Recipe for happiness
Happiness is a state of the mind. When you are happy you experience a
feeling of pleasure or contentment. When we meet a friend we greet him:
"You look very happy today". Even when you hear such words we feel
However, real happiness comes after recovering from an illness,
winning a court case or a lottery ticket. The degree of happiness may
vary from event to event. The few moments you spend with your loved one
are the happiest times for a lover, husband or wife. But when you win a
consolation prize in a lottery you do not feel much happiness because
the amount of money you are getting is negligible.
Whatever degree of happiness you are aiming at, there seem to be
certain rules to follow. At the beginning you will find it difficult to
follow them because people generally do not like rules. They think rules
are there to be broken.
Whatever it is, if you really want to be happy, here is a time-tested
recipe. The first rule for happiness is to trust yourself. It is tragic
that most of us do not trust ourselves. For the slightest difficulty we
face in life we run to another person seeking his advice.
Although there are times that you have to seek advice from another
person, why not trust yourself and consult yourself first? Human beings
are made up of different characteristics and qualities.
We are different from others both physically and mentally. Even twins
are different from each other. Although they may look alike, they tend
to differ as they mature. Sometimes we know the answers to our problems.
But we hesitate to accept them because we do not trust ourselves. When
somebody else advises us, we begin to think that we too had a similar
If you look at the human history, you will realise that all great men
from Gauthama Buddha to Bertrant Russell or J. Krishnamurti had faith in
themselves. They would not have achieved such dizzy heights if they had
not trusted themselves.
When you begin to trust yourself, you must be ready to face criticism
from others. Copernicus and Galileo were ridiculed and attacked for
their novel theories confirming that the earth and other planets moved
round the sun.
Martin Luther was persecuted when he came out with his opinion that
angered the established church. When Pasteur voiced his opinion on
protection against bacteria, people laughed at him. Newton and Einstein
were not understood by his contemporaries. Even Jesus Christ was
crucified because he thought differently from others.
All these great men succeeded in their endeavours because they
trusted themselves. And they were quite happy with their findings.
Although we are lesser mortals, we too can aspire to achieve our aims.
One way to do this effectively is to have faith in yourself. Having
faith in yourself is quite different from knowing yourself. If I ask you
who you are, you will find it difficult to answer. You might say, "why,
I am a doctor, lawyer or engineer". But these are mere labels.
There are so many doctors, lawyers and engineers in the world. But
they are all different. One doctor may be an eminent physician whereas
your family doctor might be an ordinary healer.
Then how do we know ourselves? There is only one way to do this,
i.e., by introspection. Any standard dictionary would tell you that
"introspection" means the examination of one's own thoughts, feelings
and motives. People living in this Digital Age seem to have no time for
introspection. They are eternally running a rat race with their fellow
human beings to achieve fame, wealth or power.
Meanwhile, busy people dread the very notion of introspection. They
might say that this is sheer nonsense. "Why should I think of my
feelings and motives when I have everything I need", they might ask. But
they are the very people who should probe into their conscience. Most of
the crimes and bloodshed are due to our failure to question our motives.
The person who examines himself before doing something is an
intelligent human being. But the trouble is that most of us do not want
to question our beliefs and actions.
Another problem we encounter is that we are inundated with opinions
of others all the time. As a result, we become conditioned to think in a
particular way. For instance, if you believe in a particular "ism", you
do not want to hear anything against it. Thus, we are constantly
building walls around ourselves. We have to demolish these walls and
probe our conscience.
Take the present turbulent times. Parents are scared to send their
children to school. We do not want to travel unless we are compelled to
do so. I personally feel that "Deyata Kirula" is a bold attempt on the
part of the government to show that life has to go on despite terrorist
threats. If we become victims of fear psychosis, all our efforts to
develop ourselves and the country would suffer.
It is a tragedy that most Sri Lankan students who reach the Advanced
Level stage do not have a clear plan for their future. Students with an
aptitude for mechanical work try to be doctors or lawyers. Those who
have the potential to become doctors are let loose in Information
Technology field. So, young adults should know what they are capable of
doing and proceed along those lines.
In order to achieve happiness, you have to do what you enjoy. If you
do not enjoy what you are doing, it is high time to change your job.
Some people remain clerks and typists throughout their adult lives
expecting the old age pension.
If they had tried hard some of them would have become professionals
in different fields of activities. I knew of a humble hospital clerk who
ended up as an eminent lawyer. Another postal employee studied burning
the midnight oil and became a lawyer and then a judge.
When once you trust yourself and know yourself, you have to be
yourself. This is another hurdle on your way to happiness. Most of us
try to imitate others and ignore our own personality. It is always
sensible to remember that you cannot be another Shakespeare, Beethoven
or Mozart. Therefore, know your strengths and weaknesses and act
When you know yourself, you will never try to over-reach your
capabilities. If you try to achieve something unattainable, you are
heading for a nervous breakdown. Always remember what Polonius told his
"To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to any man".