The Pursuit of Happiness
By Tara Manchin Hangzo
Friend, relatives and acquaintance keep asking me if I am happy living Manipur. “Chin, are you happy staying home, in a nondescript dusty town with erratic electricity and water supply and no outlet for entertainment?” I told them I couldn’t be happier as I am content with my present circumstances. I have adapted and accepted the change I have to endure living in my home town. This set me thinking that happiness is not defined by what other’s perception of what you do or don’t do. People forget that happiness is state of mind, how you feel, how you act, how you behave and how you truly accept your life circumstances. Let me start by quoting A.D. Williams, “Happiness can be found everywhere, and in everything. It's our choice."
There are no two way street about how to achieve happiness in life. How to be genuinely happy with our lot, no Mantras or Guidelines but each of us have to learn how to make ourselves happy by experiencing life as it come.
The problem with us human is we spent so much time worrying and thinking we will became happier once we achieve this or that. In the process we waste half our lifetime caring about unimportant things, foolish things, and unchangeable things and being unhappy. This puts a brake in our forward movement. This becomes our thought process; Happiness is conditional to getting married, being in cushy job or running a thriving business. We presume that unless we make lots of money we will not be happy. The greatest danger here is that we put our life on hold until the event happens. We forget to live in the moment and lived in the "if it happens mode". Sometime the things don’t happen at all making us miserable.
The trick is we must learn to be to be happy now at present and be aware of the moment. Be alive! I know of an example, an elderly lady is always worried and anxious about the welfare of her numerous brood but most of her fears never came to pass and she suffers a great deal in terms of her physical health .She would have been much happier if only she has learn to unburden and surrender her worries to God .
In a small town like ours, our main worry is what will people think if I do this or that, not what do I to make myself happy. Our freedom of choice is curbed, each of us is given a choice, all we have to do is choose but we forget that it’s our life, our decisions and our choices and let other people run our life. We fear being the subject of gossip, of being talked about in a demeaning manner by family, friends, neighbours, and society. My advice would be a little selfish sometime and do things to please you. For nothing better to do people are judgmental about what others are doing. We end up getting hurt by what they say or do which is the same as living our life for them and not for ourselves.
We all commit mistakes at one point in life, we either move on or get stuck but others will not let you forget your past mistakes. The past cannot be undone, the question is: are we going to let our past rules our present life, so much so that we forget to live in the present making us wallow in self pity. People who get stuck in the past are the most sullen and unhappy people I have come across.
In our society how do we perceive success and failure, it’s just our attitude and our thinking towards them. If we see failure as not being an IAS/MCS officer or lecturers then you are just limiting yourselves to a few choices in life, you’re going to be miserable. You have to follow your own heart and passion and do what you love to do and stick by it. See the thousands of tuition classes mushrooming in and around Imphal. Someone who didn’t get a government job decided to start an innovative ways of earning, by doing what he loves i.e. imparting quality education to students. He earns good income and makes his family happy. The best part is that he is following his passion. In the process, he is exercising his brain and keeping his memory active and Alzheimer at bay.
There are so many career choices in life these days, those who love gardening and plants have started nurseries and are earning good income. They do what they enjoy i.e. gardening, watching and nurturing saplings into plants, turning them into beautiful flowers for people to admire.
A good example of leading an abundant life is by appreciating simplicity and nature. Whether you have a special talent or not you can cultivate or learn the skill. Just doing it adds an element of spice to your life. Perhaps it makes you feel important and significant, (who doesn’t need to be valued and appreciated in life) or gives you meaning and a sense of connection to your surrounding which is so important. We need to have a sense of belonging to our roots, our culture and our people.
When I hear the gleeful shouting of children saying “mei lak-e! mei lak -e !“ and Ei-shing lak -e, I find myself smiling because the children’s joyous shout for such simple thing like water and electricity supply for a few hours make them so happy. I too feel energised and bustle about doing laundry and mopping the dirty floors. Everyone seems suddenly very busy. Face light up and I feel we become more alive with the electricity on. What we have taken for granted and failed to appreciate earlier (the constant supply of electricity and water in other cities) elicit so much joy and happiness in us. Basic needs when denied have much more value and we learn to appreciate them more. Our government is teaching us to be prudent and thankful which are the two criteria for happiness.
I know in today’s time we live in a competitive world, the Global age. Someone will always earn better and do better than us. Someone will be is richer and prettier. So is there a need to compare our lives? Do you think the grass is always greener on the other side?
What we should be concern about is our own life, are we happy as a person or do we think we aren’t good enough in this world? And live with low self esteem or just because we don’t have enough of good things in life should we be unhappy? This is an unhealthy negative thought. Always challenge this type of thinking. What is “good enough”? As long as you feel happy with who you are, where you are placed in life, earning a decent income, doing what you love, eating your home cooked favourite dishes, having a loving family and home, isn’t that all that matters? Instead of envying others, burning in jealousy, try and learn to be content with what you have and if not thrive for a better life by working harder. (Sweet success comes only from hard work, not from getting a free salary).
During the lowest period of my life I always maintained a journal where I just scribble down what is going on in my head. I write what needs to come out. I called this “Self therapy” Who goes to a shrink in our culture; we rather hide than share our pain with strangers so the journal can become your confidante. This is a good habit and effective tools of “letting go of issues” that needs to be dealt with if you need to move on and grow in life. On the other hand you can also maintain a gratitude journal and make it a point to be thankful for all the blessings.
What is with the superstitious belief we let it governs our lives? I saw an ad for renowned astrologer in our daily newspapers these days. I am sure people flocked to see him during his 5 to 6 days stayed at our hometown. This reinforced my conviction that people do worry about the future and they resort to astrologer to help them cope with the problems in life. I can understand the need as we live in an armed conflict zone. We are always living in fear so we tend to worry too much even at the point of torturing ourselves. Some of our worries are justifiable as many young men never returned home safe and the next day the corpse has to be claimed from the morgue. The daughter never returned home and her corpse is found next day in the paddy field.
How will an astrologer assuage our fear? We have to do it ourselves, get rid of our insecurities and the wrong mindsets. The astrologer will only feed our fear and make it bigger. What if he tells you something and it never happens, you will continue to worry about it and be obsessed? Isn’t that making yourself more fearful about your future? Why don’t you start by believing in your own self worth?
The best thing is to face worry head on, don’t let worry stop you, face it. There is saying live out your fear by taking action, Pronto! A man who is afraid of heights should try bungee jumping and one who is afraid of water should learn swimming. Then we will soon realize that it wasn’t as bad as we anticipated and that we can deal with it. Be a little braver and see life as an adventure. Remember the “Bucket List”? The movie where you make a list of things to do before you bid goodbye to this world. Prepare your own bucket list and live it out .This will surely enhance the quality of your life. Dream about it and it will surely come to pass someday.
Don’t lead a stagnant live, go travel and enjoy life, be bold enough to accept change, and adapt to your surroundings. The world we live in is constantly changing, try and keep pace with it by doing what you need to do. If you resist change, you might get left behind. So remain flexible
Let me end by saying that Happiness is not an end result of things that happen. Do not pursue happiness - practice it. Smile, even when things go wrong. Create & spread happiness; be grateful and happy you will be.