Happiness cannot be pursued. It is who you are.
A common and grave misconception occurs when we mix up the definitions of happiness and success. Success is getting what you want __ a college degree, a car, a new apartment, an overseas job, a billion dollar fortune, whatever! But you may not always get what you want in Life. Happiness, therefore, is wanting what you get! Despite all your hard work, you may not graduate. You may not get the car of your choice. Or get an apartment in the neighborhood that your preferred. Or someone else may get the lucrative job that you wanted! Or a quirk of circumstance may deny you the fortune. The ability to be happy despite not getting what you want and despite your circumstance is true happiness. And that ability is resident in each of us: in you, in me, in everyone!
|Nisha Kapashi: in 2011 (left) and now (right)
Photo Courtesy: ScoopWhoop/Internet
I read a story on ScoopWhoop this morning that interested me. It was the story of Jain nun Nisha Kapashi. She is of Indian origin but was born in the US. She grew up with all the luxury in the world – among Gucci clothes and Fendi handbags; she lived in a lavishly furnished single bedroom apartments on Sixth and 34th, near Macys, in New York. But while she was living a “fashionable and successful Life”, she was feeling an “emptiness” that made her very, very unhappy. She dug deeper into the Jain way of Life and found great value in the teachings of Mahavira. She quit her job with J Crew, moved to India and signed up to be a nun. She told ScoopWhoop’s Samarpita Das: “We sleep for six hours a night, meditate for 90 minutes a day, and we study Jain philosophy for 15 hours a day. We live a nomadic existence in India. I have no possessions. I have nothing, but I’ve never been so happy. I have no money, not even a bank account. I have committed to a Life of celibacy and simplicity for the rest of my Life. This is my Life now — and it’s the ultimate happiness.”
I am not exactly one who believes that we must practice celibacy and abstinence to experience happiness. But what Nisha’s story does reiterate is that each of us has this awesome opportunity to be happy! By simply being who we are comfortable being!
If everyone followed Nisha’s example of setting out to be who they love being, the world will be full of happy people – instantaneously! In fact, all of us are intrinsically happy folks. We become unhappy only when we allow our circumstances to suppress our happiness! Let’s say you are walking on the pavement on a rainy day, whistling ‘Raindrops are falling on my head….’, and an insensitive motorist splashes a dirty puddle of water on your work clothes. You stop whistling. And now you are angry. Does being angry mean that you have ceased to have the ability to be happy? Not at all. Your attention has shifted from whistling the memorable tune to hurling abuses at and showing a finger to that motorist. The moment you bring your attention to being happy – despite the soiled clothes, you can still whistle the tune and keep walking, can’t you? – you will find your anger disappearing.
We feel miserable when we are unhappy only because being angry or being anything negative is not normal, it is not human nature. Think about it. Don’t you always feel miserable when you have been sad or jealous or angry or guilty? But have you ever, ever, felt miserable when feeling happy? I rest my case. So, you don’t have to work hard at being happy. You are happiness. Just stop being anything else and please go back to being happy!