Happiness Index

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The world Happiness report, 2020 says – Among 156 countries of the world, India ranked 144. Finland is on the top of the list. That means people of Finland are the happiest people in the world. The people of India are unhappy.

Happiness is an elusive thing. It is very difficult to get happiness. The world has become so materialistic that consumerism has overshadowed the happiness of the people. Wealth is not the criteria of happiness. A wealthy man may not be happy, but a beggar can be happy. One example may be cited here.

The English poet John Hay’s poem – ‘The Enchanted Shirt’ – tells of a  king who is unhappy because he is unwell. He is feeling that he is suffering from some disease. Many doctors were called. They all said that the king has no illness.

At last, one man came and after examination prescribed that if the king would wear a shirt of a happy man, then his illness will go away. So, accordingly, the king’s men went in all directions to search for a happy man and his shirt. Everywhere they found unhappy suffering men.

At last they saw a man who was a beggar who was really happy and enjoying jolly life in the open in a field. The king’s men asked for his shirt. But the beggar said – he has no shirt to wear.

This news was reported to the king. And now the king realized that what is real happiness. Also, he knew that the people of his country are suffering from poverty and other ailments of unhappiness. He took steps to improve the condition of his people. His own illness vanished all of a sudden. Some portions of the poem may be quoted here:

            But he pensively rubbed his sagacious nose

            And thus his prescription ran

            King will be well, if he sleeps one night

            In the shirt of a happy man.

                        x          x          x          x          x          x          x

            At last they came to a village gate

            A beggar lay whistling there

            He whistled and sang and laughed and rolled

            On the grass in the soft June air.

            When the king’s men asked for his shirt, the beggar replied –

            ‘But I have not a shirt to my back’.

We should observe here, how in spite of extreme poverty, the beggar is happy, whereas the wealthy king is unhappy.

            “And the king ashamed of his useless life,

            And his maladies hatched in gloom

            He opened his windows and let the air

            of the free heaven into his room

            And out he went in the world and toiled

            in his own appointed way

            And the people blessed him, the land was glad,

            And the king was well and gay.

This is the enchanted shirt; in fact no shirt due to indigence, but full of happiness. Gautama Buddha asked himself – Why I am not happy? After enlightenment he knew that cessation of desires is solution to get happiness. Here, the beggar has no desire. So he is happy.

Happiness is a state of mind. If you are in good stead, you will remain happy. Otherwise not. Bhagavad Gita says – a balanced personality is called Sthitaprajna – who has controlled his senses. He is well composed both in mirth and mire. So he is happy.

Philosophy says – The moral standard is the greatest happiness of the individual. Morality is to know – what is right and what is wrong. Choosing the right way leads to happiness. And the wrong way is the cause of sorrow and unhappiness.

And above all, simple style of living leads to happiness. It may be called the pastoral life. In Shakespeare’s play ‘As you like it’, he contrasts between the courtly life and pastoral life. Shepherd’s life is ideal and simple and full of happiness. But courtly life is full of intrigues and thereby not peaceful. Pastoral life has freedom.

What is wisdom and what is folly; it is never decided, you may have it, as you like it. That freedom leads to happiness. The definition of pastoralism may be like this – “The circumference of a circle is the gross outer world.

From circumference, if you go towards the centre, life would be simpler and simpler. And when you reach the center that is the simplest living. And that may be the dwelling place of God”.

There is a word called ‘romantic’ in English literature. This word has several meanings – as many as 11,396 meanings as listed by F. L. Lucas, a French critic. But its fundamental meaning is freedom of expression or free wheeling style like Brazilian and Holland football. When you are not bound by any rules and regulations, you are free without chains. This freeness will lead you to happiness.

At last, spiritualism, which transcends the material world, this matter will not give you peace and happiness. Mere chanting of God’s name – Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, will give you enough peace – peace of abyss. The Almighty is all in all in regard to Happiness and peace. This is a summum bonum of Happiness.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)

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Radhakanta Seth is an Income tax officer in Sambalpur.  He is a freelance writer and his articles have been published in some Oriya dailies like Sambad, Samaj, Dharitri, and English dailies like The Telegraph and in a sociological journal ‘Folklore’ published from Kolkata.

He can be reached at [email protected]

(Images from the net)

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