When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the clo-sed door that we don’t see the one which has been opened for us.
— Helen Keller
In a world marked by strife and depression, it is time we renew those lessons on how we can build happiness into our lives. They always emphasised that the essence of happiness lies in contentment. Contentment is not possible by expanding or shrinking the limitless expanse of this beautiful universe. It has to be cultivated in our hearts and minds. It cannot be sought in the world around us; it has to be discovered in one’s inward self. Contentment is not related to human needs. Conversely, needs become defined by it.
Gloom sets in when our conscience is stained by desires and impressions of worldliness. It needs to be polished by a deep journey inward. A successful journey opens our spiritual eye to the wonders we have been gifted with. Instead of comparing ourselves constantly with “the haves” and feeling deprived, we start weighing our good fortunes against those who have little. Fyodor Dostoyevsky emphasised the same point: “Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness.”
Instead of comparing ourselves constantly with “the haves” and feeling somehow cheated and deprived, it would do us a world of good to weigh our good fortunes against those who have little. Socrates used to walk in affluent streets and gaze at the windows of luxurious shops. When asked by a passerby why he repeatedly did so when he did not even have decent clot-hes, he went on to say that he did it to remind himself of how happy he was despite not having any of those things.
Any single-minded pursuit, unmoored to a deeper purpose, has the potential to take on the characteristics of an addiction. Striking a work-life balance and achieving harmony is the key to a happy, contented and fulfilling life.