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Friday, 15 May 2015

Being Happy

The long silence on this blog was because I've been busy traveling during the past few days. Where and why and experiences during this travel  - this will be the subject of my next blog post. Until then, here is something to ponder over and hopefully, to put into practice.

Recently, a friend was disgruntled over a family issue. As we spoke about it, I told her she ought to keep her chin up and that things were bound to change with time. She made an intriguing statement, telling me, “It’s easy for you to say…you have never had to deal with such things.” 

Introspecting, I realized she was right. For most of my life, touch wood, I have had quite pleasant experiences during childhood and adolescence, in my education, at the work place, and in my relationships with family and friends. There have been a few hiccups here and there of course, but even those, I seem to have managed with minimal heartache. 

So, what are the factors at play here? Who or what decides how happy or sad a person will be? Is it fate, destiny, prarabdha or karma over which we have no control? Or is it an individual’s willful efforts at alleviating pain and increasing happiness? 

Karma concept
The actions we have performed (in this and previous births) yield results over time. When you do good, your store of merits (punya) increases. When you do wrong, your baggage of demerits (papa) increases. Joys in your life are a result of merits and suffering is a result of the demerits. So, to some extent, destiny does control our experience of certain aspects of life.

Willful efforts
But humans are not just a product of destiny; they do have control over some aspects of their life. I make decisions over what food to eat, what clothes to wear, what kind of friends to hang out with, how to spend my time, what course to pursue, what books to read, what job to take. I also choose how to feel and react when someone is rude or harsh to me. I decide whether to take things at face value and let minor issues pass or look at things with malice and hurt pride and let myself into a vicious circle of anger, pain and hurt.

So, while destiny is beyond our control, efforts certainly are in our hands. And yet, often we find that they are insufficient in ensuring our success or happiness. When this happens, we say it is our karma, and pin the blame on destiny. However, there is an intangible third factor that we are often unaware of. It is something that can override everything else. It is available to all of us provided we make time and put in efforts to acquire it.

 Divine Grace

And this Grace is easy to achieve when we establish a channel between us and God through daily prayer and thanksgiving. It does not require fancy words or complex chants or complicated rituals; all it needs is a deliberate mindfulness and a constant awareness of His presence. It requires surrendering to His will and accepting that He knows best what is good for me and asking Him to give me strength and support. 

Prayer power
When we pray regularly, there are several things that begin to happen
  • The mind grows calmer
  • We learn to accept what is
  • Our wants reduce and in turn, heartache fades away
  • Surrender to His will takes away the sense of ego and doership
  • We grow more positive and attract positive energy into our life; in turn, this leads to more positive experiences

Divine grace is so powerful that it can help us direct our efforts in the right direction. It can also reduce the intensity of the destiny in store. Most important of all, it can lead to spiritual growth that ensures we look at things with such a positive perspective that we remain untouched by sorrow.

Coming back to my friend’s comment, I realized a few things. That I was born into a close-knit, affectionate, and spiritually oriented family and married into an identical one is my destiny. That I chose to work hard at my education and career and relationships and cultivated a positive outlook was willful effort. But, that I come across people – relatives, teachers, friends and colleagues – who nurture me; that I am constantly guided towards a positive mindset and that I have positive experiences most of the time – these are the result of Divine Grace.

In other words, for each and every one of us, it is important to realize that while some things may remain beyond our control, how happy we remain is largely in our hands. And we can make being happy a habit by cultivating a spirit of gratitude for the blessings we already have and working with a prayer on our lips to get even more.

Do share your thoughts on this through the comment section. All you need to do is click on the hyperlinked word "comments" at the end of the blog and then enter your message in the box that opens up. In the "Comment as" section, choose the appropriate option -which, for most people will be a Google account or anonymous - and then click on publish.

If you so wish, you may also get in touch with me through email:  anuranganathan31@gmail.com


8 comments:

  1. Lovely anu. ..I m inspired n motivated by b your writing. .. You make it seem so simple. So I have decided to implement. .. beginning with taking at face value. This includes with believing what u have written n practising more n more gratitude for one. I will keep this book marked n read it daily. .. thank you.

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    1. Nice to hear you say that, Vatsala...after all, practice is what yields results...remember story of boatman and pandit? God bless.

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  2. nice write.. I agree.. I am happy because I choose to be.. Attachment to any object in the world cannot possibly result in perpetual happiness, because scientifically then happiness gets tied to that object of affection, and if the object is removed, your happiness goes. While i reserve my comments on whether God IS that object and at some level,even attachment to God may not guarantee happiness... Those are just my views and really needn't matter to a believer like you.

    I think your simplicity is your biggest strength... Keep up the good work..

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    1. Thank you for making such a relevant point. As you say, attachment of any sort is detrimental to happiness. Attachment to God as an object is one of the initial steps in the spiritual journey....it is meant to provide a positive anchor in the chaos of the materialistic world. But to set up this connection with the Divine is not an end in itself...it is only the means to progress further to a state where happiness just IS. And in my humble opinion, stating this does not make anyone a non-believer :-)

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  3. A very concise and beautiful write up anu.. just to add that the constant AWARENESS of the above three factors in our reactions to day to day situations/people definitely help us in keeping unwanted negative energy away during the day and generates a positivity which is reflected/ shared with people – relatives, teachers, friends and colleagues and with time, these relationships grow stronger. However, even though I am also constantly guided towards a positive mindset and I have positive experiences most of the time, whether Past Karma or Divine Grace is at play... I m not too sure.

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    1. I'm happy to know that you too have these positive experiences often, Meena. What you mention about awareness of these factors is very very true...it is a part of being mindful. At the end of the day, what matters most is the takeaway; categorization of factors may be of academic interest only.

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  4. Happiness is in state of mind,but to bring it within it is bhaghiratha prayatna. If you have made your disgruntled friend happy and lifted her chin up, you have done the best. A well authored blog undoubtedly with clarity and principles. Truly elated with this blog. Keep it up, Anu. With best wishes from your hubby :-)

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    1. And I'm truly elated to have this comment....thank you, dear hubby :-)

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Do share your thoughts on this through the comment section. All you need to do is click on the hyperlinked word "comments" at the end of the blog and then enter your message in the box that opens up. If you so wish, you may also get in touch with me through email: anuranganathan31@gmail.com