Happiness…

A dear friend and I were discussing the almost obsessive emphasis on the word ‘happiness’ these days and it was refreshing to encounter a different perspective…one tempered by the winds of time…as opposed to the Hallmark connotation we are slowly but surely being brainwashed in buying into! We tend to talk about ‘happiness’ almost as if it were a consumer item! Your ‘next material purchase’ is almost always touted as the sure route to happiness…this is an underlying message in much of our marketing these days…one that is being bought into in definitive and insidious ways…leaving very little room to maneuver in any other interpretations for discussion or discourse…

There are undoubtedly many and varied ways to interpret this most frail and strong human emotion…Webster’s dictionary starts off by defining it as…good luck…good fortune…prosperity! Other definitions cover…a state of well being…emotions experienced in a state of well being…a feeling or condition of the soul…unstudied grace…contentment…felicity…cheerfulness…blessedness…energy and enthusiasm were my friend’s addition! The list is as endless as there are versions of interpretations of this state!  We all perceive it differently on different days depending on our personal moods…changed perceptions…different stages and ages of life, as well as circumstances…we even view it differently on ‘bad hair’ days !

There is I do believe a basic common denominator…based on the core value of this state…and the depiction thereof in our personal spaces of behavior…attitudes…reactions…expressions…interaction! I believe a core expression of this is a positive attitude…which then manifests itself naturally without any contrivance in that enthusiastic energy which we often call…joie-de-vivre! This covers amongst other things being useful…compassionate…responsible…overcoming fears …confident in the conviction of being loved…having spiritual wealth and inner peace…strength of an inward power of the soul…hope…living fully in the moment. This does not mean that those who live life with this attitude have an absence of problems, they just learn to live with the ability and determination to deal with them. We have to remember that happiness doesn’t depend on who we are or what we have; it depends solely on the tides of our mind! We have to keep remembering that happiness is an attitude…a state of mind…a conscious choice…no one is in control of our happiness but ourself…it is not a destination but a journey…because the time for happiness is now, the ongoing present moment…

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Happy Birthday Son…

It is my older son’s birthday today…I am on a transatlantic flight and although when I alight at my destination, it will still be his birthday for me…it will not be so for him…our lives seem almost surreal at times they have changed so much…but the one aspect…connection…link that is irrefutable and unchangeable…is the connective tissue of the mother to the child! There is a sort of magic that happens when you have a child…and through varying stages…ages…times…when the magic is not always so readily on tap…it is never really too far below the surface to tap into…motherhood has a special gene for this…the Good Lord be praised…

As mothers, our lives rarely follow a straight path…for obvious and natural reasons sometimes…but the discovery of self through your children is a journey of great learning…development…and unparalleled joy…interrupted often…but a ride worth every moment of it’s duration…finding oneself in the sandpits is often…playing the par course…but the journey is one of such incredible love…joy…fun…laughter…tears…angst…humility…pride…up to a day like this, when you can write about it with your head held high…thankful for the blessing of being able to say with bursting joy and pride…humility and thankfulness…This is my son!

The unparalleled joy of seeing a child exactly where he is supposed to be…be in harmony with his heart and universal truths…be able to remake himself and his goals with the passage of time and experience…be ready to explore and learn the power and depth of personal strengths…to have the insight to accept and understand the power of prayer in the development of character…to wisely use his heart and the Divine as a source of real power…is a blessing par excellence!

The prayer is that he will always be able to understand and accept his calling as opposed to fame…continue this path of discovery whilst maintaining dignity of choice…share his calling and gifts in the help of others…understand that we are the sum of the wisdom of the Divine and ancients, and be able to embrace this wisdom…sagacity…values…whilst taking responsibility for his own special positive energy that is his space…continue to develop and hone his innate goodness…and always continue to be the source of joy and pride he has always been…the prayer above all is, that he is able to use his God given gifts to propel himself to be the best that the Good Lord meant for him to be…always…Amen…

In the Good Lord’s name…

“I am convinced about the veracity of my opinions, but I do consider it likely that they may turn out to be incorrect. Likewise, I am convinced about the incorrectness of the views different from mine, but I do concede the possibility that they may turn out to be correct.” – Imam Shafa’i

In the wake of so much distilling of religious thoughts…so much misrepresentation of belief systems…so much misdirected and misguided action and adherence…it is noteworthy to ponder the above as also, be pro-active oneself, in the dissemination and understanding of life as a whole…with special attention to belief systems.

As in all systems of belief…conduct…posture…interaction…relationships…responsibility, humility as a vital human element cannot be underscored or undermined in it’s most basic factor…the human aspect. Belief systems across the board give this the importance and place it deserves…requires and demands. It is only when we give in to man made injunctions and laws, based on misguided interpretations…given wind by traditions based on traditional practices…without thought or research into it’s veracity or divine background…fanned by popular and mindless rhetoric that we get situations and scenarios that are harmful…tragic…unbelievably sad and undeniably reactive. The sadness is, that this is all done in the Good Lord’s name…whereas the need of the hour is knowledge of the Divine based on compassion…love…wisdom…tolerance…understanding…dialogue…submission to a higher authority, as also a deeper…pervasive…intelligent…responsible and more humane attitude and behavior…in the Good Lord’s name…

Acts of commission and omission…

An act of Commission, is the doing of an act that causes harm, an action by a person that perpetrates an offence. Commission is performing an act that results in some harm. Omission is not performing an act that is usually done or expected to be performed .

Think of it as omit vs commit. It is often thought, that one is more liable for omission. However, is doing something, unless it is blatantly wrong, not as answerable when it results from acts of commission rather than acts of omission? This is pure pedantic and there is no denying that both are equally damaging and hurtful…specially so in our personal lives, choices and decisions…since they involve issues dealing with responsibility …care…integrity…liability…sensitivity…honesty…conscientiousness…concern…love…family…

Social and personal choices of commission, involve words or actions that actually affect other people…personal choices in matters of family…disclosure of personal data or information…acts that move consciences…moral acts based on intentions and volition…cynicism and anger posturing as virtue and religiosity…

Similarly, acts of omission, involve actions or words affecting others on a physical level too, such as withholding a loving word…the pat on the back…that vital word of encouragement…a desperately needed hug of reassurance…acts, words, withheld, not just by outwards deeds, but by an inner activity of the mind…refusal to say the right thing…the lack of grace and humility to accept an inner cacophony of self righteous posturing…

It is the rising above this…in spite of oneself, that is true virtue and devotion…leaving the ego on the back seat…which is one of the Good Lord’s cardinal laws…the most arduous battle of them all…understanding of these acts as conscious and voluntary…ownership of one’s actions…acceptance of some higher law that we must submit to… As always, the prayer for His grace, is the answer…

Cost of personal freedom and happiness….

Is the opposite of happiness…unhappiness? What about…simple pleasures…joys…overcoming fears…relief…challenges…contentment..interests…excitement…inner peace? Is paying the price for doing it your way worth more than paying a price for living someone else’s life ? Dare we be different to what society…people…family…peers…expect us to be, and in that pursuit be…happy…content…at peace…lead a happy life?

In this age of instant gratification…instant expectations…instant communication…being yourself…unique…marching to your own drum roll, invites a lot of raised eyebrows and skepticism . There seems to be a one-for-all yard stick for a life of fun…happiness…the good life! This, more often than not, is now a made-to-order, across the board, modern…enlightened…superimposed lifestyle…and it is being adhered to by an increasing number of people…

Forgotten are values…norms…expectations…lifestyles of yore…We seem now to be marching to a universal…modern…alien, but blindly accepted…value system with it’s own codes of enjoyment. Not falling into this  “norm” invites a less than approving acceptance …

A favorite writer, Paulo Coelho says…Dare to be different. You are unique, and you have to accept you as you are, instead of trying to repeat other people’s destinies or patterns. Insanity is to behave like someone that you are not. Normality is the capacity to express your feelings. From the moment that you don’t fear to share your heart, you are a free person.

In effect…staying true to yourself…whatever that means or may be…irrespective of social disapproval…in spite of a superimposed code of conduct…marching to your own drum roll based on values, behavioral codes, ethics, tenets you believe in…this is the path of learning to be true to yourself…taking responsibility for the celebration of life…

Easier said than Done!

That is certainly true…how often do we shoot off at the mouth…paying lip service to things, ideas, beliefs, perceptions, feelings, fashion, politics, leaders, present situations…that we would find really difficult to sustain if ever push came to shove? Supporting one side of the coin today…another tomorrow! How often? All the time ! Sadly, too many of us are guilty of this on some level or other.

Is this really only about shooting off at the mouth or is there more to it? Is this perhaps not also about being part of a culture that takes everything lightly, without too much of a sense of responsibility, with disdainful abandon for the future! Enjoy the moment, live life to it’s hilt, you are only young once, buy now pay later, cross that bridge only when you come to it…just do it…now ! Responsibility and  accountability, two vital humane proponents seem not to concern us too much…they are not qualities we pay much attention to, admire, or try to inculcate…why?

As always, I do believe, that it is the belief in a higher form of accountability, that more often than not propels us towards a more humane and just approach to all we do and say. A regular dose of personal introspection and critical self analysis is absolutely vital…so that we don’t roll around from one inane and unthoughtful comment or action to another. When all is said and done , we need to be prepared to stand up… and be counted !

Responsible energy…

With a seemingly unending spate of calamities and tragedies  in our midst…be they natural or man-made, one aspect springs forward most disturbingly… a collective state of apathy and unproductive anger and energy! There seems to be an attitude of immediate knee jerk reaction…of  sorrow, shock, sympathy and anger, followed…by no specific concerted, concerned, effective or humane response after the initial one . Then we all go back to our cocooned lives…often demonstrating deplorable insensitivity.

Admitted that individual efforts are not and cannot take the place or effectiveness of a state machinery…but in the absence of such a one…pointing fingers alone is not enough! The effort and passion that more often than not goes into spouting anger, indignation, accusations and sarcasm, to those it does not reach and who are not at all bothered, is a huge waste of energy. This would be far better utilized if channeled to energize any effort, be it small or big, towards a cause of one’s choice…and there are so many in need of this .

When we invest the better part of our effort into finding fault alone…we lose and ignore two major fronts….the obvious one being support for those affected,  the other being, ignoring the individual & collective heroism of those who selflessly give of themselves in the face of  all odds in moments of calamity and tragedy. We have to keep in mind that this apathy and misdirected energy must not be at the cost of acknowledging and celebrating individual and collective acts of humanity and heroism.

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