Dr Sat Parashar, PhD
Do you know the happiest Country in the world? As per World Happiness Report, 2020, it is Finland. Which is the happiest city in the world? It is Helsinki in Finland.
Do you know the least happy Country in the world? As per World Happiness Report, 2020, it is Afghanistan. Which is the least happy city in the world? It is Kabul in Afghanistan.
Do you know how happiness is measured for World happiness Report?
It is by the Cantril Ladder, that is also known as The Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale.
In simple words, it is the measure by which the respondent evaluates himself or herself on 10 point scale; 0 for completely unhappy and 10 for completely happy.
As per World Happiness Report, 2020, the person who evaluated himself/ herself happiest in Finland (and thus in the World) recorded 7.8/ 10. The person who evaluated himself/ herself least happy in Afghanistan (and thus in the World) recorded 2.57/10.
Happiness needs lots of props. The selected correlates of happiness, as per World Happiness Reports are Logged GDP per capita, Social support, Healthy life expectancy, Freedom to make life choices, Generosity, Perceptions of corruption, Ladder score in Dystopia (Dictionary meaning: an imagined state or society where there is great suffering or injustice. That is the opposite of Utopia).
A Chemist will tell you, for happiness, you need dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. Dopamine comes from achievement and appreciation. Oxytocin comes from love and closeness to others. Serotonin comes from helping and serving others. Endorphins come from exercise and laughter.
People use a variety of props for gaining happiness like company of family members, friends, colleagues, drugs, drinks, sex, vacation, theater, shopping, music, club, gym, support animals, places of worship, and many more.
Happiness Without Props
The most distinguished contribution of India (Bharat) to the world has been its ‘Braham Vidya’, the knowledge of the origin of everything. The origin of human being, universe and the entire cosmos. The Braham Vidya has, anciently, dealt with questions of perennial relevance and interest to humans like Who am I? What is the goal of my life? Where do I go after death? How to be happy, peaceful and prosperous?
The unique message of Braham Vidya has been that happiness is within you. You have to know, understand, perceive, realize, experience and have it.
Know that it is non- fulfillment of your wishes and desires or non- fulfillment of your expectations that make you unhappy.
Know the origin of human desires and expectations.
The origin of expectations is actions; origin of actions is desires; origin of desires is attachment; origin of attachment is sense organs’ engagement with sense objects.
In other words, the engagement of human sense organs with sense objects create attachment. Attachment creates desires. The desires lead to action and expectations. If expectations are fulfilled, you are happy; and if not, you are unhappy.
So, if you could withdraw or control your sense organs, attachment, desires, and undertake action detached from the outcomes and expectations, you can be happy without any external props.
It is equally important to note that all external props that we use to be happy are temporal. It is therefore that happiness attained through all those props is temporary.
In the Braham Vidya tradition of knowledge, human body is viewed at three levels, namely, gross, thought and cause. Gross body is what we all see and touch. Thought body is your mind, intellect and ego. And the cause body is what is known as Atman or soul.
The Atman is stated to be the mirror image of the supreme being, the creator. In Sanskrit, it is known as Satchidanand. Satchidanand is a conjoint of three words, namely, Sat, Chid, Anand. Sat is the ever existing, unchanging, everlasting force (spirit) of life. Chid is enlightenment obtained through knowledge and consciousness of the Sat. And Anand is the everlasting bliss or joy or happiness which comes by knowing and being conscious of the Sat.
In simple words, know your real self (Satchidanand) and you can be happy without any external pros. We often hear in the western world, ‘I am me’; ‘It is my life’. Fair. As long as ‘I am me’, is in terms of gross body, happiness needs props. You need repeatedly and newer, because those are temporary in effect and soon turns repetitive and boring. If you could realize, I am me (Satchidanand), you would have everlasting happiness, without any external props. (Further Reading: Bhagwad Gita, GitaPress, Gorakhpur, India).
The document of Declaration of Independence (The Want, Will and Hopes of the People) of United States of America of July 4, 1776 had unambiguously stated that all men (human being) “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The safety of life and liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are thus the ultimate goals of life, as envisaged in Declaration of Independence. You may turn your pursuit of happiness inside, in addition to outside.
Someone so aptly said, if you can’t be happy with what you have, you can’t be happy with whatever you have.
Dr Sat Parashar, PhD is former Director, IIM Indore. He teaches at University of California, San Diego, and is a financial advisor. He may be reached at [email protected]