You can’t pursue or find happiness. You simply awaken to it.
I read this interesting column, Why happiness is the wrong goal, by Manu Joseph in the Mint on Saturday. Manu is a very good writer and I respect him. But with this piece, I am afraid he appears to be, in all that he is trying to say, missing the most elementary point.
Happiness is not a goal. Period.
I must confess that there was a time in Life when I too thought of happiness as a destination, as a goal that had to be pursued. In fact, for most of my 20s and right up to my mid-30s, I kept telling my friends that I would be happy when I turned 40. My reasoning was that because we had married early – when I was barely 21 and Vaani was 22 (she is a year older than me) – and because our son Aashirwad was born in the second year of our marriage, both Vaani and I would be “done with our worldly responsibilities” by the time we were 40! So I would often remark: “When I am 40, Aash will be 18; I would have made a lot of money and I would retire, play golf and be happy!” Now, when I think back, I realize I was so naïve. Of course, we had Aanchal joining us in the sixth year of our marriage, so my “logically-argued happiness goal ended up being pushed further”!!! But, important, look at the way our Life has panned out – we went bankrupt as we entered our 40s (in 2007). (Read more in my Book here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) And we have spent most of the past decade without work or money. We still have a truckload of existential problems and legacy issues to deal with! Yet, through this experience, we have understood what happiness truly is.
Together we have realized that accepting, embracing, what is, is happiness. It is a state of being – when you are non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering. Non-worrying because you have learnt not to allow your mind to race into the unborn future, non-frustrated because you have realized that having talent and integrity don’t always mean that you will get what you want and non-suffering because you have learnt not to ask ‘Why Me?’ when you get what you don’t like or don’t want in Life. When you are non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering, there is no pursuit, there is nothing to be gained, nothing to be lost. You simply are.
This state of being, no matter what your circumstances are, is happiness. You don’t find happiness, you don’t discover it, you don’t pursue it. You are the happiness you seek. In essence, you help yourself to happiness by awakening to it!