The Illusion of Happiness, Explained.

Goodmorning Planet,

Hope you are fantastic.

Today we will discuss about one of the most sought after feelings – happiness! 

Before we begin our discussion, let’s understand how great men perceived happiness.

The textbook definition suggests, “Happiness means feeling pleasure or contentment.”

Below are the views of great thinkers on happiness.

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”Aristotle.

“The happiness of those who want to be popular depends on others; the happiness of those who seek pleasure fluctuates with moods outside their control; but the happiness of the wise grows out of their own free acts.” ― Marcus Aurelius

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”Socrates

“We don’t even ask happiness, just a little less pain.”Charles Bukowski

“It is by being fully involved with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by trying to look for it directly.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

These were the most extraordinary men of their time.

If you observe carefully, you will notice how their views on happiness are in contrast with the popular notions embraced by our modern culture. Great men did not view happiness as a state induced by worldly possessions, achievements, personal success, or a community. Each of them using their signature flair described happiness as a fleeting state that can only be made permanent by living each moment to its full. Whether these moments of our lives are good or bad is irrelevant.

Good or bad has always been a relative expression.

What might be right for you could be awful for me.

For you, drinking a glass of whiskey every night before heading to bed might be a sensible practice.

For me, sleeping with a high head will cause a hangover the next morning, which then will impair my writing skills, leaving me in an undesirable, miserable state for the entire day.

You might toss and turn the entire night in the absence of your soothing alcohol, while I might experience nightmares due to the presence of alcohol in my blood. 

What does this indicate?

Is alcohol good or bad?

I wish there was a way to deduce that. But unfortunately, there isn’t one.

People’s outlook towards alcohol depends entirely on their perspective and, to some extent, their past experiences. 

Alcohol can be good, good and bad, or just bad. It depends on the person’s point of view.

Similarly, an event that will make you happy can make someone else extremely unhappy. 

You will be happy if you get a promotion for which you had worked hard. At the same time, the other contenders will be unhappy because their dream to get closer to the top is shattered. 

Similarly, you will be elated when you buy your first car. However, a friend who already possesses multiple vehicles will not experience the same joy from his new acquisition.

When virgins get laid for the first time, they get ecstatic. The novelty of a sexual experience brings extreme joy.

Research studies indicate that proclivity towards sex decreases after repetitive encounters with the same person. Repeated sexual intercourse with the same person will not give you the same high which you experienced on the first day. However, if a new person walks into your life, the cycle renews. Sex with a new partner will again be exhilarating initially. You will trick yourself into believing that it was the best sex of your life, due to the novelty of the experience. You are oblivious to the sexual preferences of the new partner. This element of surprise will make you feel each sensation to its extreme, heightening your pleasure senses. 

You will be more attentive in the moment. You will be present.

The same applies to every external source.

There are two states of being happy. 

One in which you are happy from within. This state will not demand an external stimulation. Yogis, expert meditators, philosophers, and creators are always in this blissful state. 

For ordinary folks, happiness will depend on their interaction with the outer world and how their brains perceive an event.

Whenever you visit a new place or try a new cuisine, the result is mostly positive. You feel happy. However, after repeated experiences of the same nature, the event loses its charm and stops making you happy. 

So far, we have deduced that happiness is relative. It mostly depends on our outlook.

As simple as this might sound, novelty-induced happiness will transform our lives into an endless pursuit for fulfillment. We will continually chase new experiences to uplift ourselves from the state of misery. Yet, suffering will continue to pile up. Even if we spend decades practicing hedonism, we will eventually run out of new things to do or objects to buy. 

There has to be a way to find happiness in our day to day lives without going to extreme extents, only a few can.

Child’s Play

“The soul is healed by being with children.”Fyodor Dostoevsky

I am positive that you must have interacted with newborns and little kids who cannot speak and are not fully aware of their surroundings. Even if you haven’t, you must have at least seen cute baby videos on the FB timeline of your friends or while fanatically scrolling Instagram. 

A newborn baby has few basic needs. It needs a mother’s milk. It needs to be kept clean, and it needs things to play with.

Why are babies so happy?

The only time babies are unhappy is when they experience any sort of physical discomfort or if an idiot like me purposefully annoys them.

Undoubtedly, they are tiny bundles of joy!

Whether they crawl on the floor, eat dirt in the park, watch an animated comedy, play with a pet, or a toy, they are elated. 

Why are these fuckers so happy?

Once again, the explanation lies in their outlook towards objects and events. 

Due to a lack of experience, every event is unique to newborns. That’s why any playful act make babies elated. 

If a baby sees a furry animal for the first time, they will get extremely curious. They will try to interact with the animal. If the animal behaves in a domesticated manner, the baby will enjoy the animal’s company. After a few weeks or months, the baby will slowly lose its interest and then graduate to barbie dolls, motorbikes, or a fire truck.

No one is more hedonist than a newborn.

They continuously find ways to interact with objects around them. And this process is not a result-oriented or an outcome-based activity. The child doesn’t even know what he/she is seeking. By merely being present in the moment, a baby experiences a sense of fulfillment and happiness. 

However, with growing age, the child is corrupted by an unwise society and loses his/her ability to be mindful of the present. Like all of us subpar humans, a child too forgets how to stay happy and begins an endless cycle of suffering and misery with few occasional bursts of joy.

Today’s discussion is about true happiness which is not dependent on any event or object. 

As we will proceed, you will realize how, by being present even in a dull moment, we can experience joy. This temporary state of happiness can then be extended to our entire day. Once we master this act, even if we are trapped in a concentration camp or a torcher cell, we will be in bliss.

The Burning Monk

One of the most remarkable sights of human bravery is the event known as the burning monk.

Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk, burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963. Quảng Đức was protesting the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. 

There are various incidents documenting self-immolation attempts throughout history. Lighting yourself on fire to register your protest is a powerful act that never goes unnoticed. However, Quảng Đức’s sacrifice is remembered till date due to the extraordinary nature of the event. While on fire, he neither moved nor twitched a single muscle of his body. He was calm, and composed as his physical body burnt itself to the ground. 

Photographs of his self-immolation were circulated widely around the world and brought attention to the policies of the Diệm government. John F. Kennedy said about a photo of Quảng Đức on fire, “No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one.” Malcolm Browne won a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of the monk’s death.

David Halberstam wrote:

“I was to see that sight again, but once was enough. Flames were coming from a human being; his body was slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. Behind me I could hear the sobbing of the Vietnamese who were now gathering. I was too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think … As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.”

Here we witness a man who set himself on fire in the act of protest against the ruling autocratic regime. What makes the incident memorable is that he did not even twitch a single muscle while burning to death. Such a level of personal mastery of bodily sensations is unparalleled. 

What do you think?

What was the burning monk experiencing?

Was he happy while burning to death, or was he miserable?

We will explore the answer to this question in the later sections.

I will also like to bring your attention to the fact that this is not a stand-alone incident. Thousands of revolutionaries imprisoned throughout the world, including the unfortunate victims of the holocaust, have displayed similar personal mastery over their emotions while bearing extreme levels of pain and suffering.

I know, a lot of you are wondering, how is this relevant to our discussion on happiness. Please don’t get perplexed; an appropriate explanation will be provided to you. 

Flawed Lessons

From a child-like state, we graduate to being kids and then adults. As we progress, our understanding of happiness changes. A child who used to get elated by the sight of a beetle stops getting any pleasure from weekly visits to the zoo. What went wrong?

We all are a victim of our surroundings. Until and unless we learn the right way to interact with our surroundings positively, we will continue being so. As the child grows, it sees the world, not through his own eyes but through society’s pair of glasses. 

If parents continuously compare their wealth or the child’s worth with others, that’s what the child will learn. Whenever he/she sees a rich person, he/she will assume that they are happy because of their abundant wealth. 

When he/she sees a confident or attractive person, he/she will assume that successful people are more confident or beautiful people are more successful, depending upon the experiences and the shared values of the immediate society around him/her.

We are not discussing the case of one odd kid. All of us go through the same. Even kids of yogis experience the same emotions which we do. 

In a natural progression, these kids grow into adults. Once the forced period of initial learning is over, then the adult is left to make a mark on the world. They pursue happiness as per their flawed understanding.

A female might pursue a well-settled husband.

Another might pursue a good-looking man.

Someone else might wish to have a career in modeling or corporations.

A man will run after possessions.

Another man will chase skills.

Someone else will be obsessed with the number of matches on Tinder.

As per our previous interactions with our surroundings, we will attempt a basic goal setting and pursue a path hoping for some reward at the end of all the fiasco. 

The hunt is on.

The hunt gets over.

Unfortunately for the majority, the reward never arrives. For those it does, realize that it only provides momentary happiness. 

This stage of life is extremely vulnerable. All of our beliefs, while growing up, indicated that if we pursue something passionately, in the end, we will be happy, which we aren’t ever. At least not for an extended period. 

The Mid-Life Crisis

Imagine you wish to get married to a desirable and wealthy partner. You spend your lifetime grooming yourself, learning mannerisms, and adding value to yourself. All of these said activities are done, keeping in mind the final goal. 

Now suppose you get married. What’s next?

Will you be in a perpetual state of bliss for the rest of your life?

Absolutely not. The very next morning, you will lie in your wedding bed, pondering what’s next. 

You got what you wanted, yet you will not be able to stay happy for long.

What will you do next?

Maybe you will bring a kid in the world.

Then maybe you will destroy the kid or shower it with affection, in an attempt to feel good. The kid will grow up soon enough. 

What then?

What when your kid moves out?

You have already lost more than half of your life searching for happiness following the formula laid down by your ancestors. Yet, you remain unhappy.

In a rare case (which never happens), assume your partner turns out to be world-class. Your kids turn out to be the best in the entire milky way galaxy, then also daily worries will continue to plague you.

Some days, you might think your partner is having an affair.

Another day, you will come to know your kid smokes. 

All of these events will continue to torment you. You will not be happy for prolonged periods.

If your goal is professional success and you sacrifice everything for that goal, what would happen when you reach the age of 50 only to realize, even though you have all you ever wanted, emptiness plagues you frequently.

How would you feel then?

Happiness on Billboards.

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

In a one of a kind phenomenon, happiness is now sold on billboards.

Buy a new I-phone. Happiness guaranteed.

A new pair of Levis jean is a sure shot mantra to delight.

A brand new push up bra will undoubtedly make you joyous.

Buy a new Audi.

Get a new laptop.

Get those clothes at a discount.

Hurry!

Today the gods are offering a limited period discount.

Offer valid till stocks last.

Hurry, get your pill of happiness.

Happiness, happiness is here. Buy stuff.

Hey, why ain’t you buying?

No money, don’t worry.

Get it on credit.

Here’s a brand new shiny plastic for you.

Now you must buy.

Buy motherfucker.

Buy this and that and then buy some more.

Buy and be happy! 

There is nothing wrong with this approach. 

I am not asking you to be a minimalist.

1 black tee, 1 black shirt, 2 black trousers, black shoes, black socks, a white towel, is all you need. Though that is true, I am not asking you to do so.

You should definitely indulge in need-based shopping.

Imagine you go for a run every day. To make the most use of your time, you can buy a pair of Bluetooth headphones. Then you can get yourself an audible subscription. Buy audiobooks and listen to them while running. That’s a good purchase.

Buy expensive raw food. You should spend as much as you can afford on your diet. Buy dry fruits. Buy meat. Buy Tofu. Buy vegetables.

If you want to practice mindfulness, buy a headspace subscription.

Buy a bicycle so that you can cycle your way through misery.

If you are a painter, purchase expensive canvases.

If you are a writer, buy a typewriter. Buy a MacBook. Buy a supercomputer. Whatever makes you love the process!

These are need-based shopping. It is a requirement.

But buying an expensive watch, jewelry, cars, mansions, if not required, won’t make you happy.

If you are not living inside a cramped dump bin, you don’t really need a huge mansion.

If you have a working car, you don’t need a new one.

Jewelry is a sheer waste of money. It is not even a wise investment.

But then if you have tons of money, what else would you do?

This might break your heart, but the answer is – charity.

Yes, social work, charity, philanthropy will make you happy.

A new mail bride, a blow-up doll, expensive alcohol, 1/2 a kg of coke, for that matter even if you buy Greenland, you won’t be happy.

You will feel good for a week or so, and the emptiness will return.

Research studies indicate that whenever people think about helping someone in need, their portions of the brain, which associates with happiness, gets triggered. If the thought of being helpful to someone can delight you, imagine how the action will make you feel.

Now, I am not convincing you to donate all your money to causes you believe in. You can smartly put your money to good use and experience satisfaction.

You can open a study center for impoverished kids. You can charge 50% less than other study centers. You might not make tons of money, but at least you will be touching lives.

You can finance a food-truck which will feed the homeless and the poor at throwaway prices. Once again, maybe a little less profit but happiness guaranteed.

Similarly, there are a thousand other ways to put your money to good use, wherein it will empower society and bring a change.

The result will be your personal delight. That’s a priceless commodity!

The Marshmellow Test

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a study on delayed gratification in 1972 led by psychologist Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford University. In this study, a child was offered a choice between one small but immediate reward, or two small rewards if they waited for some time.

A kid was locked in a room with an oreo. He was left with two choices. Either he could eat the oreo and go, or he could choose not to eat one oreo but wait for 15 minutes and get two cookies. Scientists continued to observe the kids who participated in the study throughout their high school and graduate studies. 

The study indicated that individuals who delayed gratification were more happy and prosperous in their lives as they grew old. While those who ate the marshmallow, mostly had a difficult life as adults. 

You might wonder, where did this come from?

How is the experiment related to happiness?

All of your non-essential shopping is an attempt to seek immediate gratification. You are not thinking straight. You are under the assumption that the act of buying will make you feel better. Though retail therapy works, it is not a permanent fix. The same concept of a novelty applies here as well.

You will enjoy your new car for a few weeks and then return to your old miserable self.

Fuelled by emptiness, you will then start chasing some other piece of silver.

This is a never-ending pursuit. The worst part is, you gain nothing out of it.

Bottom line, if you are unhappy, goods will not make you happy.

If you have been told in the past that once you own a bigger house, a bigger car and a huge bank account, all of your worries will fade away, well, you have been lied to. But have some respite in knowing that you are not the only one. We all have been sold a false dream.

The True Definition of Happiness

If what we have discussed so far makes sense, then at this moment, you must be utterly confused. 

If wealth, success, possessions, and social status doesn’t bring happiness, then what does?

If we are not supposed to chase novelty, then what’s the right answer?

Well, the right answer, my friend, is excellence!

The only quality worth chasing is excellence. The pursuit of excellence will make you happy.

At the same time, remember that you can never achieve excellence.

I know exactly how this sounds.

This sounds like another loop.

You were chasing novelty, hoping to be happy someday. Now you agree it isn’t a working model.

So, the alternative is to chase excellence, yet you will never achieve excellence. How will then pursuing excellence make you happy?

Every learned person has once in their lifetime expressed that life is endless suffering. There isn’t happiness anywhere to be found. We, humans, are doomed to be unhappy. 

Before being sent on this planet, our consciousness was questioned by our makers. 

They asked us, “What do you choose – Happiness or Life?”

I am sure you can figure out your answer. 

We all chose the feeling of being alive over feeling happy.

What does this indicate?

It means we do not need to worry about happiness in this lifetime because we are never going to be happy. We traded feeling alive for feeling happy.

So, the question is – do you feel alive?

This is where all of us go wrong. We have no idea what being alive means. Being alive doesn’t mean waking, shitting, fucking, sleeping, and whatever else happens in between.

Being alive means being present.

Being alive means to feel.

Being alive means to be in NOW!

Our consciousness is not confined within the boundaries of our body and mind. We are all one. 

To whom we refer as god is the ultimate feeling of oneness of all things that live and breathe.

We have been blessed with this physical body to experience matter. Yet, we never do so.

The only way to be truly happy is by experiencing every moment of your life to its full.

If it’s painful, it is what you are supposed to experience in the NOW.

If it’s a trance-like working state, you are experiencing flow.

When you are with a toddler, you are experiencing an undiluted life force.

The burning monk experienced death by fire. He didn’t twitch any muscle because he was in the moment. He was fully present.

There is a wide misconception among people about what yogis feel. A lot many folks think yogis are numb. They never feel happiness, nor do they feel sadness. That is incorrect.

Research studies indicate that expert meditators feel pain or joy more than ordinary folks. What makes them unique is their continuous practice, which blesses them a higher tolerance level.

If you try to burn an ordinary person, they will start experiencing pain even before the touch of a burning iron rod. They feel pain in anticipation of pain. Then they feel pain. And then they feel more pain as an after effect.

Holy fucking shit! That’s too much of pain.

If you bring a hot iron rod to the palms of a yogi, he will feel no pain before the contact of the burning iron on the surface of his palms. Upon contact with the burning surface, he will experience 1.5 times pain than an ordinary person. But he won’t react abruptly. He won’t shout. He won’t yell. He would just feel. He has mastered the art of feeling whatever life brings in the moment of now. Once the iron rod is taken off from his palms, he will not feel any after-effects. 

Those with heightened awareness are always in the moment, irrespective of whether it is a pleasant or unpleasant moment.

Buddha said, one must be aware at all times, even while shitting, pissing and eating. 

At this moment, we must also understand that happiness depends on our outlook.

Outlook Towards Events

Three years ago, my friend and I used to go for a walk in a community park. He used to stroll leisurely, looking at plants, trees, bugs, kids playing, and all this while he used to smile. He was happy being in the park. 

I, on the other hand, despised this activity. The park was always crowded, I hated that. It was summertime, so the air was hot, and I felt sweaty. I saw mosquitos swarming over my head. It wasn’t an experience I enjoyed.

He felt happy in the park.

I felt unhappy in the park.

This example reveals a lot about all of us.

An external factor cannot make you happy. Happiness lies within. By being in the present, a simple act of walking in the park becomes enjoyable. You are engrossed in the ecosystem. You feel your breath. You feel the mild breeze. You see how plants, trees, and the soil are communicating with each other. You can join that conversation and immerse yourself in nature. 

Yes, there’s noise outside. There will always be noise outside. Silence, peace, tranquility, happiness lies within our self. 

Nowadays, when I practice Tai-chi in the park, after my session, I notice how flies swarm my face. Yet, during that trance, I don’t feel it. That’s the beauty of being in the moment.

Happiness is being in a constant state of bliss, irrespective of what is going around you.

There is a lot of noise going on in India around a “NEW INDIA“, “Hindu Rashtra” and crap like such.

What breaks my heart is the religion which these ignorants are fighting for, they do not even practice it. They disrespect our ancient culture. 

Ancient Indian yogis inspired both Asia and the West with groundbreaking meditative practices. The so-called Hindu holy books are filled with references of sages who meditated for decades to achieve self-mastery. A state of Nirvana!

Countless tales narrate how ants and termites made their homes in the bodies of yogis. Yet they never woke up out of discomfort from their meditative trance-like state. 

Now, youngsters who want immediate gratification, indulge in drugs to achieve a temporary state of Nirvana.

No one is willing to spend a few years practicing the art of Nirvana. 

We want Nirvana, and we want it now. Well, Cobain died in misery. You can still save yourself.

The Power of Now

Now comes the last part of our discussion. Let’s do a quick recap.

  • Life is endless suffering.
  • Wealth and possessions cannot make us happy.
  • Chasing novelty will lead us in circles. We will be back where we started.
  • True happiness lies in the moment.
  • We can be in a perpetual state of bliss all the time by mastering self-discipline.

Now, comes the question, how to achieve and sustain a blissful state.

How to be happy in day to day life

A piece of standard advice which fake self-help gurus offer is doing what you love. This is then translated into quitting your job and starting fresh in a field of your liking. Undoubtedly this is a promising option. I tried it in the past.

I worked in corporations such as Barclays, Dell, American Express, to name a few at mid-level and senior-level executive positions. But I was unhappy. I quit my job to pursue a career as a writer in 2017. 

I was moved by the atrocities exerted on Kashmiri natives. I spent around a year traveling in Kashmir and Ladakh, studying ground reality. I felt happy temporarily only to realize that I was again chasing novelty. 

There are also practical elements, one needs to worry about.

I was shit-broke and lived a poor quality of life. Even if I wanted to help someone, I did not possess the resources to do so. This inadequacy heightened my unhappiness.

Finally, I learned how to stay in the present and be blissful.

You do not need to do what you love to stay happy. You need to love whatever you do. That is what makes us happy. Being in the present.

If we are not fully immersed in every moment of our lives, we will be plagued by anxiety and stress. Our physic energies will not get a constructive outlet, leaving us with a negative set of emotions. Even pleasant moments will appear dull and mundane.

Once we begin living in the moment, we are always immersed in reality. We are not dwindling between past experience and a future dream. We are enjoying every moment by being alive. 

Don’t forget we traded eternal happiness to experience this feeling of being alive.

Techniques to be Happy

If you look at a beehive, an ant colony, swarms of birds or a school of fish, all of these creatures are in the moment. Doing their tasks diligently.

Ants mostly live for weeks or months. An ant colony lasts for years, growing strong with each passing day. 

Each bird flies immersively using their own wings, and a unique flight pattern occurs. The same is the case with fish.

Every honey bee is doing the assigned task and in return, the hive thrives.

We need to do the same. We need to immerse ourselves in every moment we experience. Once you begin practicing being in the present, you will experience a better mood or the so-called elusive state of HAPPINESS.

It is not going to be an easy task. But with regular practice, you can achieve a better state in less than 18 months. 

Below are five ways that you can use to raise your state of awareness. I have researched, spoken to zen masters, and ordinary meditators, and everyone agrees that these options are comfortable and practical.

  • Learning
  • Mindfulness Walk
  • Meditation
  • Tai-Chi
  • Work Trance

Learning

As kids, learning is forced on us. As adults, we learn to get better prospects and high paying jobs. A very few among us enjoy the process of learning. 

Learning requires attention and concentration. If you have stopped learning, you need to begin. 

Victims seek entertainment. The wise seek education.

Anything which excites you, you can learn about it.

If history bewilders you, read about ancient civilizations, world wars, territorial disputes, lives of great emperors. There are tons of resources that you can utilize to improve your knowledge. 

If bikes fascinate you, make sure you know about every sort of engine ever created.

If cutting grass fascinates you, learn about grass. You will be surprised to know that there are over a thousand books written about the grass in your lawn. 

No piece of knowledge is a waste of your time. 

The more you will learn, the better will be your concentration, focus, and attention. Once you are more attentive, you will notice tiny moments of happiness in your day to day lives. A simple thank you said by your colleague will give you a surge of dopamine. Even during bad days, you won’t feel any discomfort as you will be immersed in your task at hand, whether it is driving, working, eating, sex, or any other activity.

Learning is the stepping stone to happiness.

Suggested Reading – The Importance Of Reading

Mindfulness Walk

Each morning or evening, go for a walk in a park. Walk extremely slowly. Observe your surroundings carefully. If an unwanted thought comes in your mind, put it off by focusing on the ants, squirrels, birds, or dried leaves. The idea is to be present in the park. Immerse yourself fully. Practice this for 10-15 minutes daily. 

Initially, you won’t be awestruck, but a few months later, you will realize how blissful this experience is. 

As your awareness will rise in the park, your awareness outside will also grow. You will be more present in your day to day activities. You will enjoy simple tasks such as taking a shower, eating food, watching a cat cross the road. You will be fascinated to see toddlers interact with their surroundings. Every moment will appear breathtaking.

With a heightened sense of awareness, mundane activities will appear novel. You will no longer need to chase novelty to be happy. Awareness will make each experience novel, in turn, making you happy.

Alternatively, you can watch sunrise or sunset.

You can dance.

You can ride a bicycle in the woods.

Do whatever pleases you, but do it slowly, observing your surroundings. Get immersed in the moment.

Meditation

There are countless forms of meditation that you can practice. For a beginner, the easiest will be observing your breath at all times.

Our breath controls our bodies. Try not to breathe for a minute, and every organ of your physical being will start to deteriorate. Breath is life. Be mindful of your breathing.

Whenever you are stressed, tense, angry, or hurt, your breathing either rises or becomes shallow. By being mindful of your breath, you can put a stop to anxious and worrisome thoughts. When you focus on the breath, you will be in the present moment. Being in the present is the key.

Initially, it will be tough. Your monkey brain will always irk you, swarm you with unwanted thoughts. As Zen masters say, if the monkey brain takes you away a million times, bring your attention back to the breath a million times. After the millionth time, the monkey brain will surrender. The goal is to keep practicing until you tame your monkey mind.

Not all of us can learn meditation from a zen master, so it is better to embrace technology. Headspace and Calm are two great apps using which you can begin your journey. These guided meditation apps will give you the same experience as learning from a master. 

Practice consistently, and get better. 

SUGGESTED READING – How To Beat Depression

Tai-chi

Tai-chi is a form of Chinese meditative trance. In tai-chi, you move your body swiftly using well-orchestrated steps that help you channel your energies and attain a peaceful mental space.

Tai-chi might appear a little tough initially as you need to be mindful of your breathing and body movements at the same time. Multitasking mostly puts us off. But once you are over with the initial phase, you will see faster results in comparison to regular meditation. 

You won’t find a good tai-chi master easily, so it is better to resort to technology. Various masters offer You-Tube modules free of cost. You can use them for initial learning and then graduate slowly. There are also online courses that will benefit you.

Work Trance

Whenever we practice any activity for long, it becomes a habit. Habits do not require cognitive bandwidth. That is the reason you can think and brush your teeth without hurting yourself. Your brain knows all the steps of brushing and completes the activity in an auto-pilot mode without needing any assistance from you. 

As much as this is effective from a mental point of view, it leaves room for your mind to wander.

We do the same with all of our daily activities. Once we are habituated to a job, a task, or an activity, we stop paying attention and let our minds take us on a ride. 

The human mind has a negative bias to protect us from danger. If your mind is not focused on the task at hand, it will wander exploring false narratives, which will make you anxious and worrisome. Your state of happiness will be compromised. The only remedy is to be present.

Work trance is a state wherein everything ceases to exist.

During work trance, writers complete books and painters paint masterpieces.

Suggested Reading – Do You Have What It Takes To Be Responsible

I write such essays in two hours because I am in a state of work trance. Even if the roof falls over my head, I won’t realize it, I am so engrossed in this intimate dialogue. 

Work trance is not limited to creative activity. And for that matter, every action is some form of creation. 

If you are a call center executive, get in a work trance. Talk to as many customers as possible. Know them, speak to them, connect and bond with them You will be charismatic, confident, expressive and will strike a chord with your customers because you will be present in the moment. You will not be thinking about paying bills or a toxic colleague. The moment in the present is about you having a conversation with your customer.

Similarly, if you are a sportsperson, your focus should be on the game. Nothing else matters. That is how David Goggins ran a 100-mile marathon on broken legs. 

Work trance is tough to induce, as it requires you to be completely honest with yourself. You need to be mindful of your internal dialogue. You should be aware of your motivation.

You are in the moment doing the task at hand because this is what the present moment demands. Nothing else matters. Everything will wait until your break.

Work trance will improve your productivity, efficiency, and overall happiness index because you are not paying attention to mindless chatter. 

Bottomline

The pursuit of happiness is a flawed concept. You cannot pursue something which lies within. To be happy, you must be present. Once you start being in NOW, you will enjoy every moment to its full. You will be alive.

Remember, we all traded an eternal blissful life for this feeling of being alive. If you are not in the present, you have already died. Dead men can only feel pain, not joy.

Hope this helped. 

I would request you to share this essay on your social media if you liked it. Obviously, you are free to accept or deny my request.

See you next week with another novel, fresh and exciting topic.

Leave comments and suggestions. I need them to improve. 

What is your definition of happiness?