Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Pursuit Of Happiness


Often in some point of our lives we find ourselves in the doldrums. Some part of the day, when all we want to do is crawl up into a small hole and lie there for for days to come. When in spite of the sunny day outside there lies within us, a dark tempest of gloom.
Sometimes the reason we remain shrivelled up inside is perhaps because of some sort of unfortunate circumstance, that has has suddenly come upon us. But nevertheless, circumstances not withstanding, the major reason of our doldrums are we ourselves.
We all know of the examples of the eternal optimist or the eternal pessimist. Or psychologically speaking, the notion of whether the glass is half full or half empty.
As much as we like to read and try to understand the reason for all that has transpired around us, we seem to be getting no where most of the time. By the end of the day we are back to square one.
Frankly I am no exception as far as dealing with difficult circumstances are concerned.
After some setback or the other, my first impulse is to crawl into some hole and stay there for eternity, shunning everyone and everything that comes in my way.
Irrespective of the amount of advice doled out by those around you, there are some things in life you can only understand form your own personal experience.
I in my own way managed to acquire an epiphany in this regard, when I recapitulated some of my past events.
Back in medical school, we would have weekly tests. And once during one of these test sessions I acquired a rather poor grade. Almost immediately I subjected myself to self criticism, guilt, and mental torture for not acquiring better grades. But next to me, a friend of mine who got rather poor grades himself, was laughing away gaily, chatting with his buddies, unmindful of the fact that he too performed rather poorly in the test.
This nevertheless, left me a bit flabbergasted wondering how in God's name could someone be so unmindful of what just happened.
Back then I didn't have the maturity to fully grasp how could someone take disappointment so lightly.
But now as I recollect, I realise that he didn't really feel disappointed in the first place. And as a consequence he was happy.
He was happy when he flunked, and he would obviously have been happy had he passed.
The "condition" of passing and failing thus remained immaterial to his state of mind.
The key words here are "condition" and "state of mind".
Thus any pure state of mind is usually unconditional.
Be it happiness or sorrow.
Circumstances and events however usually end up as a catalyst in enhancing our state of mind.
If your state of mind was happy from the beginning a good event would make you joyous, while a bad event would make you unmindful and nonchalant to what just transpired, thus the core state of mind being the same in the first place.
However if your state of mind was sad to begin with, a good circumstance will temporarily lighten up your day, while a bad circumstance will further push you to the brink of eternal despair.
All in all circumstance has precious little to do with our state of mind.
People always have pre set conditions to determine how they are going to feel with regard to favourable or unfavourable events. Like, "If I win the game I will be happy, or "if I lose my job I will be sad".
We end up miserable when we set too many conditions upon ourselves when we set out to pursue happiness. Only to end up disappointed when happiness remains ever elusive.
From what I have understood so far from all that around me, is that happiness isn't something that has to be pursued, but a pure self limiting entity that ought be realised as a part of us. Unconditional and uncompromising even in the most difficult of circumstance.
We have often heard examples of rich celebrities who are miserable despite every comfort money can buy. And we have also seen poor workmen who labour day in and day out, with a smile on their lips whistling a happy tune while they toil away in the scorching summer.
I suppose the day we stop imposing conditions upon us, we will truly be happy.
Until then it is pointless to remain in a relentless pursuit of something that will continue to evade us through and through.
There is no point in pursuing something that remains within us waiting to be discovered.
For happiness like all pure emotions is nothing but a state of mind, inert and unconditional.
Pre set conditions do not necessarily determine how we will feel, as long as our state of mind remains happy irrespective of the circumstances that surround us.
The pursuit of happiness is nothing but a myth, to dissuade us from feeling better about ourselves irrespective of the way things turn out.
Some myths in life are thus indeed worth shattering.