Elusive Happiness

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A friend of mine was keen on marrying a working girl. He reasoned that with the additional money he could purchase happiness in life. He rejected many offers until he hit the jackpot. He found a girl earning a fat salary and got married. Though they worked in different organizations, with some difficulty, they managed to get posted in the same city.

Life was good. Both spouses made enough money to lead a luxurious life. However, the wife's job was transferable and soon she had to move to a far off location. The husband tried hard but could not manage a posting nearby. So life became tough. Poor hubby had to travel across the country to be with his family. The wife had qualifications with which she could land a more stable job in the same city where her husband worked but that would not pay as much. So it became money versus a happy family life for them and money won. The job with a heavy pay packet robbed the happiness of the family.

Whenever I think of them, a real life happening pops up in my mind. An interesting system has been used for capturing monkeys in the jungles of Africa. The goal is to take the monkeys alive and unharmed for shipment to zoos of America. In an extremely humane way, the captors use heavy bottles, with long narrow necks, into which they deposit a handful of sweet-smelling nuts. The bottles are dropped on the jungle floor, and the captors return the next morning to find a monkey trapped next to each bottle.

How is it accomplished? The monkey, attracted by the aromatic scent of the nuts, comes to investigate the bottle, the nuts, and is trapped. The monkey can't take its hand out of the bottle as long it's holding the nuts, but it is unwilling to open its hand and let them go. The bottle is too heavy to carry away, so the monkey is trapped. When the captors approach it the monkey can run away if it lets go of the nuts. However, greed over rides safety. They shriek and howl in despair as captors move in but refuse to release the nuts. They get caught.

We may smile at the foolish monkeys, but how often we hold to our problems so tenaciously as the monkeys hold to the nuts in the bottle. And so, figuratively we carry our bottle around with us, feeling very sorry for ourselves, and begging for sympathy from others, even from God.

While we are dealing with monkeys let us analyze the actions of another monkey. There once was a happy monkey wandering the jungle, eating delicious fruit when hungry, and resting when tired. One day he came upon a house, where he saw a bowl of the most beautiful apples. He took one in each hand and ran back into the forest.

He sniffed the apples and smelled nothing. He tried to eat them, but hurt his teeth. They were made of wood, but they were beautiful, and when the other monkeys saw them, he held onto them even tighter.

He admired his new possessions proudly as he wandered the jungle. They glistened red in the sun, and seemed perfect to him. He became so attached to them, that he didn't even notice his hunger at first.

A fruit tree reminded him, but he felt the apples in his hands. He couldn't bear to set them down to reach for the fruit. In fact, he couldn't relax, either, if he was to defend his apples. A proud, but less happy monkey continued to walk along the forest trails.

The apples became heavier, and the poor little monkey thought about leaving them behind. He was tired, hungry, and he couldn't climb trees or collect fruit with his hands full. What if he just let go?

Letting go of such valuable things seemed crazy, but what else could he do? He was so tired. Seeing the next fruit tree, and smelling it's fruit was enough. He dropped the wooden apples and reached up for his meal. He was happy again.

Like that little monkey, we sometimes carry things that seem too valuable to let go. A man carries an image of himself as "successful or productive" - carries it like a shiny wooden apple. But in reality, his overwork leaves him tired and he has no time for family. He is hungry for a better life. Still, letting go seems crazy. Even his worries are sacred apples - they prove he's "doing everything he can." He holds onto them compulsively.

We talk about happiness every day of our lives in our elusive search for it. Happiness has given us humans a lot of trouble for the following reasons:

First, we don't know what happiness is. People say they know happiness as an emotion, a state of mind and as something to aim for, but when it comes to defining happiness, they are often uncertain how to articulate their feelings. Everyone defines happiness in a different way. Quite simply, many people don't know what will make them happy so their choices change literally according to their moods.

Second, we are always looking for happiness with material things. We often believe that getting material possessions and comforts will do the trick. But material things only give us moments of temporary high. They do not give long term happiness.

Third, need is limited but greed is limitless. We are unable to separate our need from our greed. So trying to achieve them becomes a life long struggle.

Analyze your life, are you screaming at your troubles while holding those nuts which are causing them? Are you the proud owner of shiny wooden apples? Let go, let go…


Rajesh Chaubey, Guest Contributor, PatnaDaily.Com

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