Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Art of Happiness by Vikram Karve

The Art of Happiness
Vikram Karve

The primary aim of philosophy and spirituality is to help ordinary people live a life of happiness, fulfillment and tranquility. Every day you ask yourself - How do I live a happy life? Is it simple to be happy? What is the art of happiness? Let us see what the Taoist philosopher Mingliaotse has to say: “ The art of attaining happiness consists in keeping your pleasures mild.”
You know that whenever pleasure is present you are happy – this is a fact that cannot be denied – for a pleasure is an enjoyable event or delightful emotion which is bound to make you happy, at least for that moment.
Highfalutin philosophers and spiritual gurus may prescribe various impracticable esoteric paths of renunciation, asceticism or sectarian precepts eschewing enjoyment and pleasure as the sine qua non of happiness but the fact of the matter is that to the ordinary person happiness and pleasure are inextricably intertwined.
Discovering enduring pleasures which you can easily and regularly achieve, realize and enjoy in your day-to-day life will produce contentment, fulfillment and happiness.
No pleasure is a bad thing in itself, but wanton pursuit of pleasures is counterproductive as it leads to over-indulgence and excesses which bring with them disturbances which are detrimental to our happiness and well-being.
In your search for happiness you indulge in extravagant parties, expensive entertainments and try to enjoy everything at once, instant gratification by over-indulgence in wining, dining and dancing, stretching yourself to the maximum limits possible; at first you enjoy yourself and feel happy but when you come to the point of satiety you begin to feel a sense of repulsion, and if you overdo yourself, next morning wake up sick and feeling miserable with a sense of sadness rather than happiness. Grandiose, complicated, ostentatious and intemperate indulgences which you think will make you happy , in actual fact leaves you stressed-out, unhappy and causes you harm in the long run.
There is no need to overdo things in order to be happy. Just keep your pleasures mild. Enjoying a simple, tasty and healthy meal with your loved one’s and friends, or just sitting quietly and leisurely reading a good book, taking a walk enjoying melodious music, enjoying your work, leisure, hobbies are some mild pleasures which will make you happy and keep you healthy too.
It is simple to be happy. The first thing you must do is to introspect and list your most pleasurable activities – things that give you true joy, happiness and satisfaction – in all aspects of your life. Make your list as exhaustive as possible and from this list select those “mild” pleasures that you can enjoy every day or often. And then fit them into your daily routine. See what happens. Experiment. Delete those “pleasures” that you thought would give you happiness but actually made you stressed-out – things you think would be satisfying but turn out to be unrewarding. Do not be hesitant to add new items to your list – you can always remove them if they fail to produce the desired results. Fine tune and religiously practice your list – and experience happiness every day.
This prescription of keeping your pleasures mild will enable you to structure your life in way where your happiness will be in your control and you will find greater joy in your life. It will be feasible and within your control to ensure that you enjoy these mild pleasures daily or at least fairly regularly and, with only so many hours during the day, these enjoyable events will begin to crowd out the neutral, unpleasant, and irrelevant activities in your daily life and make you feel fulfilled and happy.
Dear reader, start today and discover the art of happiness. And do let me know your experience – did keeping your pleasures mild make you happier? And which are your mild pleasures?


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