THE ANTITHESIS TRAITS
The purpose of human life in totality is nothing but a pursuit of happiness. What construes happiness is different for different people and unlike wealth, power or position it cannot be measured. In the current environment where we live happiness in an external sense is generally measured in terms of the money, house, car etc that one possesses or the position that one holds in society or the power that one yields. However who is to say whether Mr Mukesh Ambani is happier than the lowest paid employee of his group. I will start off the series of articles on this topic by first discussing things that lead to the opposite of happiness. The four major traits that lead to unhappiness are Jealousy, Anger &Fear.
Jealousy – Jealousy is a trait that typifies unhappiness. Most people in today’s age do not look at what they have but tend to be jealous of what others have. Everyone has their own destiny and achieves in accordance to one’s own abilities or karma. Instead of being satisfied with what we have we always tend to look for things that we do not have or we think that we should have. Everyone cannot be the richest or the most famous or the most popular in the world. When we look at our friends we need to meet them at a neutral ground. Some of our friends and peers who studied with us in School or College will always be doing better in their career or monetary status as compared to us & vice versa. However who is happier than the other is something that we cannot evaluate. It is in the mind of the person. There are different problems that everyone faces in life. Someone might have more money but might have some personal or professional problems that are not openly visible. Jealousy leads us to continuously judge people or do things to them that hurt us in the long run.
People who are jealous by nature could be just jealous of someone who does not have 99 things that they have but just one that they do not. In fact jealously is a disease which needs to be treated at the earliest as it takes away the happiness from all the things that we have for those that we don’t.
If we are jealous we can never be happy. The negativity of looking up to someone and cursing the person for what he has achieved can never bring us happiness. Two people might start as peers, but eventually not everyone will rise to the top. Destiny has a different course for everyone. We can take a man away from his destiny but not destiny away from a man.
Jealousy takes away any happy memories we might have of the past, spoils our present and makes us look into the future with scepticism. Positivity of thought is required to overcome this and this is something that everyone has to internalize & implement. A number of Indian Vedic scriptures say that a positive outlook can improve the outcome & a negative outlook can make it worse.
Anger- Controlling anger is the surest way to achieve happiness. Anger manifests itself in many ways. We might be angry at our boss for not giving us credit for what we have done, our friends and family for supposedly ignoring us, the politicians for the lack of development & the whole world for something or the other. Anger leads to irritation and a feeling of emptiness. The most negative facet of anger is that it leads us to do things that we invariably regret later.
Managing anger requires sitting back and evaluating ourselves more than others. The human brain is a very effective machine which can be pulled or conditioned to any side. We need to sit in peace and think of the almighty for a few minutes anger can dissipate immediately. Our thinking process when we are angry typically moves towards the negative. We start thinking of how we can take revenge from the person who we are angry with. The anger can be directed at our child for not doing what we told them to do or doing something that creates stress for us. At one level it is important to be concerned for our children’s well being but it cannot be always dealt with by being angry with them. The law of diminishing returns always works here, sporadic disciplining works well but continuous anger creates rebellion.
The anger can be towards our boss for not giving us credit that we think that we deserve or simply because he is our boss. There is always a difference between what we think that we deserve and what we actually deserve. It is important to adapt to what we have at a given point of time. There are times when we get more than we deserve and there are times when it is the exact opposite. However this karmic cycle has to and will take everyone one to their destiny. We have a choice of being happy with what we have or unhappy for what we don’t.
We could be angry at our government as most people were during the tenure of the last government. However as they say the cycle always turns. Good and bad times do not last forever. We need to accept things as they come and live for the present and make efforts for the future.
Fear- Fear is the most dominant trait that keeps us unhappy. Fear manifests itself in several ways, from the superficial to the mundane to the profound. For example we can be fearful of getting caught in traffic on the way to the airport and miss our flight. We could fear going into an official meeting and be worried about the outcome and what would happen if it does not go the way we think it should. We could fear for the health of our family, the outcome of a court case, our exam results etc. In fact fear can manifest itself in any form and in anything.
Fear is the worst enemy of happiness. I will explain via a recent example. On our way back from our holiday from Singapore we had got lot of stuff that we had bought out there. There had been lot of talk that these days customs creates issues on immigration if we have large amount of baggage. I was clear in my mind that we have done what we wanted to and not the customs officers have to do what they think is their duty. Lo and behold, four of our bags were marked for inspection. I took them to the customs officer and offered to open all of them and started opening them one by one. After seeing that we were not really bothered he let us go. There was no worry as internally I had already decided that I will pay up whatever they would want us to.
If we keep on fearing for our future we can never be happy in our present. This does not mean that we do not work for an outcome. However the result of our efforts is not in our hands and as such once the effort is made we should not fear for the result. I used to get extremely perturbed if I would get trapped in traffic while going for a meeting or for catching a flight. However I have slowly worked on it and do not bother now. What is in our hand is to start on time subsequent events are out of our hand and our worrying about them are unlikely to resolve them in anyway.
The way to overcome fear is by continuously talking to oneself, praying to your god or guru while taking all possible steps to achieve the desired results. For example our parent or a near relative might be undergoing a serious surgery. We would fear for the outcome. All we can do is to arrange for the best possible doctor, hospital & post operative care. There is no way we can influence the outcome and as such we should not fear but approach the entire thing with a feeling of concern and positivity.
In concluding part 1 of this series all I will say is that we need to be happy and keep our near and dear ones happy. Neither jealousy, anger, fear nor worrying about something is going to change our life. All of these always create an internal churn within us & keep us dissatisfied.
Do not regret for what we do not have, do not be angry towards those who do not act in accordance with your views & have no fear after doing your best and what is right.
We need to be satisfied with what we have today while working for a better tomorrow. A better tomorrow is not one where we have more money or a better social standing but where we are internally happier. There is a huge difference between the two.