Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Man in exercising his intellect and manual labor, is not merely filling time but validating his life. He is making useful to others. Man as a social animal in order to be happy has to connect with others. Society is his creation and quality of which reflects his inputs into the common fount.  As a useful member he is standing between his ancestors and future of his offspring. But as a social animal you and I are not simply connecting dots in time and place. We are part of social changes like the heat thrown from blazing fire. Ancient Greece is the cradle of democracy. This form of people power has enveloped much of the world and quality of the present government reflects also social changes. Welfare state may be viewed in some parts as Nanny state and in some government interference to regulate unfair trading practices as not desirable to them. Quality of life under different forms of governments reveal social stagnation or progress. In short the present is not merely man bridging the past and future. He is like honey bees carrying social changes.

If such social changes have only produced  some one percent garnering national wealth it might show laws are not correctly formulated as to have produced this vast inequality. There are special groups to push their own agenda and lobbyism has become incorporated into the people power within which law makers work for particular advantage of some section than the whole. The idea of Bread and Circus by which Imperial Rome bought the mob works even now. Social changes have thrown wool over the citizens. Happiness that is inherent in individual, a virtue has by default come to be equated in the consumables that he could purchase. We are a victim of our own success.  

“The pursuit of happiness” is the most famous phrase in the Declaration of Independence. Conventional history and popular wisdom attribute the phrase to the genius of Thomas Jefferson when in an imaginative leap, he replaced the third term of John Locke’s trinity, “life, liberty, and property.”  It was a felicitous, even thrilling, substitution. How did this work out in practice is yet another.


Timon of Athens belonged to the school of Cynics and while the city was in an uproar he went around as though he had no idea of coming invasion of Xerxes and asked why they were working themselves to a lather. One morning he went to the woodlands accompanied by his servant. Seeing the nobleman in charge of logging, Glaccus by name Timon asked why he was up there about so early in the morning. The man said he was supplying the wood for ship building. “There is a war coming on !” exclaimed Glaccus. At the end of conversation Timon advised that there was no guarantee the wood going into building a vessel for naval battle would serve its purpose. He explained all the hazards the vessel was subject to when uncertain weather and uncertain course of the war were against her. ” But she can carry sea-men.”the man insisted. “Why you want them to drown rather than on land?” At the end the Cynic advised. “If you were to hang from any of the branches, you are dying among your kith and kin and you are assured of a fine funeral.” Glaccus knew well enough to keep quiet. At the end of the day Timon had seen enough folly that his fellow men committed in the name of patriotism. He turned to his servant, “I am so happy. I need not skip a rope every time Athenians throw one”. Timon proved in his conduct he was a cynic. The term “cynic” comes from the same root as “canine.” Their view : The world is basically evil: in order to live properly, people must withdraw from participation in it. You know what the world will be if all good people were to shirk their responsibility in changing it for the better?

If man does not dare change society according to his vision he will be condemned to live in one that he cannot see eye to eye with it. It is what we see in our present world though social changes were not result of a cynical view of the world. Progress and undue reliance in our own ability to work changes created the world. Naturally in a consumer society happiness has come synonymous with fad and novelty of things. It is a cashless society and progress spelt for all a good life on credit. It was a disaster waiting to happen for people who dared not follow their own vision. People perish for want of vision. Virtue of an individual is not in his holiness; not in his intellectual capacity; nor in his religion nor in any ideology. All these are means to fix his vision and happiness is the result of being able to make them serve his best interests. Period.

Vision of man is in his integrity that he is an individual. If he wants only to conform to the general trends he has  compromised his virtue. Happiness derived from goods than from happiness that is based on soul is as different as a drug induced happy feeling than the happiness of being alive to the world of real time and people.

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It is in the nature of things all life forms seek to fulfill their inner most urges in the manner they are most suited for. Even unicellular organism like amoeba will shrink from pain and seek source of food. Pleasure and pain have different values on the Nature’s trading floor. When man with his higher capacity to think and hold back the currency of happiness for a higher gain it demonstrates Nature-plus. A scholar who foregoes easy living and roistering with fellow scholars late into the night in some stewpots, foresee certain advantages by his restraint. He is banking on the foreseeable future he shall be in command to please himself. A higher capacity to negotiate with future means he can also enter into the nature of things and modify changes. For example a dog cannot tell us it is under stress but by measuring changes in hormonal level we can find it out. Man with his higher ability to abstract thinking has entered into the suffering of fellow creatures. But what use is if he would know feelings of fellow beings but does not want to help?

Philosophy of man has helped man to explain the nature of pleasure and pain.In that case how do we explain happiness?

Consider a middling tree in a rainforest dwarfed by other trees. This would mean other trees have cut it out os its share of light. Its circumstance do not give much to be happy about. But in the nature of things wind works rubbing trees at the top sending them down in time. The tree could only hope the nature is in control. It means the one who is in control of natural laws is not nodding of. Meanwhile the old trees have sent their seeds far and wide or birds have done it for them. Trees that enjoyed uninterrupted sunshine shall one day hit the dust. Hope of the tree is justified. It is in line of the sun. Living and dying is part of making opportunities to others as a whole. Happiness for a tree is not thus not limited in one per se but being part of wind, weather sun and connected with the earth. Does it necessarily justify to be passive accepting happiness while we can change the terms of engagement?

The Stoics (from the word “stoa” = porch, where the founder Zeno sat to teach) taught a less extreme philosophy: not to withdraw from the world, but to be indifferent to it.

They were determinists, and believed everything that happened was pre-ordained by God according to a divine plan. Virtue therefore consists in learning to accept everything that happens, understanding it as part of a divine arrangement we are powerless to alter.

Indifference to events means that they have no power over a person; this is how one becomes truly free – virtue is a purely personal matter, residing only in the will of the individual. From modern history we realize indifference to events breed much worse discontent that shall drown everyone in it. Brutal regimes have used terror as its instrument to browbeat opposition to complicity. We have seen in the emergence of Hitler exploiting the apathy of the Allies to impose his will on Europe. A similar situation we see in the Middle East. Brutality of groups feeding on indifference shall create an atmosphere that can imperil peace of the whole. Happiness is not guaranteed by indifference but from active involvement of all parties for the general good.

(To be Concluded)


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What is pleasure ? In Wordsworth’s poem we read that it is a series of sensations affecting the heart to create a certain state of being.

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude,

And then my heart with pleasure fills,…

Happiness we may gather from above can fill the heart. The heart here mentioned is not in literal sense. Nevertheless the meaning is clear.

Happiness takes care of the whole life form. We are not affected in part just around our heart or even part of the body but as a whole. Happiness fills our body making certain changes that it can make use of.

King Solomon was one of the wisest kings and the book of Proverbs is credited to him. It was his saying, ‘Merry heart makes a cheerful countenance’.Pro 15.13 On the other hand by sorrow of the heart spirit can be broken. ‘He that is of a merry heart has a continual feast.'(15:15) The significance is clear. Happiness triggers certain changes in your body that adds to the quality of eating. When your appetite is restored a simple meal is heightened to the level of a feast. 

Biology of life forms are not set down in isolation. For example look at the way nature has taken a hand in ensuring propagation of species. Love of two human beings may well begin with a kiss. A kiss at any rate sets off a cascade of neural impulses that bounce between the brain and the tongue, lips, facial muscles, and skin. Billions of little nerve connections distribute information around the body, producing chemical signals that change the way we feel.

A passionate kiss can spike the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to feelings of craving and desire. Oxytocin, known as the “love hormone,” fosters a sense of closeness and attachment. Adrenaline boosts our heart rate and can make us start sweating as our bodies begin to anticipate what might occur later. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, also dips to reduce uneasiness. Blood vessels dilate, breathing can deepen, cheeks flush and our pulse quickens. With so much going on in our bodies to think pleasure is located in any particular area is not correct.

Nature fixes guidelines for progress in biology by which happiness signifies the general state of a life form in terms of the whole. Safety of the group of bisons having grazing grounds and enough members to propagate their kind must mean a higher state in which to exist.

(To Be Continued.)

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The Secret Of the Rainforests

In a rainforest the ground cover receives only filtered sunlight. Whereas plants in the middle growing from branches of trees get more share of light. They get light but not as much as trees at the crown. These tree canopies receive sunshine directly from sunrise to sundown. If the ground cover and plant life on the middle were to survive they would require the wind to do its job. The wind has been at work for months and years striking the canopies together gradually wearing away here and there, letting more sunshine in. In time it so does, by a gust of wind some trees shall be sent down, clearing the way for the ground cover to survive; fire also does its own bit. These are not disasters but Nature’s way of clearing the old and useless so the rainforests may still flourish. Do we call the wind as cruel? Or blame the trees for denying the ground cover adequate sunlight?
Nature’s way of things in this instance can be applied to life of every man and woman. Change is a secret. It has its own rules. But rules apply on physical realm where everything changes. Our youth is no guarantee; much less can we crow about our material possessions. Happiness is that state of life and keeps itself whole and impervious to changes. It is in fact an higher state of life of working with Nature. We did not came into being by exercising our will; nor will we prevent death from sweeping us away. This too shall soon pass but happiness is placing ourselves beyond the Rule of Changes.

Happiness of trees is regardless of age or external circumstances; we humans are no less special.

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Misery could not bear stay at home. So went she visiting. Wherever she went she announced herself thus, “I am Misery.” She came home all the more miserable because none wanted her company.
Her sister Joy thought she knew how to amuse herself. She sold everything she had and went visiting. She bought presents to give away. Wherever she went she said, “I am Joy!” She was wined and dined and she gave away all she had. At the end those who received her well inquired, “What did you say your name was?”
Joy thought she had wasted her time.
Happiness, the eldest sister went visiting. Wherever she went she announced, “Will you let me stay with you? ”and the house owner asked every time, “Who are you?”
“I am nobody.” At this many a door was slammed in her face.
In the end she knocked at one door. A man opened and was told the same she told some thousand times: ‘I am nobody, Just Happiness.’
The man replied, “I am also a nobody but I have my time to give. I have a body to keep the hearth blazing. Just you and me. You want that?”
She agreed and thus she stayed on. Later he observed that he had the best deal in his life.


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This day happens to be a special day for me. So many years ago I sent on this day a letter to my pen pal with whom I was corresponding in my school days. In the first instance my pen pal from Netherlands wrote about her country and her friends, farm-life. I wrote about books, films and usual things about my country college life. Soon it progressed from there to speak about personal things- what I want in life; and we soon were talking such things about love and soul. It came to a state I was all eager on the day her letter was due. My days in school or at home for holidays were emotionally built around the day. Postman was our patron saint. During my final year I was thus looking forward to the day I could tear open her letter read or look at the enclosed snapshots- read it all over and over again. My love-sickness must have been so loud and clear that alarmed my mother. Anyway she got the crucial letter in which we had written our plans. Next morning during family prayer my father clearly vetoed my idea of going abroad or meeting my ‘girlfriend.’ In his eyes I was harboring foolish notions!
The upshot of it was that we went separate ways and I made a disastrous marriage with the blessings of my parents. It reached a point I knew it was beyond salvage and I wrote to my pen pal on the address I knew from memory. Some 23 years ago I sent this letter to the winds so to speak. After that I forgot about it. She did send me reply by return post. Her reply was however confiscated by my ex. It looked as though history was repeating itself!
Luckily my pen pal wrote second time, her address and phone and four months later when I came home for lunch I found it on my table. ( Who did it my servants or my daughter or some assistant in the beauty salon ex was running from home. I never tried to find it out.) The same day I sent a letter to my wife who was free for so many years. We could chat for long in long-distance. I got a chance to go to the USA so I made it a point to meet her on my return trip. From the day one it was as though we were meant for each other.
I could turn my life around and make a soul happy and also find happiness.
On thinking back I realized one can never hold back love or happiness. Both were in our hands. My pen pal, wife and companion had matured as I was from experience. Making love in our case was physical as well as each day making love work in so many things. My old age is a dream come true and my childhood not a nightmare-but- somewhat-near-abouts.


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‘You might have been born with a silver spoon in your mouth. Even so you shall use the nether end like the lowest of the low’.
Wisdom of life can only teach you not to confuse one with the other. O.K you will say, ’What has this got to do with wealth?’ Here are the ten commandments and you can work out your own conclusions.
1. Money is what you handle. If it brings you increase it can also decrease. It is time well invested or wasted.
2. Invest in your time and put your money where the mouth is. You shall live to spend it when others have lost shirts off their backs and their time as well.
3. Be warned when an offer to increase your capital is made by another: it does not state all facts. Any enterprise where your risks are your own and what profit you make has to be shared with another make the offer less than what seems.
4. Quick killing in a bullish market makes your credit good for possessing luxury goods. Ask yourself: does it cover your bare necessities even in a Bear market?
5. One who stays too long taking advantage of vagaries of market conditions has played the fool more often. Leave others to make their quick buck if you have made yours.
6. What good is making money if it cannot be spread around in ways that will keep on even after you have moved onto something else?
7. Any offer to make a quick buck is fine but does the profit come on a slow coach to keep you tied down?
8. Promoters who require hard sell and are hard up to put their own capital have already taken their cut. They only need your money to give an argument that your losses were as per the fine print in the prospectus:.’Market conditions shall apply.
9. Do not fall into debt trap. You spend one third of your life sleeping. Fine. Why should you borrow in order to make your sleep suffer?
10. Whoever offers you a simple solution to your credit worthiness only cover your back till you have taken a hit.

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Holding tight rein on your emotions is one way of living. I do not think I would want such a life. Let me enjoy life in its sweetness and if there should be moments of grief and irritations let me accept these as part of life. Life gives each varying tempos so monotony of always riding at one speed may be avoided. I see these vexations as the means to enjoy the happy moments all the more. Preciousness of my life is supplied by me. My parents because they cared enough to give theirs I am thankful. But it is for me to find my own rather than have a bad fit all my life. I must decide what I intend my life to yield for what I have put in.
Therefore I shall sit back and enjoy my life feeling the force that controls events, people has included me as well as part of it.
For me God is a loving God. I have life to learn from so maturity is possible or by neglect I am less than what I could have become. If I want to scoop hot coals to my bosom and thereby I burn myself, His nature is not a whit lessened. Only my foolishness prevents me from appreciating His love and goodness.
It is easy for people to do painful things and go through life chastened by their own mode of torture or embrace life like an infant comforted by presence of its parents.
Some think they please God by their deeds. If one thinks one gets benefit out of fasting and praying in impossible positions would please one’s conscience let each find what each will. God is not benefited by it.
It is not easy for great many to throw themselves into his lap and say,’Father, I am your child’ and await His all enveloping nature to smoothen their weariness or frenzied emotions. Instead they seek systems and invent ways to dictate How God ought to respond to theirs.
When we hold back our self we give only the second best to God, the Giver of all good things.

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