« Flowing without Knowing | Main | If not here, where? If not now, when? »

May 11, 2005

Don't worry, Be happy

A Zen master once said, �Sometimes you smile because you are happy, sometimes you are happy because you smile.�

While it is difficult to be happy any time we want, it certainly is within our capacity to smile at any time and hence be happy :)

Now, that seems to be a childish solution� or is it?

Sreekanth said that often, the anticipation of a result gives more happiness than the result itself. Once we get the result, there is a sense of, �Hmm, now what?� He gave the example of a separated husband who used to visit his son once a month. Two days before the visit, he would feel excited and plan for what he is going to do with his son. The anticipation and planning was more fun than the actual time spent with his son. This became clear when he got the custody of his son, and realized that he had 'lost the excitement' of looking forward to visiting his son.

Jags summarized this feeling by saying that we are more happy traveling than arriving. Why is that? Desire, Prasad said, is a process. It is the movement of the mind from what we feel we lack to what we think will remove that lacking. All our actions are a result of this movement.

Since most of the results of our actions are short lived, our mind must have done a 180-degree flip and got attached to the process (desire), which can last as long as we live! One should admit that it is a brilliant way of extending the period of happiness right from the time when we start seeking something until the time we get it. The problem is of course when we start doubting whether we will get the result. If the good side of anticipation is excitement, the bad side is anxiety, fear, frustration and depression. From our experience, we know that our excitement from anticipation can get killed any time and it is an unreliable means of happiness. But, as it is said, we are more comfortable with a familiar pain than an unfamiliar possibility.

Prasad said that many people think 'letting go' is a solution to desire. But he warned that people often confuse between psychological letting go and spiritual letting go. Many times, when we look at our life from the point of fundamental questions like 'what is life?' most of our desires seem trivial and it becomes easy for us to let go at a spiritual level. In spite of letting go spiritually, the desires keep coming back and we are surprised. The reason is, once we desire something, it creates emotional imprints of the desire in our mind. Then, the psychological letting go of the emotion is possible only along with the object of the desire. Meaning, we should have the object of our desire first to be able to let go of it. To take an example from computer security, our desire is the private key and the object of our desire is the public key. We need both the keys to unlock and release the emotions created by our desire. If we do not have the public key, then it becomes a lot harder because, we will have to dig deeper into our system (our mind) to release the emotions.
Now let us look back at the Zen master's statement mentioned in the beginning. What if real happiness is neither in the travel nor in the arrival but is in where one comes from?

Few quotes that capture this idea:

�There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.�

�Work does not bring us happiness unless we bring happiness to work.�

�Most people want to add years to their life instead of adding life to their years.�

Anyone wants to smile? Hello?

A practice to help letting go:

Often, we tend to think of letting go as �giving up�. But letting go is not cutting oneself off from one�s actions. It is to engage fully and be willing to not expect the result. Thus it is letting go of the attachment to the result. To drive home the point, Prasad quoted what was once told to him: �If you have ninety nine reasons not to do something and one good reason to do it, go ahead and do it.� Letting go here is letting go of the 99 reasons that cast doubts on the successful result of the action. The moment one can let go of the expectation of the result, one can then come from space of happiness and be fully engaged without the anxiety, frustration etc that we usually feel when we face difficulties in our actions.

Posted by Ragu at May 11, 2005 10:19 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Don't worry, Be happy: