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Posts Tagged ‘Happiness’

A long time ago, there lived a king. His huge empire demanded a lot of work. The king had all the resources he needed to run the empire but he still was never able to relax in peace. His mind was never at ease. The grandeur of his lifestyle did not give him any solace either. He was very unhappy.

One day, a wise saint was passing by the kingdom. The king immediately sent out an invitation to the saint requesting the honour of the holy man’s wise company for a few days. The king thought that this way he would have the opportunity to discuss his problem with the saint and learn the secret to be happy.

The saint agreed to visit the royal palace. The king showed great hospitality, as was befitting for both the king and for the spiritual visitor. In his conversations with the saint, the king told him that he was under a great amount of stress, with all the work involved in managing the kingdom. “My routine is very hectic. I have a lot of responsibilities and often I have to take care of multiple issues at a time. As such, I cannot relax and be happy. I am very discontented with my lifestyle and seek happiness. I pray you, O venerable one, to help me find happiness.”

The saint listened to the king’s problem patiently. He put to practice one of his many worldly-wise ways of teaching and said, “The solution is very simple, dear king. You will have to find a person in your kingdom who is leading a very happy and peaceful life. You will have to request that person to let you have his shirt. Once you will wear that shirt, all your sorrows and stress will go away. Remember that this individual should be someone who considers himself to be the happiest person in your entire kingdom.”

Although the advice sounded quite out-of-the-ordinary, the king was very pleased as he found the solution very simple. He thought, “I will get rid of such a huge problem so easily and I will not even have to lift a finger.” He thanked the saint and asked his prime minister to arrange a meeting of all the members of the senate the first thing in the morning.

The next day, the king was quite enthusiastic. For the first time, he reached his courtyard before time. Without proceeding to sit on his royal throne as was customary for him to do, he started to address the audience hastily. The hall was full and everyone was looking at the king, slightly surprised at his anxious behaviour.

The king asked, “Please rise if you consider yourself the happiest person in this kingdom.” To his extreme surprise he found that everyone kept sitting. He repeated loudly but nothing changed. He felt disappointed and adjourned the meeting, asking his team of advisors to stay back.

The king told his advisors what he was looking for. One of them said, “This should not be a big issue, my lord. I have an idea. We should make a call for the wealthiest one percent people of our empire. Those who are rich have everything they want. Undoubtedly, we will find several among them who will claim to be happy. We will thus find what we need.” The idea seemed quite logical. Everyone, including the king, liked it. Royal invitations were sent to the big industrialists, businessmen, landlords, merchants and all other wealthy inhabitants of the kingdom.

Next week, the esteemed elite class was at the palace. There were fabulous arrangements of food and other amenities in their reception. After a magnificent welcome party, the king asked the question he had been waiting to ask since the moment they all arrived. “My respectable friends”, he said to the whole crowd, “Which amongst you considers himself to be the happiest person in the kingdom?” Instead of loud cheers of “It’s me! It’s me!” that the king was expecting, there was a sudden, uncomfortable silence. The king’s question seemed to have thrown cold water on everyone’s spirits. Everyone froze. No one dared to meet the king’s gaze or even to look at each other. Slowly and painfully, it registered in the king’s mind that none of these people were living a happy, peaceful life. Dejected, he left the grand hall.

The situation was presenting a lot of difficulty. The king had not anticipated that the task that he had considered so easy would actually turn out to be so hard to accomplish. He was now losing hope of finding any solution to his problem and it was upsetting him even more.

As days kept passing, the prime minister noticed the king’s growing sorrow. He suggested one day, “Sir, you should not lose hope. I will order our soldiers to go out to each and every city, town and village of this kingdom. They will search for the happy residents of our empire and bring them to the palace.” The king replied, “We could not find a single happy person in our own royal administration. Nor did any of the wealthy people claim to be happy. I doubt that we will find the person we are looking for among the rest of the residents. But it seems like I am left with no other option. You have my approval to carry out the suggestion.”

The very next morning soldiers were sent out to all corners of the kingdom. They were instructed to first meet the rich people, then the middle class and then the poor people. They were advised not to waste much time in areas where there already was little hope of finding happiness, namely, the places stricken with poverty.

The soldiers searched for almost a month. Some of them started coming back to the palace empty-handed. The prime minister and the advisors also started getting worried. No one had thought that the situation would become so severe.

Then one day, one of the soldiers heard the first bit of positive news on reaching a village. The villagers told him, “There is a farmer here who always says, ‘I am the happiest person in the world’. Everyone calls him ‘Sarju’. Why don’t you go and look for him?” The soldier went where he was directed and found Sarju’s small, thatched-roof hut. He found Sarju’s wife making a watery soup in an earthen pot on the small fire in one corner of the hut. Remembering the royal instructions not to waste too much time in poor surroundings, he hurriedly asked the woman where Sarju was. She said, “He is always at the farm at this time of the day. Take that mud-path over there until you reach a clearing. That’s where the farm is.”

It was a scorching afternoon. The soldier took the path shown by the woman. When he reached the farm, he saw a man ploughing. He called out, “Hey, are you Sarju?” The man put his hand over his forehead to block the sun out of his eyes and regarded the soldier with curiosity. He answered, “No sir, Sarju is taking a nap under the bullock cart behind you.”

The soldier turned around and sure enough, under the bullock cart was lying a thin man, his face towards the soldier, eyes closed, and a peaceful expression on his face. The soldier bent down and tapped him on the leg a few times. Sarju slid out. He rubbed his eyes with surprise on seeing a royal soldier in front of him. “Welcome, sir”, he said, “What can I do for you?” The soldier asked him bluntly, “Sarju, are you a happy man?” Sarju was even more surprised at the question! But he smiled and said, “Yes, sir. The happiest in the world!” The soldier wanted to embrace him with relief. He said, “Okay then, my good man, the king would like to see you.

I am here to take you to the palace. Do you need to take anything from your house?” Sarju was reluctant at first, but realizing that these were the king’s orders, he obeyed. “Let’s go sir. No, there is nothing that I need to take.” He then called out to the other farmer, “Badri! Tell my wife the king has called for me. I will come back as soon as his majesty’s business with me is done.” So saying, Sarju accompanied the soldier silently.

Sarju was taken to the king’s visiting chambers right away. As soon as the news reached the king’s ears, he jumped up with joy. He left everything and rushed to see who the happiest person in his kingdom was. When he saw Sarju, he stopped in his tracks. This was certainly not what the king had expected to see. The tall, lean man looked tanned and toiled. His frail body looked like it could use at least a week of nutritious food. Yet, he had a pleasant face that smiled gently on seeing the king. The thing that perplexed the king the most, however, was that this man was not even wearing a shirt! Skipping conversational formalities, the king got straight to the point, “Why are you not dressed properly, young man? Where is your shirt?” Sarju bowed his head and said, “I apologize, my lord. I am not wearing a shirt because I do not have one, my respected sir. Neither can I afford to buy myself a shirt, nor do I need one.” The king stood stunned! All of his earlier excitement turned into bewilderment. He started to wonder how a shirtless man could be the happiest person.

Baffled, the king asked Sarju, “There seems to be a mistake. Did the soldier not ask you if you were a happy man or not?” “Yes sir, he did”, replied Sarju, “and I told him as I tell you now, that I am the happiest man in the world!”

***

I am told that the above story originated as an Italian folktale hundreds of years ago. Traveling through time and places, it has undoubtedly undergone several modifications. The crux of the story however, remains unchanged. I heard this story from my father almost twenty years ago. My childish mind could not then grasp the essence of the story. I could not quite understand why the wealthiest men were not happy and how the poor, shirtless farmer  was.

But now, having experienced some of the world’s ways myself, I have come to realize the enormous potential this story holds. We all seem to lead a life like the king’s. First we collect things and then we strain ourselves to manage and maintain them. No matter how much wealth we collect, it does not lead us towards happiness. None of us are able to say with confidence, “I am the happiest person in the world.” We are awed when we hear about the wealthiest, most influential people in the world and feel envious of what they have. Little do we realize that wealth has no connection whatsoever to happiness.

For most of us, happiness is a thing of the future. We think, “Once I have this or once I achieve that, then life will become comfortable and peaceful. Then I will become happy.” We keep running after happiness and it keeps eluding us. We are never able to catch it. It remains a mystery that we are never able to solve.

We have to stop chasing happiness and start feeling it. Happiness is right here, right now. It is in our minds. It is in the air that we are breathing, in the life that we are living every moment. It is not something that will happen ‘one day’. Whatever we already have is more than enough to keep us happy. If we cannot be happy in the present moment, then we never can be. If Sarju can be the ‘happiest person in the world’ without having proper clothes, housing or food, it is a wonder that we cannot be happy amidst the countless resources that we have.

We have all heard, “Very little is needed for happiness.” I have started to feel that ‘very little’ is actually a ‘pre-requisite’ for happiness. The more we have, the more troubled we are bound to be. 

 — Prashant Shori

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Being Successful

Children are taught that their goal in life is to become successful so that they can lead a happy and comfortable life. They are told that success means becoming a renowned professional, having a flourishing business or chains of businesses, earning lots of money, living a life of luxury and having a lot of people working for them. When they are little, their well-wishers wish for them to be this type of a well to-do, successful person later in life.

We have come across quite a few people who can be deemed ‘successful’ by the above standards. They seem to be having all that a person needs to live a luxurious and comfortable life. They have houses that are like mansions; they run high-profile industries or work at high-levels in organizations of repute; they have every possible convenience available to them; they take vacations whenever they feel like and to wherever they want. They appear to live a picture-perfect life. Truly successful! Happy and comfortable! Aren’t they? They seem so and much more. Well, actually, quite the contrary!

Often, we envy such people because we think they live a very successful life. Little do we realize that such people often make compromises to ‘look’ good. Outwardly, their lifestyle definitely looks appealing, but inwardly, the case is somewhat different. For want of time due to busy schedules, their families hardly share any feelings of bonding. Their houses are so huge that they end up being either only party-places or a vacant hollow where family members just have a spot somewhere within the walls.

They are all busy because they have to manage a lot of things all the time and therefore have no time for each other, nor for themselves to relax or pursue their inner passions. They wish to leave a good impression upon the people around them and for that, they have to be very conscious of every step they take, each move they make. It adds to the stress they are already in. As a result, they frequently spend sleepless nights thinking about how to avoid every single financial mistake as it could cost them a fortune. The outcome of all this tension is the wealth they earn, which now has to be protected and spent with care, so that it is not squandered away. Amidst all this, it must be awfully hard to feel comfortable and remain happy.

Happiness is not about sharing a joke on the phone or with a few guests. Happiness is when one feels light throughout the day and is finally able to sleep with a smile on one’s face, without any worries about ‘yesterday, today and tomorrow’. Happiness is when one has the time to have whole-hearted interactions with friends and family members. Wearing a mask of happiness while talking to business partners or colleagues is not happiness – it is just a part of one’s routine, an obligation in most cases! Happiness is also when one is able to enjoy the little things in life without having to worry about what others will think.

Being happy is a sign of being successful. Real success lies in being able to create a carefree life full of joy and satisfaction. When you feel enthusiastic about going to work, when you enjoy coming back home to your children or to your parents, when you feel like you have all the things that a person ‘needs’, regardless of what one ‘wants’, and when you go to bed feeling proud of everything that you have done during the day and finally feeling grateful to God for what has come to you – that is when you are truly successful.

We see the gleaming black windows in the mansions of the so-called successful people, but do not see the weariness and anxiety behind them; we see their sparkling cars, but miss the stress on the minds of people sitting inside it; we see their designer-wear clothes but fail to see the restless days and sleepless nights they spend in those clothes. Do you think these famous people are really successful?

Truly successful people are not necessarily famous in the eyes of the world. They are just happy. They are winners in their own eyes. They live according to themselves, not according to others. They are not blind followers of others’ definition of success. They dream of happiness and do things that make them happy. That is what being successful is all about.

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Happiness

Every day, we try to do a lot of things to keep ourselves happy. But those things don’t really make us happy. Then we think that others are happy and we should do the things that they are doing. But when we do that, it sometimes brings more dissatisfaction than joy. Still we keep pretending that we are happy, really very happy. We put on the appearance of being happy in the society and thus try to befool the world but really are making a fool of ourselves – despite all efforts, we don’t feel happy.

Actually, happiness is a state of mind. He who is happy does not need to follow anyone’s way of living. His peace of mind comes from within. When we decide we are going to be happy, no matter what, then even the most difficult tasks seem to melt down. We take control of the situation as opposed to the situation taking control of us.

It is true that it is hard to be happy when it seems like everything is going against us. During those moments, let’s think of this life as a bubble. It is here one moment and will be gone in another. The same goes for problems. They are all temporary. What is permanent is our soul and our journey. It is our duty to keep this soul peaceful, relaxed and happy, so that we can make the journey of life smooth and soothing.

With the approaching festive season of the New Year, let’s resolve to give ourselves, our family and our children this precious gift – the gift of internal happiness. It is a present that never fades but becomes more and more beautiful with the passage of time. Staying happy even in adverse situations builds our patience, resilience and internal strength. It shows us that the real wonders of this world actually lie within ourselves.

“Happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold; the feeling of happiness dwells in the soul.” — Democritus

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You have probably heard of ‘influenza’. But have you heard of
‘Affluenza’? It is a social disease becoming very common these days.

Affluenza is a combination of the words affluence and
influenza. It is a state of isolation, anxiety and dissatisfaction caused
by the infection of thoughts we receive from the society to become
more and more affluent. We start collecting materialistic wealth
and goods which are otherwise unnecessary for a normal life.

Unfortunately all of us are suffering from this infection to a
higher or lower extent. We are living in a world of capitalism and
consumerism. We are engulfed with advertisements and
commercialism. To add to this, there are increasing incidents of
jealousy, unhealthy competition and lack of values in the society. All
of these factors contribute to the spread of Affluenza.

Like our common flu, this too is an infectious disease. We get it
from others and then we pass it on to others as well. The first victim
of this transfer of infection is our home and our children. We wish to
bring happiness in our homes and try to do so by becoming affluent or
wealthy overnight. The result? A lot of stress, discontentment and
anxiety due to problems like debts, envy and insensitivity.

We are living in vulnerable circumstances where everything
is stimulating us to jump into the trap of Affluenza. Movies, TV
shows and our general environment are all making it hard for us to
even think clearly.

We have forgotten the difference between a ‘want’ and a
‘need’ and have succumbed to this dreadful disease.

The only antidote to Affluenza is a belief in simple living. The
ultimate happiness lies in the simplest things. To quote the eternal
words of the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius (famous for his ‘Meditations on Stoic Philosophy’),
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

— Prashant Shori

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