You’re delighted with the bonus you’ve received for a job well done. You spend the holidays with your family and it’s a happy time. A month later, you find that you’ve been promoted and this adds to your happiness. By the end of the month, though, that happiness seems to have paled. A mere six weeks later, you admit that this is a recurring pattern in your life where your initial happiness gives way to sadness; after all, these are yet another set of achievements that you’ve checked off your list. It’s almost as if that absolute happiness is fleeting and momentary.
There are many schools of thought that will say that the reason for such fleeting emotions is because the happiness wasn’t from ‘within’. It was cursory and you can only feel truly happy if you’re happy ‘inside’. Is it possible to be both happy inside and outside? Here is a story that I have adapted and called, ‘Jasper, the Frog’ to demonstrate how one can learn to become absolutely happy (http://forum.yogananda.net/index.php?/topic/7080-story-of-a-deaf-frog/ )
Once upon a time, a group of frogs organised a race where the goal was to reach the top of a high mountain. A big crowd gathered throughout the route to provide moral support for the contestants. In truth, no one thought that such tiny frogs would reach the top of the mountain. True enough, along the way, many of the contestants heard things like, “Oh, it’s way too difficult; no one will ever make it to the top,” or “This mountain is too high.” One by one, tiny frogs collapsed in sheer exhaustion, gave up or slowed down.
The few who carried on regardless included one old frog called Jasper. Everyone expected Jasper to collapse at any time and medical aid was placed on standby. They shouted at him to stop and he looked at them, smiled and carried on up the hill. He was being stubborn and refusing to listen to their advice. Finally, at the top of the mountain, Jasper was the only one left standing. Naturally, he won the race.
Many of the other frogs wanted to know how he’d done this incredible feat. Before he answered all their questions, though, he thanked them all for being there. Other frogs also observed that Jasper made no eye contact with them and stared only at their lips. It then hit them that Jasper was completely deaf and hadn’t heard a word anyone had said when he was making his way up the mountain. When he did speak, he said that he thought that all of them were actually encouraging him to continue.
If you use your imagination, you will find that there are many lessons in this story that you can use to use to derive absolute happiness from your life. What follows explains some of them.
Being Responsible For Your Actions Will Bring Your Happiness
When Jasper won the race, there were many who came forward to ‘interview’ him on his success. A good journalist, however, will recognise that the real story is not the success itself, but the road to success. Probe Jasper and you many find that when Jasper was very young, he may have done something completely irresponsible that damaged his ear drums. Instead of indulging in self-pity, he accepted his situation and worked with it to gain success. He could have taken the sorry road and wallowed in his misery as many people do today. Instead, he accepted responsibility for his actions, moved on and achieved something quite magical.
To Be Happy, Create Change
How many times have you heard someone say, “If only I had [________], I could be a better person”? You could fill in this blanks with anything from more money, better nose and large fingernails to a post-graduate degree. The fact of the matter is that you’ve been given one body and that’s all you have to work with. You have to create change using this one body and you cannot expect someone else to create that change for you. You have to this yourself. In fact, Barack Obama once said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Need an example? Let’s return to Jasper. No one could run the race for him. He had to do it on his own. In spite of his ‘disability’ at being deaf, he had to take each step on that mountain himself. There were people to support him (or in this case, discourage him) along the way, but it was still a journey he had to make on his own.
And here’s a tip: treat this journey like an adventure and you’ll discover some magical things along the way.
Let Go Of The Past
There isn’t a single person who hasn’t been hurt or feels resentment towards another. However, what distinguishes the happy person from the unhappy one is that the happy person has learnt to let go of the hurt. Say someone you cared for didn’t return your sentiments or made sure that you can never have a future together. The other person just doesn’t want to have anything at all to do with you. Instead of beating yourself up, one of the things you can do to aid in the process of letting go is to ask this person for forgiveness. It will mean that you have to swallow your pride (especially when you know you haven’t done a single thing wrong), but the result will be a huge burden being lifted off your shoulders.
Accept Yourself And Accept Others
One of the things that will guarantee unhappiness is comparing yourself to others. In 2009, I decided to join the bandwagon and get onto Facebook (FB). I connected with school friends, ‘met’ people who freely shared photos from their holidays in exotic locations, women who debated vociferously about issues they had no clue about and men who argued for nothing. Slowly, I found that I was beginning to feel miserable about my life and situation. I hadn’t been on a holiday in years because I was working; I didn’t attend all those fancy parties because the fee for the tickets weren’t in the budget; worse, I was ashamed because I had but one trusty computer while all the others were posting their ‘updates’ using the latest gadgets in town.
Two things happened that made me wake up: first was that I met an FB acquaintance in person and asked her if she really meant all those things she said in praise of another friend’s child. And she said no. She praised the child just to please the mother (her friend). Second, a girl I knew who made a point of sharing photos from every holiday she was on wrote one sentence: ‘I would give all this up to have a child.’ These were ‘shiny, happy, people’ who were probably quite miserable in real life. In 2 days, I deleted my Facebook account and I accepted my situation. I learned to be very grateful for what I already have and that has made all the difference. I have never regretted getting rid of the FB account.
Finding Your Spirituality Will Make You Happy
When my father was ill last year, I called all my friends and family and asked them to pray for us or, at the very least, send good thoughts. I was humbled by the number of people who responded – many prayers were offered and so much support was given to us. I made the mistake of narrating all this to a relative who is an atheist. He was horrified and said something along the lines of, “I am surprised that someone as educated as you would listen to all this nonsense. Do you really think that all your prayers made your father better? It’s through his own efforts and body systems that he became better. You prayed for your own comfort; he didn’t become well because of your prayers.”
I didn’t want to respond as it would have made matters worse. In truth, I was aware that some of what he said was logical. However, like many other ‘educated’ people, I am also aware that there is a higher power which is not something I can explain with words. All I can say is that in my darkest moments and when there is nothing left to do, I pray and miracles happen and find some measure of happiness.
Here is a quote from the East And West Series magazine for those who are seeking a foothold that explains spirituality in a succinct manner: ‘It means having a clear understanding of [who you are, your beliefs and the meaning of spirituality] and matching your actions as you give yourself permission to live as who you are.”
Here is a video by T. T Rangarajan about Acceptance that is very enlightening:
Being Grateful Will Bring You More Happiness
Let’s go back to Jasper. Remember that the first thing that Jasper said was thank you. Giving thanks is certainly a sign of good manners, but it is also a show of gratitude. And there are more than enough stories to show that living in gratitude brings more joy.
Try this for the next 30 days: every morning, however tired, grumpy, hopeless and morose you feel, say, “Thank you for a new day.” I guarantee that at the end of the 30 days, you will feel more optimistic and positive.
Finally, if you need any more reasons as to why you should be happy both inside and out, here’s the best one of them all: you’re alive. And that is the ultimate gift of all.
Aneeta Sundararaj finds immense joy and happiness from this website, howtotellagreatstory.com, which she created and developed on her own. Every day, she learns something new about storytelling, the craft or writing and the publishing world.