shri Shri Ravishankar that I wish to be happy. He replied, “Remove I (ego), remove wish that is desire and what is remaining nothing but be happy”. Therefore our religious scripture defines a state of mind as “Sa-chid Anand”(ultimate state of bless) that state you can achieve only by doing good to others, sacrificing your life for the use of the others.
12. Remain witness to whatever happens to you. It gives rise to detachment. There is a nice concept of attachment with detachment. It means you should do the doable but do not unduly worried about the result of your action. You must act as you are supposed to act. If you act in a detached manner it will lead you to happiness.