Saturday, October 23, 2021

Happiness is an attitude to practise, a rule to follow: Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar

Happiness is just an idea when you don't know it and you are it when you know it! The most natural state for a human being, it manifests when you feel free from within. When we move away from our self, our nature, we become unhappy. It is ironic, though, that being the very source of happiness, we keep looking for it everywhere, like a fish in the ocean searching for water.

We must attend to the factors that impact our happiness. The first is health, the second is the environment and the third is finance. The fourth is ambition. Suppose we have the first three but are overambitious, it will agitate our state of being. Desire means projecting happiness through fulfilling desires in the future. Even if you say you will be happy when you get rid of all the desires, that is also not going to happen!

The challenge is to stay happy without abandoning your pursuits. It is a skill that is learnt. There is no better teacher than little children for this. They have aspirations, yet they stay happy in the moment. They do what is needed to get their desires fulfilled, but are not hung up on them. Their minds can be easily diverted from one thing to another, from toys to toffees to something else. We need to cultivate this ability to redirect the mind at will and not get stuck on anything.

Happiness is an attitude to be cultivated, a rule to be followed. Maharishi Patanjali enunciated santosha or happiness, as a niyama, a personal ethic. You have to attune yourself to the happiness mode. It's not just a physical or psychological phenomenon. Life has ups and downs. In all circumstances, one has to try and abide in one's nature, that of happiness. Develop the determination to not let anything in the world disrupt your happiness. This is the purpose of wisdom.

This is the main theme of Vedanta. The names of many sanyasis end with "ananda". Their very name reminds them that they are bliss, they want nothing for themselves and are here to spread happiness around them.

No man is an island entire of itself. If one person in a family is unhappy, it affects every other member. We are all interdependent on, and interconnected with, one another. Though happiness is an individual attitude, it is also linked to our environment. No one can claim to be happy when there are riots in the next street. That's why we need to take the responsibility of spreading wisdom and care for the happiness of others. Like we are taught about dental hygiene, so should we look after our mental hygiene. People must be taught how to manage negative thoughts and circumstances and move on with a positive mindset.

The prime goal of the government, NGOs and religious bodies should be to create a happy and healthy society. This cannot happen merely by providing roti, kapda aur makaan. The mindset has to change and an ecosystem must be created for this. Madhya Pradesh has taken the right step by creating a ministry for happiness. I think all other states in India should act along this line. Abiding in one's true nature is the only path to lasting happiness.

This article is authored by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar. Sri Sri Ravishankar is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, which offers a Happiness Programme, among others.



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