Man’s unhappiness comes from his inability to stay alone in his room

One of my students spends the day with his family.

“You know I spent the whole day with my family. I started the day bathing the kids, took them for shopping, prepared lunch for them, and read them stories. I am happy that I could spend the whole day with my family. I have a important presentation tomorrow. I am feeling confident.”

At the end of a long conversation, I felt happy for my student. My student was missing his parents, his earlier work place, his friends. Spending time with the family helped him close his gaps of emptiness.

Often small happiness fillers make big difference. They prepare the minds open to new ideas.

Instead of spending time with small things, we spend most of our time, money, and attention on the activities that tax rather than sooth our minds.

Expectation of perfection in all situations is a bad idea. Trying to achieve happiness too consciously too is a bad idea.

Happiness is a feeling, a feeling we all like to sustain, as long as possible. Its arrival is random, and its departure unexpected. It has no logic, and it doesn’t follow any rules. Happiness is a place to visit, and not to stay. The lure of happiness works best when we are under the illusion that bliss will persist.

Happiness is related to our desires and expectations. Desires are insatiable and boundless. We possess limited capabilities to fulfil our desires. Many a times, we don’t know what our desires or expectations are. It happens that the things we desire are not the things we end up liking. Many a times we desire more than what we deserve, and we entertain more desires than we can fulfil.

It is possible to keep up the happy spirits in bad times. We can create for ourselves a fantasy world of happiness. Many survivors have survived because they could spend many hours in their imaginary worlds with their loved ones. Thoughts are like clouds; they come and go.

All our thoughts are not strong. Some thoughts are weak and get washed away easily. By driving the mind consciously, it is possible to bring positive thoughts, and filter negative thoughts.

Thoughts alone are not enough. Thoughts charged with emotions make much stronger impact. Some people are naturally happy and some are naturally sad. Some people are happy regardless of their less-than-ideal circumstances, while others are unhappy even when they seem to have it all.

‘Flow’ is a moment of high enjoyment. One experiences flow when the goals are clear, and the process to reach the goal seem effortless, and when there is balance between opportunity and capacity. ‘Flow’ experience is our altered sense of time; ‘what seems like fifteen minutes has been two hours’.

Too many choices cause unhappiness. The paradox is that it is easier to assume that unwanted options can be ignored, but in reality it is not so. In the midst of too many choices and material abundance, it is quite difficult to keep track of desires and expectations.

We face problem when our desire and reason are in conflict. But even when desire and reason are not in conflict, problem arises, because, for the implementation of the desire, reason is not sufficient.

“The image that came up with for myself was that I was a rider on the back of an elephant. I am holding the rein in my hand. I can direct things, but only when the elephant doesn’t have desires of his own. When the elephant really wants to do something I am no match for him.”

Our failure to use and spend what we have is one of the major causes of unhappiness.

We are living in a more individual world. By becoming more individual, are we becoming happier? Does our collective power improve our individual happiness? Are modern people happier than medieval people? In the mechanistic world, are we becoming more ill-suited for the real world? Are we willingly paying the price for our ‘more comfortable’ living? Can ‘designed happiness’, if fed into the system, can sustain happiness for long?

Our brains are not designed to achieve lasting happiness. The onset of happiness is often uncertain, and its disappearance, mostly unpredictable.

Can we avoid the presence of anxiety from our lives? Can we remain calm in an agitated surrounding? Can we become emotionally numb whenever we want to? Can we feign ‘all is well’ all the time? Is one happy when his unhappiness removed?

Totally eliminating suffering and blindly chasing pleasure are not paths to happiness. The key to good life lies in the capacity to metabolise pain. It is this capability that makes us better equipped to develop relationship with ourselves.

“The irony of happiness is that it’s precisely when we manage to feel happy that we are also most keenly aware that the feeling might not last.”

Wise suggests diminishing preoccupation with oneself, deliberating less on one's sins, follies, and shortcomings, be indifferent towards one’s deficiencies are some of the ways to be happy. And the wise also said that man’s unhappiness comes from his inability to stay in his room alone. And finally there is an age to watch cholesterol and an age to ignore it. And the one who can decide that age is you.

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© 2017 by Dr Purnendu Ghosh