Let me start by asking three simple questions. You need to concentrate on the questions, channelize different correlations and then come to an answer.Are you having a good day? Why are you having a good day? Tomorrow would you rather have a good day or a bad day?
These three questions are simple enough to answer because the general population would want to be in a constant state of happiness. But what I infer from my research is that happiness is momentary, and so for a major proportion of your life you are disappointed, you are unhappy. So before I get into what is happiness, on which people have agonised over centuries, let me start by answering a somewhat easier question, what isn’t happiness?
Our construction of mind is like a balloon in the air blown through external circumstances. These external circumstances define our state of happiness and it revolves around two basics fundamentals i.e. expectations and reality. We are wealthier than ever but unhappier than ever. We are more prosperous than ever but more depressed. We have faster and faster means of communication and transport but we are even more accelerated in complaining about them. We have technology advancing exponentially but we don’t see a corresponding increase in life satisfaction. In many countries there are more animal suicides than homicides. These scientifically researched data boils down to one thing that we are in a consistent state of disagreement because our expectation of reality exceeds our experience of reality. Take for example travelling, we have an imagination gap that reality simply cannot live up with. People fantasise over the photoshopped, air brushed images which actually distort our vision of reality which leads to disappointment and defies our expectations. The simple thing to note here is that when the limitless potential of our minds is met with the confined nature of earth we feel unhappy.
Happiness is not feeling good all the time. If you focus too much on trying to feel good all the time you are actually undermining your ability to feel good at all. It’s not a final destination; the old adage “Are we there yet?” often applies to happiness as if being happy is a day job and a person works towards it and finally arrives there. Normally this state of mind is a result of the interpersonal gap i.e. you always try to weigh others reality over your own reality.
His holiness Dalai Lama describes happiness as “A sense of more satisfaction; it is not necessarily some pleasure experience but more of a neutral sort of experience, that can bring deep satisfaction”. Buddhist practice happiness in the form of Mindfulness which is a state of active open attention on the present. When you are mindful you witness your thoughts and feeling from a distance, as a silent observer, without judging or segregating them into good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience, finding happiness in smallest of moments.
I’ve just touched upon some philosophies of happiness but more than seeking for a definition, I think happiness is to be felt and lived. For me, it’s a state of mind that comes as a complete forgetfulness of everything else but the moment ‘NOW’. It’s your turn to find your own definition; So continue observing, stay curious, voice opinions, explore perspectives, keep iterating, accept truth and be happy!
– Ayush Khatri