Everyday, news and social media reminds me, today is the day for something. A reason to celebrate, to remember, to cherish and make memories. Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Women’s Day, Earth Day, Day for Rivers.
20th March, I learnt, is celebrated as International Day for Happiness. Ah! The elusive magical fairy called Happiness. Where do we find her? We greet and bless each other with Sada Sukhi Raho, Hamesha Khush Raho, Cheers, Keep Smiling and Happy Birthday/Happy Weekend/Happy Journey/ Happy Monday… Is happiness an elusive thing? Aren’t we supposed to be happy rather much happier today than before?
Humankind has conquered many frontiers. Technology has suddenly catapulted our mere humanly existence into a sci-fi imaginary realm. Click and done! Our Gross National Happiness should have skyrocketed astronomically by now. We have no famines, science and medicine has made great leaps in keeping us healthy and alive for long. We are financially and materially much better compared to our previous generations. We hit our financial goals, buy houses much earlier than our parents did. We travel, have leisure time, avenues to spend and enjoy the many pleasures life has to offer. Happy? Happier? Err…May be/May be not.
I read a theory about happiness somewhere and tried to understand it further. It says,
Happiness is, Being Useful:
We consume, we spend, we indulge. Are we useful? To someone or some purpose? Yes, to our families and loved ones. To our friends and acquaintances. Maybe to our employers (why would we be paid otherwise? Duh!) But the question is, Is it enough? Does being useful to our close circle or being useful to earn a livelihood bring us satisfaction? Does the thirst to achieve more of what we already have, bring more happiness? Anxiety to hold on to our jobs, keep the lifestyle, enhance our bank balances, doing more for our loved ones, holding up our images of success and happiness to the world. Does all this shower the elusive nectar of happiness and joy and bliss and for how long?
I attended a Gita discourse during the lockdown and came across a beautiful concept from Karma yoga that talks about gratitude and happiness.
According to the concept, every element in nature and cosmos is working tirelessly to serve others. The Sun, rivers, trees, plants even the smallest of species bees, ants, insects, all live in a way that they survive and serve the world in some way, even if very small. They help in creating life, making food, balance the nature’s rhythms, or turn themselves into food for other living beings. They give as much or more than they take from the creation. At the least, they don’t cause harm to the cycle of nature and life.
As intelligent beings, we, the humans, have been blessed by free will. The free will to think, analyse and decide how we want to live. Do we use the free will in a way that benefits the creation and other beings we share the planet with? Are we useful to the ecosystem we are part of, or at least not causing harm? Are we giving back, what we receive from the nature? Or are we plundering and taking away from the world, leaving it depleted and lot worse than we found it?
The concept goes further to explain how we are because of the world around us.
The entities in the world that sustain us:
In our lifetime, we receive resources, bounties and blessings in many forms from various entities around us that can be summarised as:
- Other Living Beings: We are part of an ecosystem that is inhabited and equally nurtured by other beings and creatures. Animals, insects, plants trees.
- The Elements of Nature: What are we without the air we breathe, the sunlight, the food, the water, the ground beneath our feet?
- The Society: We sustain ourselves with the support of the people and society we live in. The neighbourhood, the farmers, the helpers, the medics, service providers, the government, our colleagues, friends and so many invisible hands working tirelessly to run the wheels of the world around us.
- Our Parents & Ancestors: We exist and owe our physical existence to our parents, caregivers and ancestors. They nurtured us physically and emotionally into the person that we are today.
- Our Teachers: Knowledge is power and with knowledge we are able to move ahead personally professionally. We gain this knowledge over our lifetime from our teachers, guides and mentors directly and also from books, scriptures and like.
Is it possible for us to survive and thrive without all these entities? We owe existence, our prosperity and our success to them. Our success and achievements in life are not ours alone. We are indebted, not just to our families but to all the elements directly or indirectly. Therefore, it is our equal responsibility to live a life of gratitude, respect and give back to the creation in every possible way and by no means cause harm to any of them.
A person who realises this, is a person who will live his/her life in gratitude. Such a person will not be touched by greed to have more and more at the expense of others. Such a person will be free from the never ending cycle of greed and misery.
An attitude of service holds us steady in the biggest storm by keeping us grounded, firm in the knowledge that I am not alone, the universe literally conspires in my favour and we are there to take care of one another. Being thankful and conscious of the world around me, paying regard to everyone and everything around me, is the ultimate key path to happiness.
I am trying to put this in practice and the consciousness has brought immense peace, in midst of so much chaos in the world around us.
When I write the customary Thanks & Regards in my email sign off, I ask myself, do I mean it and do my actions reflect it? Towards everyone?
(P.S. Gratitude to my Gita teacher Ms Archana who shared the interpretation with me and explained it so well. I will share another beautiful concept from Gita in my next post.)
(Image credit : Unsplash , Pixabay )
‘This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter’ (https://www.theblogchatter.com/causeachatter)