शनिवार, ९ एप्रिल, २०११

Seven Keys to Happiness

We live in a world where instant gratification is the new mantra. Attention spans have probably dropped precipitously in a last decade or so. If we can’t tweet our thoughts then they are too lengthy to worth any time.
In this brave new world, we will explore the evergreen topic of (well…almost) all human activity –- Pursuit of Happiness. We would explore seven keys to unlock the yet unexplored treasure of happiness.
Oxford English Dictionary defines happiness as state of good fortune or luck in life or in a particular affair; success, prosperity (among dozen or so others).
Before we dive in the keys, let’s make sure that we know how to read important things. Visualize that you are stuck in an elevator. You have given a page that gives you instructions on how you can get yourself out (alive). The catch is the page is going to destroy itself after you have read it once and lastly if you miss one step then the elevator is going to explode, killing you instantly. How would you read those instructions? Got it?
Now to the next part…how would you make sure that you have really learned it? Follow this simple method (not easy just simple!).
1. Read the key
2. Re-read the key
3. Close your eyes and think about what you just read. Don’t repeat the sentence in your head! Think!
4. Find a way to say that same thought in a different way
5. If you were writing the key, how would you write it?
6. Imagine that you are going to give a speech in United Nations on that key. What would you say? What would you highlight?
7. Think of examples where you would apply the key
8. Visualize applying the key successfully in your daily life
9. Last but not least, make a game plan to try it out.
Enough time spent in preparation…let us talk about happiness for real now!
1. Attention: This one key could unlock more than just happiness for you. Attention is our ability to attend to things. Forget the mental chatter that is going on constantly in the background and giving the present moment the center stage that it truly deserves. Start paying attention to minute details of everyday life. It can be as simple as the texture of the soapy water in the bath in the morning or the fragrance of the incense stick or the texture of the anger you feel when the idiot cuts right in front of you on the expressway or frustration of waiting in line for some mundane thing. When you start to be present in your own life, miracles will start to happen. They will be what I call private miracles. You will notice things that you did not notice before. You will start doing things little different. You may react differently or not react at all……and these moments will add up and they will eventually make all the difference.
2. Breath: Have you ever wondered. What is the most important thing in your life? If your answer is not breath, then I suggest a small experiment to convince you.
1. Hold your breath for as long as you can hold
2. Don’t breathe unless you are convinced.
Well? That was easy! We take our breath for granted. We never realize that the one we are taking in right now may be the last one we will ever take. Minding your breath once in a while gives a different perspective. Attending to your breath with the respect it deserves will help you in weird ways. Not sure what it will do to you but it will make things different for sure. At the very least you will wonder about your priorities. Try it!
3. Focus: Most folks confuse concentration with focus, others confuse between focus and attention. They are cousins but not the same thing. Concentration has an inherent intensity to it whereas attention has temporal element to it. Focus on the other hand stands like a philosopher watching stuff of life with a spotlight on a particular aspect. Try to focus on larger picture and then switch your zoom level to focus on smaller details of that same picture. They look different. Very different. Make this a habit. Look at things with infinite levels of focus before acting. Remember “Thinking is free. Action is irreversible.”
4. Postpone: This is continuation of the previous key but we will focus on an aspect of decision making that will save your lunchbox (and in rare instances may save lives!). Postponing things is lot of things but it is critical that we differentiate it from procrastination. When you know what you must do and not do it…you are procrastinating. If you don’t know the right course if you decide to sleep on it or not act right this second…then that is postponing. When you feel weird feeling in your stomach in a situation then take a deep breath…(the one we learned earlier can kill if not taken routinely) and see if you must act!
5. Act: This is mirror image of the key above…sometimes you must act…how do you know when you should act and when you should postpone? Take a deep breath, pay attention, focus on the moment…see what you see. If you must act then you must. This one needs a little practice (or a whole lot of practice depending on how thick skinned you are…). If you practice then you will be able to tell the difference between postpone and procrastination.
6. Let Go: Stuff happens! Bad stuff happens in spite of your best intensions. Remember nothing is permanent! Not convinced? Let’s try a small experiment (this will feel almost exactly like the one we tried earlier but the teaching is different even though the steps are exactly the same…)
1. Hold your breath for as long as you can hold
2. Don’t breathe unless you are convinced that nothing is permanent including the breath you are holding. You have to let go off the one you are done with and take a new one. You can’t take in a new one unless you let go off the one you are holding on to!
7. Listen: Have you ever tried listening? Most people make mistake in thinking that listening involves other people. Nothing can be further from the truth. Anybody who has not learned to listen to their own inner voice has no capability to listen to others (I am assuming that you are more important to yourself than others!). How does one begin listening? Well…Keep Quite! Don’t respond. Listen to the chatter in your head. See if you can learn to differentiate between chatter and dialog. Between noise and chatter. Later you may learn to differentiate between dialog and information…
By this time I am almost close to certain that you don’t feel this is a valuable teaching or it is going to change you fundamentally. Well…I want to break a sad news to you…any valuable learning has a price to pay. Generally things like Happiness need to be paid with your life!
Nothing less will matter, nothing more is required.

३ टिप्पण्या:

Unknown म्हणाले...

This are incredible notes for one's life. Simple but deep, clear still not easy unless practiced.

Thank you very much Girish. I am feeling peaceful within at this very moment...

Happiness to you.


अनामित म्हणाले...

Girish,good stuff! We miss so much if we choose not to live in the moment, to BE in the moment, fully present, alert, attentive, content, appreciative of all we've been given -- starting with breath! :)

Interesting quote: “Thinking is free. Action is irreversible.” Might have to use that one with my kids.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

Unknown म्हणाले...

Very well said, Girish. I also was drawn to the thinking/action quote. Keep it up!