happiness and emotional equations
***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!