Archive for June 2009

happiness and emotional equations

June 8, 2009

***while browsing through my own blogs, a vanity that is yet to vanish from me, i came across this blog which i had accidentally termed private in september 2008, and since there is no time related topicality for this subject i am posting or rather republishing this.***

Relationships and reactions formulate the emotional equations that determine the success of life. Life’s success is not necessarily a sum total of successes one has enjoyed in one’s lifetime. Success, as a synonym for happiness, is the pursuit of life. Persistence and diligence alone make this pursuit worthwhile, and only worthy pursuits win worthy prizes. Life’s success is always determined by its diligence in pursuing happiness.

Encountering moments that appear to pose intense difficulty or danger are not uncommon in life. These moments of crises need not necessarily be catastrophical. They can be simple everyday occurrences that challenge the mind. One need not keep reading Sun Tzu’s Art of War to understand how to manage resources and win challenges. The mind has its own repertoire of management tools, keeps learning and updating its self-management skills and handles moments without even bringing the process to the notice of consciousness. When a crisis happens or a challenge appears, the mind is always ready with all its options- to run, to charge or to surrender. The mind always knows what it is going to do, yet the consciousness called intellect, questions the questions and makes the process sometimes difficult and sometimes painful. These painful difficulties are translated as emotions and cause discomfort, and on many occasions are the reason why the sweetest success would taste bland.

To enjoy life one has to just listen to one’s own mind, for the mind is programmed to produce and savour happiness all the time. Pain teaches caution, and caution shrouds the instinct. In the vicious cycle that follows, instinct appears again and again on the terrain of mindscape only to be driven away by fears, doubts and hopes. Hesitations and confusions prevail. Anxiety becomes the undercurrent of all actions. Problems appear magnified to the mind and solutions disappear into the distance of time. Difficulties become crises.

Life can be happy only if the question, `what is happiness?’ is answered. Questions form the mind’s most beautiful self-regulatory mechanism. If some questions are perceived by the mind as obstacles in attaining happiness, the mind keeps those questions hidden in its remote corner. If some questions are going to enhance its own functioning, then the mind permits them to surface on the conscious intellect and seek answers. It is only when the mind is ready that answers become meaningful. Emotional equations are formed by proper questions that bring forth the right answers. The right and wrong of this internal question is not a socially sanctioned description but the instinctual vision in darkness. The right answer enhances an evolution in thought and maturity of thought translates itself into dignified action. Emotions do not cloud the internal vision anymore. It is into this state of equanimity that the mind’s seed awaits to blossom.

Life’s equation of satisfaction depends on understanding the Question of happiness, the Economics of happiness, the Management of happiness and Evaluation of emotions in happiness.

Happiness is one of the most loosely applied words in description. Often the user means that he is glad while some times the user may use it to complement a social etiquette. Real happiness is one in which the mind feels full, the memories retain the flavour for future and the moment seems to expand into eternity. The religious and metaphysically inclined may use it in derogatory or exultatory tone depending on their avowed principles.

Happiness however is, to most of us, a moment’s fulfilment of desire and the happy ending to a sequel of hardships. When we achieve a trophy, a victory or even the acknowledging glance from the person we desire, we do feel happy. Happiness and joy are often used synonymously. Joy is generally within the context of a limited period. (That is, we enjoy a nice drink. But the joy does not permeate into the remaining part of the day). Happiness however, being the result of the toil of the past and holding the promise of finer things to continue, is considered to be longer lasting. If you believe that you are happy it simply means that your every moment( in whatever context that declaration was made) brings joy. If however you say, out of a social obligation or a personal convenience, that you are happy, it implies that you refuse to face reality.

What does constitute happiness? The beauty of happiness is that it moves on and with time, to give us different views of its perspectives. The happiness of a kiss from the mother and the happiness of a kiss from the beloved are different frames in the same film of life. Age, social milieu, emotional state- all contribute towards defining and experiencing happiness. Unless one has reached the final stages of psychosocial development described by Maslow, happiness keeps changing its hues and tones. When one has reached the point of self-actualization, the concept as well as the pursuit of happiness become singularly focused and clearly defined. But then, those blessed or fortunate or deserving ones are far too few. We, engaged in the possibly semantic ritual of exploring and explaining happiness have to find lesser idioms to move on.

Though the wise would unanimously declare that happiness is not based on economic considerations, our present life does need to know the economics of happiness. To be economical need not necessarily mean to be frugal, but affordability should never be an avenue for indulgence. That is, if I can afford a thousand rupees book and the same is available in another low priced ( not low quality) edition, vanity should not lead me into purchasing the costlier edition. This is not a moral sense but a practical sense. Accumulation of buying power is not a guarantee for happiness, it is the sensible way of utilizing resources that would bring happiness. It is invariably the tendency of the human mind to mistake attractiveness for value. Attraction is external, value is internal. Poetry always lies in the inherent t meanings than in the rhapsody of rhetoric. Sensible spending of time and effort (in thought and action) would ensure an easier path in the journey towards happiness wherein extravagance  would at the least be redundant and at the worst agonizing.

Once the resources are assessed and the target defined, management is a process that would ensure success. Management is not just achieving the target but maintaining the position while constantly cushioning for expansion. Regarding happiness, management is in regulating emotions while becoming aware of social and personal situations. To remain happy is also an effort. It involves recruiting (evolved thoughts) and dismissing (useless emotions).

“Pain is pleasure, pleasure vain -when you pursue what is vain” remarked the poet.

Emotions are the fingers of the present that play tunes of future on the keyboard of past. To remain surrounded by the sound of music, the muse of happiness and peace, one has to become aware of emotions. Awareness will help to regulate (not control) emotions. Though being happy is described as an  individual or primary emotional state in Natyasastra and Tholkappiam, (the two great indian treatises that described emotions much before the texts that proliferate the present bookshelves), it is strangely interdependent on other emotional states like anger and sadness. There are indeed some times when we may feel happy as an after-thought that we were angry or sad about a particular person or situation. To achieve, retain and enrich happiness, we have to have a control over emotions.

Wondrous moments have been spoiled for millions every day just because their emotions clouded their perceptive faculty. Instinct is always pleasure oriented  (even the avoidance of pain is a pursuit of pleasure). But, instinct is often clouded by the intellect. The intellect is a sum total of experiences recorded by emotions. Happiness depends on our emotional equations. When we negate and when we acquiesce the lessons taught by emotions, the intellect becomes capable of managing life better. Intellect and instinct when operating in synchronicity, foretell only happiness – the poise of equanimity that remains only to grow.

this again was written in 2006 for a magazine in chennai, and reading it again i wonder if i can add more to happiness!

Off the writing block!

June 4, 2009

I have been silent for nearly five weeks; not in the absolute silent state that is considered a spiritual enhancement, but filled with words that were flitting in and out of every moment, vanishing before the nib touches the paper or the finger taps an alphabet.

Life enters a dream state when complacency sets in. When you need not watch the clock, when you need not nod in acknowledgment, when you need not even say you need not have to say, life switches on its dream mode. To remain content, unconcerned and casual, is the dream that is the basic canvass on which all our actions, toils, spoils, desires, wins and losses are painted. We keep doing, doing anything and ascribing meaningfulness to it, just to be in the circuit called living. We keep creating work since work postpones the dream. When dream is no more a dream but a boring reality, we start losing not just the count of minutes but even the number of words we have collected.Words however, just hover around like hungry stray dogs, waiting for your gesture of kindness or cruelty, to wag at or bite you.

Words are indispensable, but expressions are always optional. The style and the polish in expression need not show an erudite enlightenment, it could be a fear that needs to extensively powder-coat the naked honesty of raw words relating to real emotions. And, sometimes it is that fear of uttering which invites silence. I was silent with neither fear nor desire, nothing spiritual or musical; just happened to become silent. I had nothing to say, though there were many ears to listen and many more eyes to read. If silence is born out of redundant words, then silence dies with the burden of unfinished sentences in the mind. In the dream of life, words become the only meaningful symbols of existence.

Words get condensed when life encounters its dream. Words, like dreams become just a minimalistic representation of the underlying thoughts. Words however are necessary. Even in silence one mulls over words, unwritten, unspoken but well-formed. To be silent and to become silent are considered mystically and spiritually higher planes of evolvement, yet even silence is full of words. Every gaze, every smell, every touch and every sound becomes a word in silence. In silence is a word formed and when the word is born, silence dies. To celebrate the death of silence or to mourn for its loss depends on the word and its deflections on the environment.

Is silence enjoyable? Silence being so noisy in solitude cannot be the joyful pause between notes in symphony. It can be a pain, a burden. But we always get used to pain in life. We pretend to like burdens in life. And if so, is silence a sign of depression? Is it a way of saying things that ought to and at the same time not to be said? Why and when do we become silent? If ears are deaf and eyes blind around you, then perhaps silence is the mind’s way of protecting its pride and echoing itself into a narcissistic bliss. Is silence a manifestation of actualization? When we actualize we do not feel pain. We know what pain is, and we negate that pain. We refuse to acknowledge its reality. We glorify the cross so that it can be safely put in an altar into which we may not enter to get nailed.

Silence, like the mythical writer’s block, is a block over which life tumbles. Unless the block is created by the self in a protective act, a block is an accident that shall, even if not fracturing your structural concepts, cause bruises and scars on your carefully nurtured texture of self-worth. One of the ways suggested to get off the writer’s block is to write about the writing block! Using the same technique the best way to overcome the stumbling block of silence that creeps into your life is to even silently sulk about the silence. Words have a cumulative effect on silence. They will metamorphose themselves out of the self-spun cocoon. And, when the time comes for the words to come out as sounds and letters, they would have changed a lot from their raw state. They may appear beautiful and they may even inspire others, but deep inside, your words would become alien to yourself.

This is just an attempt by me to jump off my imagined writer’s block and break the shackles of my self-imposed, though not desired, silence. One of my friends who always calls me when my blog is published will surely ask me “why did you write this? And what are you writing about?” my answer shall be “just like that”, for i have been silent too long, not quiet!