Sunday, March 2, 2014

Forgotten the Pursuit of Happiness?

Happiness comes to those who ask for it. Or those who deserve it. Is that really true? What does it take for a person to be really happy? Is it having friends and family around you? As a collectivist society such as India would believe. Or is it the determination and ambition to pursue your goals and dreams, and the feeling you get during the process is a combination of happiness and other emotions.

Does money lead to happiness? There is still sufficient doubt for this statement, but obviously those who do not even have sufficient money to eat three meals a day would probably be more unhappy than happy. Nevertheless there are lot of rich and unhappy guys out there too. Man’s demands are endless. We will continue to desire, and the vast majority of us will be stuck somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd layer of Maslow’s Pyramid.

But assuming that we are earning decently for a living, and yet we would like to do something which would make us happy. What should that something be? Obviously it would be different for each individual. A guitarist can be happy just playing on his guitar for hours. A tennis player will be happy if he manages to outlast a tough opponent. A Sales guy would be happy if he or she manages to reach the targets within time. A mother can be happy just feeding her child. A beggar might feel happy counting the stars in the night sky.

So where does motivation come in? And how difficult is it to stay self motivated all the time? Pretty difficult, especially if you are caught in a work environment you do not like. And this is true not just of corporate professionals but any human being. You can be a peon, but you can be the best in what you do. That is what most of us aspire to become. Better individuals, better earners and better contributors to the society, and hence, ourselves.

But why is it that most of us complain at some time or the other, of being frustrated, bored, depressed, sad, lonely, clueless, stuck in time, stagnated, angry, and a million other negative emotions. The biggest negative emotions arrive, when we feel the feeling of despair and helplessness. As Daniel Goleman explains in his book, Emotional Intelligence, it’s the frustration which builds up and causes worry, when a person is unable to resolve his problem or decide a particular course of action, which inevitably leads to a feeling of helplessness. This cycle continues, and in the long term can also result in bodily harm, plus in extreme cases, a mental breakdown.

Ideally, in order to be happy and possess a high EQ, we should learn to empathize with others. Which is much more easier said than done. Most of us are so caught up in our day to day activities, that just spending a few minutes doing something extra seems like a waste of time. The easiest thing to do in the world is blame someone else for the troubles you are in. The hardest thing to do, is to supress your ego and put yourself in that person’s shoes to understand the other point of view.

The first step in conquering negative emotions is ‘Awareness’. People with a better EQ, usually are able to identify when they are experiencing negative emotions. As a result, they are better equipped to identify the problem, and hence prevent a negative situation from escalating. Contrary to popular belief, raising your voice, venting out your anger does not make you feel better. It makes you feel worse. But we do not realize it, simply because of the activated hormones, which give us a feeling similar to adrenaline. So basically, we think that we are feeling better, but actually its detrimental(similar to drugs or alcohol).

Most of us like to stick to the area of our comfort zone. But going outside it, and experiencing new things(including failure), will actually lead us one step closer towards Self Actualization. So will restraint. By restraint, I mean stopping yourself from giving in to temptation. Whether it be of a particular junk food, or alcohol, or even for purchasing an expensive item which will probably of no use later. Practicing restraint is a very important tool for achieving happiness.

Of course, many people will want to know the co-relation between love and happiness. That I will leave for another post. Not that I am an expert on that issue, but as always I can provide my personal views on the same. But the picture put in this post basically says it all-'You are responsible for your own happiness.' Nobody else is going to come and make you happy. Deal with it. That does not mean you cut yourself out from everyone. It just means that you have to figure out where the problem(if any) lies.

Finally, after a while, I feel I have written a slightly better post(most of my recent posts were minor ‘About-Me-Written-In-A-Poor-Style’ sort of entries). This one, I took some time to finish. All comments are welcome. Catch you soon.


kuntal said...

I totally agree with what you have said here man.

2MPA said...

So what did u do differently today???

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