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No time like the present to be happy

Build on all the good things and, if there are things that you would like to change
in your life, start small and start today

Published: 01st October 2016 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 30th September 2016 11:57 PM   |  A+A-

Happiness is a habit. When I say this, people are often taken aback; as if happiness is something that someone else gives you—parents, friends, gifts or even God. But that is not true. Happiness is your fundamental nature. It is the complexities of ego that cross out your innate nature and cause emotions that confuse you that become obstacles to happiness.
Life is full of ups and downs, and our emotions are our signposts. It is necessary therefore that we don’t hide them away, especially if we would like to understand such emotions as anger or jealousy and work with ourselves to experience these negative states less often.
We need to make friends with all our emotions, both positive and negative, so that we can begin to see where they come from or how they are triggered.
And the more friendly we are with even the most painful emotions, the more easily we can let them go. As we practise the tools of patience, appreciation, understanding the nature of change and acceptance, we will gradually find that our emotions may become friendlier towards us. As we become better observers of our minds through meditation and everyday mindfulness, we may feel the burn of
anger dissolve before the fire has even got going.
We live in an era of competition and comparison, and while competition is one way to drive us to greater heights, it also develops in our minds the idea of winners and losers, creating anxiety about where we are on some imaginary ladder of success, achievement or even happiness relative to others. So instead of being happy for another person’s success or happiness, we look upon them with jealousy and envy; or if we are very successful ourselves, we might be full of pride, looking down on others from a supposed great height. Instead, we must keep all of our comparisons, gossip and judgments about others aside, while we focus on being true to ourselves, without the need for praise or blame.
To be observant of ourselves should not mean that we become insular. It is only when we interact with the world and make connections that we open up opportunities to give and receive happiness, inspiration, teachings, kindness and love. And more we develop our connec­tions with the world, the more beauty we will see in life; they will nourish and support us when we need them and give us so many wonderful ideas and moments and experiences. We must learn to be great listeners, cultivate our patience, be willing students of life and never be afraid to reach out. Similarly, we must never be afraid of confronting our emotions. To experience all of our emotions fully, even to allow our hearts to be broken, is to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and therefore truly experience life. It is only by understanding suffering that we truly understand happiness. Life is the best teacher of all. So the more attentive we are to how we are actually going through it and experiencing it, the more chance we have of learning about and developing ourselves.
If we want to bring more joy into life, all we need to do is look a little more closely at it. And if we want to find the meaning of life, all we need to do is let ourselves really live it, to embrace our fears and our uncertain­ties and jump in. Some people have the perception that if we concern ourselves with the minute details of our then we might miss out on the bigger picture or greater opportunities for happiness.
But from my point of view, it is being aware enough to take delight in a cup of tea that opens us up to the possibilities of life—we will enjoy the journey, rather than allow ourselves only a glimpse of happiness once we reach the destination. We will become better watchers of ourselves and our minds, so that we will begin to understand where unhappiness and mental sufferings come from, the roots of our impatience, jealousies and our anger.
The best way to be happy is to go ahead and be happy today. Don’t put it off. Don’t wait for all the condi­tions to be perfect. Don’t let the rain put you off. Bring your mind and your body into the moment and fully experience your day.
Switch off the autopilot and really notice the details. Build on all the good things and, if there are things that you would like to change in your life, start small and start today. There is no time like the present to be happy.
The author is the spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order based in the Himalayas

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