We should realise that every day is a fresh opportunity. Once you take this as your motto in life, you can move forward, unburdened by the past. As Leo Tolstoy wrote, “If you want to be happy, be!” By “be” he meant that we should just exist – in the present.
And with discipline and determination we can do it. A role model for anyone battling past demons would be my young friend, Devi. Deserted, with two young children, by her husband when he fell in love with someone else, Devi never has a bad word to say about him and never complains about the way she was treated. In fact she seems to have forgotten the past as she struggles to educate her kids, put food on the table and pay the rent. And in spite of working full time as a
Yes, strange as it seems, Devi is a happy woman! She lives in the present, not in the bitterness of the past. She reminds me that being happy needn’t and doesn’t depend on everything being perfect. As I read somewhere, happiness is looking beyond the imperfections of your present!clerk and freelancing as a real estate agent, she always has a smile on her lips and is ever ready to help out a friend or neighbour.
So whenever the past threatens to overwhelm you, whenever you find yourself going back and seeking answers that do not exist in your past or you feel that can’t cope with real or imagined guilt for past actions, tell yourself that happiness lies not in looking back, but in looking ahead. It lies not in counting your troubles, but in totting up every small happiness you have been blessed with. Both my friend and I must do this, even though nothing will bring either her daughter or my brother back.
LOW EXPECTATIONS BRING HAPPINESS
The second thing that prevents us from living in the moment and being happy is expectations. And the formula for happiness as far as expectations are concerned is: low expectations equal happiness; high expectations equal misery!
Expectations are what you expect of the future and it is common to have high expectations of the time to come. When we are young we expect to get good jobs and then promotions. When we get married, we expect our partners to love and respect us. When we have children we expect them to be bright and loving. We expect them to get admission into good schools and colleges and grow up to have good careers. We also expect all our problems to be solved in the future!
In other words, we have expectations, ambitions, dreams and aspirations. One of the reasons we have them is that we are encouraged to dream and be ambitious right from our childhood. Our parents and
teachers and everyone else also has expectations of us. So we dream of great careers, a luxurious lifestyle and success right from a young age. And if our aspirations and expectations are not fulfilled, we are not happy.
How then can we make ourselves happy? By working harder and trying to achieve our dreams? But this is again chancy, given the over-the-top nature of most dreams. So, the more realistic way is not to have expectations. Make no mistake. This does not mean that we should not aim high; it means that we should not link our happiness to achieving our high aim. We should find the journey itself to be rewarding.
Since most of our aspirations and dreams have to do with materialistic goals we should remind ourselves that happiness does not come with possessions. We should understand that happiness does not come from getting something we do not have; it
WE CAN ADOPT THE
KARMA YOGA –
WORKING TO THE
BEST OF OUR
HAPPINESS IS A
STATE OF MIND.