Monday, December 14, 2009

Key to Happiness

I sometimes become philosophical about stuff. Today seems to be one of those days.
Today I am trying to decipher the code behind unhappiness.
Let me try to list out possible things that “might” make me happy.
A sleek black Maserati will be the ultimate happiness tool, or maybe a penthouse in Stanley, definitely someone special in life, perhaps a leaner me, or at least a job at McKinsey or Google.
Well, I have many many more things which might make me happy. The list never ends.
However, there is only one thing which makes me “or to generalize - all of us” unhappy. That is when our expectations are not met. The pain caused by failed expectations can be very severe.
A failed expectation can be a deferred job promotion, a break up, the way your friends & family treat you or maybe getting an application rejection from Harvard.
Basically, an expectation says that “I want something to happen and if that doesn’t happen, then you will be unhappy”.
On so many occasions I hear disgruntled voices talking about expectations not met or things not happening the way people want it to happen. Managing your expectations can be very challenging and is an art one learns through trial-error and experience. 

Please don’t mistake me here. I don’t say expectations are wrong. We need to have expectations. They are the primary source of hope and aspirations. Life would be empty and meaningless without them. However, what I propose is that keep your mind flexible and adaptable to their outcome so that you can be more forthcoming and acceptable to the occurrence of any possible event.

Though I am writing on this topic, I kinda suck at managing my own expectations.
I personally try to have very little expectations. However, expectations naturally build up and when they fail they cause lot of pain and anguish.
For instance, when it comes to communication, I am very particular about both parties putting in equal effort to sustain a communication channel. In simple words, I will not be the one who will always start a conversation even if I want one. Now, this expectation does fail and when it does it tends to severe my relationships and friendships.
What I know but fail to implement is that one must liberate themselves from attaching themselves to any result caused by someone else's actions or inactions!

As humans, we all need expectations but what we also need is a realization that they can fail.
Sometimes, I ask myself a question- To be happy do we need to lower our expectations or to strive harder to improve our current situation"? What I realized is that accepting reality can be much more satisfying.
However I still don’t have an effective answer - If you have one, please comment on this blog.


Asanka said...

Hey dude,

Interesting post, and also an issue myself and I'm sure many others struggle with on a day-to-day basis- so you're not alone :)

Personally, I feel that you should never lower your expectations, you should strive to work harder towards your goal- but at the same time try not to associate being happy completely with the accomplishment of that goal - to avoid disappointment if it is not reached. For example, say you want to get into a top school, you must try your hardest to get in, but even if you don't, you should be happy that you did your best, you learned from the experience, and that there are millions of more opportunities out there to capitalise on!!! There is always reason to be happy, you just have to find it and be optimistic!!!! YAY!!! :DD:D::D:D:D:D:D:D

Manjunath RG said...

Hmmm... I was expecting you would give a solution..!! :)
Nice one pal..

Anonymous said...

Since you've been following my blog regularly, u shud have sensed this tension by now :)

Now you know very well that I would strive harder to improve the current situation. Its is very important in life that you do more and acieve more. Coz u dont wanna have regrets of not doing euf or not having utilized an opportunity.

I would agree to what Asanka had to say in this regard.

Never ever lower ur expectations. They DEFINE who u really are!

venkat_(n)ever_thinking said...

Hey amit, i think my most recent blogpost (see has a hint about how to find happiness. It is on the same lines as Asanka's thoughts. I think the key is for ppl to disassociate themselves from goals/targets/destinations and focus on the process to reach there. If you find happiness in the way you approach things, the outcome will just be incidental and inconsequencial.


Hey Amith ,

From my experience im saying ,we need to have expectation/goal but at the same time we should enjoy ourself reaching the goal otherwise no point in reaching the goal without enjoying the path[ex: we will enjoy in trip the travel we did as much as the place we had seen, i hope you agree on this] and even if we fail to reach that goal we should be happy for reaching till that stage [Ex we may not be able get seat in IIT but we should be happy for getting seat in good college].

PS:Telling theoretically is easy but implementing it practically takes lot of discipline and time...

instant_blogger said...

Hey All,

I have got some really good comments on the post. I am glad that you all shared your insight and thoughts.
I believe with most what has been said.
Agree with Asanka in that - we shouldn't attach ourselves with the result but be more in synch with the process.
Learning from experience so important ( BTW - I am writing about learning nex)
@ Manju- If II would had a solution, I would become a Guru not slack my ass off doing a MBA :)
@GlobalPerception - Never lowering your expectation is good, but remember the price you pay for it. Higher expectations means higher pain when you fail. Of course, I am assuming that one will fail at the first place.
IMHO - One should just strive to work hard towards the journey and not look for the destination
@Venkat - Absolutely agree with you. Liked this line - "If you find happiness in the way you approach things, the outcome will just be incidental and inconsequencial."
@Anil - enjoying the journey is so important and most of us tend to not enjoy this part of life.
I always believe in giving my best and hope things work out. If they don't then one should be content from the fact that one gave his best.
To summarize it, using a quote from Vedas - Karma karo magar phal ki appecksha mat karo. ( do the hard work but dont expect any returns )

Allen Shaw said...

how true
but the problem is that we do not ever learn a lesson.
that is so sad.
Your articles r very deep. Keep them coming


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Unknown said...

Cool writeup yr hai, goods like been there done that

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Anonymous said...

nice blog