Learning to be Unhappy?
“Thou shall not covet thy neighbour’s wife, house or property:” Thus spake the Good Lord through the Tenth Commandment.
‘Covet’ would literally mean a yearning to possess anything. It is a natural instinct and normally acceptable as a simple thought, but it starts getting dangerous upon transgressing into a compulsive habit. For, you normally do not receive all that you desire; albeit, it would be impossible for the Creator to be fulfilling all that our hungry minds wish for.
We were taught in our early Economics class that man’s wants are unlimited, but his resources are limited. The Bhagwad Geeta also says that desires are the major cause of our unhappiness. A thin line therefore defines our ‘need’ and ‘greed’.
So, where do we learn this art of being unhappy?
Being an integral part of our cranial programming, there seems to be no escape from it. We would continue to want to possess each available article of value. It is firmly embedded in our thoughts that possession provides enjoyment, and leads to happiness, which is the ultimate goal for all living beings.
But, is this really true?
Let us go back a little in time, and look at the moments which gave us happiness. Were they the ones in which we were receiving something with our palms facing upwards, or were they those when we were in a position to satisfy our child’s desire, or a parent’s need? Perhaps, there could be an element of truth in both.
We tend to think and believe that we would be happy if we were to receive some objects which could gratify our sensory needs. Little things like a new dress, a flashy car, a cushy job,…..
But, what was it that prompted Julian Mantle to sell his Ferrari? He had all the above but consciously chose to forego it all in one stroke. Maybe, our dear friend, Robin Sharma could have an answer to this.
Man is constantly looking for happiness in possession of objects. After he receives them, he realises that they were not worth the effort, or that he needs a newer model. So, he gets back onto OLX, gets rid of this one, and looks around for a newer one with better features. This is equally relevant for almost all our desires.
Not all desires get fulfilled even if you have loads of the green ‘moolah’. We have seen so many of our friends bidding on the internet for a cell-phone a few months back, while only a very small fraction actually received it. I have been witness to a well-to-do owner’s wide grin and sense of extreme pride in possessing this handset, which costs only a few thousands. I have then seen him disposing it off just a few months ahead, and repeating the same process for a newer model, and the anxiety when his bid was not accepted this time. Coupled with that was the anguish that his junior colleague was flashing it all around.
So, it was the initial euphoria of receiving, then the desire for an upgrade, followed by the anguish of rejection, and the ultimate insult of someone else having received it. He lives a life of oscillation from one end of the spectrum to another, based on the parameters of his earthly possessions.
This is true for so many situations that we come across in our lives. As children, we have made so many demands and continue to do so. The upward spiral continues with each fulfilment taking us to the next level. We seek and receive happiness in all such acquisitions, constantly yearning for more. The basic purpose of our education also seems to be that we can earn enough to enjoy material comforts, and thereby a happier life.
A natural corollary to this is that whenever our demands are rejected, or we face a loss of that object, we get unhappy.
Should our happiness be however dependent on the possession of mere objects, or is there something more to it? Have we given a 5K cellphone the power to control our thoughts and regulate our joys and sorrows?
Can we not be equally happy if our neighbour were to be driving around in a lovely Audi A4, without our having an envious thought of ourselves possessing a bigger A6?
There is so much of joy available all over. We just need to stop looking for it. Actually, we don’t even need to make an effort. The converse may be truer in as much that if we were to just inculcate the spirit of happiness, we could see it in all that is happening around us, without any sense of ownership.
We do not own the Sun
Nor the Moon nor the stars
The butterfly flutters at her will
Alone, or in the company of another
So do the birds chirp at dawn
And fly home at dusk
Ours is not to reason
Nor to question
But to receive and enjoy
Each act of the Lord
For He alone knows the purpose
If any, of this game called Life.
Ownership brings stress, as it precludes a sense of despair, if and when the object is lost. We can hold on to a possession only for an ‘x’ amount of time, and no more. In spite of this knowledge, we get sorrowful at any loss, the ultimate being death. If we can only imbibe a sense of trustee-ship for each worldly object, life could be much simpler and happier.
A child sleeps softly
Instantly, without a care
He trusts his Creator
So can you too
If you do not wish to control
Or to possess all around you
But, just to relish each moment
As if it were your last
Sans any expectation of the result
No ego of the past
No worry of the future
The game of Life
A new game each day
No wins or losses
Playing around for the fun of it all
Playing around for the fun of it all!
I have known people who have faced business losses and were forced to sell their homes. They do not even wish to enter that part of the city now, where they once resided. Could it not be possible for them to be content with the fact that they were a mere tenant in that piece of property for a specific period of time, as per the Lord’s ordain, and have now chosen to relinquish it in favour of a more deserving person? Have we not done this for certain posts too, such as being the president of a social organisation, etc.?
Nothing is constant except change. And change is always for the better. We may choose a status quo situation, but that would tantamount to stagnation and death. It is the troughs and the peaks that should excite us, and not always the placid lake.
The entire Universe is in movement, and so are we…..each moment. The last moment has gone in a swish, and the next moment would do likewise too.
Each tock following a tick, and each tick following a tock
Who knows which came first; the tock or the tick?
Life is slipping by with each swing of the pendulum, and we do not really have the time to be unhappy. It is really not worth the effort.
Remove the effort
Close your eyes
Take a deep breath in
Exhale with all positivity, for in each exhalation,
You are giving life-producing carbon dioxide to the plant world
Receive nature’s benevolence with each inhalation.
Enrich yourself as only you can, for that is your treasure,
Which you would share with others in need
As you have received, so shall you give.
Be sure that it is only in giving that we shall receive….at the designated time……. all that we need….always.