In Pursuit of Happiness

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March 20, is celebrated as ‘The International Day of Happiness’ every year marking its celebrations for the first time on March 20, 2013. The day was conceptualized by ‘Jayme Illien’ special advisor to United Nations and adopted unanimously by all 193 UN member states of the UN General Assembly on June 28, 2012. The day is celebrated in all 193 UN Member states, two observer states (the Holy See and Palestine are the only observer states) and 11 trust territories (Western Samoa, Tanganyika, Rwanda-Urundi, Cameroons under British administration, Cameroons under French administration, Togoland under British administration, Togoland under French administration, and New Guinea)  under the administration of the UN Trusteeship Council. “Happiness for the entire human family is one of the main goals of the United Nations”.

We may identify ourselves as happy for a variety of reasons, not least because in this culture, unhappiness is seen as a kind of failure. But true happiness remains resolutely subjective and hard to quantify. Before processing the write up, my efforts are to exert on parameters associated with happiness such as: actually what the happiness is?  What makes us happy? What actually is the source of happiness? How happiness can be achieved? And what are the various types of happiness?

When we speak of what the happiness is, it is about exploring our own credible euphoria, and partaking with family, friends and our community. Happiness is spreading, and our goal is to create a world with more humanity, less bickering and a greater sense of purpose and meaning. Evolutionary psychologists theorize happiness as an adaptive advantage. Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. It is not something we can postpone for the future; it is something we design for the present. When we speculate, what the happiness, exactly is? There is no perfect consensus or definition about it. Happiness means something different to everybody. But we can come closer in defining it, happiness hinges upon the strength and authenticity of a person’s social connections, their aptitude for human kindness, and their constructive role in meaningful community. Many authors have examined the definitions of happiness in 30 modern countries and found that the happiness was associated with luck and good fortune, a result of external factors that couldn’t be controlled.

On what makes us happy, the notion that pleasure and contentment are the solution to all of life’s problems, and once acquired, is the happiness. What it is misguided at best and dangerous at worst. Many factors influence happiness. We can claim responsibility for our own happiness and can become a catalyst of happiness in others’ lives. Collectively, our commitment to long-lasting happiness has the potential to change the world. True joy comes from spreading happiness to those around us. But communication on subject with many happy and unhappy individuals also endorse that happiness is actually the cause of much of misery. Average person when asked what they want out of life, the majority will tell you that they want to be happy but also admit that in pursuit of happiness, they have landed into miseries.

In the run up, while exploring what actually the source of happiness is, I encountered that everyone in the world is in search for happiness. We assume the source of our pleasure lies in the situation, experience, or object that appears to have made us happy. And so, we keep trying to gain those objects and replicate those situations that seem to produce this effect. Positive relationships are fundamental to happiness. Our values are our guiding source for all of our decisions and our behavior. Having a purpose, is contributing factor in increasing happiness. Our social network is the pillar of happiness including our general health and wellbeing. Health and wellbeing encompasses both our physical health and our mental wellbeing.

How happiness can be achieved, is a subject full of complexities. Joy, happiness, and fulfillment are found in the invisible things of life: love, hope, peace, and relationships. And they are not on sale at local department store. My conclusion on this chapter of happiness, hinges on following fundamentals of happiness: Pursue a productive, exciting and active life, engage in meaningful activities every minute of every day, develop an organized, planned lifestyle with little chaos, set realistic goals, think positively, avoid needless worries over trifling matters, learn to live in the present. Get in the habit of giving more than receiving. Ignore the opinions of others. What others think of you should never outshine what you think of yourself. Know your worth. Express gratitude. Many of us could be a lot happier if we practiced gratitude for what we already have. Let go of anger. For every minute we are angry we lose sixty seconds of happiness. Holding a grudge or holding onto any type of anger won’t do anything but cause resentment.

What are the types of happiness, my crisscross into holy books of various faiths, took me to ‘Bhagavad Gita’. Lord Krishna has explained three type of happiness in holy book in Chapter 18, Verse 36. Verse 37 speaks of ‘Sattvika’ or Pure Happiness: it has its origin in oneself, totally independent of the external sensory objects of the world. Verse 38 speaks of second type of happiness: ‘Rajasik’ or result-oriented happiness that is materialistic pleasure that is derived when the senses come in contact with external objects that creates a feeling of gratification. I explain it as happiness of materialistic possessions. This kind of happiness is temporary. Verse 39 speaks of third type of happiness and that is ‘Tamasic’ or slothful happiness. It is the lowest form of happiness and is derived from sleeping or being lazy. People wrongfully consider it to be a state of happiness. Similarly we come across three main factors concerning happiness according to the Holy Quran and these are the main reasons for happiness and these are 1. Believe in the God. 2. Understanding the meaning of life, and having good viewpoint about worldly life, and 3. Believe in hereafter. Buddhist psychology holds that happiness is not only possible but is our natural state—masked by our ignorance and attachments until awakening clears our view. Buddhist philosophies that teach us about happiness are: Accept that life involves suffering that is crucial in the pursuit of happiness. Overcome negative thoughts:  In Buddhism, community and connecting with the people around you is crucial to happiness. In the book ‘The Art of Happiness’, His Holiness the ‘Dalai Lama’ said, “So, actually the practice of Dharma is a constant battle within, replacing previous negative conditioning or habituation with new positive conditioning (Happiness). The Sikh Guru tells us in Japji, the hunger of the hungry is not appeased, even by piling up loads of worldly goods. This falsehood be torn away (To achieve happiness) only by obeying the ‘Hukam’ of His Command. The version of Aristotle is: “Happiness – the human good – is activity of the soul in accordance with virtue”. 

Concluding, in the United States, the right to the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.  It is the pursuit and the opportunity that are promised, not the actual delivery of it. Happiness aid our survival in all sorts of important ways, it makes us fitter, more attuned to our environment, more social, more energetic. When we understand the fundamental element of happiness and live by it, we will be happy. I wrap up with the words of great men on happiness. Ernest Hemingway – “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know”, Mahatma Gandhi – “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” and Gabriel Garcia Marquez – “No medicine cures what happiness cannot” and with the message on ‘The International Day of Happiness’ – “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our soul blossom” and pledging and appealing to call upon all human beings to dedicate our efforts in stuffing our world with happiness.



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