People regard happiness as of great value in their lives – so much so that they are constantly in pursuit of it. ‘Happiness’ which was ‘a taken for granted emotion’ in earlier days, has turned into a subject of intense debate and discussion today; The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle even used the Greek term ‘Eudemonia’ loosely translated to mean ‘happiness or welfare’ and believed that eudemonia actually requires activity and action; merely possessing an ability or disposition is insufficient for attaining a state of Eudemonia.
Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness on 20th March every year after the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 66/281of 12 July 2012 proclaimed it such, recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspira-tions in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives.
Happiness being serious business has been awarded a great deal of respect and ‘Gross National Happiness’ is listed as the goal of the government of Bhutan in the Constitution of Bhutan, enacted on 18 July 2008, whereby the country has famously given more importance to Gross National Happiness over Gross National product.
The World Happiness Report, an annual publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network which contains rankings of national happiness and analysis of the data from various perspectives closely examines this key issue and its status in nations around the world. The World Happiness Report 2019 which was released in March, 2019 ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels. The top five happy countries are Finland in first place (for second consecutive year), Denmark in 2nd place, followed by Norway, Iceland and Netherlands in 3rd, 4th and 5th places. India ranks a dismal 140th out of the 156 countries in the status of happiness, seven places down from its rank in the 2018 report.
So why does ‘Happiness’ elude us? Why is it attainable to only a lucky few?
The answer probably lies within us – our self-perception; which in turn determines our external environment where we constantly endeavour to achieve happiness.
Our Self-Image many aspects of our lives. If an individual himself/herself has self-doubt of his/her ability and is sceptical of achievement of goals – it is impossible that success is ever attained by him/her. Achievement becomes easier with the starting point of a clear and confident self-image. Therefore, our self-image impacts our life in a big way – it builds confidence and helps us to accept our strengths and weaknesses and ultimately takes us to the zenith of happiness.
Your identity is the fact of being who you are, your beliefs, your likes, your dislikes, your perceptions, your character. Your identity is central to you and controls your growth, if you waver and question your identity, then the growth trajectory also falters. The Japanese concept of “Ikigai” which means "a reason for being” or “the reason for living” is a cornerstone of Japanese culture wherein it is important to find your Ikigai, because discovering it brings satisfaction and meaning to life. Your Ikigai is the source of value in your life and it makes your life worthwhile. Your current situation may be good or bad but your Ikigai gives you inner strength and makes you feel that your life is valuable.
The true reason for being, the fact of being who you are – is the nucleus of your existence. A useful technique called “SWOT Analysis” is employed by businesses to identify its internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as its external opportunities and threats. SWOT analysis is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats and it is a structured planning method that evaluates those four elements of an organization, project or business venture. Performing a SWOT Analysis of yourself will offer you a detailed personal scrutiny of your capabilities and surrounding environment and help you to connect with yourself. Strengths and Weaknesses are intrinsic factors and will depict the strengths and weaknesses of your character. Opportunities and Threats are extrinsic factors and will depict the opportunities and threats which you perceive from your external environment. This analysis will give you a complete picture of yourself if performed truthfully. Every man knows his strengths and weaknesses and should have the cour-age to truthfully state them to himself, for if he cannot be true to himself, he can most definitely not be true to the outside world. Opportunities and threats exist in your surroundings and are created by the life you live. But remember there are no fixed rules as to a person’s perception. So, what one individual may consider as strength, another individual may perceive as a weakness. That is a matter of individual opinion and may be used likewise. Be true to yourself when you perform your SWOT Analysis and you can apply the results of this powerful tool to capitalize on your strengths and minimize your weaknesses so as to grab the opportunities and work around the threats. When you develop your identity, you resolve internal crisis and help yourself to prepare for the future and experience happiness from deep within.
Today, we constantly balance our lives living on scales – one side depicting happiness and the other unhappiness – and our entire life trajectory fluctu-ates depending on which side the scales tip towards. So busy we are analysing what we have gained and what we have lost that in the process we forget to actually ‘Live’.
So how do we balance the scales?
According to the revered Holy Scripture the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna in Chapter 2 verse 55, describes the ‘Sthitha Prajna’- Man of steady wisdom as follows:
Lord Krishna says “When a man completely casts away, O Partha, all the desires of the mind, satisfied in the self alone by the self, then is he said to be one of steady wisdom”.
If we truly become a man of ‘steady wisdom’, we become the pivot of the scale and stop it from tilting to either side – state of happiness or state of unhappiness. We are neither devastated by adversity nor elated by prosperity. It may take many lifetimes for a person to become a ‘Sthitha Prajna’, however it is about time to abandon your search for happiness and instead empower yourself with the tools to channelize the all-pervasive vibrant energies to experience a state of bliss.
Take life as it is and live it! Everything else just falls in place.