You need to be happy, and not secure, to live fully

Between being happy and being secure, choose being happy. Because security is fake and guarantees nothing except consoling you that you are safe, despite the fact that you are not.
You are as safe as you are in this moment. You will never be able to tell, ever, what will happen to you, of you, in the next moment. You, like many, will be rushing this morning to work at a job that you loathe, yet you cling on to it because of a fake sense of security your pay check guarantees you. You think you are secure if you have money, if you have a social standing, if you have a well-heeled job and if you have a house to call your own. Security comes from comforting yourself with how much you have. Happiness comes from being content with whatever you have.
The problem with seeking too much security is that what you try to possess will eventually end up possessing you. If you have a million dollars in the bank and have lost your job, invariably every thought of yours will concern your depleting the bank balance with every delay that your job search encounters. Clearly, the bank balance is possessing you now. On the other hand, if you want to be happy, all you need to do is to consider yourself lucky that you have a bank balance to live off in the time that you search for a job.
On a spiritual plane, it is also really foolish on our part that we should feel insecure. Because from the time you were born, you have lived each moment without knowing what will happen in the next. Which means you are an expert at dealing with the unknown, with insecurity. Yet, you fear it all the time? Life is a bungee jump into the unknown in each new moment. And all of us have been doing it effectively, efficiently all these years of our lives. So, a sense of security is a wasted sentiment. You don’t need it to live. You can live with insecurity, as you always have. Happiness however is crucial to live Life fully! If you have felt an emptiness, an incompleteness in you, it is not because you are insecure, but because you are not happy!

Happiness is an opportunity that each moment is pregnant with. To be happy, you have to make a choice of letting go of the need to be secure. You will then be soaked in happiness!  

You are unhappy only when you compromise with your happiness!

Don’t attach meanings to events, people, or technology. Just be yourself – with whoever, with whatever is. If you can’t be yourself, simply move away from whatever or whoever makes you uncomfortable!
I saw a story doing the rounds that quoted a recent study conducted in Copenhagen which found that people who got off Facebook were a lot happier than those who were addicted to being on it. I humbly disagree.
Nothing external can make you happy or unhappy. Ultimately you alone are responsible for your happiness. Period.
Technology is a mere enabler. What Facebook has managed to do is that it has brought people closer. It offers us an opportunity to share our lives, experiences and learnings with people we know who are living elsewhere in this world. What can Facebook do if you choose that platform to get into ideological debates with people that you know or start talking to people who don’t know you, who you don’t know, and who make you unhappy? A friend on Facebook is no more or less than someone who is your neighbor or colleague. Either you trust that friend and relate to the person or you don’t. If you do relate, you will enjoy hanging out with that person. If you don’t you won’t. It is simple – as simple as that.
We have a simple thumb rule. We don’t add anyone on Facebook who we think we can’t invite into our home. It doesn’t mean everyone who sends us a friend request will either be invited in/accepted at once or will never be accepted. We prefer getting to know newer friends better before adding them. This way we keep our Facebook walls clutter and litter-free.
I must make a confession here – I simply love Facebook. It gives me a continuous opportunity to share and learn from the people I like to hang out. I like to learn and unlearn from the stories and experiences of my friends – who I have let into my Life. So, here lies the nub: only I am responsible for how I am feeling on Facebook.   

To be sure, this is not about Facebook alone. In all contexts in Life, your happiness is directly linked to the choices you make. And let me hasten to add, there are really no right or wrong ways to make choices. You just choose. Some experiences work for you and make you happy. Others don’t. As long as you lean in the direction of what makes you happy, you can never go wrong. It is only when you make compromises with your happiness that you become unhappy. 

Peel off and junk this label called “failure” – to hell with it!

You fail at something only when you can’t – or refuse to – face the reality. Not when you try, fall and don’t achieve the outcome you planned for.
I read an interesting interview with American researcher, story teller and author, Brene Brown, in a recent issue of TIME. Her most recent book Rising Stronghas just been released and deals with the subject of failure. Brown tells Belinda Luscombe of TIME, “We are handling failure with a lot of lip service. When failure doesn’t hurt, it’s not failure. He or she who is most capable of being uncomfortable rises the fastest…Shame needs three things to grow: secrecy, silence and judgment.”
I can relate to every word of what Brown is saying. I come from the view that nobody fails at anything just because the outcomes are not what society expects or what you want. Failure and success are but social labels. They come from judgment. Now, why judge anyone for any reason in the first place? So, when Brown says that one’s capacity to deal with being uncomfortable contributes to rising strong, she’s right! What does being uncomfortable mean? It means you don’t like what you are seeing. It means you are honest to yourself and are seeing the reality as it is. You are not in denial. When you accept a situation, you can handle it much, much better than when you don’t accept it. It’s as simple as that.
A friend of ours is separating from her husband. Now two people, mature adults, are concluding that they can’t be together anymore. Where is the need for failure as a label to come in here? But it does. The families of both people are labeling the marriage as a failure. And they don’t like our friend talking openly about it. They are trying to cover-up the separation as something that is bad, as if something grave has happened. But our friend is very clear. She says, “Listen, it is not working out. I didn’t sign up for this to be unhappy. I am very unhappy in his presence. I am moving on.” This ability to face the reality, to accept an uncomfortable truth that it’s all over (in the context of our friend’s marriage) – this is what determines how strongly you rise from a setback. Earlier this week, actors Konkona Sen Sharma and Ranvir Shorey too handled their separation – or their ‘failed’ marriage per a social definition – admirably. Here’s what Konkona tweeted: “Ranvir and I have mutually decided to separate, but continue to be friends and co-parent our son. Will appreciate your support. Thank you!”
We must all realize that things just happen in Life. We don’t always get what we want. To feel shameful of a situation is never going to help change it. Shame breeds guilt over what you may have done. Covering up an outcome that you don’t like to accept doesn’t help either. It is only going to accentuate your stress. And please don’t judge yourself. We all try. And we often don’t get what we set out to achieve. The logical next step is to try again – and try differently. It is not to sit and brood over what has happened.
I would go a step further than Brown and say there is nothing called failure. Or success. Both are subjective and are defined by a society that judges people far too quickly without ever having been in their shoes. I think you fail at something only when you refuse to face it. When you face a situation, when you see and accept reality, your desire to change that reality spurs you into action. Only through action can there be change, progress – and inner peace!

Stop being anything else but happy – you are happiness!

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!

Denying the problem does not make it go away

Refusing to look at a problem, or denying its existence, cannot make your Life any simpler.
All what you suffer from comes from what you deny. Facing Life and taking a problem head on is what can make you solve it and live in peace.
But we invariably don’t like to exorcise our demons. We somehow have become comfortable suffering, feeling tormented, preferring to stay debilitated than feeling liberated. Because continuing to be miserable seems far easier than having to work hard to rid ourselves of what makes us miserable!
I met someone recently after a couple of years. He, in his own opinion, was financially ‘very well off’. Yet he found his Life ‘incomplete’. He spent entire days, daily, in a prominent five-star hotel’s bar, literally being there from the time it opened to when it closed! He lamented to me that his wife no longer loved him and all she wanted was ‘his credit card and a certain sum of cash monthly for her shopping sprees’. His 24-year-old son, though married, was not exactly doing anything significant and ‘lived off’ his dad. His daughter was the only one who understood him but their relationship too in recent years had come under stress. She wanted to go overseas for higher studies but he was insistent that she marry now because that was the norm in his ‘community’. He said to me, in a tone reflective of a defeated man, “I have lost it in Life. I have done no wrong. Yet everyone around me has let me down. I am suffering. I wish I could die.”
I laughed at him and looked him in the eye. I told him: “My friend, you are the problem. For, as far as I know you, you have been drinking entire days for years now. You have a drinking problem – spurred by a lack of Purpose in your Life. You have enough and more money. So, because you don’t know how to be useful and productive, you are indulging in something that has already ruined your family Life and is on the verge of consuming you.”
My friend suddenly turned hostile. He ended our meeting and drove away drunk in his car, despite my request and protests to engage a taxi leaving his car behind.
I wish he understood that unless he faced the brutal reality of his Life, he may really be unable to make it any better.
Just as my friend has a problem, each of us has a problem too. All of us like to deny whatever is our problem__ranging from a relationship to a lousy job to a ruinous habit__hoping that time will take care of it! This is one area where no one can help you than you, yourself! 
But facing the truth is scary. How does one see the reality?
Good question. And so, it is with all situations, with all of humanity, with all aspects of Life! Fundamentally, if you know what you want out of your Life, you can go find that Life and recreate, reinvent yourself. But if you don’t know what you want, how can anyone help you? This question is not as profound as many people make it out to be. It is a dumb question. Even a person with low IQ can answer it __ by approaching Life the other way, by knowing, for starters, what you don’t want in your Life! Because the truth is that nobody wants to suffer. Since you don’t want to suffer or be miserable why do anything, or accept any situation that accentuates your suffering?

Remember: There are no two ways in which you can change your current realities or end your suffering! So, if you are feeling miserable about anything__or anyone__in Life, sit down and introspect. Diligently make a list of actions that you must take to end your misery. Resolve to do it. And just get down to doing it. Don’t give yourself the license to make excuses. My good friend Andy Law, maverick creative thinker and head of The Law Firm, says, “Unless you are prepared to give up something valuable you will never be able to truly change at all, because you’ll be forever in the control of things you can’t give up.” What he is reiterating is this: the only way to solve a problem is to first accept that it exists.