There are some things we can change in our life, some aspects we can influence. But, there are many that we have to get used to. This is the greatest challenge. It’s not easy, to get accustomed to how life may want to keep you. It is, however, the easiest route to happiness.
Having said that, my focus today is not “feeling” happy by making adjustments (though they contribute immensely). Instead, it is about “being” happy. You cannot “be” happy unless you are fulfilled. Being happy is synonymous to being fulfilled. So, what do you need to do to feel fulfilled?
Carrying on our happiness streak from last week, allow me to share a beautiful write-up by Will Durant I read in Light From Many Lamps.
Many years I sought happiness. I found it first, perhaps, in the warmth of my mother’s breast, and in fond caress of her hands, and in the tenderness that shone in her eyes. I found it again in play; for even in the pain of defeat I knew the natural ecstasy of boyhood’s games. I found it in first love; it came to me when a simple girl laid her hand upon my arm, and her braided hair, sweet with the fragrance of health, came so close to my lips that I kissed it without her knowing. And then she went from me, and the happiness strayed away.
For I sought it next in remaking the lives of other men. I went forth to reform the world. I denounced the ways of mankind, and bemoaned the backwardness of my time, and talked only of glories that were past, or were to come. I wanted many laws to make life easier for me, and for youth. But the world would not listen, and I grew bitter. I gathered anecdotes of human stupidity, and heralded the absurdities and injustices of men. One day, an enemy said, “You have in yourself all the faults which you scorn in others; you, too, are capable of selfishness, and greed; and the world is what it is because men are what you are.”
I considered it in solitude, and found that it was true. Then it came to me that reform should begin at home; and since that day I have not had time to remake the world.
I perceived that if I will do as well as I can the tasks for which life has made me, I shall find fulfillment, and a quiet lane of happiness for many years. Gladly I surrender myself to nature’s imperative of love and parentage, trusting to her ancient wisdom, and knowing that, as Dante learned when he entered Paradise, “La sua volontade è nostra pace — in her will and service is our peace.”
It’s one of the sanest and most lyrical definitions of happiness I’ve read in a long time. Especially the last paragraph is simply outstanding. Each one of us has a certain purpose. It can’t be and is not the same for everyone. Sometimes, we keep battling for a different life, hoping that we’ll have a life of our dreams by clearing all the hurdles in our present life.
The truth is, if Nature has given you a certain strength, talent, capability, whether you like it or not, it’ll put it to maximum use. No matter where you go or what you do, it’ll pull you back into your natural play field where you add the greatest value to its functioning and apparatus.
What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Mark 10:9)
It makes sense to listen to what life wants to tell you.
The prayer by St. Francis of Assisi is most heart-touching. For, it is the essence of happiness. From altruistic intention to a sense of surrender, both of which are critical to a lasting state of happiness, it has them all.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
If this isn’t happiness, what is? If this isn’t fulfillment, what is?
Mulla Nasrudin was taking his new donkey home when a friend of his stopped him on the way.
“Is that a new donkey, Mulla?”
Disinterested in the conversation, Mulla just nodded.
“But where will you keep him? You only have one room with a wife and six daughters.”
“Why? He’ll also stay in our room.”
“Have you thought about the stench?”
“Don’t worry,” Mulla said dismissing his concern, “Like me, he’ll also get used to that.”
I think the same goes for life too. We keep buying and stocking our donkeys thinking they will get accustomed to our way of life. Life on the other hand is wondering about the opposite — adjusting around the donkey.
Getting used to a certain way of life is not necessarily living it though. To live it fully, somewhere we have to listen to the voice of the soul. It’s feeble for it’s buried under the debris of desires and responsibilities. Start clearing and soon you’ll discover it. Rescue it. If you trust me, it’s worth every ounce of effort because it’ll lead you straight to your inner calling.
And the most beautiful thing about surrendering to your calling is that every subsequent step you take on the path is deeply fulfilling. The joy of the journey becomes as exhilarating as reaching the destination.
Find out what matters to you and give your everything to it. Your life will never be the same again. This is the calling of happiness.