Chasing the Musk Deer Called Happiness

In the Media

Publication Thrive Global
Date 30 July 2019

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Chasing the Musk Deer Called Happiness

Is the search for joy an unrealistic goal after all?

Author: Abhijita Kulshrestha

Publisher: Thrive Global

Common question: What do you want? 

Common answer: I want to be happy.

(Common urge to ask back: So what’s stopping you? But no thank you, it sounds mean, like you want to burst someone’s bubble and take away their life purpose. Therefore, secretly rolls eyes…)

Now picture this—a human being with a smile or grin pasted on the face all the time—this is specious as well as suspicious… definitely not happy. Either the beatific one is an angel; or it is a state attained with a bit chemical assistance or quite likely an indication that some medical intervention must be called for!

It is precisely what the human struggle has been for—to be happy. Human beings, by nature work towards minimising pain and maximising pleasure. Who doesn’t want ease in life? However, it is of utmost importance that one understands how a personal reality can be completely different from the projections made by collective consciousness and by media in general, as they are responsible for spreading of ideas. 

And because there is a lack of awareness on what constitutes spiritual wellness, these projections are lapped up with a particular hastiness. People end up defining goals based on someone else’s perception of what happy should look like. 

One must look at the advertisements in a particular era to understand what is truly important to a generation. While I’m not an avid television watcher, but on the few occasions that I do, the ads float in with a fairly dominant theme: happiness.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for “happy”. I think it is really amazing emotion and the state of being

Just like nirvana, everybody wants to achieve it, everyone has a definition of it and try several means to achieve the much-desired end. If one had that chocolate bar, that dress, the steal on that sale, the fancy car, a fairer skin colour, marked the milestones in life with jewellery, bought that insurance or went on that cruise—somehow one could be happy. Yes, the purchases and experiences can give that fleeting feeling for some time, but then one wants to be happy again and depth of the pocket refuses to oblige! 

The problem with the notion is the vagueness of it. It is as nebulous as saying I want to be rich. Sure, but how rich, what is the definition of richness, what is your idea of wealth? A goal is only as worthy as the clarity it carries in its belly

Perhaps the nirvana goal achieved its peak with the Woodstock generation and the disillusioned public then settled for what was one step short—the abstraction of nirvana may have just got replaced by a relatively familiar and achievable next best idea of happiness

This did not keep the folk in a wild goose chase, people knew what happy was, people had smiled, been in love, had an amorous tryst, experienced a happy high through an achievement or by simply feeling good.

What is happiness really? Different people may have different definitions, notions, ideas, emotions to equate it with! 

Though to really boil it down to a basic definition, happiness is really but a choice. One may have nothing, or may be in the midst of a difficult phase in life, but can choose to really be still in the moment and genuinely smile and simply change the state of being—the true, radiant smile of contentment, that is most certainly free! It is not dependent on any external factor and it can be achieved whenever the intent to be happy takes over. Most individuals tend to confuse happiness with different things—with sense of achievement or with pride, security, fulfilment, sensation of pleasure and what not. 

Life is ever changing. The most beautiful lesson one can take from the nature is through the seasons—while spring brings hope and there is a literal spring in the step too, summer brings its own bounties with soul satisfying splashes in water and flavoursome juicy fruits.

Autumn is an amber coloured season that can give intense experiences with long walks in nature, plentiful harvest and leaves crunching underneath the feet, while winter makes one aware of the warmth of breath, secure layering of snuggly woollens and toasty warm homes. 

Seasons change, year upon year, just like our lives, but there is something very unique to exult about or experience in each phase. Every moment is different and water flowing under the bridge is never the same. 

The butterfly on wing is a beautiful sight, if it does alight for awhile by its own volition, it is enrapturing. But capturing it does not make either for beauty or for happiness. The fleetingness of the moment and its lightness draw the spirit that because that is what the spirit is made of—lightness! 

I do think that happiness is by definition: the lightness of spirit and it is only the openness to experience that can beget it. The awareness and accepting life for what it is, enhances the experience.

The seemingly unattainable sometimes sits right under the nose.


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