The Pursuit of Happiness



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It was a sunny winter morning.

The sun rays were all giggles as they had just outshone through the dense egos of the not-so-dense fog. The same fog which at dawn, emboldened by the shrewd minute dust particles, had threatened to block the mighty sun.

Jeering at the cloudy remains of the defeated fog, the sun rays trotted with élan, cuddling the bougainvillea leaves in the way, caressing the marigolds and finally bouncing at the glowing young faces in the college canteen...

The place and the time, was brimming with sparkles, partly due to the generous sunshine that added to the shimmer of smiling countenances.

A sound had just entered the ambience, hopping through the sun rays, as if a bubbly breeze had simultaneously swayed thousands of wind chimes.

As if the sun rays themselves, had just been gifted with a soulful tinkling voice that floated in various notes as and when it sparkled on various flowers...

She laughed as if there was not a speck of melancholy deep down her heart. She laughed as if the Almighty had blessed her with all that's beautiful.

In fact, everyone in her bunch was laughing. But the sound of her laughter was particularly infectious and all those, who fortunately got to have a glimpse, smiled instantly unknowingly…

Suddenly, a bunch of grey haired spectacled professors crossed by… Mrs Verma, the biochemistry professor looked at the happy and radiant crowd and wondered, how on earth, in this humongous difficult life, can one be so damn cheerful…

"Rich girls Ma'am. Badly Rich! Not an iota of tension", chipped in Mrs Kaur with her forehead creases deepening further…

Mrs Kaur represents a major chunk of the humanity, who have mistaken money as another synonym of happiness and herein rests the worst misconception that keeps the human psyche disillusioned, the major remora in the way of a very simple realization that it doesn't require riches to be simply happy.

You don't need to wail if you aren't overpaid (or in your words the-optimum-pay-I-deserve).

Getting back to the girl I mentioned above, seemingly so rich and pampered a teen, was it really so?

May be.

Or, may be not at all.

You look at a high-end Honda City cruising past you and envy the 'better mortal' seated within or you see a mademoiselle seated opposite you in the Metro, with a Louis Vuitton handbag proudly perched in her lap; a Tag Heuer watch on her wrist scoffing at its poorer counterpart, a Titan hiding itself behind your wrist; a Jimmy Choo boot and many other ludicrously priced labels staring hard at you.

You might start cursing the 'greener grass' on the other side and may also secretly pray to the Almighty that may you, in your next birth, be exactly blessed like these richer and more blessed mortals, unaware of a plethora of pathetic tales that may be hiding behind the silver shield of labels.

The shine on the rich glossy lips, often borrowed from a branded lip balm vials doesn’t guarantee a hearty smile. The thick layers of make-up do manage to conceal the wretched wrinkle lines, but not the anguish within that in the first place, plays ‘geometry-geometry’ on your face.

The human race since ages has been rushing for gold, chasing the moolah, attempting the impossible, pushing self to the extremes, all for nothing but the mysterious thing called happiness.

And ironically and paradoxically, in this relentless pursuit of happiness, the man actually ends up being unhappy. This reminds me of a very astute observation made by the Holy Dalai Lama.

He said that man was the most surprising creature he had ever seen because, "He sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate from his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."

How bizarre!

For instance, if you are a working professional earning a monthly wage of Rs 35,000 at 35 and you are not happy now just because you feel you aren’t paid enough to afford all that you so badly desire to, let me tell you, you won’t be a bit happier, even at 45 when you earn lakhs. Because you would have wasted your ten long years, counting on your ten small fingers, how 'less' you earn and how 'much more' you would want to spend. You would have spent the whole decade scampering after material wealth and in the process sharpening your aspirations and avarice like a knife that silently keeps on slicing the remains of happiness into more pieces.

A complacent rickshaw puller who has accepted his life the way it is, and is determined to give his best everyday in whatever he does, is any day a happier person than a wretched mortal always fretting and fuming within a Ferrari, worrying about thousands of things that didn’t go right.

When will we let ourselves figure out that money can never be a touchstone to calculate the index of happiness?

Thanks to David Cameron, who first floated the idea of a 'happiness index' in 2005 saying that people's wellbeing was one of the "central political issues". I salute Mr. Cameron for breaking the monotony of political jargon by ushering in this so-called ‘frivolous’ issue of happiness on a global political horizon.

Even though one would not be very happy about UK Premier’s costly idea of two million pounds, to capture in spreadsheets the existent amount of happiness, but he surely deserves accolades and serious attention when he said, “There's more to life than money, and it's time we focused not just on GDP but on GWB – general wellbeing.”

To reinforce Cameron’s thoughts, a recent study by the University of Miami School of Business Administration shows that in states where people are more optimistic, an economic recession is weaker. With World Bank’s chief economist again signalling the return of the ominous recession in 2012, we may find plausible reasons to begin feeling ‘fiscally blue’. But the study says that it’s not just the finances that decide our mood, but actually it works the other way round. The survey found that happier places had higher retail sales, resulting in a more pleasant economic climate and faded effects of recession.

In a nutshell, happiness is not a destination faraway, as some think it to be, where they want to reach at any cost through all the means possible with material success as their milestones. The real truth is just the reverse.

That is, happiness exists within and you can reach everywhere if you start from happiness. It’s a path, not a destination!

So, start now.

From Happiness.