Last week I had a discussion with my forum group about Happiness and I tried hard to convince one elderly gentleman that happiness has absolutely no connection to job or money. He was shocked and found it hard to even start thinking about it!! His expression was as if I am telling him that we live on Mars!
Yes, money and comfort if not there, bring unhappiness but they are not sources of happiness according to my understanding and self experience! (I know some people would say “Id rather be miserable in a Mercedes than on the footpath!” and it’s a standard joke I have heard a dozen times by now!). However I have seen happier faces on the footpaths and on bicycles than in Mercs and BMWs!
As a part of my yoga studies I have learnt the Theory of Happiness as taught by my teacher, Dr Nagendra – which states that happiness that is found from material objects (food, clothing, movies etc) follows a law of diminishing return – every addnl fulfilment gives less and less satisfaction vs previous one. His fav example of gulab jamun will stay with me for life! (Personally I prefer to use chocolate truffle pastry as an example!) First gulabjamun feels wonderful, 2nd one also very good, but after the 3rd and 4th and 6th, one wants to throw up! Same for clothes, accessories, cars, jewellery, – each addnl. one gives less and less happiness. Since then I have read many theories on happiness and how to get it – and each one has its own philosophy!
Personally I have discovered that I get maximum happiness from all those actions where its not done for myself i.e. each time I spend time, money and energy on others I get maximum happiness. There is no expectation here. The happiness I get in buying a garment from my fav store, or having an ice cream is much limited and shallow and definitely doesn’t last beyond paying the bill at the counter or taking the first lick (of ice cream) .
My biggest happiness drivers are
1. Devoting time, energy and money (if required) for those who I don’t know – like the cleaning drive I do. I make sure I don’t don’t do it specific to my building. I do it where nobody wants to take ownership. Gives me immense satisfaction. I try and do it more often now Here I have observed that giving money is much easier than giving time and energy – however latter gives a more long lasting happiness and satisfaction for me vs. just giving charity.
2. Helping my clients with my yoga/hypnotherapy/
3. Teaching – anything! To anyone and everyone!! Basically ‘Master ki beti, master hi banegi ‘ types!
4. Feeding stray dogs, pups, basically mute animals and giving annual charity (anonymously) to various deaf/mute/blind organizations.. My husband and I follow the thumb rule ie. X% of salary/what we earn.. We try to do this quite regularly as we can.(Hubby will hate the fact that I even wrote about it, but I am writing more for sharing a habit that has helped us feel good than showing off!)
I feel each time we direct our focus and energies on others, we get more return in terms of satisfactions, happiness and contentment. Everyone of us earns, works and spends on ourselves and our loved ones – its human and most normal thing to do! However like law of diminishing returns, these spending each time give less and less happiness over time. However once we start focussing of others needs, the law of diminishing returns reverses – we get more and more satisfaction with each such action! On this note, I would also recommend – try spending a few hours of your time on community work/issues and then see the difference in level of satisfaction! I know so many who are always doing their bit and doing it silently, quietly and leading an exceptionally satisfying life!
As they say in Landmark Forum – “You have to be unreasonable to lead extraordinary lives – its most easy to live in reason and being reasonable!”
Of course, there are other happy moments which are not just about others i.e. birth of ur child, seeing your child walk, winning a marathon, getting a promotion, publishing your own book, etc but again most of these also follow the law of diminishing returns over time….what do you feel? Overall each moment when not linked to any specific outcome or expectation seems to have more happiness, na?
What have been your experiences with this???
What are your happiness drivers???