I know I have written a lot of times about happiness, how to be happy and things that could make you happy, which all still stands relevant, but this is kind of summation of everything I have said in all my previous blogs. Well this could also be the result of me fixing the pieces of a puzzle. Whatever it maybe here is what I want to talk to you all about today.
“Our Priorities Define our Happiness”
Let’s get into it a little deeper.
We shall take the great MR. Shakespeare’s poem “All the World’s a Stage” as a reference point for explanation.
According Shakespeare the first stage in a humans life is that of an infant – so as an infant our priority is to be fed and well rested. When we don’t get we cry and create a fuss, thus making ourselves unhappy. But when we get that we are blissfully unaware of the world around us.
The second stage is of a ‘whining school boy’ as the poet describes it. At this stage we are preparing for school, and our priority is to have all the goodies, a good bag, a good pencil box, a good water bottle etc. The surroundings and the materialistic possessions of everyday and how much of it do we own, is what dictates our degree of happiness. If we have it better than others we are ecstatic, but if we don’t we turn into a grumpy child.
The stage is of a ‘lover’. Now this stage is where we, in my opinion evolve the most. Love in this poem by Shakespeare is described as the relationship we have with a significant other. And that becomes our priority at this stage. The priority is to look attractive, to have the ability to woe, and to have whatever you want. This stage brings with it, jealousy, grudges, friendships and enmity. All of this is because of the passion of possession. We want things so passionately that we don’t mind destroying whatever becomes an obstacle and when we get that, we are happy. What we don’t realize is that happiness is fleeting and waiting for the next possession.
This stage could also be interpreted as the love for self, and love for all. Or this could also go hand in hand. The passion of possession could also be re-directed to having the passion of love. This completely depends on how we understand and see the world and how our surroundings help us with comprehending things clearly when your mind is fuzzy with rage, and greed. From here, we could either go to a profound understanding of life, and attempt to find the real meaning of happiness or we could just go to constantly possessing things and obsessing over it, seeing happiness only as a distant tomorrow.
We can also take the ‘Soldier’ stage as the post adolescents stage, where we are struggling between jobs, marriages etc. As Chandler from Friends said “You know, we are not sad, we are not just 21 anymore, I am 29 years old and I want to sit in a comfortable chair, watch television and go to sleep at a reasonable hour.” We all felt it! Because at that stage our priorities are pretty clear as to what we need in life. At 21 the world is our oyster at 29, we have responsibilities that we need to fulfill, bills we need to pay and a family to look after, hence our priorities change to something much more quieter and what brings us calmness and peace. Here, if someone is happier earning money and buying expensive things, that’s their way to be happy. Some people have less demands from life and hence that’s what makes them happy. If your friend wants to buy a 25 lakh watch while you want to have a cup chai in the rains with the people you love, so that’s what you should do!
We have to understand what makes us happy, and to understand that we need to separate ourselves from the world mentally and really look into what actually makes us happy. It could be simple things or it could be extravagant things, that’s an individual choice, just be something and do something which really makes YOU happy.
The next stage is that of a Justice let’s take this stage — where the kids are big enough to take care of themselves or have flown the nest to create their own life. Here the priority of these people change to probably the well being of their children or to start doing things that they couldn’t do earlier, like probably have books to read, go into more of philanthropy or travel and explore a little. The priority is probably to live a little here. And if we are able to do that then we are happy. Now there could be people who still push their needs aside, like if a parent wants to travel and explore, but is so involved in the child, even though he/she is far away enjoying their own life that they don’t allow themselves to do things they really want to do then it’s their individual mindset and only they can change it.
Let’s take the last two stages as one, where we are old and dependent on our children and our grand children. Here we have lived our lives and now our priority is to help out our children and grandchildren and if that makes us happy, and that’s what they should be doing.
Now none of what makes us happy in the above stages is negative, it is just the priority that dictates how happy we are. This also directly reflects to the kind of understanding of the world we might have. If we think our priority at any stage is being something larger than the menial life, we would give importance to the fact of rising above and not finding happiness in the material things, we start to value the relationships, nature or any of the things that make us feel content. But it is also completely alright to be able to love material things when you don’t have exposure to a ‘larger than life’ factor. Believe me it will come someday, and that is what you need to allow in yourself. You have to allow the feeling of ‘you being made for a purpose’ to consume you in a most healthiest way possible. This happens when we understand things differently and look at the world differently.
Every one comes with their own set of journey, hardships, failures, successes and achievements. So let it happen to you, don’t chase happiness, because again, it is not a destination, it is a moment, a perception and your priority at that moment in your life is what defines it all!