Happiness beyond wants and desires

All of us are happy when we get what we want. This is not surprising since satisfying desires is fundamental to life and living. Does this mean though that happiness lies in fulfilling every want that one might experience? The answer is ‘no’.

Getting whatever we wish for each time is like giving candy to a child whenever he or she asks for it – it would keep the child happy for some time but in the long run would ruin its digestion and cause ill-health.  

In other words, unless we maintain a sense of proportion and avoid mindless gratification, happiness will desert us. Not only for general well-being, but for spiritual growth as well, it is necessary to tailor one’s wants to one’s needs.
Consider the scenario as it is today. ‘The world is too much with us,’ wrote the poet Wordsworth many years ago.

These words ring truer than they ever did. Consumerism is all the rage and we are on the reckless, one-way path of using up Earth’s resources rapidly. The mantra seems to be ‘Use now, pay later.’

Corruption is no longer the unacceptable word that it used to be.
Quite unmindful of the disastrous harm it causes to society, people are busy amassing wealth not just for their future or that of their children, but for the unknown generations to come.  One perceives a general loss of conscience caused by the venality of the few and the apathy of the rest. Service is on the wane and our streets are no longer safe. Self-gratification is all that seems to matter.

It is convenient to blame a faceless society for all these ills, but honest self-appraisal will remind us that society is after all made up of individuals and it is with the individual that all change, whether for the better or the worse, begins. Put otherwise, each one of us bears the responsibility of putting his or her needs in perspective and acting for the benefit of all.

Many are the ill-effects of satisfying one’s own needs too much, too soon. Firstly, it breeds blindness and callousness towards the rights of others.

Drunk-driving that takes innocent lives, mindless shootings and murders for gain are all results of unbridled desires.

Only constant training and discipline will help us keep in mind that all claims to rights bring obligations to duties as well.This apart, complete fulfillment of wants does not always lead to success and happiness.  Children whose every demand is met are likely to turn out selfish and idle.

Mahatma Gandhi pointed out that there is enough in this world for everyone’s needs but not for everyone’s greed.

As this fable illustrates, disregarding this brings great harm to one’s own self. A sanyasi was so pleased with his disciple that he gave him one wish. Not satisfied, the pupil begged for more. Reluctantly, the master granted him one more wish.
The man rushed home and wished that his house be filled with gold. To his great delight, the glitter of gold surrounded him. But soon torment set in.
 His neighbours would be full of envy and there was the threat of robbers. With fear in his heart, the man used his second wish.

He asked that the gold remain invisible to all but his own eyes. The day came when he was in need of money. Taking some of the gold, he went to sell it. Alas, no one could see it. He was merely laughed at and branded a madman. Overpowering greed had cost him all that he had gained.

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