Achieving lasting happiness

Most people wish to have physical and financial security, material comforts, and good relationships. The ultimate aim behind having all these is to live a happy life.
The kind of experiences we have in life depends on several factors. Being born in a wealthy family where one does not have to suffer privations does give one a head start in life, as one has resources and opportunities to learn and grow that others may not have.
Learning, in turn, enables one to develop a broader perspective that helps in dealing with different situations and making better judgments. All that helps us achieve success in our endeavours.
In addition, if we are surrounded by caring and supportive souls, it provides an environment that helps in our healthy emotional development, making us similarly kind and helpful towards others. This makes for happy relationships and a contented life.
If the people we live with are also upright and of sound character, it provides us an added advantage as we are able to inculcate the right values at an early age, which keeps us on the right track in life.
All these factors go a long way in helping us live a happy life. But by no means do they provide a guarantee of happiness.
It is said that if happiness is not in one’s destiny, one cannot experience it even if one has all the trappings of a happy life, and one who is destined to be happy will be so with little.
There are instances of men and women who had wealth, power, fame and even a loving family, but they were still unhappy because of a flaw in their character. The character defect caused them to say or do things that were not right. If the seed is defective, what will it produce?
Happiness cannot be bought, achieved, or consumed. It is the result of virtuous actions. As the law of karma tells us, we reap what we sow. Happiness flows from purity, peace, love, truth, and generosity. If I live these virtues, I will naturally experience happiness. On the other hand, if my life is bereft of virtues, true and lasting happiness will remain a mirage that I will chase without success. As Christ said, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The fault here does not lie in the rich man’s affluence, but in the arrogance and spiritual poverty that often come with too much wealth.
To cultivate virtues, I have to first realise the truth that I am a soul. Virtues are intrinsic to the soul. When I live with the awareness that I am a soul, virtues are expressed in my thoughts, words, and actions. When I mentally connect with God, the father of all souls and the ocean of virtues, His qualities begin to flow into me. When the soul is thus replenished with power and virtues, it is able to rid itself of defects and weaknesses. Regular connection with God eventually frees the soul from the influence of vices, and when it has achieved this liberation, it begins to experience lasting happiness.

B.K. Mruthyunjaya is Executive Secretary of the Brahma Kumaris.

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