|Photo by JD Hancock|
Yeh Dil Maange More! (...Or This Heart Craves for More)
Initially, I thought this was a fleeting feeling that arose from time to time, but I have now come to recognize that its subtle presence can be a persistent one; it's undercurrents a constant companion. While this feeling is the source of fuel that moves us forward, it is also the cause of our discontent in life. How we quickly get used to any new circumstances in life and start nurturing these cravings from thereon.
If we had been dreaming about buying a Toyota Corolla, no sooner than we get to buy it, we get used to it and start eyeing the Camry. Not that the guy driving the Camry is any happier as he’s wondering when is he going to get his next upgrade.
3 Reasons For Our Discontentment
In our achievement-oriented society, more is often synonymous with better – the underlying belief that the person with more is likely to be happier; that more success, more money equates to greater happiness. Further, the capitalistic philosophy of ‘winner takes all’ and its tempting, instant and disproportionate rewards make us constantly yearn for more.
Further, high decibel advertising touting the latest consumer products reinforces our sense of inadequacy. As a result, we subconsciously dedicate our life to seeking perfection in all aspects of our life – from perfect looking teeth and perfectly shaped body- even if it means undergoing cosmetic surgery- to the most desirable perfume and the perfect partner.
In the process, we develop a lop-sided sense of priorities and end up living a poor inner life because we are constantly thinking of what we don't have rather than be grateful for all the wonderful things we do have. In this blinding chase for more, we fail to question how much is enough?
2. External focus
Simultaneously, our focus for happiness is outside of us. In modern society, the most often used measure of progress is material success – particularly the aspects that make us look good in the eyes of others. Thus, we get so caught up with the outwardly visible yardsticks – the job title, model of the car, square footage of the house and the holiday destinations.
Also, we confuse external pleasure with happiness. We seek pleasure in money, success, food, gadgets, sex and so forth. As any form of pleasure is unable to keep us happy for a long time, we constantly seek out a new experience, a new fix, to get us feeling good about ourselves. We get onto the ‘hedonic treadmill’ – constantly seeking fresh pleasures just to stay at the same level of satisfaction.
3. Stuck in relativity
“Men do not desire to be rich, but richer than other men.”
We also find ourselves stuck in the concept of relative success. It is not about how well you are doing but how you are placed compared to your peers. We lose sight of our own progress and find it difficult to rejoice in our accomplishments; unless, we are sure that we have traveled further and achieved more than our social network.
Ironically enough, there’s always someone in our peer group who’s richer, more successful, better looking, wiser or luckier than us. Forever trying to play catch-up then becomes a recurring theme in our life.
3 Mantras To Be Happier
1. Look within
Real happiness lies within us – deeper contentment is possible only when we connect with reforming our inner life. External progress can surely provide us some happiness but that tends to be short-lived. The ephemeral nature of such pursuit is well captured by the Buddhist teacher, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, who said, “Those who seek happiness in pleasure, wealth, glory, power, and heroics are as naïve as the child who tries to catch a rain-bow and wear it as a coat.”
Also, we intuitively know that money alone cannot buy happiness. Particularly, after a certain threshold, incremental material success does not usually add to happiness. In fact, a more singular pursuit of financial growth takes us away from our ability to enjoy the present, pursue our passions and nurture our treasured relationships.
Genuine happiness on the other hand stems from our inner contentment vis-à-vis our personal life and the world around us. It requires consciously cultivating an emotional equilibrium towards our circumstances; so, the extent of both, our craving for seeking the next pleasure and the dissatisfaction with not landing one, are moderated. Authentically happy people are grounded in their inner values and don’t feel inclined to respond to every temptation, whether related to social symbols of success or conforming to what’s popular around them.
2. Clarity of purpose
A big chunk of our restlessness for ‘more’ stems from lack of a clear purpose in our life. We customarily correlate the notion of fulfilling our personal potential to how much further we can get in our profession, financial status, or public recognition – and that leads us to a treadmill of activity but not necessarily to inner fulfillment.
Rather than struggling to relentlessly climb the ladder (career or social), it is more important to determine whether our ladder is leaning against the right wall in the first place. It is important to recognize that we can start the journey towards discovering and satisfying our potential only by working on our inner self and by setting the direction of our life in line with our personal purpose.
An obsessive achievement orientation tends to make us live in- and for- the future, making us dependent upon time for its fulfillment. On the contrary, living grounded in a deeply felt purpose enables us to feel fulfilled and relish the present.
Inner happiness emanates from finding fulfillment in our current station in life. One thing that is greatly helpful in this regard is creating moments of stillness, slowing down our train of compulsive thoughts about future progress and relishing all that is well in our present life. Making a list of things you are grateful for in life, and reflecting on it, has a favorable influence on your level of contentment.
This contemplation makes us recognize the blessings of our life that we ordinarily fail to acknowledge. Reminding ourselves of the key highlights from this list on a daily basis keeps us focused on the bigger picture of our existence and away from the relatively insignificant mental cravings of daily life.
Also, being thankful for what we have makes us more open to receiving further. In fact, the more you express gratitude for what you have, the more you will have, to express gratitude for. As we pay greater attention to the beauty and miracles of our existence, the more they grow in our life.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts, do leave a comment on the blog!
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