Commencing on 20 March 2006, the International Day of Happiness has been celebrated worldwide! The pursuit of happiness received global acceptance as a legitimate search for accomplishment. Yet, at the personal, family and community level, what does the pursuit of happiness signify? In 2020, following the annual practice, the happiest countries were announced, judged according to specific parameters. Finland, Denmark and Switzerland occupied the top three spots in the happiness index. They deserved the top rankings as European countries that have highly developed education and healthcare facilities. These countries enjoy the advantages of comparatively smaller manageable populations, stable political climate and environmental purity.
The pursuit of happiness and the quality of life
Briefly, the requirements for the pursuit of happiness may be summed up in terms of the quality of life. The total of all the facilities that make up a good existence may differ across religions, cultures and continents but are necessarily the same. Universal values of family and parenthood, duty and patriotism, and community goals do unite in spite of stark differences at the other end of the spectrum. The pursuit of happiness is common to more than 7 billion humans that make earth their home.
The pursuit of happiness decision-makers
By avoiding controversy regarding the rather simple idea of joy and happiness, some authorities believe that it is the conscious decision of the mind to be happy that matters. Because happiness is so abundant even with little things like a new toy for a child, it is not so rare. The pursuit of happiness could extend to national levels like great performances in Olympic sports and the winning of Nobel prizes. These are examples of the pursuit of happiness at elevated levels. Yet, it is individual like a drop in the ocean, which makes up the society that might run into a million in Bhutan or a billion and more in China.
Regarding the happiness of the individual, they must decide to be happy as a goal in life. Bhutan has a Department of GNH in the royal government. GNH is gross national happiness! Along with several other factors, it means that the individual must find pleasure in simple things like poets and philosophers. Comparing negatively with those who have bigger houses and costlier cars will only bring disappointment.
What matters in the pursuit of happiness?
Along with the satisfaction of basic needs and wants, meaning or purpose in life is essential and necessary. Human faculties are more significant than animal existence with all the refinement achieved by civilization. Even though it is now an automated world of virtual realities, humans recognize themselves as the creators of technology and all the wonders that it has produced. The pursuit of happiness must involve a moral sense that does not seem to exist in specific conflict zones even today and in regions of mass starvation. The pursuit of happiness makes no sense in such situations with sorrow and tragedy dominating.
Glancing within in the pursuit of happiness
Ultimately, it is the mind at work! As some cultures have realized long ago, and modern psychiatry and psychology agree, the mind is the site of happiness.
Manipulating the mind is possible too with mindfulness and meditation that are substantially similar. Finding peace inwards and getting rid of stresses and negative thoughts lie at the heart of the pursuit of happiness. Why do the nature scenes of mountains and forests on TV channels bring serenity? The mind feels free and far away from urban stresses. In recent weeks, almost the entire human race experienced peace during the pandemic lockdown in spite of the tensions of contracting the disease. The pursuit of happiness must begin with the mind at rest. All over the world and even in advanced countries, mindfulness is being incorporated in school programs.
The pursuit of happiness at the moment
A similar idea to acting to the present, breaking free of limiting beliefs of the past and future is essential to touch the present moment! Since living is only possible in the present, make the best use of it. Regretting the past and fanciful future dreams do not help in the pursuit of happiness. Instead, purifying the monkey mind and bringing it to steadily elevated thinking would help find greater meaning and recognize what humans mostly are. A primaeval clarity and innocence are realized, and that is what the prophets did. Don't lose the way in the pursuit of happiness and search for it in the wrong things and places.
Simple goals in the pursuit of happiness
Where does one start in this seemingly simple but sometimes complex pursuit of happiness? Everything in this vast universe has found a particular place. Every sentient being has a niche that is it's own. So it is even in the concrete jungles that have become breeding grounds of evil and crime as compared to the pretty villages. A life dedicated to helping others and spreading smiles would undoubtedly help in the pursuit of happiness. A positive approach to life and living and a concern for suffering humanity has characterized some of the immortal souls who walked the earth. Create an action list and develop HAPPINESS GOALS, perhaps on an annual or monthly basis. Whether it is writing and publishing, a new gadget or even game or dress, keep an eye to whatever brings personal happiness. Invest in them and make them a part of existence. Get closer to the pursuit of happiness in real-time rather than chase the illusion of bliss.