What exactly is happiness? I feel there is no correct/absolute definition for it as it highly depends on one’s perspective. Really? Birth of a male child, who won’t be happy, maybe the teenager unmarried mother. Ok, let me not hide behind hypothetical situations and rather cite a real example. You won;t believe that I locked my room and cried for an hour when I came to know that I got 670th rank in IITJEE, arguably one of the toughest exams in India. And mind you, they weren’t your cliched khushi ke aansoo. I was expecting a much better rank. But does that mean I would have been happy if I stood first? Perhaps, yes. OF COURSE YES. We all feel elated when we achieve our goal. But it lasts only for a day or two. And then we redefine our goals, start running after something else, and the vicious circle goes on. The search for happiness is the biggest cause of our sadness. And ironically, happiness is sitting right next to us as a present all along but we fail to unwrap it. We are always aiming for a perfect future (which again has no absolute definition), and ignore the present.
I have been reading this very beautiful book, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera where the author explores the Nietzschean idea of a recurring world where things happen over and over again ad infinitum. In such a world, every action we take has a grave significance attached to it. But in a transient world, supposedly like the one we live in, the past hardly has a value (or rather the past should hardly have a value). It is like the past tense version of Que Sera Sera, what has been, has been and I find it much easier to accept than the original, What will be, will be (which makes me feel helpless). So it is neither the future nor the past that matters. It is the present.
The past thirteen months have been rather rough on me. Friends, family, life. I tried to find solace in the happy memories of the past. But it made the present look even harder. So, I thought about the even tougher times I had endured and suddenly my entire life seemed full of shit. I dreamed about a better future. But “better” again is a relative term. The better future came, I waited for even better times, that came………………..
I happened to flip through the pages of ‘The Secret’ by Rhoda Bryne and though my scientific education/bend of mind forbids me from outright accepting the hypothesis laid forward in the book, I am nevertheless fascinated by it.Rhoda says we govern this universe and all have the power to attract anything we desire, fame, power, money, by the energy of our positive thoughts. I tried to test it and actually managed to get all the traffic signals green (and one out of order) on my way to college. But then Paul the Octopus predicted all the German matches correctly. So, i chuckled over it for a while and ignored it just as a coincidence. However, I think that even though we may not be able to control the physical world, the power of positive thoughts can help us emotionally.
It kind of works for me. Whatever be the situation, you just have to accept it for what it is. As Aamir Khan says in 3i, just say to yourself, “All’s Well”. This life, this moment is here just once. It won’t come back. So, why lament? I know its easy to say all this crap but how can one be happy and cheerfully dance to All’s Well when say for example, your boss gives you a sound scolding? Be sad. Happiness and sadness are not two independent emotions. They are essentially entwined, albeit a bit asymmetrically.
Life can be broadly divided into three phases: Happy, Sad and the neutral neither-happy-nor-sad. What we do wrong is trying to pretend that we are happy when we are really sad. I am not asking you to be happy when your boyfriend dumps you. Cry. Cry your heart out. But after that, wipe those beautiful eyes, get up and be happy. Don’t wait for your boss to praise you or your boyfriend to come back to you. The energy of positive thoughts can be used to convert the neutral phase into a happy phase (similarly negative thoughts can make it a sad phase). Being happy is sometimes as simple as saying to yourself that “Yes, I am happy”. Just that. Try it, it works like a charm. Most mornings, we don’t have any reason to be sad or happy. Look at yourself in the mirror, smile and enjoy life as it comes. I will end it with a poster I posted once earlier.
P.S. My interpretation of Nietzsche might be different from what Kundera intended. I know it is not the most lucid of posts but it has been quite some time since I wrote a long composition. Just trying to get back in groove. 😛