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The Fundamental Principle of Happiness

Happiness is certainly something else, not just GDP. It depends on our mental health and attitude towards life, which is not so rosy and celebrative

Swami Chaitanya Keerti

It was more than four decades ago when V. S. Naipaul, one of the masters of the contemporary novels, wrote about India. And the title of his book was very shocking-- India: A Wounded Civilization. Naipaul visited India, during the period of Indira Gandhi’s “Emergency,” imposed on the country in 1975. It is reported that out of that journey Naipaul "produced this concise masterpiece: a vibrant, defiantly unsentimental portrait of a society traumatized by centuries of foreign conquest and immured in a mythic vision of its past."

Has India changed since then? Has the wound been healed? No. India has become even more wounded, and with more bruised ego, our country stands at a lowly 122nd spot in the World Happiness Report for 2017, brought out by the United Nations. In this report, among the 155 ranked countries, Norway was rated the happiest and Central African Republic the least happy. Since the world happiness ranking began in 2012, the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland and the Netherlands have always found themselves at the top. India’s decline in ranking has been quite visible: from 111st (2013), 117th (2015), 118th (2016) and now 122nd in 2017. It has also always stood lower than Pakistan, China and Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the per capita GDP has only increased progressively over these years, but that hasn’t been enough.

Happiness is certainly something else, not just GDP. It depends on our mental health and attitude towards life, which is not so rosy and celebrative. Our people are becoming more and gloomy and depressed.One hears more about the cases of depression and anxiety attacks everyday. For millennia, our traditional spiritualists have been projecting India as the JagatGuru, a world teacher. Yes, there are some exceptions, some enlightened mystics and sages like Osho and J Krishnamurti, and not the traditional JagatGurus, who raised the consciousness of humanity, can be called world teachers. Such teachers have never believed in the national boundaries, and for them the whole earth and the entire universe is one family--Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam.

It is about time that India adopts a new way living in the world--getting rid of the illusions of being a JagatGuru, being humble, and without being ostrich seeing its place in the world with total acceptance. Transformation is possible only with acceptance and meditation.

I appreciate that MP State Government is taking some positive steps to create awareness about happiness. The Government has taken the lead in popularising the concept in the country by setting up an 'Anand Vibhag', or the happiness department, in 2016 to think of ways to make people happy and content.

We must remember that a tiny Himalayan country in our neighbourhood Bhutan was the first country that came out with a happiness index and linked it to development, which is otherwise based on GDP numbers. Bhutan Government was the pioneer to measure the happiness quotient of people and it became a global talking point. Now, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government is launching an exercise to interact with the people of the state and find out how happy they were.

All other states should be following such wonderful examples to create awareness about happiness. Let's aspire for a better Happiness Quotient, with some clarity on what a happy, healthy, abundant, successful, loving life means for us and start living that life today with earnest. This has to be one of the most fundamental principles - that misery or happiness is our choice. Let it sink deep in us. We choose it. When we are unhappy we have chosen to be unhappy.

Osho says: “You can be happy here and now if you know how to be, but you will never be happy if you don't know how to be and you go on desiring it. Happiness is an art. It is a way of life.

"Existence is happiness, it is an eternal celebration, a festivity. Look at existence! Every tree is in a festive mood, every bird is in a festive mood. Except man, everything is in a festive mood. The whole existence is a festival, a constant, continuous festival. No sadness, no death, no misery exists anywhere except in the human mind. Something is wrong with the human mind, not with existence. Something is wrong with you, not with the situation."

Disclaimer: This article was originally published on HappyHo and is republished here with permission.

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