How to achieve happiness?

This Article was published in
Pakistan Observer (November 10, 2010)

By Sahibzada Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri

Happiness has remained an elusive concept over the centuries. Philosophers, religious scholars, sociologists, and academicians have held out their opinions and tried to define what happiness is. Some regard it as a material thing for which material possessions have been identified as a means to achieve happiness. Others are of the view that happiness has nothing to do with material pursuits. Rather it is a moral or a spiritual phenomenon which one can acquire by doing right things. Despite these definitions and explorations, the idea is as Greek as it was before.

However, if you want to be happy but are not sure where to start, then I suggest you to begin by being kinder. Acts of giving will boost your well being as well as offer something good to the recipient and the world at large. Furthermore, these acts can take many forms and so you can do something that suits you personally. For instance, you can do voluntary work for a philanthropist organisation; you can do good deeds in your neighbourhood, for friends, family, work colleagues, strangers.

Happiness lies in giving to others. When you stop thinking about yourself, it is then the journey to happiness starts. Our focal point is always “I” or”me”. These two words are actually the root cause of much of our sadness we suffer from. Whenever we run after something to achieve, it runs away even faster from us. But when we decide to turn our back on our sought-after pursuits, those things would come for us. This is the law of nature, which is immutable and never changes.

If real happiness could be achieved by having lots of money and concentrating power, the kings would never have left their thrones in search of happiness. Buddha, Ashoka, Ibraham bin Adham are few examples from the history who abandoned their exalted positions to find solace and happiness. They found happiness once they started serving the poor and the needy of God’s creations.

The happiest time of our life lies in our childhood. As we grow in terms of age, our desires grow as well. When desires are not fulfilled, their unfulfillment brings sadness in our life. In order to acquire eternal happiness, we need to get rid of our desires. That is why it is said, best state to go back to God is the state in which you were born. That state is the state when one is innocent with one’s soul untainted by the worldly desires.

You don't just have to do volunteer work to be a kinder person. Remember you can carry out good deeds on a daily basis, in your home or at work. You can do something for people you don't know. Try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Let them make creative mistakes and learn for the sake of personal growth. Offer genuine compliments. Give small gifts. Plan something special for a loved one. Share your possessions without getting uptight about them.

Avoid gossiping in emails and on the telephone. Instead make a conscious effort to only say good things about others. You always have something to offer. Think of ways you can share that information. Think of ways in which you might be a positive influence on someone's life. When you see an opportunity to help, take it. Don't just keep walking. Not every act of kindness needs to be acknowledged. You are better off assuming you won't be. You are doing them because you want to, not for the thanks but for the sake of happiness that springs from inside. This will ensure you won't feel resentment if people don't respond as you'd imagined. This resentment can lead you to deciding that it is pointless being kind as it gets you nowhere. Carry out secret good deeds. These are acts of kindness that you carry out for another, without telling that person you did it.

It's a great way to increase your humility. Recognise that each act, no matter how small, will make a difference. It doesn't have to be the grand gesture. Holding a door open for someone is something we can all appreciate. A truly generous person does good deeds without expecting anything in return. So don't do it just for the praise. However, what you will get in return is greater happiness. There is also something known as the feel-good, do-good phenomenon, where being happy inclines a person to be more generous, which in turn brings greater happiness.

The way to transform happiness from individual level to the collective phenomenon is to make efforts aimed at making your country and society welfare-oriented. One can start this endeavour from the grassroots level by establishing welfare committees and keep on expanding its ambit. It calls for establishment of systems and arrangements for doing good to people in an institutionalized manner. That is why the Muslims of the sub-continent rendered numerous sacrifices for Pakistan under the inspiring leadership of the Quaid-e-Azam. Let us resolve to make Pakistan a modern welfare-oriented country as per the dreams of our founding fathers.



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