Happiness First

10/02/2013

By Srini Katta

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Happiness First

Our culture emphasizes us to work hard to achieve a goal and be happy.  It gives us immense happiness when we achieve our first goal but then quickly wears off as we set off on achieving the next goal.  As a result, we go through these sudden peaks of happiness and valleys of no happiness.  My philosophy is that every one of us deserves to be in a continual state of happiness.  We should ask ourselves why our society and culture try to condition us to find happiness at the end of a long cycle of hard work rather than the other way around.  Most of us have had the personal experience when one’s productivity and creativity is exponentially larger when we are working towards our goal in a happy state of mind.  So the question begins, is it difficult to be happy first?

Is working hard, making money, and retiring young the only way to be happy?  Or, can we first be happy within the means that we have and achieve the next level or goal by being happy in the present moment?  By the way, recent scientific evidence also points to the positive impact that being happy has on productivity and creativity.  Being happy is not only helpful at the personal level but also at the corporate level.  I am in the IT industry and consistently see major IT companies try their best to boost their employee’s happiness by offering them flexible work timings, telecommuting options, and services such as day care and laundry.  This should be a sign.  A for profit organization wouldn’t incur these types of costs unless it had a positive effect on profitability.  As it goes, any entrepreneur or person should try to be happy first to optimize their performance and productivity to be successful at a faster pace.

While many of you are accustomed to my technical blogs, today, I am going to share a personal story of my path to happiness.  I follow Buddha’s teachings such as “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift.”  Happiness doesn’t depend on what you are and what you have.  Happiness depends on what you think. My late father once told me that when conditions beyond your control throw you into a deep forest, before frantically trying get out, first find a way to be happy.  I didn’t understand his advice at that time.  I know now that he meant that a happy mind will be more productive and would help me solve some of my most difficult challenges in life.  Now, all the advice is pointing to the power of the mind.  So, how do we condition our minds to make us feel happy?  Meditation helped me. Meditation helps me peel back layers of daily conditioning to reach the pureness of my mind. Meditation helped me live in the moment.  I work from home.  Sometimes, my daughter comes running to my office room from school.  She doesn’t care if her dad is on a conference call. I quickly mute my conference call and get the hug from her and then I will tell her that I am on a conference call and will come down to play with her after the call. My happiness immediately boosts and I am instantly more productive for the rest of the conference call.  Meditation taught me to live in the moment and enjoy those impromptu times with my daughter.  We often hear someone saying “I am frustrated,“  “I am upset,”  “I can’t take it anymore,” etc.  One should not get frustrated or upset if that doesn’t solve the problem.  We know that frustration never solves a problem and usually just makes the problem worse!

When my eldest daughter was three years old, she used to unplug the power cord of our Wii at home. I didn’t know this at the time, but when the cable is unplugged, the Wii goes into a complete power shutdown mode and won’t come back on just by plugging it back in.  Fed up one day, I raised my voice and said, “How many times have we told you to not unplug the power cable for the Wii?“ My daughter replied, “You don’t get upset when something is broken. You fix it.”  How true this is!  Lesson in hand from my three year old daughter, I went online and found a solution on how to fix the Wii power up issue.  Little did she know, but she taught me to never raise my voice again with anyone even if the other person was completely wrong.  I found it much more efficient and productive to find a way to get everyone out of the situation created.

Our society teaches and conditions us for financial wellbeing.  Recently, our society has started taking proactive steps towards health wellbeing by advocating a healthy diet and exercise. What about emotional wellbeing, which is actually of paramount importance to achieving our financial and health goals?

I am happier than ever and with much bigger goals to achieve in life.  My happiness is in the now and not at some point in the future! 

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