Asking yourself a fundamental question – “What will make me permanently happy?” – can change your Life!
The Times of India (TOI) yesterday had a very profound story, tucked away obscurely, in one of the inside pages. It is the story of a Wall Street finance whiz, Sree Patel. Patel, 35, has decided to dedicate his entire Life and a good part of his $800,000 annual pay package to social causes. He works closely with the Anoopam Mission, an offshoot of the Swami Narayan movement in Mogri, near Anand, in Gujarat. Patel leads the Anoopam Mission in the USA where he continues to keep his day job at Wall Street and spends all his other time in social service. Patel told TOI’s Bharat Yagnik that a hefty bonus of Rs.1.5 crore that he received 10 years ago changed his Life. He wanted to buy himself a Ferrari with that money and he thought that at 25, he had “arrived”. But something, says Patel, made him pause and reflect. “The sports car will give me momentary joy. (But) if someone bumps into it, it will pain me. So what will give me permanent happiness?” – Patel tells Yagnik that this thinking forced him to drop the Ferrari idea. His quest brought him to the Anoopam Mission where his mother had been serving for years. And in serving others, with no expectation of any return, Patel says, he found permanent happiness.
Each of us has the same opportunity as Patel. To seize that opportunity, we must look up from whatever we are obsessed with doing – day in and day out! Running the rat race is not the real problem. Running it mindlessly is. Earning a living, raising a family, paying bills, growing your asset portfolio, planning for retirement and providing for heathcare costs – all of this, and more, is a full time job. No doubt. Ask anyone on the planet and you will find that in the midst of all this chaotic activity, each one, in his or her own special, unique way, is searching for happiness. Over time, and thanks to some unfortunate conditioning, people have come to believe that happiness lies in acquiring things. So, they go after things – cars, villas, fat bank balances, exotic luxury vacations, gadgets – only to find that after acquiring what they wanted to, they still feel incomplete – and unhappy! The cause of all unhappiness is in the way we define happiness. Happiness is not getting what we want. That is success. Happiness is, simply, wanting what we get. Happiness is also in touching a Life, making a difference and in pursuing something meaningful – and not just materialistic.
The Dalai Lama says this very beautifully. Someone asked him what surprised him most about humanity. And the Dalai Lama replied: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he is neither in the present nor in the future. He lives as if he is never going to die. And then he dies never having really lived!”
The true meaning of living is to have lived happily and to leave the world a better place than you found it. And to live that way, ask yourself what will make you permanently happy. Then, go ahead and do whatever it takes, to enable and ensure that you are happy. You will never regret having made that choice to live your Life differently!