How to be happy ? This question has been troubling mankind since the very dawn of civilization. Philosophers, poets, writers, thinkers, scientists, leaders, et al have given their own answers to this intriguing question. Yet today, thousands of years after man first put this question to himself, he is still groping for an answer.
In the present times we have the new age gurus, generation next philosophers, management messiahs and a host of others offering quick-fix solutions, spiritual paradigms and instant nirvanas. But the answer to the question - how to be happy- remains elusive.
Recently I came across a very interesting and enlightening answer to this question which I would like to share. Sri Sri Ravishankar, the founder of The Art of Living Foundation, says there are two causes of unhappiness - regret over the past and the apprehension about the future. How true! How many times have we not wondered - if only I had married some one else, why did I not accept the other job, if only I had taken my exams more seriously or what if I don’t get selected in the interview, suppose I don't get the bank loan, what if my beloved’s parents don’t accept me, etc. etc.
Thus our mind is always vacillating between the past and the future. We are either crying over spilt milk or trying to cross the bridge before we come to it. By unnecessarily breaking our heads over what has already happened and fretting over what is likely to happen we spoil the present. Today’s moment is sacrificed at the altar of yesterday’s regret and tomorrow’s anxiety.
So then how do we find happiness? According to Sri Sri we have to accept that the present is inevitable. We have to live in the present moment to the fullest and give our hundred percent to whatever we are doing. We have to believe in the HERE and NOW - not in what was or what is going to be.
This might appear impossible but it isn’t really all that difficult. If we carefully look at a four year old child we can learn a lot about living in the present. Whether the little one is drawing on a sheet of paper, or sailing a paper boat in a puddle or simply watching a bird in flight - he is giving his hundred percent to the present moment. He is not bothered about whether someone is watching him or laughing at him, he is not concerned about what he has done a few minutes earlier or what he is going to do moments later. He is existing only in the HERE and NOW. We should all strive to adopt the natural, unselfconscious behavior of the child and live life in the present moment. That is a far more effective way of seeking happiness than looking for packaged mokshas and branded nirvanas.
Finally, I would like conclude with the immortal words of Omar Khayyam :
‘Unborn tomorrow and dead yesterday
Why fret about them if today be sweet..