Tag Archives: happiness

Secret of Happiness

My friend grows a ‘money plant’ on her desk in our office (Money plant is a beautiful creeper with green leaves laced with yellow stripes that is believed to bring ‘money’). She takes good care of it : watering, charting out a course for it to creep (it’s grown quite big now), regularly checking the cellophane tapes that hold it to the cubicle walls and often telling us about how good it looks.

Today she was attending to her plant and I was talking to her while she was at it. She normally asks me several doubts – for e.g why do the leaves become bigger as they go higher- and I generously give her my views.

She suddenly saw that one leaf (out of 47 leaves -she told me) was slightly damaged and was concerned about it. When she pointed it to me and asked me how that would have happened, I said smiling ” It’s because you have just one plant, these trivial things matters to you so much”. I have several plants at home and I would never have paid attention to a damage of a leaf -that was insignificant in the whole scheme of things.

Of late I have been doing some thinking on happiness (unhappiness to be precise) .Our identity (what we call ‘me’) essentially consists of few components (such as job, family,friends etc) which are given different weightages based on their relative importance.  For us to be happy, they all need to be as close as to the desired levels as possible. But if some of them are not as expected, they exert a proportionate downward pull on the overall ‘level of happiness’.

That would be to say the ‘overall level of happiness’ is the result of a pull between things going good vs things going bad. If the weight of bad things is more, we would be largely be unhappy.

When I had made the comment to my colleague that such trivial things matter because it was the only plant she had, I was suddenly struck by a revelation. The same truth holds good for life too. When we have few things that make up our life, each of them becomes so important that we cannot afford to have even one of them going against the expectation. A single component of our life (the identity to be precise) going wrong would be sufficient to make us completely unhappy.

The key to happiness may be then, to have several things that makes up your life so that the relative weightage of each of them would be small and even if one goes wrong, you wouldn’t become unhappy / depressed. This is quiet contrary to what experts in the field tell us – they ask us to pursue that single passion in our lives and that would make us happier. 

May be some future studies will show that people whose life is made up of several components are less unhappy (even if not more happy) than the  rest of the population!

But then what if  ‘being happy’ is the only thing that matters to us? I think that’s where the road to enlightenment leads to.

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Knowing and Happiness

I was standing on the balcony in the 11th floor of my office building. It wasn’t raining yet there, but I could see the rain advancing towards us from far off (see the red arrow in the picture). I estimated the rain to reach us  in about of 10 minutes. In a moment my mind was busy with several thoughts.

Rains are never welcome in Bangalore as it makes the ever chaotic traffic more messy. I was debating whether to leave quickly before the rain arrives. But then I had something to finish; would it be good idea to do it tomorrow?  Or should I wait till the rain is over? What happens if the rain is going to last long?

My attention was then drawn to some loud cheer from below. There were people playing football in a ground (see the red circle in the picture). They couldn’t see the rain coming and were completely involved in the game.

Rain

Rain

I was disturbed, because from that height I could see the rain coming and I was already planning what to do. But the footballers, who had no idea that it was coming, were least affected.

The rain arrived shortly and the footballers did what is needed to do when it rains – took shelter. And I was back to my desk and back to my work. I had to wait because I had work to finish and all that planning was of no use to me.

It’s generally believed that strategic thinking, higher perspectives, ability to perceive risks in advance etc are very important qualities that make us successful and need to be cultivated. But seldom we realize that they simply take away the fun from the present moment. We are definitely capable of doing what is needed in any situation. Knowing things in advance only feeds the stupid planning mind. 

No wonder CJ Jung was extremely jealous when he met those native american tribes. They were extremely happy, though they had nothing in their possession.

The trap of Time

I wasn’t keeping well and had a very disturbed sleep last night. I woke up at about half past seven; my wife was already shouting from the Kitchen that I was late. As I rose from the bed, I saw that my little daughter was awake too and she immediately sprang on me. She was  surprised to find me still in bed and was visibly happy. As she began to climb over my shoulders, I (who was already late) asked herto get down as I had to hurry up and left the room. When I was at the door, I just looked back to find her sitting on the bed with a look that I can never describe. I think I saw pain.

As I was driving to office, I was wondering – what the hell am I late for? 

This instance haunted me the whole day and as I thought about it,the whole stupidity began to surface.

 I think this is one of the most sinister traps we all have got in to- Chasing time. We are always late for some thing or the other. Late for office, late for meetings, late for lunch, late for leaving office, late to bed. This has become an obsession; time dictates our life.

Fundamentally the problem is not about respecting time, but I think the problem is about getting caught up with that. Say, I am doing something and it’s late at night. The great time keeper in the mind says – get to bed, you are late. Otherwise you don’t get enough sleep or you are going to wake up late. Which means either you are drowsy in the office or you are late. Which further means….enough. I stop and go to bed.

And the wonderful mind gives all the logical reasoning needed for this. What will happen when I leave late to office? There is going to be more traffic on the road, which means I will be more uncomfortable and probably take some extra time to reach. Very logical! So what happens, the moment I wake up and till I am actually in office, there is a persistent voice in the head that I am late.

Not only that we are in this trap, we use it against others whenever possible. The satisfaction it gives me when I say – I am late because you haven’t readied the breakfast on time, I have been waiting for you for 30 minutes, how can you waste by time?, get this presentation on my table in 1hr sharp, send me your quarterly objectives by the end of the day, I had to waste half a day because of a stupid mistake you did…

And what do we do with this time others have saved for us? We shamelessly waste it as we desire, without ever being even conscious about it.   

And what we loose in this whole process of chasing time is those little joys that make up our life. They are left behind and it might not occur to us that those moments might never come again in our life. When they came, just for us, we were not there. We were chasing else which infact might be much less significant.

When I look back, at some point in my life, it wasn’t as bad as it is now. I did things as I liked, some times I did nothing for days. I ate what I wanted, slept when I wanted. But now I can see all that effort that I put in to make myself more productive, punctual and successful in life. It really has taken some good effort.

But now, it is really scary. Many things in my life are done not because there is a need, but just because it’s time to do it. I have been eating my lunch everyday at 12.30 and this ritual happens irrespective of whether I am hungry or not. I go to bed at 11.00PM; doesn’t matter if I am sleepy or not.

Who is ‘me’ to complain? The time is important. And only that’s important.

And it is so obvious why children are happy and creative. They are never late for anything. They are just there wherever they are needed to be at whatever time they are needed.

I think this is actually the case with each of too. But it’s just that the amount to mess that we built up in the mind to justify this stupid act of chasing time prevents us from seeing the truth. What’s the result? We are still not there where we are needed and when we are needed. In addition, we always carry this permanent disturbance of wanting to be somewhere else sometime later.

I took my daughter out in the evening, played with her and read her a story book. But I’m sure the look she gave me today will linger in my consciousness for a long time to come. And how many such golden moments have I lost simply because I wasn’t there?