ANIMESH ANAND gives us some tips on how to identify and cultivate the simple things in life that make us happy, rather than trying to create happiness through external means.
Ever since childhood, we’ve been bombarded with stressors: to perform brilliantly at school, to be awarded a prestigious degree, to get a wonderful job, a beautiful partner, a profitable client, a big car, etc. It’s endless. What if we were to look at them not as stressors, but just as other tasks? As things we don’t need to do if we can’t. What if we look at our entire lives like that?
Will not having those things make us less beautiful as human beings? I don’t think so. Can we use that as a reminder every time we feel stuck and at a loss? Imagine feeling low at potentially losing a $1,000,000 business deal. Worse, what if the deal comes through but you die on the way home? (Sorry, just trying to make a point here!) Every time we “lose,” can we remind ourselves of the beautiful things we already have: the spouse who loves us, the child who looks at us and sees his entire world, friends who look forward to spending time with us.
Every day lived well is a day of a few acquisitions and a lot of gratitude.
What gives us the strength? Happiness. Sometimes, we seek to create happiness, but “to create” can be another stressor, because we seek to create something we lack. Could we instead identify happiness? Let me explain. Say you like music and playing the guitar. Creating happiness would mean that you play the guitar to derive happiness out of the activity. Identifying happiness reminds you that you are playing the guitar because it makes you happy.
Finding something that’s already there is much easier than creating something. The distinction may not be that great, but when we’re feeling absolutely beaten and someone tells us to create happiness, it is yet another difficult thing.
We derive happiness from the little things in our lives, and from the people we touch and who touch us. Sometimes, I think that all we need is food, shelter, clothing, and a few good people. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying to have it all, but it’s okay not to. It’s important to remind ourselves that we are not the doers. In fact, we can try with all our might to do the best we can, without entertaining the idea of “doer-ship.” That’s the essence of life.
It’s important to remind ourselves
that we are not the doers.
In fact, we can try with all our might
to do the best we can,
without entertaining the idea of “doer-ship.”
That’s the essence of life.
Everything in Nature keeps moving. Trees give us life. The Sun shines. Your pet dog wags its tail at you. Excellence cannot be forced. It’s already in you. The only problem is that we’re bogged down by the hits we take, and the idea of doer-ship adds to the burden of negatives. When we don’t feel we are the doer, yet we go about doing things, the idea of unhappiness isn’t really a burden. Of course, sometimes we will feel down, but it is easier to get back on our feet.
There are things we can do, and there are things beyond our control. Should the world end, who would be there to know if we ever existed? Yet, playing our part to save the world is our duty. Since we exist, we must act. We can ask. We cannot demand. We can try. We cannot be sure.
Forgiveness also helps us identify happiness. Seeking rewards appropriate to your efforts is a great thing, but wishing ill for those who deny you those rewards is not. Sometimes you feel you’re not being heard. So change course, wishing well for those who didn’t hear you. The end result? You are in a happier state of mind.
What happens when you think about things that make you unhappy? I believe they are polarized views of the world, choices, desires driven by choices, a perceived sense of loss, generalizations, etc. Of course, choices are what make us and they are important. If it weren’t for choices, a man stuck in a hole would never pull himself out. But creating a balance is equally important and conducive to happiness. It essentially comes down not to disregarding things that are not on your palette of choices, but just letting them be.
Happiness isn’t always winning.
It isn’t always having a big smile on your face or
making merry with family and friends.
Sometimes happiness is just being
able to stand tall in the face of adversity.
Happiness isn’t always winning. It isn’t always having a big smile on your face or making merry with family and friends. Sometimes happiness is just being able to stand tall in the face of adversity. Some people spend their entire lives malnourished, yet they smile. Why? Perhaps it is because the concept of material comfort has not even been planted in their minds. It is okay to work for money and success, but without being disappointed if we don’t acquire them after consistent efforts. Why do we let the idea of not having something that was never ours disappoint us? For everything we have lost, for everything we thought we could be, we still are and will always be.
Once we identify what makes us happy, accepting what we already have, we can work on creating something from it.
Animesh Anand is an editor, based in Dehradun, India. He loves reading about the spiritual traditions of the world. He also loves music!