Sunday, November 15, 2009

Formula for Happiness

All of us are in constant search of happiness or let me put it more coherently, true happiness. From the day we are born till we die this becomes, singly, the biggest motive to our existence. I am happy right now, as i write this, that i finished my run and exercise for the day. I was happy in July 1982, because i gained admission into a decent college, inspite of less than good performance. I was happy a few years back, when i acquired my new digital SLR camera, and yesterday when i purchased a brand new battery for my Mac, and three years back, when i made the switch to the Mac, and before that when i went to a movie, ate outside, ate inside, ate, or didnt eat. I was happy on different occasions when i fulfilled the desire in my heart. And that also means i was sad or unhappy, when i couldnt or gave up on a desire.

I recently was reading of Swami Chinmayananda, from a story published by Amar Chitra Katha. In it, i read a clipping of his discourse, where he elucidates:

Formula for Happiness
Happiness =
Number of desires fulfilled
Total number of desires craved

He explains further that in today's world, or to quote him, "in the western world", happiness is achieved by increasing the numerator, ie. the number of desires fulfilled. And in "the eastern world", happiness is achieved by decreasing the denominator, the number of desires. Think a bit, and like most mathematical equations, this too can be quickly understood. If you apply this formula to your life, you must enumerate these numbers, soon you will understand, that while today you might have achieved a lot of happiness, this cannot be said of you tomorrow or yesterday. And that is because these number are constantly changing.

To us human beings, the curse of desire, today symbolizes the pursuit of happiness. I began my life with a push cart while learning to walk, then i had a tricycle, a small bicycle, a motor cycle, a car, a bigger car, a better car, a more expensive car, a car more expensive and newer than my neighbour's car. I stop to take a breather now, having achieved all these, but remember, i no longer care for my tricycle, motorcycle or the first car. And my breath is soon lost, when my neighbour upstages me with a newer car. Now i have to add one more denominator and will attain happiness only when it is fulfilled. This process is endless and requires constant adjustments to my state of happiness, which now vacillates between one extreme to another, between joy and woe.

If we want to attain true happiness, the only way is to limit our desires, abate them, slowly at first, but steadily. Each desire limited or eliminated, takes you expeditiously closer to a more balanced mind, or state of happiness. This might seem in direct contrast to the current material world's definition of the pursuit of happiness. It has to be, because the material world today depends on us being dissatisfied, to grease the growth of economies. It is made to appear that today's generation is better than the previous, this century better than the last, this millennium better than before. We are in some ways, we have more information in our hands today, but this has not made us more intelligent. It should, we will then be able to understand formulas like these better, and apply it in our lives.

As for me, i am trying. Its not easy. The pressures of modern day living, it is difficult to do something like this. But it requires constant retrospection, and a lot of grit, to stand up against what would be considered normal. It at these moments, a power outside or within, helps.

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