To be happy and live happily is the fundamental human desire. Happiness is an innate quality of the human soul, and that is why it makes us feel complete and contented. All our endeavours are ultimately aimed at attaining happiness.
What we understand about happiness is related to our beliefs about being happy. However, the need for happiness has driven a lot of people in the wrong direction. In an increasingly materialistic world, instead of looking for happiness within the self, people expend a lot of resources in the form of money and energy to get happiness, and this quest goes on endlessly. The most common belief about happiness is that it comes from external conditions, such as material assets, favourable situations, and the friendly behaviour of others.
Many people believe that happiness comes from having a lot of wealth, being free from medical or financial problems, having a comfortable life with a good social standing, professional reputation, and a caring family and friends. While this has been the normal belief about happiness, over time it has become perverted.
In a world where negativity has reached extreme proportions, happiness has been coloured by vicious tendencies such as greed, lust, attachment, and fear. Rather than enjoying the good things of life, people find happiness in negativity.
There are two kinds of negative happiness — one is finding happiness in harmful habits such as smoking, consuming alcohol or drugs, and seeking pleasure in violent acts. The other is to derive happiness from harming others.
Seeing a rival team lose a game, an unfriendly neighbour having problems, a competitive colleague getting a poor appraisal, or even a close relative not making it to a prestigious college — all of these are a source of satisfaction for some people.
The basic traits behind such a mindset are jealousy and insecurity, which spring from low self-esteem or ego. Leg-pulling, slander, hindering others’ progress, not cooperating in their tasks — all these create a negative or false feeling of being happy. Deriving happiness from seeing other people suffer is a sign of a perverted mind.
People who know only the taste of negative happiness seek pleasure in hearing about others’ misfortunes. Just as an alcoholic cannot do without the stimulant that gives him a high but eventually brings pain and suffering, those who derive happiness from others’ woes ultimately end up suffering. It is the law of karma — if we reap happiness by sowing seeds of discord and malice, we will experience negativity in our life one way or the other.
The tendency to seek perverted pleasure comes from a lack of self-respect, which arises from ignorance about one’s true identity. For the human soul, happiness is a pure, loving and natural state of being. Such pure happiness is not dependent on external factors of success, failure, comforts or problems, of the self or others.
True happiness is an inner state of being that comes from deep awareness of one’s own goodness. When we relate to the world from a state of completeness and fullness within ourselves we are able to be constantly happy even in adverse circumstances. Instead of expecting to get happiness from others, we are able to radiate joy and share happiness with them. Self-realisation through spiritual wisdom, a deep, loving relationship with God, and giving unconditional happiness to others are the keys to living a happy life.
B.K. Geeta is a Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Abu Road, Rajasthan.