“Happiness is not something ready made, it comes from your own actions”

What if this is a Question in the Essay paper of the Mains Examination?

This Write up can be useful in understanding how to approach the topic ” Happiness” that is frequently asked in UPSC Main Examination. Once this underlying idea is clear any Questions in the future on “What happiness in life is all about” can be answered in a very convincing manner. The Write up is not a Model Essay, but a thought provoking introduction into the topic “Happiness”

All of us have been Happy in our lives. There have been unhappy moments as well. Many of us find that as we grow up, the happy moments in our lives are far and few. Have we ever wondered what can be the reason for this state of life?

How many of us would have given a thought about what makes our life Happy and What doesn’t?

It is this search that can provide us with the answer that is required for this Essay Question.Lets start searching for Happiness in our lives.

Pursuit of Happiness

The Search for Happiness appears to be a problem of the Adulthood. Children never seen to be concerned or worried about this grand search for Happiness for their lives are full of Happy moments. Each and every act of a child makes him/her happy. This is because Children live in the present moment. They recieve gratification from each and every instant of their lives. But strangely for adults this is not the case. We have stopped living in the present. Somehow we have become too obsessed with the future. Every act of our lives – our education, our profession and our choice of our relationships appear to be all coloured with a concern for the future.

“What we study and learn is for our future employment.”

“What we work is for our future Retirement.”

“Who we share our lives with is for our future Children.”

Sadly this concern for the invisible future strangely occupies every part of our existence. We appear to be lost in the present. We have lost touch with reality and the pleasures of the real world.

“We have created a strange association that “Money, Fame and Position” in the future will make us happier.”

Our actions have become strictly Utilitarian. Our actions all have only one purpose and that is to realize this association between “Money,Fame and Happiness”. The foolhardy nature of this enterprise can only be realized when we finally achieve Money, Fame and Power and still we are bereft of Happiness in our lives.

We then understand that Happiness is not a commodity to be purchased with Money and Position.

Where can one find Happiness then?

Actions that define us in our daily lives – Progress & Pursuit of Excellence

Daily activities that strive for Excellence can produce the kind of happiness that comes from the pursuit of something great. Not the moment you arrive at the top of the mountain and raise your fists in victory, but the process of falling in love with the hike. It is meaningful work. It is flow. It is the purpose that creates identity and builds character and channels our energy toward something greater than the insatiable, daily pursuit of our fleeting desires.

“Excellence would simply mean, being the best person one possibly can”

To become the best person one can requires a daily sustained efforts.

The essential difference between ‘striving for excellence’ vs striving to be succesful is that the former makes a person enjoy his daily actions thus generating happiness in each and every simple task he does.

On the other hand, ‘striving to be succesful’ is based on the assumption that the daily life is one filled with hardship and pain that one undergoes to become succesful one day and then find Happiness out of this success. This kind of approach only numbs the person to the beauties and pleasures of everyday life.

Example: A scientist performs his experiments and is engrossed in his own thoughts everyday. It is his pursuit of truth and excellence that makes his every passsing day intersting. The happiness he arrives at by moving an inch closer to understanding the mysteries of the nature is what propels him closer towards his goal. It is not the futuristic goal of winning a Nobel Prize that has led to all the discoveries in this world. The scientist would gladly sarifice his Nobel Prize but he cannot sacrifice the daily happiness that he gets from his thoughts and experiments.

Small acts that build Big Relationships – Say “Thank you” & Feel happy

A simple act such as helping a poor person or being grateful to someone who had helped you during the bad moments of one’s life can all be extremely satisfying and can make a person feel Happy. Studies and experiements have been conducted to find out how such small acts as being grateful can make a person happy and the results have shown indeed it works.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude).

Other Actions that can build Hapiness in our lives

Build Quality Relationships

Humans are a social species and need regular contact. In a 75-year, multigenerational study, researchers at Harvard University have measured happiness levels in people from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. He found that the most joyful were those with high-quality social connections.

Choose to be Happy

“Many do not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives.

Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again . Life is a choice. It is our life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly.

Choose happiness.

Concluding Remarks-Happiness is not a destination, it is a journey.

All too often we are led to believe that by obtaining goals or possessions we will feel happier. But the reality is – and science agrees – that when we reach those destinations, our happiness levels quickly return to their original set-point. Indeed, happiness often leads to success, but success does not always lead to happiness.

Instead, research shows that the best way to maintain consistent well-being is to focus on the everyday actions you can make in your life, with altruism, gratitude and quality relationships being important factors: happiness really is a journey and not a destination. 

In fact, research in the field of positive psychology has shown that happiness is a choice that anyone can make.

“It is in the nature of a human to alter his state of Happiness by altering his actions.”