Monday, March 2, 2015

What is happiness?




Everyone wants to be happy and so do I . But, what is happiness? I have been thinking about happiness a lot and  find that it's  one elusive emotion! I can easily define and recognize  other emotions such as thrills, excitement, nervousness, relief, fear, depression, and anger . But happiness is something which I either 'rarely' experience or can't recognize it when I do.  Yet, like everyone else,  I  seem to do things because I want happiness or  want to avoid unhappiness.
Daily, I go through a range of emotions(and thoughts). And like most people, I try to do whatever it takes to experience pleasant emotions & avoid unpleasant emotions.
Listed below, are the pleasant emotions I feel when I engage in some activities. I wonder if  happiness is simply  another word for these emotions? or is happiness something else?
  • Pleasure: when I eat something tasty like a Tobelerone chocolate or any other favorite food. But this pleasure is brief...the pleasure ceases when I have swallowed the chocolate and the taste is no longer on my tongue...so this pleasure is as brief as a few minutes. Pleasure can be got through any of the 5 sensory routes...taste, touch, smell, hearing and vision. Yet, happiness is more complex than what we experience through our 5 senses. The touch of a massager is pleasurable; the smell of aromas we like is pleasurable; Listening to music we enjoy is pleasurable; seeing a lovely scene can be pleasurable.
  • Mild pleasure: smelling rain on earth, any pleasant smell like flowers or perfumes you like. This too is brief and after a couple of minutes, I either stop feeling that pleasure or my attention is not on the fragrance anymore.
  • Laughter & smiles: when I make a joke or hear one, when I watch funny stuff on TV or read funny stuff or a witty conversation. Here the sense of joy is much longer and the wittier and longer the show/book/whatever, the longer the duration of laughter/happiness. Recalling and retelling the jokes of the show later brings about the same elevation of mood as when I was watching the show. Here the sense of joy lasts for half hour or an hour and the happiness can be re-experienced by the memories. (Recalling the taste of the sweet does not create the same  pleasure/happiness as when actually having the sweet sitting on the tongue)
  • physical kinesthetic sense of pleasure: while coming down when on the giant wheel...this again lasts for 3-4 seconds. Being on a swing. 
  • Thrills, excitement & an adrenalin rush: when reading a crime fiction book or watching an exciting TV show/movie especially when at an exciting junction. Here the emotions of thrill, etc. last for the duration of the book reading and may last for many hours. The thrills wax and wane depending on whether the part of the book being read is exciting or not.
  • Relief: When I have been holding my urine or poop for ages and finally reach a "decent" toilet! The feeling of relief is exquisite! This can last for up to a minute or more. Or when I have been working for hours and finally get to bed...that moment when I get to lie on the bed, flat on my back is wonderful! Other mildly pleasurable reliefs are : when you sneeze and the tickle in your nose stops, untying your tightly braided hair and vigorously rubbing your scalp, picking at dried scabs, ...finally getting to remove the edge of your finger-nail which has been painfully growing into the nail bed with a nail cutter and rubbing the sore spot, etc. This list of 'relief-giving' things may look ridiculous to some. But I find these experiences note-worthy! 
  •  Physically pleasant sensations for which I cant find  descriptive words: 1.Scratching when it feels itchy or 2. getting a good massage when a muscle is hurting. That feeling is so great! I can get a massage for ever and a day! 3.The pleasurable pain of digging a nail deep into a painful swelling(swelling caused by an insect bite) on skin is another great sensation. 4.when something, weightless and light, touches my skin, like a feather or thread, I love that sensation too. But I cant find a word to express what that feeling is!. The emotion/feeling last for the duration of the experience i.e. many seconds or minutes. 5. Tickles...but I don't think tickles are 100% pleasurable as I start screaming for the person to stop tickling! Maybe some things like tickles are a pleasure, only if limited.
  • The emotion I experience which is a combination of Pride, excitement & joy: When I win a prize or praise especially from someone 'high-up' or from someone who rarely praises. This feeling lasts for many seconds at first and maybe a few minutes. This emotion can come and go depending on how often I recall the moment of  achievement or winning the prize/praise, etc.
  • A sense of achievement and satisfaction: when I have completed some creative task or finished some difficult job. When someone thanks me for my help or praises my cooking while eating. This sense of achievement and satisfaction too is for a few seconds, but can be experienced again and again when I recall it.
  • Sense of purpose: I am not sure if this is an emotion or an 'aim' or a thought. But this is very very important for us humans to carry on with our lives. I experience this sense of purpose when I am helping someone and it is intensely satisfying! I have helped my family a great deal financially and otherwise. I have helped family, friends and clients with psychological counseling and it has made a big difference in some of their lives and given me great satisfaction.
     I think having a purpose in life is the one vital element which prevents a depressed person from attempting suicide.
    Sense of purpose makes life meaningful for adults . Life is difficult to continue when we don't feel a purpose. {one reason rich people should not make too much money and property for their kids is that the wealth will rob the children of the drive to strive; they may become bored as they have everything and there is no-need to struggle or work for anything i.e. no purpose in life...then they may slip into naughty stuff like drugs for thrills and to avoid boredom}
    Sense of purpose is different from and superior to other emotions because, it is something which keeps me striving, even when I am experiencing difficulties.
    Sense of purpose is one thing which makes people  sacrifice things which make them happy or do things which they find painful or boring or dangerous.
     I am trying to analyze if sense of purpose is an emotion but it does not feel like one. It seems to be a combination of thought, ambition and efforts. But since all human action is to attain emotional satisfaction, I am trying to figure out what is the emotion I am aiming for through sense of purpose. I think the emotion I experience is a combination of sense of satisfaction and avoiding the experience of guilt (feeling guilty because  I am 'only enjoying' my life and not 'achieving' something). I am not able to pinpoint the precise moment when I experience this emotion of satisfaction. Maybe at the moment of a milestone such as completion of a task or someone I helped reaching a stage of recovery...it's difficult to say when I experience the emotion, how long it lasts, is this emotion ever experienced at the conscious level or not...it is difficult to identify, pinpoint, define, label and  measure! (The west has this great need to label and measure every single thing, even those which cannot be such as poetry....and I am trying to do the same here!)
  • Enjoyment: The state of enjoyment I experience  is longer than other emotions and sensations mentioned above; however  the intensity of enjoyment  is not 'consistently' high all through the activity. Some activities I enjoy are: spending time with a few friends(by my choice),eating favorite foods, sleeping especially when I have had a long hard day, reading a book I really like, watching a TV show or movie I really like, travelling on a vacation, meeting and  playing some games either alone or with people, penning down a great idea which flashed to me. This sense of enjoyment lasts for the duration of the activity. But it is tricky in some ways. I eat fast when I love the food and try as I might, I simply can't slow down to make the enjoyment last longer! Similarly, when I read a good book, I race through and cant slow down to prolong the pleasure.
  • Feeling good: This emotion is felt when I look in the mirror and like what I see. I also feel good when complimented either with words or looks by strangers or friends.  I feel good and happy when someone talks well of my relatives or friends. If I analyze 'feeling good' I think it's a combination of pleasure, pride and joy. Feeling good too is something which lasts for a matter of seconds. I am not going to have the image of myself looking good, for the entire day and feel happy the entire day! My attention will be diverted to many other things the entire day and so I  feel good when I pass a mirror..i.e. for a few seconds. My comment to men and women who work so hard to buy expensive stuff is this...whether you own a million dollar pair of emerald earrings or a cheap pair of green glass earrings, the happiness you experience when you wear them is momentary. So, is it worth, the trouble, to struggle so hard for such a momentary feeling of happiness?
  • Joy: when I am waiting for someone and they arrive. I feel such a joy when I see them and then the emotion subsides. This is what I mean by saying that happiness is elusive. With the exception of 'enjoyment', all of the above mentioned pleasant emotions last for seconds or perhaps a minute. I don't experience these emotions for several minutes or hours at a time.
  • Feeling 'relaxed' or feeling a 'pleasant buzz": A few minutes after a tea spoon of codeine, I feel pleasantly dizzy, my mind is calm, I experience zero anxiety or sadness; there are neither happy nor sad nor neutral  thoughts racing through  my mind ...instead I am able to focus on the activity I am engaged in completely. I am not a codeine addict yet but it felt great when I had the sore throat and  had to take this codeine!
  • Excited anticipation and wait: This is one of the most pleasurable states to be in! When one is waiting for something good, one's mind is in a pleasant, excited state. I have experienced this many times but not as often as I would like! Waiting for the summer holidays or Dusseera holidays when I was in school was one fantastic mood elevator! Waiting for a letter from a friend who has promised to write is another. Waiting for my birthday and the presents especially in my childhood was another pleasurable wait. Similarly waiting for things I have bought on Ebay to arrive, books I have ordered in the library, friends from distant places, cousins from another country. The rich people miss the pleasure of getting something after a long wait. I think I have brought up this issue in another article in this blog(the pleasure of poverty). Sometimes, the  excitement of waiting is more pleasurable than the happiness one feels when the object arrives. It's like the hunter...the hunt is more exciting than after the animal is caught. The pleasure
  • Brain numbness through addictive games: There was a time when I played 2 card games on the computer for hours and hours ! Solitaire and free cell.  The games were a time consuming, brain numbing addiction! When I try to recall and explore, the emotions I experienced when playing these games,  I cant find any emotion at all...not pleasure, not happiness, nothing. Yet I played these games, hour upon hour and the only emotion I can recall is feeling irritated if called away from the game before I was ready to stop. There was no 'jump of joy' if I won; there was no anger if I din't. I simply kept on playing and playing and playing. I wish I could label the emotion I had when I played these addictive games;
  • I would like to state that many of these emotions disappear, when I stop to 'analyze' or think about or understand the emotion I am experiencing at the moment. As you all know, emotions cease when thinking starts and vice versa. Rarely can one  feel and think at the same time.
    Below are other pleasant emotions I have experienced; However, they are emotions which didn’t strike me as I was writing the article… I got the emotions below by googling ‘pleasant emotions’ after I finished writing the above
  • Curiosity: When I see something amazing which I don't understand, my curiosity is piqued and I enjoy the process of hunting for the answer. It may be a sense of marvel and wonder when I see a magic show or some miraculous thing I don't understand. Joy, amazement and wonder mixed with awe and curiosity is experienced when I see someone do something exceedingly well or exceedingly fast...Like when I see my husband make Bisibelebath in the time I take simply to wash the coriander leaves!
  • Admiration: I have experienced this when I see skilled people at work. I have admired and longed to watch forever a psychiatrist interview a patient! This psychiatrist is so respectful and humble and sweet that the patients love him and talk freely and it is such a joy to watch this guy! The joy of knowing and interacting with a fantastic person who is not only highly intelligent and skilled and humble is such a fantastic happiness. This happiness is wonderful as such people are as rare as the Kohinoor!
  • Joyful learning: I have had the great good luck to have had amazingly good teachers. It was a joy to sit in their classes. I loved their classes so much that I would not miss their classes even when I was sick. This joy was the joy of learning, hero-worship, love and admiration. I had these amazingly good teachers who loved their subject(English and psychology lecturers), who were fantastic teachers and great human beings. Their classes were something I never wanted to end.
  • Love, tenderness, laughter, wanting to protect, playfulness: This combination of emotions I feel when with babies or pets. This too is a great feeling and I can play with a pet for as long as it wants to without feeling bored or wanting to stop.
  • Relaxation: I feel this when I get to sit and stretch my legs  after a long walk, when I wake on a Sunday morning, knowing that  I don't have to get out of bed. This too is a great feeling but it does reach a saturation point.
  • Satisfaction: When I got good marks with the remark, 'good' in red ink on my school tests! When I taste what I have cooked and it's good. When I wrote a great skit and read it.
  • Thrill of the chase(similar to excited anticipation and wait listed earlier) This is a low-key prolonged sense of joy and thrill and pleasure when ends when the object I was hunting for is found. The joy of owning the object is so brief, it's sad! I experienced this when I was buying used books for my collection, searching for old coins and stamps, bird nests, rocks, antique brass and copper vessels and whatever else I collected over the years. I had this nice feeling when I was roaming in various areas of Bangalore  looking for used books, when I was in my village searching for birds nests such as the weaverbirds nests, hunting for unusual rocks in villages, by the sea and rivers, etc. I also experienced this when I went to used book stores and thrift stores in Toronto. I had this fantastic thrills when I was bidding on a set of books on Ebay! I have now realized that the thrill of the chase is a greater happiness and the pleasure lasts much much longer than  the happiness of finding the searched object. Even if the chase is long, the thrill never wanes for me. The thrill of the chase is greater than getting the object of the chase for me; I have searched for books on the internet, shops and other places. But once I get the book I don't read it for quite a while! Why the heck did I chase it for so long if I am not going to read it? I think the chase was satisfying and once I get it, I tell myself, now that I have it, I can read it any time...I need'nt read it right now.
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    Paradoxical emotions: Paradoxical emotions is feeling the opposite of what one should logically feel. For example, one should feel happy when one gets a job. One should feel happy if one is getting married. But paradoxically, I felt  stressed  at the time I started work after getting the job and  stressed before the wedding. I felt  relief  along with  some happiness after the events. I may have felt  satisfaction but at a much later time! I wonder if others feel the same as me.
     I feel a lot more of pure happiness and satisfaction about small things. But anything big, the stress while doing is more than the satisfaction after completion, even if the job gets done.

    Below are a few other positive emotions, akin to happiness I have experienced at various times.
  • Quiet joy: Good memories bring a quiet joy to my mind.
  • Feeling of being energized: I get this when a vacation is decided. On a vacation, I am bursting with energy, even if I have not eaten for many hours! I simply cant understand where I get my energy from when I am on a holiday, roaming around some foreign city.
    I get this sense of energy when I am window shopping or looking in a used book store or antiques store!
  • Orgasm:  There is no 'emotion' word for the intense joy during orgasm. It's brief, intense and great.
  • Peace: I don't know if I ever experienced peace after a positive event. I seem to experience peace after a fight has been successfully resolved between family members. I wish I could experience peace without peace being the outcome of a conflict.
  • Hope: I am not sure if it is a positive emotion for me or a mixed one. This is because I am pretty pessimistic and when I feel hope, I also feel hopelessness and that things will not work out! Due to my intense pessimism, I vacillate rapidly between hope and hopelessness and so this is not a purely  positive  experience.(I picked hope from Dr.Fredrickton's list on the internet)
  • Gratitude: I have felt this many many times when I have received help from various people. I have also felt pleased when people expressed gratitude to me.
  • Freedom: I felt this when I passed out of a department with a very controlling HOD, got out of a family with a very controlling head and got out of a job with a very controlling & bossy boss. I felt relieved and enjoyed my freedom after my exit, but I don't remember feeling elated or ecstatic....I think it took me a lot of time to recover from the negative emotions which had piled up during the unfree phase and it took time for me to 'stop being wary' and start enjoying the freedom. (I picked freedom from a list on the internet and did not come up with this emotion myself)
  • Interest: I have felt interest often and this goes with curiosity. (I took this emotion off a list of emotions on the internet).
  • Spirituality: I cannot really describe what I experience when I pray. My daily or almost daily morning prayer is nothing but asking God(I read out a list of God's names) and ask them to bless me and my family and friends( I read out a list of names of family and friends too). I notice a definite reduction in anxiety or anxiety type feelings and feel calm and sort of have the belief that all my family and friends will be safe and problem free; this emotion of calmness lasts for a few minutes/seconds after my prayers. Then I am engaged in  whatever activity after my prayers and I am neither anxious or happy or whatever. On the days I miss saying my prayer, but I am aware that I didn't  pray, I have a few seconds or minutes of uneasiness but this vanishes as my mind gets busy with some other thoughts or work. Sometimes I think my praying is simply an anxiety reduction activity and not really one which makes me experience joy or spirituality or any of those 'better' emotions. It would be nice if I could get something more out of my prayers emotionally.

    The very few places where I feel calm and in a prayerful mood is when I am in a temple which is empty or almost empty, quiet and the temple should be of a "certain type". The two temples which fulfil this criteria are: The Kadumalleshwara temple in Malleshwaram in Bangalore in the afternoons when it's empty(I don't know how it is these days but in the 70s and 80s it was empty and quiet in the afternoons). The Gutte Anjenayah temple near LalBagh west gate is another temple where I am not distracted and I feel  able to focus at least a few seconds/minutes thinking of God and well-being of all living things. If I visited the temples alone, I would be able to focus more; However, I hardly ever go anywhere alone and often my companion is my chatterbox of a husband, wo keeps talking non-stop and so my limited ability to  focus or pray is further reduced!
     The  temples in the villages I have visited (my village and the villages neighbouring my village) are also places where my mind spontaneously experiences a  devotional feeling;  I really feel spiritual in these temples due to the quietness and the ambiance. 
    The features in these temples which I really like and which possibly contribute to my thoughts about God are:
    a. Quietness . I cannot focus on God with distractions such as lots of people, lots of noise, even if it is prayers or devotional songs over loud speakers, etc. These days, most temples in cities and 'popular' temples are terribly noisy. I go to them because someone at home, has forced me to go and not because I want to go. My question to the temple authorities is this,"Do you think God is deaf? Does he need to hear your devotional songs on the loud speakers? Will these songs be heard in heaven or where ever God is ? If God is every where, then why are the songs so loud. He can hear it if he is every where; even if God is not everywhere, surely, he(or she) is in the temple and he can hear it without the loudspeaker, can't he?
    b. Absence of people or presence of very few people; the people in the temple, should be or at least appear to be focussed on God and should behave quietly.(I can get irritable, forget completely about God if the people are noisy, behave badly, etc! When I visit temples, I am often angry and disgusted and  become distracted from God when I see the priest favouring the 'richer' devotees; the priest yelling at someone; etc. These things put me off completely and I am not in a 'spiritual' mood but angry-disgusted mood in temples!
    c. I prefer the temples which have not been 'modernized'. but most temples these days have been modernized. The old designs are changed and I simply don't feel spiritual in the modernized temples.  There is something about the simplicity and minimalism of the old temples and village temples, which really improves my mood. 
    The most off-putting thing about modernized temples for me is the porcelain tiles on the walls which to my mind are 'bathroom' tiles. I always associate the shiny, plain white porcelain tiles with bathrooms, toilets and hospitals as I have seen them in only those 3 places during my childhood. Someone came up with the bright idea that tiling the walls of the sanctum Santorum of temples will keep them clean or easy to maintain. And all temples I have seen (in Bangalore) seem to have adopted this idea! Looking at the white porcelain tiles on the walls makes me think that the Gods are in a bathroom and it simply puts me off, until I can distract myself!
    d. The disco lights some temples put is another thing which puts all spiritual thoughts out of my head!
    e. The plastic wrappers of the Agarbattis i.e. incense sticks and the wrappers of the Camphor lying around is another thing which irritates me and puts all thoughts of God out of my head and thoughts of plastic pollution in!
    The smells don't bother me thank God. I love the smells of temples in fact. The smell is an interesting mix of flowers(fresh, dying and dried), burning camphor, burning incense sticks, coconut water and fresh coconut, vermilion & ash, burning oil and burning til seeds. These smells are not so much present in North Indian temples. The north temples seem cleaner, drier & have less odors and this maybe because their worshipping rituals don't involve so much of offerings of fruit, camphor, incense sticks, etc. by devotees.  
    f. The use of disposable plastic cups and plates in temples is another thing which makes me feel less spiritual. For me to feel spiritual, I would like to have the Prasada on  a piece of banana leaf like before or the dried leaf-cup instead of the current plastic containers.


    The aspects of the old fashioned temples which really appealed to me are:
    The walls whitewashed with lime and reddened with red-oxide. There is something appealing in the simplicity of the white and red walls of temples of the old days. 
    Today, temples are painted with modern paints and look glossy. I do know lime & red-oxide is probably not so easily available and modern paint lasts longer and temples have to change, but it really cuts my spirituality. I wonder if I am simply someone who cannot accept change?
    I loved the uneven ground inside the temple (compound) walls and just outside the temple building. The ground was covered by roughly cut granite slabs; our village temple did not even have granite slabs but had sand and thorns grew there and we had to walk carefully so as to not step on those damn thorns when we did the three rounds pradakshe-ne. Today, rich devotees simply pour money into temples and temple authorities feel compelled to use to money to 'improve' the temple. Unfortunately, they seem to have more money than good taste or aesthetics and the temple gets 'improved' and over-built. 
    Previously, temples had really thick walls. I dont know if they had thick walls because thicker was considered as better in those days. I loved those thick walls! In some spots, the walls would crumble into muddy-sand, when you touch them. But I loved those thick walls, I dont know why. They were almost a foot or more thick.
    Most old temples had the Peepul tree, Neem tree and Parijata tree growing in their premises or nearby. Many or all temples, have the Tulsi plant growing inside the temple premises. These tress were worshipped daily by both priests and devotees. Some of these trees are hundreds of years old and huge. What I love most about these trees is their hugeness. I also love the sound of the rustling leaves of the Peepul tree and the sound of the coppersmith(crimson breasted barbet)bird in this tree, I could never spot this tiny bird but what a wonderful/powerful song/voice it had! It was a a repetitive sound and maybe that is why it's called coppersmith... the vocals of this bird sound like a continual hammer on copper... 
    To me, there was something so relaxing and comforting in the sounds of this bird combined with the rustling peepul tress leaves while sitting on the steps of the Kadumalleshwara temple. 
    Now with India's population, growing out of control, space is limited, trees are getting chopped and new temples, have no space for trees!
    In south India, devotees have installed statues of the snake God near the trees as they seek some favour from the Gods. These are often, about one to two feet in height, beautifully carved of granite and I loved these statues, installed between the trees(at least at Kadumalleshwara temple). In a country, where everything which is not nailed gets stolen, I am amazed that these beautiful statues are not stolen, though they are sitting in open places, unguarded!
    The other things about old temples have not changed much or at least I cant notice any changes. The rituals are the same, the Gods continue to be that I don't know whether to be amused, amazed or put off! It is like a mall in some ways and they sell Prasada which are not typical Prasada at all.  made of Panchaloha and are still beautifully carved/moulded, the Teertha and Prasada are the same. 

    ce any changes. The rituals are the same, the Gods continue to be  It is like a mall in some ways and they sell Prasada which are not typical Prasada at all.  made of Panchaloha and are still beautifully carved/moulded, the Teertha and Prasada are the same. 
    The ISKCON temple in Bangalore  is completely different! It is so modern, (read commercialized)that I don't know whether to be amused, amazed or put off! It is like a mall in some ways and they sell Prasada which are not typical Prasada at all.
     Yet, we humans labour so much and so long  for these exceedingly brief moments of happiness.
    Why am I writing this? Why am I analyzing what I feel?
    Recently, I have asked myself whether I am happy or depressed? Thinking about my feelings, I discovered a few things about myself.
     One. When I am awake/conscious, my mind is never blank. It has a thought or more likely a stream of thoughts or an emotion. Like most people, I find it impossible to be both  conscious and  without any thought in my head.
    Two. Often, I seem to fill my mind with thoughts, simply to keep out worries. My mind seems to be an empty space which HAS to be filled... if left vacant, worries will fill up the space. So I have to make a conscious effort to fill it with neutral or positive things.
    Three: Most of the time, I am either 'neutral' emotionally or experiencing 'negative emotions' such as anxiety or worry, sometimes, anger, sadness, frustration, jealousy, irritation. The positive emotions mentioned in this article seem to last for a few seconds at a time, a few times per day. I am sort of shocked and sad that no-emotion or negative emotions are filling up most of the time in my mind! Do all others feel like me or am I inclined to depression?
    Four: Should I do something to reduce my negative emotions?
    Five: I have come to the idea that true and pure happiness can be experienced only by children below the age of five or six. They can be experience pure happiness because they are as yet ignorant of the world. They are in the 'here and now' and if the here and now has what they want i.e. playmates, toys, good food, they can be totally involved in the activity and enjoy. However adults, are aware that unhappy things are happening in the world and to be happy, they have to block out the world and enjoy whatever is making them happy at the time; later they go back to remembering all the unhappy things happening  in the world. For example, how can I be happy knowing that my friend is struggling without money or my sister is having a tough time or work or my dad is having health issues? These thoughts may not be on the forefront but are definitely in my mind and memory all-the-time. Ergo, happiness, for me, is an extremely brief period of time, probably lasting seconds,  when I  forget  the problems of the world to enjoy whatever joke-I-am-listening or chocolate-I-am-eating. I don't think I can be 'fully' or 'truly' happy, knowing that there is so much suffering in the world.
    Maybe this is what comes close to happiness for me :
    (a)when my attention is fully focussed on some enjoyable activity, so engaged that I am oblivious to all else. 
    (b)those brief periods of time, I am able to successfully block out worries about my families and friends current problems such as worry about a close relative's unemployment, another's financial problems, my own problems at work, etc.  The stream of consciousness, for some reason, has zero negative thoughts for several seconds to a few minutes at a time and it is this period that I am labeling as happiness!
    (c)The emptiness or calmness I feel for a few seconds after my morning prayers. ( I don't mean emptiness in a negative way, I mean empty as in absence of any thoughts or emotions). My prayer is a single sentence (Devare-kapadappa...)  in which I ask a whole list of Gods(including the scary Shani... I dont dare miss his name out of my list!) to bless me and a whole list of family and friends.

    Since the last few years, I have stopped reading newspapers online and otherwise, simply because they triggered so much of sadness and anger and frustration in me. The news about animals and children and women are especially disturbing to me. I have reduced the triggers of my sadness by avoiding news but the increase in my happiness is not much.
    Six: I have had my share of blessings or maybe greater than most people's share. Yet, I wonder why I am not as happier than I am at present. I have a great husband, a great job, lots of good friends and a wonderful family, no health issues, no money problems. I have a few hobbies. I have a lovely pet. I enjoy some activities.
     I am now wondering, what is the source of continuous happiness? As mentioned earlier, I experience daily, these brief moments of happiness...when the taste of the food is on the tongue, when reading a book, when talking to friends and so on. But I wonder
     if I can be happy without a cause i.e. happy for no reason?
     Can I be happy, even if I don't have what I want?
    Can I be happy, even if there is misery in the world?
     Can I be happy, even when my family and friends are suffering?
    Can I be happy, even if I am suffering or in want?
    Can I be happy, even if my mind is blank i.e. no thoughts, no ideas?
     Is it crazy to be happy without reason? or is it  Moksha?
    If I ever reach a stage of 'prolonged happiness' will I then slip from  this 'state of happiness'  into 'boredom', simply because my human mind reaches saturation point for happiness?
    Happiness is also 99.9% of the time, 'tainted'.  I am not sure if tainted is the word I am looking for but I will give a few examples to explain what I mean. I am happy that I won the slogan writing competition but not fully happy as my best friend did not also win; I am happy I got the job but my happiness is sort of tainted because   the guy with 2 kids to support, who took the interview with me dint get the job. 
    Reading this article, I discovered three things about myself
    (1) I am a f****** neurotic ...with some symptoms of anxiety & depression.
     (2) I want the impossible in order to be happy...I want Utopia; I won't get it; so I will remain unhappy.(3)I may never be happy...because I want 'other' people to change for me to be happy; I want 'things' all over the world to change for me to be happy...for example I want a complete end of trapping, hunting, poaching, fishing for me to be happy or to  'stop worrying about animals' sufferings'.
    (4) I am not generating  happiness by my actions; instead I am depending on others making changes or circumstances changing for me to be happy...and that will not happen in a million years!  ergo...I am doomed to unhappiness !
    Or I change and I actively seek  the best ways to be happy.


    A major reason for exploring the theme of happiness is that I feel so enraged when I read news about crimes such as robbery, murder, rape, fraud, etc. When happiness is so elusive, but pain is so long lasting, why the hell do people hurt others...is the so called 'happiness' the perpetrator experiences, worth causing so much pain for the victim ?Pain which is so long lasting to the victim, but the act gives the perpetrator only momentary pleasure? That is one un-understandable thing for me! Take rape for example...whatever pleasure the rapist gets is so brief...but the pain he/she causes the victim is so severe and damaging and permanent with ripple effect affecting others. So why does the rapist commit this act when he can get only this brief  moment of evil joy ?
    What triggered me to write this piece?
    I have been meaning to write about happiness since many months. But a major trigger was the killing of elephants for their tusks. I know this sounds like an awful and really weird reason to write about happiness.  But let me explain. I HATE HATE HATE the poaching of wild animals for their skin, ivory or whatever. Humans have populated the world and taken over the entire planet, which ought to be shared with all the species. We are putting all other animals, birds, insects, plants and trees to unimaginable suffering by looting this planet. And when I saw elephants, those glorious giants being killed for their tusks I cried with shame and grief. I asked myself, why do people want that ivory? What kind of happiness do you get by owning that ivory when you have caused immense pain not just to the one animal whose tusks you stole but to it's entire family?
    So you got the tusk? Now are you happy? No. The tusk is carved into some ornament or statue and it looks beautiful but how long does it's beauty give you happiness? Until your interest  moves over to the next item of interest. The ivory statue may be beautiful forever. But you are not going to be happy forever. You get bored and your mind wanders over to something else. Your mind wants something else to be happy now. So, for the few moments of joy you get by looking at a beautiful object, you killed a great and gentle animal?  
    This makes me burn. Why do people kill and torture animals and birds? Why do they trap them through cruel snares and put them to intense pain and torture? The happiness you get is disproportionately brief to the pain you put the animals through. Why cant you simply give up those few moments of  pleasure of enjoying the beauty of their ivories or skins or feathers?
    I know people get a lot of joy and pride by 'owning' these things. The rarer the thing they own, greater their joy and pride.
    Why cant they tell themselves, " I am but a traveller on earth, here today and gone tomorrow. For this brief journey, why do I want to own things? Why cant I enjoy the things without this need to own them? I am not able to take it with me when I die. I cant own anything forever. Why do I kill and hurt to enjoy the brief pleasure of ownership?
  • I HATE THE RICH WHO FEEL THE NEED TO OWN THE IVORY OF ELEPHANTS, TIGER SKINS, LEPORD SKIN SKIRTS, CROCODILE SKIN SHOES, BEAR CLAWS AND SO ON.
  • I read that a lot of this stuff is going to the rich people in China. the killing of animals in Asia and Africa is due to demand of rich Chinese and of course impotent Chinese men who think that eating the powdered horn of the Rhinoceros would make them virile.
  • I pray that people all over the world understand that animals and birds deserve to lead a life in peace and without being tortured and killed. Their skin or ivory 
    
      contributes very little for your happiness. You should seek happiness WITHIN yourself. 
    • YOU WILL NOT FIND YOUR HAPPINESS  IN SOME POOR ELEPHANT'S TUSKS.
    • YOU CAN FIND HAPPINESS ONLY IN YOURSELF












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