Messages to my dear friend, Monica, as we share our experiences of being a mother, the things we learn from our little girls, everyday and the lessons we learn from life itself.
A Blog-dialogue across continents, countries and oceans of time and space...
(We last met in 2000 A.D, in India.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pleasure versus Happiness

Dear Monica,

For some time now, I, too, have been finding it hard to ascertain whether I'm truly happy or otherwise.... One thing is for certain- if I were truly unhappy, I would not sit still until I changed the Status Quo. For example, when I am unhappy with my health, I try to eat more healthily, when I'm unhappy with the state of my house, I set about cleaning it through and through...and when I'm unhappy with something someone said or the way they said it, I try to talk to them about it and clear the air...
Pleasure is, as you said, a short-term feeling; fleeting and intense, but gets dulled and predictable unless we derive it from things that make life meaningful. Somehow, to me pleasure is something that is intertwined with happiness....The happiness of others.

So, when I cook, I get pleasure, but I get my happiness when my family enjoys the food! When I go to work, I feel happy if a patient is well looked-after, and their smile is enough for me then! Nothing is too much trouble, and that's the way it should be. If I take care of someone for their own sake, I feel happy. So, when they, in turn, get pleasure from my pleasure, it gives me happiness! When  the kids are pleased to go outdoors with me, it gives me happiness! As I see the delight on their faces, the excitement dancing in their eyes, I feel buoyant and light...! When Raj is pleased with something I did, I feel happy....too!!

All this is not to say I am always dependent upon others- kids, husband, in-laws, friends, workmates etc to make me feel happy. If that were the case, I would probably be more unhappy, than happy! The simple reason is, one can't please all the people all the time! Someone, sometime, is going to get upset/ displeased with me. I accept that, and I also look at it with a rational mind and open heart. Sometimes, others' expectations of us are so high, we cannot please them, no matter how hard we try...In such cases it is right to do our best and leave the rest to God...! He sees our effort, and He will reward us with the peace and happiness our soul craves.... For its is सुख not ख़ुशी we seek, surely!!??

All I do is be honest with myself, and make sure my inner being is always happy! It is important to revitalise ourselves and do things that make us happy- just for us, sometimes. Like go and do something that is good for us, which only we, ourselves, will understand, even if anyone else won't ...That isn't selfishness; we OWE it to ourselves! This will ensure that our 'bank' of joy is always in credit and we never run out of spirit! So, if I feel like taking a walk, reading a book, eating a chocolate muffin, writing/talking to my Dad or sister, I DO IT! But, these activities are sensory, so that, when the phone-conversation, muffin or book is finished, so is my pleasure... Why does it not translate into happiness??!The reason, to me, is because it was dependent on other, external situations, people, scenarios etc to derive that pleasure. 

We just need to remember one thing: never, deliberately hurt others by our thoughts, words or deeds. That is cruel and disrespectful, unnecessary and malicious. We, our Soul, our hearts work best when we are at peace with ourselves. Just as a car works best when the engine is clean. If we liken our life to a car, the body of the car is our physical self, the condition of the car is like our attitude, our way of co-existing with others... the fuel is how we handle our relationships- with anyone and everyone- from our spouse to our milkman, from the bus-driver to our child's teacher... Just as a car tries its best on any road or surface you drive on. Then, the performance of the car is the peace and joy we get out of our lives... This peace comes only from making sure we are kind, in our hearts, our mind, our words and our deeds. Such peace is everlasting and buoyant, weightless and eternal.

Remember how we greet every new person in our life with respect, attentiveness and a smile??! Sometimes, because of different attitudes and outlooks, there are, fights, arguments and misunderstandings among two people. Then, the same people cease to look at you the same way..! We, still, for our part, need to be at peace and this is only possible if we 'erase' all the hurt, all the pain, all the frustration and dislike in our hearts and replace it with peaceful love for them. How is that possible, you say, when the other person hates us??Just imagine you're meeting them for the first time, again, and the feeling, the 'vibe' will return. Slowly, they too, will see the change in us and feel differently about us...

When I find this hard, or feel I'm not getting the desired result for me soon enough, I remind myself-

I need to be like the flower which is always smiling, always giving away its fragrance, its nectar, its pleasant colours and its life- to give pleasure to others. If I pursue my pleasure alone, all the time, I will be no different from the bee, which flits from flower to flower, in search of sensory pleasure for its own gratification.