Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Happiness - Privilege or Right? Part II

Personal Happiness: This is what I am really getting to from my previous blog on Happiness.  How does one live a life in which you feel happy, you feel you have achieved something, you feel you have not let yourself down, and you are at peace with yourself?  As I am growing older I am realizing there is no way I can make everyone happy. So I have resolved to make just one person happy - ME! I have also realized that if I am happy I am a nicer person, I have less burden of the world on my shoulders and it is easier for me to make other people happy.
(Again - I am sure there are tons of book on happiness - but this is my blog!)

I am not always happy - obviously! But I am training myself, slowly.  And I have seen some good results from my self-training.  So....What have I done to stay happy?

Well first I must say that it has taken a long time for me to let me feel what I feel. We (including me) tend to feel what other people want or expect us to feel.  One has to have the self confidence and faith in themselves to let themselves feel what they naturally want to feel; or one will be leading a fake life.  I have had to let go of a lot of emotions, a lot of negativity and some responsibility (in a responsible way).

So these days this is what I do...
  • I take care of my health - I diet and exercise to a point where I feel satisfied, not to satisfy anyone else - just me.
  • I make sure that my "career" is taken care of.  My job is what is paying the bills and helping me live the life I want; so I make sure that I don't slack off there.  I do what I am supposed and more if I can - but only if I want to. I don't let the petty day to day events get me down.
  • I have hobbies that help to occupy my mind so it does not wander off into the negative world.  I keep my hands and mind busy with crochet, writing or cooking. And occasionally cleaning! 
  • Try to do something new at least once a month. It could be something as small as trying a new recipe, or learning a new software - variety is the spice of life. So I always keep learning.
  • I don't take responsibility for other people's actions anymore. This was a hard one. I used to keep feeling that I was somehow responsible for how the other person was talking to me or behaving towards me. But in time I have come to realize - everyone has their own life to live, their own destiny, their own sense of well being.  I will not hurt anyone deliberately but I will not take responsibility if someone loses their temper for no reason at all. I will walk away from negativity.
  • I don't expect other people to make me happy. It is not their responsibility. I am responsible for my own feelings. And the truth is that so many people do make me happy! 
  • I surround myself with people I like, people I care about (and who also care about my well being), people I can enjoy life with, laugh with (and sometimes vent with). The more positive, creative and good people I have in my life the better I feel.  I don't feel obligated to hang out with negative people just because I "have to". I have friends because I want them in my life.  I don't want people around me who suck the life out of me. My contact with such people is minimum.
  • I volunteer my time - giving back to the community always makes me feel like I belong in this world and I am making a difference even though it might be minuscule. Time is a valuable gift to give - more than money, so I always make sure I give my time to organizations whose mission I believe in. 
  • I travel - what a waste of life if one has not seen the creation! Traveling opens up minds and hopefully hearts! At least for me it has. I enjoy it, I see it as a personal growth. It is culturally enriching and intellectually satisfying to learning about other countries and cultures. 
  • Read read read - books take us through so many adventures. So let the imagination fly. I love reading! 

My work is still not done.  There is always this nagging feeling of - if I had just "this" more I would be happy.  When I fill in the blank with "this" then I think I will want "that", then once I have "that" it will be "something else".  The wish list will never finish.  So I have to learn to just enjoy my life and the world as it is at present with all that it has to offer me and vice verse.

Even great sages have to go off for meditation to rejuvenate and come back to spread wisdom.  So there is no harm making a little time for yourself when you see yourself sinking. (Yes, I am saying there is a great person in each of us who has something to offer to this world!)

Are you happy? Do you permit yourself to be happy? I don't know! It is up to you to figure that out for yourself. Believe in yourself, know who you are and live the life that YOU want to live not what someone else wants for you (that would be a fake life). Do all the little things that make you feel good from the inside - it could be as little as opening the door for someone. But do it. Make small changes to the positive side of the life.

If you are happy then the world will seem beautiful, everything will seem to be in harmony, problems will seem to be meaningless and you will try and make other people happy! You can make other people happy only if you are happy from the inside.  And don't be that fake happy where you are smiling outside but are sad or irritated inside.

I would say happiness is a right. No one should take that right away from you. And you should exercise your right to be happy. I know sometimes sacrifices have to made - but then make them consciously and with full acceptance so you don't regret it.  Be happy with your decision for your sacrifice and learn to enjoy it.

Be happy - inside out.

Happiness - Privilege or Right? Part 1

Be happy...
Stay happy...
Hamesha khush raho (always be happy - a very common Indian blessing)
Happiness is the key of life...

What the heck is this happiness? And why does everyone want you to be happy (yet in some ways not also).  My thinking is that happiness is a state of mind where you feel you have no problems, you are at peace with the world and everything feels good.

How to be happy? One only has to Google it and find so many resources on how to be happy! There has be a conscious effort to be happy and stay happy. Most of us are not happy because
  • we may not be valued at work
  • other people are not happy with us
  • we did not get what we wanted
  • we can't seem to please anyone
  • we have so many responsibilities and we are too stressed to be happy
  • nobody is listening to us
  • someone did not recycle the paper! They just threw it in the trash!
  • and so on............
Even the smallest incident in our life becomes a huge mishap and thus a cause of unhappiness. So really....we don't give ourselves permission to be happy because we have surrounded ourselves with so many issues. 

Then there is this whole other factor of this world where everyone says you should try be happy but no one really wishes it for the other by heart. Because what will they do if you are happy and they are not! Misery loves company - right?

Happiness seems to be a very fleeting emotion. It seems that as soon as one is happy someone else comes and takes it away - not to make themselves happy, but just so that you are not. Again, it is as if they they are saying how could "YOU" be happy when "I" am not? Or how could YOU have something that I don't have?  And there are so many people who suck away the happy feeling.

So even though people can be happy they are afraid to show their happiness lest others get jealous,  or ruin it by saying something petty and selfish, or sucking it away.

So why do we wish "Happy" everything when we really don't mean it?  I don't have the answer to that question. Or maybe everyone surrounding us is just pretentious.

What are some of the reasons that people are not happy? (I know there are gazillion books out there on this topic - but this is my blog and my take on things!)  Here are just some of the reasons I can think of right now. In my Part II of this blog I focus more on the self.

Happiness at Home: I should not pretend to have authority on this since I don't live with anyone :-) Although from all the divorces, affairs and marriage counselors out there I can take a quick guess. We spend majority of our time at home. So if there is no harmony at home - from the spouse, children, extended family and living conditions then there will be constant irritants in life. This is also the hardest to change because how do you change your situation which was made permanent by a vow or by blood?  In my case, living alone has given me the freedom to make changes and live my life as I want to; it has given me a different perspective on things. Although in both cases (living single vs family) I feel fate/destiny is responsible. I have noticed some people are just sad and they will contine to live a sad life whether they are single or in a family.  They cannot seem to make the small changes in life that can give small happy moments. They almost seem afraid of life.

Happiness at Work: This is where we spend the second big part of our life. We are considered more successful not by the quality of our personal life, but by the number of promotions we get or the pay raise that we get at work. If you get a promotion/recognition you must be good otherwise you are lacking something.  It also means that whatever you do at work is never going to be sufficient; there is always one more step to go, one more promotion to have and then another and another.....If there are no more promotions at the current job then you are advised to change jobs and start moving up the ladder in a new place....or why don't you start your own company? There is no end to this. So we spend our lives trying to attain the unattainable. How can we be happy? And then to top it all off when we are the pinnacle of our career we are supposed to retire! Well...there goes all the hard work - what am I supposed to do now?

Of course all the above is not true for anyone who loves their work, enjoys it and finds happiness in it. And these are people who have a pleasant disposition and are a joy to work with.

Happiness from Parents: I don't know how many parents are completely satisfied with the lives of their children.  As soon as one becomes a parent, there is no other job for them but to take care of the children, make sure they study well, get into the right career path, settle well in life with a good partner, have children of their own.........the list goes on.  Which means there is no end to the desires there.  All parents in the world believe they have sacrificed so their children could have a good life. All parents - even the drunk father or the absent mother. So they have a right to expect something in return from their children. All that sacrifice has to be paid back by meeting the parents' expectations.  Tough luck!! Hardly any children can meet those expectations so the cycle of low self esteem and of getting no acknowledgment goes on.  There goes that happiness in the dumps!!

Selfish Happiness: I also want to point out that some people are so much into their own happiness, self-gratification and convenience that they overlook their responsibilities. I consider such people to be selfish. That happiness which leads to other people being inconvenienced, made fun of, or not taken care of (if you are responsible for them) is not happiness - that is selfishness.