What makes us happy? What makes us unhappy? Is happiness our ultimate goal, or is it just momentary, fleeting, ephemeral?
Happiness is, without doubt, the greatest feeling. All of us always want to be happy. Everyone is in an eternal pursuit of happiness. There are many books and articles on how to be happy. But our focus should also be on what obstructs our happiness or on various causes of unhappiness.
A crow lived in the forest and was absolutely satisfied with his life.
But one day he saw a swan.
“This swan is so white,” he thought, “and I am so black. This swan must be the happiest bird in the world.”
He expressed his thoughts to the swan.
“Actually,” the swan replied, “I was feeling that I was the happiest bird around until I saw a parrot, which has two colors. I now think the parrot is the happiest bird in the world.”
The crow then approached the parrot.
The parrot explained, “I lived a very happy life until I saw a peacock. I have only two colors, but the peacock has multiple colors.”
The crow then visited the peacock in the zoo and saw that hundreds of people had gathered to see him. After the people had left, the crow approached the peacock.
“Dear peacock,” the crow said, “you are so beautiful. Every day hundreds of people come to see you. When people see me, they immediately shoo me away. I think you are the happiest bird on the planet.”
The peacock replied, “I always thought that I was the happiest and the most beautiful bird on the planet. But because of my beauty, I am entrapped in this zoo. I have examined the zoo very carefully and I have realized that the crow is the only bird not kept in the cage. So, for the past few days I have been thinking that if I were a crow, I could happily roam everywhere.”
This is often our problem too. Sometimes we let comparison bring us down, instead of valuing what God has given us. Comparison with other people’s “apparently” happy lives can bring us unhappiness.
Happiness consists of many different factors. There may be many secrets to happiness, but comparison is definitely one of the major causes of unhappiness. Comparing ourselves to others not only makes us continuously jealous and greedy, but it also makes us less satisfied with who we are and what we do.
Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world. If you do so, you are insulting yourself. It gives rise to unnecessary jealousy. You have no idea what their journey is all about. You are unique in this world and you have a purpose to serve, which only you can. Don’t let your neighbors set your standards. Be yourself.
Learn to be happy with what you have instead of looking at what you don’t have.
There will always be someone who has more or less than what you have. If we look at those who are more fortunate than us, we will always be unhappy. If we look at those who are less fortunate than us, then we will value our circumstances and be content.
One who is content with what one has is the happiest person in the world.
Another major cause of unhappiness is having expectations.
We have a lot of expectations from our close relatives and relationships, friends and colleagues. When they don’t measure up to our expectations, we get disappointed and unhappy. Same goes with the objects of the world, which we imagine can give us happiness.
On the other hand, if some thing or being gives us experiences to our expectation, then we get attached to it. We want to hold on to them. Attachment leads to bondage and any kind of bondage is a cause of misery.
Have no expectations from things and beings of this world. When we have no expectations whatsoever and then when we get some positive experience, that will surely give us some joy.
Unhappiness is not knowing what we want and killing ourselves to get it. Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response. Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.