Fulfillment and Contentment are the key
This is the second and concluding part of my articles on attaining happiness in life. Let’s get the basics clear first
You need to be happy today. There is no tomorrow. As they say, how do you know that you will even be alive tomorrow or might not be facing a situation tougher than today? The future holds many imponderables, the present is fully known. We need to live for today and work towards a happier tomorrow, but be ready for situations to play out differently.
Happiness also cannot be correlated to materialistic fulfillment. Are we happier than what we were in the past? At that time our needs might have been lower and the money required maintaining our future lifestyle to the current levels might have been lower. Is the thought of the future destroying our current happiness.
The question is whether we are happier today than we were 10 years back. A decade ago my goal in life was to be the best performing fund manager and to get awarded and rewarded for that. Once I achieved that the goal post became retaining that position and remains there for a long period of time. Which I achieved for sometime but then it will never remain forever. The fall from the top always hurts the most.
Subsequently the aim and target became reaching to the top again. And the cycle went on till I realised sometime last year that this was not making me happy but more and more frustrated. I decided to then step back, focus on research and do things that I enjoy. Today I am much happier than I have been anytime over the last 5 years.
Let’s take an example to explain things.
Earlier whenever I used to trade in the stock markets I would play a high risk game and try to make more profits in the short run. This would make me tense and create stress. Sometime back I moved to a mode where I only take stress less positions. Once I do that I do not worry as worrying will not impact my profit or loss in any way. We can only do our due diligence and then let the forces play their role. As such I am much more content and happy today. Earlier I would always regret and feel frustrated over some stock that I never bought despite thinking about buying it after its price moved up. Now I am not bothered. Returns always flow from what we do and not what we think of doing. Investing, which is my passion has become much more satisfying for me.
Goalposts lays keep on changing. I vividly remember a conversation that we had among a lot of friends in the year 1997 where everyone lacked about their aspirations in life. One of the person, who currently heads debt markets in a prominent asset management company at that time, had a target of Rs 50 lakh so after which he wanted to shift back to his home town Bhubneahwar. Today he has 50 times that wealth but is still slogging it out and working 12 hours a day.
There are so many people who are proud of the fact that they live out of the bag, travel 200 days in a year and do not take many holidays. This does not exactly seem like a receipt for happiness. I personally have never stayed in office beyond 5.30 PM as there is mostly nothing that you cannot do in8 or 9 hours. If you cannot do it in this time then even 12 to 15 hours are too less.
There has been enough and more written about work life balance. It is a necessary condition for happiness.
Are you able to laugh at least once a day? Do small things make you smile? If not then you don’t seem to be happy. Do you give time to your family, go out with them, listen to your kids and share their experiences. Or are you just busy in things that might not matter in the long run.
Taking stress, being worried achieves almost nothing. If we need to complete a task we need to give it our maximum effort, however being stressed because of it eventually impacts the health. There are events in our life that are impactable i.e. our actions can impact the eventual result. On the other hand there are those where our actions will not impact the result. We could worry for the first, however most of us tend to take stress and worry for both kind of events.
Although we believe that we are responsible for all outcomes, in reality there are bigger forces at play. In the year 2004 at the time when the birth of my daughter was due, I and my guruji worked out her time of birth to the last minute and worked on it. We were successful in achieving the result as the doctor was very cooperative and managed it to the last minute. However in reality did we do it? The answer is no. There are bigger forces of the almighty at play who decides these events. Similarly sometime in the year 2002 a friend of mine, whose mother in law used to do some astrology, took out the time of birth for her granddaughter. Here the situation was a bit tricky as the horoscope of 8 am showed a perfectly healthy baby. However a one hour delay created a situation where the child could have a eye problem. As it happened the doctor agreed for the 8 am delivery. However at the last moment an emergency came up because of which the surgery got delayed. Unfortunately the child does have a problem with her eyes.
One of the major factors that creates discontentment in today’s materialistic world is a sense of underachievement. We tend to compare ourselves, on a continuous basis with our friends, peers and others. We might be doing better than 95% of others but create discontentment for not doing as well as the remaining 5%. We need to be mentally ready to deal with failures. If we try to do something we will invariably face failure at some stage or the other. However this is just part of our destiny we have to accept this and move ahead.
We need to manage our ego, achieve humility & respect the other person’s point of view. Our ego is our worst enemy as it slowly builds into a ghost like that in the story of “Vikram aur Betaal” where we just cannot get rid of the ghost. The other big source of unhappiness is our expectations from others. When we do something for someone we expect Newton’s Law to play out in terms of the action getting an equal reaction. This will never be true. There are always people who do more for others and in any relationship we cannot be evaluative at every stage as it will always bring discontentment.
Happiness is all about enjoying today as it is without worrying about what tomorrow will look like. Put aside all fears, jealousy, anger, worries & stress. All of these are going to get you nowhere. Be happy and enjoy life for what it is. Thank god for what he has given you do not curse him for what you do not have. Go to temples, pilgrimages etc for peace of mind & not to ask god for the impossible. Internalize the fact that you will get what you are destined to get, nothing less and nothing more.