You – and only you – are responsible for your happiness.
A recent discussion, of which I was a silent spectator, on what makes people happy or unhappy, depending on how you see it, caught my attention! One school of thought was that social media has become a necessary evil and that spending too much time on Facebook makes people depressed and unhappy. Another view was that because happiness is a ‘much marketed’ industry, more people are unhappy because they are unable to be happy despite their best efforts. A third perspective shared was that people who tend to be positive about Life, no matter how challenging their Life situations are, are normally those who are keeping “stuff bottled up within them” and that their “depression and suppressed negativity will soon explode”.
I found all three points of view absurd.
Let’s start with the third. Vaani and I are folks who are not just positive, we are enthusiastic about our Life despite whatever we are faced with. And we don’t have any bottled up feelings that are waiting to explode. There is no simmering anger, grief or guilt within us. As I write this, I honestly don’t know how we are going to survive – in a purely bill-paying sense – the month of June, but we are not pinned down by insecurity. Apart from our enduring financial crisis, we are also confronted with some serious health and professional challenges. But we are not moping over our fate. To be sure, we are also not the only ones who are upbeat about our Life. We know thousands of others like us, around us, just in the city of Chennai, who have learnt the art of being happy despite their circumstances. Someone is dealing with a child’s autism, someone’s lost her husband, someone’s teenaged son committed suicide, someone’s efforts to find love and companionship have failed more than three times, someone’s wife deserted him because they had a child that has cerebral palsy; so the man is a single parent even as he has a career as a master chef, someone’s walked out of a 28-year-old marriage and given up on her business career – both at the same time – and does not know how she will survive both in an economic and emotional sense…! Now, all these stories have one thing in common: all these people are, we know, immensely happy! And since Vaani and I know them personally, we can vouch for them; they are not putting up a “happy face”. The truth is you cannot fake happiness. You can put on a brave face, but never a happy one!
Now, let’s go to the second perspective. People may be marketing happiness. The peddlers of happiness as a concept may be profiting from selling the idea. But if you buy the happiness theory because someone hard-sold it you, then, seriously, honestly, you have lost the plot. Happiness is who you really are. And you will realize who you are only when you awaken to your real Self. That can happen through a friend or a family member holding up a mirror to you. That cannot happen because you were ‘sold the idea of happiness’. So, merely attending a retreat or a program, or reading a book or watching a movie, on happiness, cannot make you happier. Only you can and must help yourself to happiness. Nobody else can. And if they claim they can, then be sure it’s just a sales pitch. You may buy into it but you won’t benefit from it! Because you can and will never be happy waiting for someone or something to make you happy!!
And finally the first point. Think of your social media platforms as your living room. If you allow all kinds of people into your home, into your living room, be sure that they are going to ruin your inner peace. Who would you entertain or host at home? Only those whose company you enjoy, right? Only those whose value systems match yours, right? Only those who make you come alive, who inspire you, who complement your energies, right? So, why do you allow all kinds of people onto your timeline – on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and such platforms? And having allowed them, by your own choice and volition, why blame the medium and the platforms? Try weeding out all those whose presence you don’t enjoy from your social media connections and then see how you feel. I bet you will be a lot happier than you are presently!
Happiness is a personal choice, an individual responsibility. It is available 24×7 and is free. To be happy, you must simply be. Don’t complicate your Life by trying to understand how to be happy in today’s times. Spend that time and energy simply being. You will be happy!