How to Find Happiness in an Unhappy World
It costs nothing and you can't buy it in a store.
It costs nothing and you can't buy it in a store. Yet we all hanker for it. We are talking, of course, about "Happiness" and everyone wants it. There's nobody who says "I want to be unhappy. I want sorrow." Yet, happiness is elusive. We all think we will be happy if only we could change our job, our spouse, our status, and our lives. If only, if only! The change happens and initially we are happy but very soon we are once again needing some other change to be really happy. But what is real, lasting happiness - and how do we find it?
Recently Swami Tejomayananda, head of the Chinmaya Mission, a global spiritual organization with 250 centers worldwide (www.chinmaya.org) visited New York. Down-to-earth and humorous, he gave an insightful talk on Tips for Happy Living, and has also written a book on this. He is the master of conveying the great, complex truths of the Vedanta in simple, easy to understand language, often through stories which all of us love to hear, like this one: Once there was a young boy who lived with his mother who was very poor. She was so poor that whenever he asked her for milk, she always fed him water mixed with wheat flour. He was happy - he thought I have had milk to drink! Once he went to stay with an uncle who had plenty of cows and there he got to drink real milk.
When he returned and was once again given the water and wheat flour - he said, mother, this is not milk! This, in a way, is our situation too; we have never tasted real happiness so we think that a new job, new relationship or new house will bring us the happiness we crave. As Swami Tejomayananda points out, "We think this place or object is making me unhappy - if I change it, I will be happier. I want a challenge - a challenging job, and yet when a challenge comes, we say it's too challenging! So we keep changing jobs, people, and relationships. The more we change, the more we remain the same. We have to pretend to be happy, and after some time we are in the same rut again. Some external change has taken place but an internal change has not taken place." As he observes, what we think is a cause for sorrow is not a cause for sorrow really. What you think is a source of happiness is not a source of happiness either: "Both are projections of the mind. This mind of ours alone is the cause of all our problems and our sorrows."