Open Happiness

There is a cheeky story about a fisherman meeting a Harvard MBA where the fisherman is living a life of contentment with his minimal income. He had reasonable work hours, no stress, time to play with kids, meet friends, enjoy with family. The Harvard guy advises him on working harder, smarter, corporatiz-ing his work and become a millionaire. Fisherman then asks what would he do with all the money and the MBA tells him that then he can retire, catch fish, play with kids and on and on and I guess you got the message. My personal view is that the sweet spot lies somewhere in the middle for most of us. If you are a monk and you can be okay with anything in life then you are God, and most of the discussions don’t apply but for the average folks who feel happiness and sadness derived from external situations, I think a compromise between the two will be the best bet.

As of now, the circle I move in is lopsided (a good percentage of them not all) on the side of doing too much and being too competitive and too stressed out. Obsessing over being the one with the last word in a pointless meeting, trying to get the wording right for some presentation to make the right impression, socializing with the right crowd in the right way to get noticed and the list goes on and on. To the extent, life becomes an endless series of performance oriented living and somewhere they need to be brought back.

If you go to the core, life can be very fulfilling if you have the base of your needs covered from Maslow's hierarchy of needs and then have time for other tiers. To be able to take care of your base needs most of us need a lot less than what we have, but because we are on a treadmill with many others where the speed of treadmill represents the average speed of the guys running. So, to be able to just keep up, you have to be at par with the average. And why do you have to keep up, just because if you don’t, you feel you have lost and you lose your mind. So, there is an artificial association of happiness to this race. In fact, there is very little chance of gratification, as that is reserved only for the top few percent and the recent are just playing catch up. If you are doing well, you are less miserable, if you aren’t you are more miserable. The race is to avoid misery and not to attain happiness and hence the default setting here is misery.

If only, people could realize this and dig deeper and try to find happiness in simpler things like the coke ad below suggests, they might end up having a lot more fulfillment and happiness!

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