Thursday, December 31, 2009

Everlasting happiness!!

It is that time of the year when one gets flooded with mails and messages conveying best wishes for a happy new year. I wish my readers very happy times ahead. But rather than merely wishing you, dear reader, I would like to also share with you some thoughts on how to be happy. And what we should do to be happy always.

Happiness is not something that is based on a certain event happening. It is not based on being with loved ones, having our intense desires fulfilled, on earning huge amount of wealth or spending it, on travelling to exotic places etc. Indeed, we do get pleasure when these things happen but this pleasure is short lived and very temporary in nature. In a short while, we seek some other pleasures as the existing pleasure ceases to satisfy. It is very much like children who get excited and happy on seeing a toy but soon lose interest in it and develop a desire for some other toy.

Happiness is essentially a state of mind wherein we feel complete and satisfied with what we have. What we do not have does not bother us. What others have or do not have does not gladden or sadden us. Wherever we are placed in life, whatever be our circumstances, we are in a state of permanent bliss. If we achieve that state of mind, we become happiness personified and radiate bliss all around us.

So on this happy occasion (all occasions can be happy occasions if we choose it to be so), I wish you happiness always. Whether the sun is shining or rain is pouring, whether it is hot or cold, whether you are young or old, whether are you richer or poorer, whether you have company or are alone, be happy.

Be happy always.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Heaven on earth

If someone was to ask you to describe earth in one word, what would that be?

Some say that the earth is akin to heaven with beautiful natural spots, many man made wonders, luxuries to spoil us, comforts and conveniences, fantastic gourmet food, lovely people, so many sports and games to amuse us, music and fine arts to entertain us etc. Truly, we can enjoy life to its fullest whilst still in this earth. It is difficult to imagine how much more heavenly can it get. One can spend a lifetime of bliss right here (if only we can afford it).

On the other hand, people who have experienced the murkier side of life would say that the earth is a veritable hell with mindless violence aimed at maiming and hurting people, cheating aimed at depriving others of what is rightfully theirs, lying and deceit to fulfil selfish desires, filth and pollution created by modern day urban living, wanton destruction of natural wealth etc. People whom we believe to be decent or honest sometimes surprise us by behaving otherwise. Don’t we see this all around us? We do not need to go anywhere else to suffer for our sins. We create hell in earth with our sins.

So, in this very earth, we can discover our heaven or find our hells. It all depends on what we choose to do. There are some like Mother Teresa who create heaven wherever they go. They spread joy. They take very little but give a lot. They are selfless. They have no desire but to see happiness and smiles filling up everyone’s lives. They touch everyone positively and leave pleasant memories for people to bask in. Such people are rare indeed. The vast majority of people are living in their own small worlds, tied up in their own little desires & problems and eking out a miserable existence.

What stops us from reaching those heights? What prevents us from transforming ourselves from the ordinary to the extra-ordinary? What does it take for us to convert the entire earth into a heaven of peace, harmony and joy? All it takes is to become less self-centered and care more for others around us. Let’s lead lives that are less complicated and demanding. Let us embrace simple living. Let us care for our fellow beings and revel in seeing happiness in others.

Then, my friends we can say that there is heaven in earth.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Eco-friendly living

The hot topic which causes concerns across the world today is not terrorism but global warming. Terrorism is a pain but the impact of global warming will be devastating. Glaciers will melt, sea levels will rise, weather will become more unpredictable, alternating flood and drought conditions will make life miserable, food shortages will be rampant etc. Life in this lovely planet will no longer be the same unless we take immediate steps.

The sense of urgency is felt across nations as people are seeing the direct impact of global warming. Various nations are discussing the steps to be taken and there is negotiation on who is responsible and who will sacrifice how much.

A few days ago I met a man named Venkatachalam who lives near my home. He shocked me by saying that he does not use any appliances at home. He has no refrigerator, washing machine, microwave oven, mixer / grinder, air conditioner etc. Since he is quite well off, I wanted to know the reason for this frugal lifestyle. He said that he is doing his bit to reduce global warming. I was truly impressed.

Global warming has been caused by each one of us by living lives which are not eco-friendly. If we take stock of what all we do during our typical days, we will realise that there are many things we do which have an adverse impact on the environment. Whether it is using of harmful chemicals in our soap or toothpaste, whether it is in the use of mobile phones which emit harmful radiation, whether it is in the wasteful consumption of electricity - there are many different innovative methods available to harm the environment. We mistakenly think science and technology have made the quality of our lives better and more enriched. If we think deeply, we realise that technology has introduced convenience to us which comes at great cost.

The responsibility of reducing global warming is with each one of us. We have to take stock of our lives like my friend Venkatachalam and make necessary changes and sacrifices for the common good. Every effort is useful and one should not wait for others to do the needful. I am reminded of a story from the Ramayana about a squirrel which contributed its mite to the construction of a bridge across the ocean. The mighty monkey army of Lord Rama was carrying large boulders and dumping them on the ocean. The tiny squirrel was wetting its body, rolling in the sand and then running to the bridge and shaking its body thereby dropping the sand on the bridge. Even Lord Rama was touched by its act.

It is time for us to do our bit by changing our lifestyle. Let us make a pledge today that we will give up habits and practices which are not eco-friendly. It could be as simple as not using plastic bags or turning the tap off when brushing your teeth. We will also cultivate habits and do acts that have a positive impact. Not only will we make changes in our lives but also encourage others around to do the same.

If you agree, please write in your comments to this blog as to what specifically you want to do in your life towards the aim of eco-friendly living.