The ultimate purpose for all of us is to lead a happy, healthy and meaningful life. We often feel that it’s the success that leads to happiness. If we have wealth and other material goods and comforts then we can achieve happiness in life. We also get confused with pleasure when we talk about a happy life.
Tobegin with, let’s clear few widely held misconceptions about success, happiness and pleasure. First is the idea that happiness comes with success, those who are successful in life are happier compared to those who haven’t succeeded or will not succeed. Second, there is little to no difference between happiness and pleasure, that happiness is nothing more than sensual and pleasurable feelings.
Why there are misconceptions about success, happiness and pleasure, the reason lies in the fact that in our contemporary world, there is too much of emphasis is given to wealth, status, power, and material goods. While pursuing success, we generally overlook those things that give us genuine happiness, so, we naturally end up becoming more unhappy.If we chase material goods with the hope that we will eventually achieve happiness, we are grossly mistaken.
We continue to seek many things, like plenty of money, professional success, true romantic love, nice bungalow and so on with the hope that once they have, they will become happy in future. Ironically, they are wrong. The material goods along can’t help us in becoming happy. We may even end up in becoming more unsatisfactory and getting frustrated.
Now coming back to happiness, it’s a feeling of contentment. It comes when we feel satisfied, safe, grateful, and eager to experience more of life. Happiness is of two kinds. First, we may feel conditionally happy on a day-to-day basis, and secondly, there is a long-term contentment that runs deeper. We feel good, elevated, joyful, and generous when we are happy. No doubt, all of the ingredients that lead to happiness lie within our mind. Nothing from outside world is required.
Happiness is a very fine mix of well-being, positivity, and overall satisfaction with life. It’s far more than the absence of unhappiness. It’s neither easy to define what it is nor prescribe how to achieve it. Happiness is in fact the outcome of many internal factors, including the delicate balance of neurochemicals that are secreted in our brain. It is also a product of our thoughts, and the feelings that are generated. If thoughts are toxic, fearful, angry, or even vaguely negative, we can’t feel happy. Mental peace is prerequisite to experiencing pleasant feelings.
It’s a fact that we can’t achieve happiness merely through success, material and pleasurable things of life. We need more than that to feel happy for a longer time. We must never let hedonism dominate our actions and behaviour in any way. To create a welcoming environment conducive to happiness, three things are being recommended here. These are the three pillars on which a strong foundation for happiness can be built.
First, we must see to it that we have a healthy mind and body. Second, we should hold high priorities and ideals alongside reasonable expectations; and lastly, it is our privilege and greatest joy to nurture and maintain true relationships with friends and family members. These pillars, once erected, can protect us from situations that compromise our stability and happiness.
Healthy and Peaceful Mind :
Many fail to understand and appreciate how the mind works and how to manage it well. It’s ultimately our inner world that must be set right if we want to lead a happy life. We must learn to live peacefully within our own skin. We should handle both mind and body with great care and sensitivity. In today’s world, the majority of us don’t exercise, or exercise little compare to our requirement.
How many of us regularly do aerobics for our heart? And rarely devote any time to mental exercises, such as meditation.
If we want to lead a happy, contented, and productive life, we must take care of our mind. We need to handle it with great care and sensibility.
Reasonable Expectations with Right Priorities :
As we are economically and socially progressing, our expectation levels, in general, are also rising. Rather than being happy with our higher standards of living, however, many of us are growing wildly ambitious, or even greedy, as our desires increase. Our expectation level very often decides our happiness. If our expectations exceed what life is currently delivering, the result will be unhappiness, intractable dissatisfaction until our expectations are met. Since expectations are based upon priorities, the blind pursuit of wealth, fame, and pleasure is sure to make us (ultimately) miserable. Indeed, we must have right ideals and priorities in pursuing our goals, both short-term and long-term.
If our priorities are not set straight, and we keep on pursuing our every little fancy, our stress levels will soar. One must learn to see things in the broadest-possible perspective. In fact, one of the biggest causes of stress and unhappiness is that we fail to take things in bigger perspective.
When we are deeply involved in petty matters in life, that create problems for us as well as others. To avoid mental stress and unhappiness, we need to keep our expectations in a reasonable range, directed by right priorities.
Nurture Meaningful Relationships:
True happiness comes with human relationships, especially when we are really connected with a few (or several) close friends and family members. In fact, they often prove to be the ones who truly help us in overcoming any stress, adversity, or even tragedy. Likewise, it is they who can truly rejoice in our good fortune and happiness! True wealth comes from such relationships. A long-term, loving and trusting partnership also makes people’s lives really worth living.
Many studies have confirmed a direct relationship between social connections and happiness. People become happier — and live significantly longer — when they are close to their true, long time (and/or new) friends. The greater the social interaction, the more rewarding and meaningful life one lives. It also has a direct impact on our mental and physical health. People who spend more time with their friends feel happier than those who spend less time with friends.
A Way Forward:
When we contended and satisfied with our life, we become happy. It’s an outcome of life’s conditions over a long time. Hence, a very complex result of many factors — external and internal both. Not only we need a finer balance of different neurotransmitters, that are secreted in our brain but also the sense of achievement that comes from our past. We need decent money, moderate house to live, good career to pursue, successful upbringing of children and so on. There is no fixed weightage that can be assigned to these factors. Our perception about life keeps on changing depending upon the circumstances under which we work and live. It’s therefore better if we concentrate on the path we follow, rather than the destination we desire to reach.