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Monday, March 29, 2010

The Journey towards Happiness

I was thinking about these questions today... and these are question's I think about often... What is happiness? Am I really happy?

I have a strangely morose face... people often tell me I should look happier.... smile more etc...

I sometimes wonder... am I really unhappy? Do I look that dejected in life?

Lately I had been feeling depressed... I will admit... job scene bleak... my choice of major now seeming like a mistake made due to my whims... perhaps just a choice made to protect my pride? I was hearing about people getting jobs and moving on while I was still in School and struggling with my thesis... I was unhappy... yes... or to be precise... I FELT unhappy...

There are many things which I would like to be different about my life... I would like to have a job, I would like to have a car, I would like to have more opportunities to spend time with my friends and family, I would like my family to be happy... because these are some things which I feel are integral to my happiness which either I currently don't have enough of... or just dont have... I often find myself feeling envious of people who have such things...

But still... am I really unhappy? I would like to think not... no worries about health so far... the wealth aspect has taken a little beating though... LoL... I dont have many friends... but the ones I do have are the kind I can rely on in a pinch... I am doing what I love... studying about aircraft... something I have dreamed about ever since I can remember... so... I have every reason to be happy... why did I still feel doubt?

Then I realized something... I was rating my happiness on the scale of other people... I was letting other people tell me whether I was happy or not... this is not to say that I still dont want those things... or that they would not contribute to my happiness... just that I should be using a different yardstick to measure them... that is.... my own...

I realized that people were looking at me and evaluating my happiness by using their own measure or concept of what happiness means... this is a fundamentally flawed approach... because... while happiness as an emotion is the same for everyone, the actions that make a person happy... are different for everyone... not only that... but different people express happiness differently...

So I can confidently say I am happy... even though I might not always look like it...

Let me propose something here.... something I have come to believe strongly... even though it is a recent revelation...

I propose that every single course of action we take in our life... even something as mundane as brushing our teeth in the morning... are all geared towards attaining some goal... and the achievement of this goal is something which (in some shape or form) will somehow contribute to our happiness...

The thing which I have realized while struggling with these questions is that often times... the things that give me the most happiness are not even the goals I am working towards... its the journey... the collection of all the little actions that I have taken in order to attain a goal... which give me most happiness... or satisfaction...

The thing is... as we grow older... our thinking starts to change... our mindsets are constantly being programmed with all the cares and worries of the world and all the pressures of being an adult. We start to believe that if we fail to achieve the goal... the entire time spent on trying to achieve that goal was meaningless... a waste of time... something to feel bad about... a cause for unhappiness...

A crude example: Kids playing a soccer game... they all want to win of course... but at the end of the game... you will find that mostly all of them have a smile on their faces... win or lose... they mostly all had a blast.... just playing the game was so much fun... it didnt matter that they won or lost... they all walked away knowing they did their bloody best...

Now lets look at adolescents/adults... lets say they are on a bus going on a trip... all are expecting to enjoy the trip a lot of course... but the bus breaks down on the way... and they had to walk like XYZ km on foot... all of them will crib about it right? Oh our trip is ruined... we will be too tired to do anything once we get there etc etc... they will be so focused on cribbing about how tired the walk to the hotel or wherever is going to make them... that they take no enjoyment in the journey... they will forget the fun moments they had shared when the bus was still rolling along... they often consider all of that to be a waste...

The point of that mess above was this... I have realized that the process of getting to a goal often provided me with more enjoyment than the achievement of the goal... and many times overrides the disappointment of failure... because somewhere along the way... I stopped caring about what would happen once I got to my goal... and just concentrated on doing my best to getting there...

I think I have my answer now... I will always be happy... it is actually impossible for me... or any other person to be unhappy.... unless we decide to fall into the trap of a negative outcome focused mindset... because happiness is something which we naturally tend towards...

People will say that I am being idealistic here... that the real world does not work that way... that I cant simply stop worrying about outcomes and stop setting targets... to them I say.... I am not against the concept of making plans and setting targets for things you want... what I am saying is that we should try to make up a goal... and then devote all our power and energy towards attaining it... we should consider the journey to be something of value in and of itself... and not just think of the goal as the only thing of value... if we do that... if we are able to avoid falling into the trap of caring too much about the outcome and not enough about the journey... I think we will all do just fine... we will all be happy...

"A traveler who values the journey will always have a more fruitful trip than one who values only the destination."




3 comments:

Anish said...

all in all...u feel...It's a Wonderful Life...right?

The Laughing Man said...

Yep... I think happiness is innate... but we spend too much time learning how to make ourselves unhappy...

Selenium said...

"A traveler who values the journey will always have a more fruitful trip than one who values only the destination."

I read this post a couple of days after finishing Aria. This line describes the main concept of the manga/anime. And I agree with you as well as the author of Aria, that one should enjoy the journey and the small, but enjoyable things in life (like I enjoy eating polo... good situation or bad situation). See...

1> One way to become happy is to be happy with a lot of happiness thrown at you at once -> When things go the way you want and everything is ideal according to you.

2> The other way is to gather a lot of happiness through time by collecting small moments of happiness. Water drops fill the pitcher or something like that...

Just my opinion...