We all seek happiness – and we all do various things to become happy. Today’s materialist culture, especially with its stress on advertisements, makes us believe that happiness comes from acquisition.
But unfortunately no matter how much we get, we get some super cial titillation at best – we never get any meaningful or lasting happiness. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (16.11) states that when we make material grati cation our de nition of happiness, we set ourselves for anxiety – unlimited, unending anxiety.
Why anxiety? Because material things are external to us and are not in our control; the prospect that they may be taken away from us at any moment lls us with insecurity.
Moreover, because most other people are also materialistic, they too crave for material things. As material resources are nite, the ensuing competition for limited material things further heightens our anxiety.
Thus, when we buy into this de nition of happiness in terms of possession and grati cation, then we get caught in a black hole of self-obsession wherein we nd neither happiness nor peace – we get only craving and worrying.
Happiness lies in the opposite direction – not self-centered possession, but sel ess contribution. The happiest people are not those who are worrying about what they are getting – the happiest people are those who lose themselves in giving
themselves in some noble pursuit, a pursuit in accordance with their God-given gifts. The noblest such pursuit is the pursuit done in mood of selfless devotion to the one who is the source of our talents.
Selflessness doesn’t mean that we don’t care for ourselves – it means that we care for something bigger than ourselves. God is the biggest such cause and he is the source of all happiness and the well- wisher of everyone. By working in a mood of selfless service to him, we find life’s greatest fulfillment.
“For a person who has suitable shoes on his feet, there is no danger even when he walks on pebbles and thorns. Similarly, for one who is always self-satisfied there is no distress. Indeed, He experiences happiness everywhere.”