Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Happy Pursuits or Pursuit of Happiness....?

Dave Pollard points to this article on the pursuit of happiness. I couldn't agree more with the author, John Barlow. John says one ought not to pursue 'happiness' but realize that happiness comes free with (primarily?) four acts. Well, one can always argue that what it means is that we should nevertheless pursue something or the other! As in the four activities that John advocates in order to experience happiness. But,hey, don't you think all is well as long as we know how to be 'really' finding and doing what makes us happy. To be honest, I personally believe that in most cases people don't pursue happiness per se, but genuinely go looking for something that they can do to be happy. Or, yes, they get so distracted by the challenges and unpredictability of life that they are unable to experience even the extremely obvious happiness that stares them in the face all the time.

John says "I have found four qualities that I believe naturally enrich the ecology of joy. When I'm capable of sustaining them, they sustain me and continue to do so even in these strange days. They are: a sense of mission, the casual service of others, the solace of little delights, and finally, love for its own sake". In his article, when he elaborates upon the sense of mission, he goes on to say how being creative (in the pursuit of a mission) can make one experience great joy. (Yeah!)

It is the sense of mission that all of us need to have or find. It is the creative outlet that we all need to discover. Casual service for others as John explains it should be a lot easier than we think. Coming to the little delights of life, they are extremely easy to spot for some and pathetically unobservable for others. I have no clue how anyone can be taught to appreciate the scurrying of the squirrel, the forlorn look in the eyes of a pup, the mirth of a child, the flight of a flock of casual birds, the orange sunset on a beach, the sound of a flute and so on. I suspect it has to be there...within be able to find the awesomeness of such seemingly mundane things. And then, we have finding joy through love. I guess it is easy to fall in love but the difficulty is rather in sustaining it! And that's because love is rarely unconditional. And even if you expect nothing in particular from others, the complexity of handling love increases as we get into situations involving misconceptions, lack of transparency, deceit, selfishness and what not. So, is it a blind obsession of sorts for mankind that presents itself as a solution? Duh! Maybe! More understandably, it may not necessarily be in ignoring such problems that you get joy, but in being able to accept and get over them (forget and forgive) for your own sake. So, let's listen to the story of Jack... :-)

Jack had found his mission in life

For it filled him with immense passion and purpose

And there was no sense of strife

It made him stretch and learn

And made him believe he was a significant part of this wonderful world

It made him jump out of the bed every morning

He loved helping others whenever he could

At work and outside of it

He enjoyed nature, music, children and art

He had a family and friends he loved from the bottom of his heart

He knew how to give. He also knew to forgive and forget.

Jack was, truly, a happy man...!

So, the answer, I presume may lie in these - large and little - happy pursuits rather than the pursuit of happiness for its own sake.

PS: Attachment to God and detachment from everything mortal and temporary - worldly - is seen as another happy pursuit in the Indian context. And this is generally what most Indian housewives (of the previous generation) want to engage themselves in, to get away from the so-called pangs of life.


Prashant Sree said...

Another Golden,Though provoking post !!

A nice title given there which summarizes the whole idea.. Happy pursuits leads to Happiness.,. A Nice summation.,. :)

I observed a thing, that all the four points being noted by John, requires a main criteria, "Love Thyself". I believe Loving oneself is the primary requirement which in turn leads us to appreciate the other things in our life.

Btw, was the Jack poem penned by you.,. So simple and expressive ;)

krish said...

I feel Happy to read this!

'Desire to achieve' leads to pursuits and 'achievement of desires' leads to happiness. It is up to us to set the attributes of these desires and achievements.

Nimmy said...

Hey Prashant: :-) Good observation. Loving oneself is akin to wanting to enjoy life to its fullest. And that is definitely what this post is all about. And yes, I wrote that thing about Jack. Don't consider it to be a great poem though ;-) I settled for something in between prose and poetry! LoL. Glad you found it nice!!

Hey Krish: Thanks so much for the comment. Indeed...."it is up to us to set the attributes of these desires!!" How true and important!!!