So think of happiness.
By I. M. Soni
Charles Kingsley has laid down a classic formulation. He says, “If you wish to be miserable, think about yourself, about what you want, what respect people ought to pay you, what people think of you, and then to you nothing will be pure. You will spoil every thing you touch, you will make sin and misery for yourself out of everything. You will be as wretched as you choose.”
Misery sprouts from your inside, like a fountain does from the earth. The mind is the source of it. If the spring is contaminated, so will be the water. If you dwell on the theme, it will dawn on you that no sense of life harmonises with misery or it. You long for the former but repel the latter.
Here is a story – however apocryphal. A misery-mired man went from one doctor to another, seeking cure for his melancholia. No success. No medicine worked, fed up, he was guided to an old wise man who advised Mr misery to go and see the circus being shown as the clown would put him in peals of laughter. The wonder-struck Mr Misery said, “I am that clown!”
The mind is the epicenter of your thoughts.
Sadly the human nature is such, it makes us fall in love with small miseries. They are the ones we cannot help smiling at but they are the smiles that make wrinkles, not dimples.
Here is a man who has lost his job or one whose wife has deserted him who feels that his dreams lie shattered and has nothing to live for. Or the one who has a physical handicap and sunk in despair thought that there will be no recovery.
What is there to hope for? The easiest way is to brood over these conditions and let them multiply. Remember, misery loves company.
Stop cocooning. Give life a big horizon. See life against a bigger background and with a wider perspective. Many of your mistakes which seem large when you see them apiece show themselves as being small when seen against a big background. Stabbing one person will look small when against the massacre of thousands after Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
Do your best in each moment that you have and leave the rest. After all, there is a limit to what you can do under given circumstances.
Many waste energy feeling they should do more, unmindful of their limitations. There is only a certain amount of emotional energy for a day, hence it is important and imperative to budget your emotions.
Gratitude is a powerful antidote. This might seem tepid or unimaginative but it is not. It is a potent weapon, a medicine in the hands of a down-and-out, miserable man. Your life could be hopelessly impoverished for lack of it. What should I be grateful for? Here is one tip, follow it and watch your own reaction. Go out on a cold day, feel the caressing, warm rays of the sun on your face. This is “life’’ coming to you from millions of miles away to make way for your blessings.
Adopt a similar attitude to other gifts of life which you let go unnoticed. Sometime back, I got a letter from a former student now settled in America, saying “you were not only a very good teacher but also a highly decent human being.” Such words and actions help in meeting our misery. We should gratefully receive them, and also pass them on to others. As you become sensitive to such beauties of like yourself, focus on gloom will be dissipated.
Strive to step out of the quagmire of misery. If you wallow in it, nature will show you a red light. If you remain stuck in it, you get deeper in it. It is better to struggle and fail rather than to crack under the strain.
Gloom nurtures lethargy and indifference. You must have noticed that those who are shabbily dressed, unshaven in your office are often loud workers, usually foul-mouthed and ill-tempered.
Joseph Addison puts it wisely, “A man should always consider how much more unhappy he might be than he really is.” Balzac sums it up admirably, “most miseries lie in anticipation.”
When somebody you loved passes away, it is natural that you grieve deeply and get brokenhearted. You are losing so much, the presence of one who meant so much, the happy times which were so precious and the mutual understanding that bonded you so closely.
As the days go by, is there not, in spite of many pangs, a joy in recalling happy times, the precious action and the sweet words spoken? How much poorer you would be now if in the years you had never known moments of joy!
It’s like idleness
Loneliness like idleness, becomes dreary and tiresome but if you keep busy you reduce the time available to you for brooding and mooning. Your focus shifts from yourself to the task at hand. Choose something which changes your mental and emotional environment. Look for recreation and pleasures.
While in a dark patch, your mood swings from bad to worse. It seems as if a great thundercloud has darkened your world. Everything suddenly becomes dull, dreary and depressing. The cause may be serious, not so serious, and sometimes trivial. But quite often the cause is in your own mind. Your car is hit by a senselessly speeding motorbike. It may not have caused serious damage to your vehicle, but it has dented your mind-state and you remain under a cloud all day.
You can save yourself from hours of misery if you examine the cause that triggered it and steamily throw it into the wastepaper basket in your room. You can choose the way you look at things, you can turn the dark cloud over, and find a silver lining in it.
If you plunge into the mental mire all too frequently try a mental substitution. Happiness is something you are going to have by bringing new ways to think about life and things.