Pursuit of Happiness.

GV Rama Rao By GV Rama Rao, 9th Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1lshi048/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Philosophy>Personal Philosophy

All of us think of happiness and pursuit of happiness. It is therefore essential to understand what is happiness and how to pursue it.

What is happiness.

Happiness is the coveted goal of every person. The pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the US declaration of independence. However, the concept of happiness has been extensively researched and defined in many ways by prominent philosophers, psychologists and religious leaders. Some even question whether it can be a goal. It is, therefore, like squaring a circle to explain happiness in a blog.
What is happiness? First, Maslow’s pyramid of hierarchy of needs comes to mind. Happiness is part of self actualization and is subjective. It varies from one individual to the other and changes as one person gains upward mobility. It is related to leisure satisfaction, which is the sum of positive feelings of contentment and happiness that result from the satisfaction of the physiological and psychological needs. A person in a reclining chair looks like an epitome of happiness. Then there is pleasure paradox, which differentiates pleasure and happiness as strange phenomenon that do not adhere to any principles. Happiness is probably the lack of worries. Don’t worry, be happy is the refrain of a popular song.
One definition of happiness that seems generally acceptable goes by the acronym PERMA.
Pleasure derived from delicious food, warm baths and allied pleasures according to the age of the person.
Engagement: the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenged activity. Writing for a competition for a novel or a short story or climbing the Mount Everest.
Relationships: relationships with near and loved ones.
Meaning: a perceived hunt for something bigger.
Accomplishments: in the work place, in life, or in any activity. For writers, it is winning the Man Booker award, the Pulitzer Prize or the Nobel Prize for literature.

Money.

The popular perception is that money brings happiness. I saw in my country some laborers covered almost in mud while returning from work laughing and joking happily. They wore tattered clothes but big smiles. They were obviously poor but immensely happy with their lot. I had also seen wealthy people despite their wealth perpetually frowning as if they were riddled with troubles. Stories abound of individuals winning a large amount in a lottery or as a legacy and getting into trouble proportional to the wealth acquired suddenly. No wonder Sonja Lubominsky concluded in her book, “happiness is50% genetically controlled, 10% is affected by life circumstances, and 40% is subject to self control.”

Pursuit of happiness.

Some people believe happiness is just a state of mind and cannot be pursued while others recommend one must define happiness and pursue it with all possible vigor. Some call it a hedonistic treadmill where one has to keep working just to stay in the same place on the scale of happiness.
Viktor Frankl wrote in “Man's Search for Meaning”:
Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself.
The more a man tries to prove his sexual potency or a woman her ability to experience orgasm, the less they are able to attain. Pleasure is, and must remain a side-effect or by-product, and is destroyed and spoiled to the degree to which it is made a goal in itself.

Measuring happiness.

It is difficult to measure happiness. Nor is it easy to say who is happier of any two individuals. However, the nation states are compared by the current index GDP. The greater the GDP the happier are the people in that country, according to economists. However, this is now being doubted. Great Brittan introduced a new term Gross National Well-being which includes the happiness of the people. Here, the options given to the citizens are endless. Bhutan, a small landlocked country on the northern edge of India is a leading country in Gross National Happiness. In this small country sandwiched between India and China, people have few hassles in their life, and their expectations also are common.
What then is our road map to this elusive happiness? I am no scholar, and I have no idea. Nor do I believe in giving unsolicited advice. I can at best say each person should define happiness for himself and go for it. It is also advisable at a certain point to stop pursuing one’s goals and the rest on one’s laurels and live a contented life.

Personal life.


Speaking for myself, I was born in a small village in India eight years before Independence. During my life, I had the good fortune of going around the world several times, by plane and ships visiting different countries and fascinating places. I had interacted with VIPs and dignitaries of different countries and renowned sportspersons. My book with cricket as the main theme was much appreciated by my editor an Englishwoman and her entire family of cricket fanatics. I have many friends in the real and virtual world. Now I am living in Orlando in a lakefront house which would be palatial by Indian standards and go in swanky cars like Bentley, Ferrari and Mercedes and have no wants. Above all, I enjoy the company of my children and six grandchildren. However, I miss my wife and being me. I usually sit in the spacious pool deck and keep thinking about them. “We look before and after and pine for what is not,” the bard Shelly wrote.
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Some guide lines.

Here is a guideline given by one philosopher. Take it for what it is worth.

Sources: The Internet.
All pictures are google pics.

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Comments

author avatar Phyl Campbell
10th Apr 2014 (#)

Nice post GV. I liked the look into your personal life.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
11th Apr 2014 (#)

My dear Phyl,
Many thanks for your visit and comment.

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author avatar Kingwell
11th Apr 2014 (#)

Happiness is not easily defined - and certainly never to everyone's satisfaction. Very good post.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
11th Apr 2014 (#)

My dear kingwell,
Thanks for your visit and comment. It's indeed difficult.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
16th Apr 2014 (#)

Interesting post and very fact filled one too, cheers!

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
16th Apr 2014 (#)

My dear Fern Mc Costigan,
Thanks for your visit and comment.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
17th Apr 2014 (#)

Very good take on happiness, thanks for the share GVR. Happiness is a corollary to an upright life. When I spread some cheer I enjoy happiness and that means from making others happy.

Contentment is the key. A rich man was up to his usual pastime - counting his money. His wife chastised him - we hear only the sound of coins while from the poor neighbor it is the sound of laughter. The rich man thought for a moment and did the unthinkable - threw a bundle of coins after counting it across the fence. Soon they heard only constant quarrel and bickering - what happened to the one coin - how can there be only ninety nine! Their happiness was truly history! siva

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
17th Apr 2014 (#)

Siva,
Thanks for your comment and the parable. Happiness is many things to different people.

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