The Secret of Staying Happy

Last week a close friend asked me on Facebook, “How does one stay happy all the time?” Not a new question but an important one. After all what is more important in life than happiness? Is it not the essence of human quest?

The secret of happiness is as illusive as the elixir for immortality. There is nothing in this world that can make one happy. Happiness is a choice. I have, over the years, observed certain ingredients for happiness. The first is a grateful heart. The unhappiest people in the world are those who have no one or nothing to thank for. They think only about what every one else owes them – their rights and privileges.

Thankfulness and contentment seem to travel together. It is very difficult to be thankful without contentment. We must take care not to confuse contentment with mediocrity. They are not the same. In fact they are poles apart. Saint Paul said, “I know how to be in want and I know how to be in plenty. I have learned the habit of facing abundance and hunger.” Elsewhere he said, “I press towards the goal.”

The Sanskrit word “kshema” in Malayalam has a dual meaning – patience and forgiveness. Well, if there is another secret ingredient to happiness, it must be “kshema”. Patience is like love. It believes and hopes. Forgiveness is also like love – it does not keep account of wrongdoing but takes the risk of being betrayed again. When we speak of “faith in God,” we are possibly referring to these qualities of life cultivated over a long period of time.

I have also found that people who are generally happy seem to have a “wider” comfort zone than those who claim to be unhappy. Comfort zone is that area of life where a person can move freely without undue self-consciousness – fear of rejection or feeling the need to perform. When we speak of men and women of faith, we are thinking of people who have cultivated a healthy comfort zone in their relationship with God. They don’t feel the need to pretend or cover-up. They live each moment with the assurance of God’s love and acceptance. This is the meaning of the phrase, “Just as I am.”

Earlier I said that happiness is a choice. Happiness is also a gift. It is a gift of God and the community we belong to. The kind of God one believes in and the type of community one belongs to can enhance or impair one’s happiness.

The happiest happiness is when one is unaware of the reasons for his/her happiness. Blessed are those who do not seek a reason for their happiness for they shall always be happy.


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