Diogenes was a great Greek philosopher and cynic who lived an exceptionally simple life. One day, famished and having nothing else to eat, he started eating raw dates from a wayside palm tree. A courtier from the king’s palace passing by saw this and exclaimed, “If you had accepted the king’s invitation to join his court, you could have lived lavishly like me instead of eating these insipid raw dates.” Diogenes chuckled and replied, “If you had practiced eating raw dates like me, you wouldn’t have to endure the king’s court !!”
Happiness is not the product of our circumstances. Rather it is the result of our outlook towards it. Many a times, we cannot control painful situations, but we can definitely manage our response towards it.
Haven’t you met someone who, in spite of all the miseries, maintains a positive attitude towards life. There are some others who laments their ill fate despite the riches they posses. Why is it so?
Psychologists believe this contradiction is the result of our ‘consciousness spotlight’. Don’t get bummed because of the term. I found it rather interesting.
Though we have a plethora of memories in our brain, we cannot manage them all at the same time. Our conscious mind acts like a spotlight which highlights the relevant information from time to time. Thus we are able to deal with situations effectively by drawing from our previous experiences.
But some people invariably focus their spotlight on to most distressing things in their life and relive the painful situations (Read more in ‘Self Simulated Reality’). This makes them more and more miserable. Some others shine their consciousness onto the happy memories, thereby pushing the painful ones to the backstage. Hence they remain happy.
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Abraham Lincoln
So if it is peace and positivity that we solicit, we should learn to focus our spotlights in the right direction.
The right focus
We are all blessed with many great things in life that we are unaware of. We take everything for granted and thereby miss out on the joy of small things.
To bring back the lost happiness to our lives, we should learn to direct our spotlights to happy memories. There are a few tricks to achieve that.
The first remedy for this is to develop an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’. Looking back and being grateful for everything in life is a great stride towards satisfaction. Waking up in the morning, we can remind ourselves of the blessings in our lives. This will keep our focus on the good things, thus influencing our mood throughout the day.
Personally I have found this very effective. Ever since I started being grateful, I found new things that I can be grateful for.
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Helen Keller
Being aware of the difficulty of others will open our mind towards the pettiness of our miseries and prompt us to count our blessings. Being part of the charity movements and working to relieve the pain of others can greatly improve the outlook towards life.
As a social animal, human beings need the society’s support for existence. Part taking in social activities will help to evoke the natural joy dormant in us. Cooperation with fellow beings develops selflessness and influences the overall perception of life.
All things by immortal power,
Near and Far
To each other linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling of a star.
It is argued that the universe is an interconnected web of phenomena. All animate and inanimate objects is part of the huge mesh. But somehow humans have forgotten this and became selfish. Hence she has fallen out of the paradise, doomed to live in eternal misery.
The best remedy is to connect back to this web and act as good links. Enlightened minds tried to elevate the human consciousness partly because they cannot be truly peaceful unless everyone is.
As Diogenes taught, it is not the king’s court nor the bland dates that acts as the yardstick for happiness. It has more to do with a ray of light that falls in the small place we call the heart.
Modern pursuit of happiness has largely been external so far. If we can turn our focus inwards, may be we can find the precious gems of happiness lying forgotten, waiting to be unearthed by the blessed few who venture to search deep within oneself.
Thank you for reading. You can post your opinion in the comment box below