Thought to Ponder About – Why No one is Happy?

Yesterday, I was driving, and the FM radio went off for few seconds. I thought, I should have an iPod. Then suddenly I realized that I have not used my iPod in last 6 months. And then, more things, Handy cam in last 2 years, Digital Camera in last 2 months, DVD player in last 1 month and many more. Now I can say that I bought that Handy cam just out of impulse, I have used it twice only in last 4 years.

So, what’s wrong and where? When I look at myself or my friends I can see it everywhere. We are not happy with what we have but all are stressed and not happy for the things we don’t have. You have a Santro, but you want City; You have a City, but you want Skoda. Just after buying a new phone, we need another one. Better laptop, bigger TV, faster car, bigger house, more money. I mean, these examples are endless.  Do we ever think if we actually need those things before we want them?

After this, I was forced to think what I need and what I don’t. May be I didn’t need this Handy cam or the iPod or that DVD player. When I see my father back at home. He has a simple BPL colour TV, he doesn’t need 32″ Sony LCD wall mount. He has a cell phone worth Rs 2,500. Whenever I ask him to change the phone, he always says, “Its a phone, I need this just for calls.”

And believe me; he is much happier in life than me with those limited resources and simple gadgets. The very basic reason why he is happy with so little is that he doesn’t want things in life to make it luxurious, but he wants only those things which are making his life easier. It’s a very fine line between these two, but after looking my father’s life style closely, I got the point. He needs a cell phone but not the iPhone. He needs a TV but not the 32″ plasma. He needs a car but not an expensive one.

Initially I had lot of questions.

I am earning good, still I am not happy,…why ?

I have all luxuries, still I am stressed…. ……. why ?

I had a great weekend, still I am feeling tired…… why?

I met lot of people, I thought over it again and again, I still don’t know if I got the answers, but certainly figured out few things. I realize that one thing which is keeping me stressed is the “stay connected” syndrome. I realized that, at home also I am logged in on messengers, checking mails, using social networks, and on the top of that, the windows mobile is not letting me disconnected. On the weekend itself, trying to avoid unwanted calls, and that is keeping my mind always full of stress. I realized that I am spending far lesser money than what I earn, even then I am always worried about money and more money. I realized that I am saving enough money I would ever need, whenever needed. Still I am stressed about job and salary and spends.

May be, many people will call this approach “not progressive attitude”, but I want my life back. Ultimately it’s a single life, a day gone is a day gone. I believe if I am not happy tonight, I’ll never be happy tomorrow morning. I finally realized that meeting friends, spending quality time with your loved one’s; spending time with yourself is the most important thing.

If on Sunday you are alone and you don’t have anybody to talk with, then all that luxuries of life, all that money is wasted. May be cutting down your requirements, re-calculating your future goal in the light of today’s happiness is a worthwhile thing to do. May be selling off your Santro and buying Honda City on EMIs is not a good idea. I believe putting your happiness ahead of money is the choice we need to make.

I think, a lot can be said and done but what we need the most is re-evaluation of the value of happiness and time we are giving to our life and people associated with it.

Think about it.

Om Namah Shivay

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KHUSHWANT SINGH AT 98

“Time tested tips on how to stay healthy live longer” – by Khushwant Singh

Coming on to 98 and still earning more than I did in my younger days, people ask me how I manage to do it. They regard me as an expert on longevity. I have pronounced on the subject before; I will repeat it with suitable amendments based on my experience in the past two years.

Earlier I had written that longevity is in one’s genes: children of long-living parents are likely to live longer than those born to short-lived parents. This did not happen in my own family. My parents who died at 90 and 94 had five children, four sons and a daughter.

The first to go was the youngest of the siblings. Next went my sister who was the fourth. My elder brother who was three years older than me went a couple of years ago. Two of us remain; I, who will soon be 98, and my younger brother, a retired Brigadier three years younger than me and in much better health. He looks after our ancestral property.

Nevertheless, I still believe gene is the most important factor in determining one’s life-span. More important than analysing longevity is to cope with old age and make terms with it.

As we grow older, we are less able to exercise our limbs. We have to devise ways to keep them active. Right into my mid-eighties, I played tennis every morning, did rounds of Lodhi gardens in winter and swam for an hour in summer. I am unable to do this any more. The best way to overcome this handicap is regular massages.

I am convinced that this has kept me going for so long. Equally important is the need to cut down drastically one’s intake of food and drink. I start my mornings with guava juice. It is tastier and more health-giving than orange or any other fruit juice. My breakfast is one scrambled egg on toast. My lunch is usually patli kichri with dahi or a vegetable. I skip afternoon tea. In the evening, I take a peg of single malt whisky. It gives me a false appetite.

Before I eat supper, I say to myself “Do not eat too much.” I also believe that a meal should have just one kind of vegetable or meat followed by a pinch of chooran. It is best to eat alone and in silence. Talking while eating does not do justice to the food and you swallow a lot of it. For me no more Punjabi or Mughlai food. I find South India idli, sambhar and grated coconut easier to digest and healthier.

Never allow yourself to be constipated. The stomach is a storehouse of all kinds of ailments. Our sedentary life tends to make us constipated. Keep your bowels clean however you can: by laxatives, enemas, glycerin suppositories, whatever. Bapu Gandhi fully understood the need to keep bowels clean. Besides, taking an enema every day, he gave enemas to his women admirers. Lucky man, he was.

Impose strict discipline on your daily routine. If necessary, use a stop-watch. I have breakfast exactly at 6.30 am lunch at noon, drink at 7 pm, supper at 8. Try to develop peace of mind. For this you must have a healthy bank account. Shortage of money can be very demoralising. It does not have to be in crores, but enough for your future needs and possibility of falling ill. Never lose your temper, it takes a heavy toll and jangles one’s nerves. Never tell a lie. Always keep your national motto in mind: Satyamev Jayate — only truth triumphs.

Give generously. Remember you can’t take it with you. You may give to your children, servants or charity. You will feel better. There is joy in giving. Drive out envy of those who have done better than you in life. A Punjabi verse sums up: Rookhi Sookhy Khai kay Thanda Paani Pee Na Veykh paraayee chonparian na Tarssain jee (Eat dry bread and drink cold water Pay no heed or envy those who smear their chapattis with ghee) Do not conform to the tradition of old people spending time in prayer and long hours in places of worship. That amounts to conceding defeat. Instead take up a hobby like gardening, growing bonsai, helping children of your neighborhood with their homework.

A practice which I have found very effective is to fix my gaze on the flame of candle, empty my mind of everything, but in my mind repeat Aum Shanti, Aum Shanti, Aum Shanti. It does work. I am at peace with the world. We can’t all be Fauja Singh who at 100 run a marathon race but we can equal him in longevity and creativity. I wish all my readers long, healthy lives full of happiness.

Thanks.

Khushwant Singh

Om Namah Shivay

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Smart Working And Living In The `Now’

A wood cutter believed best day results are obtained by working hard; so he worked hard every . The first day he cut ten trees; the second day nine trees but the third day he could cut only eight trees.At the end of the week, he could cut hardly one tree despite the same six hours of hard work. Perplexed, he approached a wise man and asked him the reason.

The wise man replied, “More than hard work, what is crucial is smart working. Have you sharpened the saw?“ You have to learn to work smart, more than work hard. The brain, for ages, has been programmed wrongly; it has positioned the future to be your saviour. Hence, people think and believe, “If I get million dollars, I will become happy; if I get married, I will become happy .“

So your saviour seems to be in the future. This is the error the brain has done. The description of time is past, present and future. But the truth of time is present. Past was present, future will be present. Hence, the truth of time is present. If you do not know how to be happy now, you can never be happy. If the brain says, I will be happy in the future it is silently telling I am unhappy `now’. With such programming, when it gets the object of desire, it is experienced in the `present’ when the present has been programmed as `I am unhappy now’. So, despite getting what you want, you are unhappy .

You have to learn to be happy now in the present; and out of happiness, you have to get the object of desire and not `for happiness’. This is smart living. You have to bring in the power of `being’ and not get lost to the power of `becoming’. The power of `being’ is, I am happy `now’ and the power of `becoming’ is, I will become happy if I get this or that. How can there be growth, if there is no drive of `becoming’?

You have to look deeply into your life. The `becoming’ which appears to have brought a lot of growth in the form of development ­ has it given fulfilment? Despite achievements, there is no fulfilment. All growth is oriented towards fulfilment. When you position happiness in the future, there will be no fulfilment. So `becoming’ has not really given what is needed ­- fulfilment. Be happy now and out of joy, go about getting what you want. Get not for joy but out of joy.

Then, your work is going to be fun, your life is going to be a joy. For joy is in the `here and now’ and not in the future. The `will of wish’ makes you live for fantasy , but the `will of comprehension’ makes you see the fullness of the here and now.

Do understand that wishing to be happy in the future is different from `willing to comprehend the now’ what the `now’ is. Once this change happens, then life is always in the now. The future will happen, when it happens, it happens in the now. So the `will of comprehension’ transforms the mind. The brain, as one uses it, is creating a fantasy in the future but no fulfilment, but the moment you transform joy in the `here and now’, then the brain uses `the will of comprehension’. An appreciable revolution happens to the brain. This is smart living.

Om Namah Shivay

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The Secret of Happiness-4

A young man tells his mother he has fallen in love with a girl and wants to marry her.

“Just for fun, Mom,” he says, “I’ll bring over three girls and you’ll have to try and guess which one I’ll be marrying.”

And the next day, three beautiful women are sitting in front of his mother.

“Can you guess who will be my wife?” the son asks bubbling with excitement.

“The one on the right,” she replies in a blink.

“Oh my God! You’re amazing! How’d you know?”

“Cause…” she says nonchalantly, “I don’t like her.”

We don’t have to dislike something just because life is giving it to us. At times, playing a spectator, a nonjudgmental witness is all it takes to understand what direction we should take.

Our intrinsic nature propels us to discover our life’s meaning. When it comes to an inquisitive mind, discovery of meaning is the secret of happiness. You know, how there’s a release of energy and you laugh as soon as you understand a joke. So it is with life. You are set free the moment you get a grip on its meaning. Different things mean differently to different people. It’s a personal affair.

When you remain oblivious to the goodness, beauty and divinity in your life, or if you don’t selflessly devote a portion of your time to a cause, life is then forced to hand you the third perspective: suffering. It may come as acute boredom, deep sadness, severe depression or a wake-up call in the form of great personal loss. Whether you want to go with the first, second or third option, the choice is yours.

Himalayan lotuses don’t grow in fresh water ponds, they blossom in marshes. Emptiness or unhappiness is not a dysfunction of life. It’s not a malfunction of your mind. It simply means that life is telling you to reflect on yourself and your actions. It’s asking you that you no longer neglect your calling or that you find one. The seed of fragrance is the very basis of your existence. When stagnation arrives, the lotus of transformation is ready to bloom. All you have to do is not oppose it.

Go with the flow and see where life takes you. Let the seed sprout.

He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How…

Om Namah Shivay

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The Secret of Happiness-3

Service

The second way is to passionately give yourself to a cause. Devoting your body, mind and soul to serve a cause leads to a phenomenal expansion of individual consciousness. You will still have your down moments with everything else going around you, but you won’t feel your life is pointless. As soon as you take up a cause, you grow out of your limited and individual existence and step into a much larger play field. The baby bird has jumped out of the nest hoping to fly. It won’t fall flat on the ground. Precisely at the right moment, this bird will know how to flutter its wings. Nature will not let it die. Giving yourself to a cause forces you to reach the optimum level of your potential. Vedas call it rajas, mode of passion. You are full of energy when rajasic and can’t wait to get to work because your cause has given your life a meaning. Your cause breathes a new life into you awakening the spirit of service, transforming your negative emotions into a usable form of energy.

Suffering

By suffering I don’t mean that something terrible must happen in your life. Instead, anything that shakes us out of our illusions is suffering. Such incidents and experiences, while disconcerting, push us out of our comfort zone. They make us humble and more open to other perspectives. They impel us to reflect on our life, our choices and actions. You realize that what all you took for granted at one stage was actually a blessing. In this newfound wisdom and humility, you begin to look at life differently. The Vedic term is tamas, mode of ignorance. Ignorance leads to suffering. (Yes, it’s 100% true. For, suffering is not what happens to us but how we interpret it. An ignorant person can’t handle his or her loss in the same graceful manner an enlightened person would, for example.) In my view, ignorance is the chief cause of individual suffering and suffering is the seed of meaning. For Buddha too, it was the sight of suffering that melted him enough to quit royalty, don robes and embark on his journey.

Om Namah Shivay

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The Secret of Happiness-2

As we see, a human being is not one in pursuit of happiness but rather in search of a reason to become happy, last but not least, through actualizing the potential meaning inherent and dormant in a given situation.

I think Dr. Frankl nailed it. We must have a reason to be happy. Our possessions and people are reasons to be happy, to be grateful, but they are not long lasting reasons because they don’t really give a meaning to our life beyond a certain degree. No doubt, they bring color, variety, pleasures, even moments of happiness and fulfillment. Yet, it doesn’t mean that we are leading a meaningful life. Otherwise, hundreds of millions of people, materially comfortable, wouldn’t be fighting the demons of loneliness, sadness and depression.

Friedrich Nietzsche contended, “He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.”

If you have a reason to get out of bed every morning, you will. If you’ve a reason to live, you will. If you’ve a reason to love, you will. If you’ve a reason to be happy, you’ll be happy. And reason boils down to one thing: meaning. If your life has meaning, if your relationships have meaning, you’ll be fulfilled naturally. Meaning is the only light that dispels the darkness of emptiness.

And there are three ways to find meaning in your life.

Goodness

Vedantic school has a famous phrase called Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Satyam is truth, Shivam divinity and Sundaram beauty. The moment you learn the art of seeing and appreciating the goodness in your life, you start to see the truth in its ways. You begin to see the divinity in everything life puts you through. You are inspired by the beauty of it all. The splendor, glory and miracle of every unfolding moment melts you from within, it gently forces you to see how goodness abounds your life. Blue sky, healthy body, a sound mind, green trees, vast oceans, everything is full of goodness. It’s a state of mind that can be consciously cultivated. Vedas call it sattva, mode of goodness. Goodness is synonymous to fulfillment. A sattvic mind (that is, mind full of goodness) is a tranquil mind. So, one way is to fill your mind with good thoughts. Or, make an effort to see the truth, divinity or beauty that exists in the present moment. Your life then takes on a whole new meaning.

Om Namah Shivay

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The Secret of Happiness-1

Dragging my feet from one day to the next, what am I really doing? This one question is unavoidable in the life of every reasonable person. Call it existential crisis, midlife crisis or whatever you like. If you have lived your life by the book, and did all that you could to help others and yourself, this phase is inevitable.

Every sane person, at some point in their life, is plagued by a persistent feeling of emptiness. Everything is there but nothing is, you feel. There is no real reason to be unhappy and yet happiness is nowhere to be found. I have wealth, family, freedom, status, I should be happy, you think but life still kind of feels pointless. As if the more we acquire the emptier we feel.

Not every rich man feels empty and not every poor man feels fulfilled though. Not all the time anyway. Happiness is a flirtatious partner. You can’t bet on its loyalty or stability. Often we think happiness exists in my dreamland, a place where everything (and everyone) will move according to me. And since, life will function the way I want, I won’t have to deal with feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, anger and so on. This is a lofty and an ignorant view.

A life devoid of challenges and conflicts is not necessarily a happy life, in fact, it is immensely boring and will eventually lead to intense sadness and a big void. Our struggles teach us, they shape us.

Quoting Dr. Victor Frankl, whose philosophy bears significant and direct influence on my views shared in this post:

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.

Om Namah Shivay

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