The Kasturi deer runs hither and thither in the forest, in search of the wonderful musk scent, which originates from the sac in its own body. It does not realise that the source of the aroma is within itself.
We tie our happiness to people, places, and things. We think when all of them become exactly the way we want, we will become happy. However, the happiness that depends on external circumstances is very fragile. The moment the circumstance changes, our happiness also evaporates.
In June 2013, the devastating floods and consequent landslides in the state of Uttarakhand damaged several buildings and structures. Debris from the hills jammed the rivers and increased the deluge. A television crew was reporting live by interviewing many harried residents sharing their tales of woe. Suddenly the camera turned to a homeless old lady, but she was found busy thanking the Lord because her husband, children, and grandchildren were safe.
In the midst of death and destruction, this woman was still brimming with positivity, hope, and contentment. What was her secret? It was simply the way she was choosing to think. The circumstances
were grim. But rather than focusing on her loss, she was focusing on the silver lining she saw in the situation.
That is why the saying: “Pain is inevitable; misery is an option.” Nobody can avoid painful circumstances. But nobody can force us to be unhappy. The successful distinguish themselves by their ability to marshal their mental resources. They choose their thoughts judiciously to be ever happy and inspired.
Why is the Mind So Important?
Both happiness and distress are experienced because of the state of our mind. Positive thoughts are beneficial for the mind and soul, and immediately generate a feeling of bliss. For example, thinking about acts of kindness, sacrifice, selflessness, service to others, etc. uplift us and make us feel good. In contrast, negative thoughts generate unpleasant feelings, leading to harmful actions or selfish behaviour. Thus, our mind is the singular most important factor in determining the quality and direction of our life.
Why Does Peace of Mind Seem Far-fetched?
When we evaluate everything from the lens of our selfish desires, and when things do not work out the way we expected, our ego germinates negative thoughts. Repeated focus on negative thoughts gradually increases the mind’s taste for such messages, and before we realise it, the rumination turns into a habitual attitude, or mindset if we are not careful and aware.
Like a garden filled with weeds, a troubled mind keeps creating degenerative thoughts eventually internalising incorrect beliefs at the subconscious level. Thus, many of us tend to blame others or even God for circumstances and setbacks in our lives. We may even lose faith or walk away from spirituality. However, this neither solves the problem nor bestows peace of mind.
In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna states, “For those who have conquered the mind, it is their friend. For those who have failed to do so, the mind works like an enemy.” Hence, it is our sovereign duty in life to carefully tend our mind to make it bloom with sublime thoughts and noble emotions.
Price for Happiness
“All over the world people are seeking peace of mind, but there can be no peace of mind without strength of mind.” ~ Eric B Gutkind
Remember, only humans have the ability and intellect required to develop sublime qualities like wisdom, optimism, perseverance, patience, tolerance, resilience, humility, etc.—that are prerequisites for propelling one forward and attaining higher goals of life. These virtues are a result of the ability of the intellect to control the mind, which is called vivek (power of discernment). We all possess it and use it to varying degrees. But we have not yet harnessed its full potential.
Divine knowledge from the eternal scriptures has the potential to empower the intellect. When you use an illumined intellect to govern the mind, it is referred as Buddhi Yog (Yoga of the Intellect) in the Bhagavad Gita. This holds the key to living a stress-free and happy life, rather than by the whims of the uncontrolled mind. Therefore, focus on inner growth to build the foundation of outer success as well.
Swami Mukundananda is the founder of JKYog India and a bestselling author.