Can anyone define what happiness is? Is happiness got from a fixed source or is it a different thing to different individuals? Is the source of happiness in pursuing education, obtaining a degree, finding a good job, having charming wife, bringing up nice children, being in perfect health and many more such stages? It is normal to believe that approaching these stages in life would get us happiness. Whatever is done to reach the stages is ultimately for acquiring happiness. In this process we take utmost care not to indulge in any kind of act that might make us unhappy.
Astonishingly for a rug picker though what he does is unpleasant to others, he hopes that whatever he picks from the garbage will fetch him something to feed himself and his family. Likewise a businessman too trade with his goods to earn and through it he is happy. The objective is the same for both the rug picker and a business magnet.
Amazingly though the objective is same what makes one happy need not necessarily make another also happy, happiness source varies. A few are after name and fame to feel happy, anonymity brings satisfaction to the one who is spiritually inclined. So there are different things that make different people happy. Hence it becomes difficult to have a common definition of what makes one happy and also there is no particular device to measure happiness so got. Though the objective of everyone to be happy is same, happiness itself is subjective. It is a state of inner fulfilment and is never the same at all times. If a cup of hot coffee makes me happy on a chilly day, I would prefer cold lassi on a humid day. Even on identical conditions the outcome may be different at different times, hot tea is preferred instead of hot coffee or cold badam milk is better for some instead of a glass of lassi.
Astoundingly in some cases the choices that we make thinking it would bring happiness may not really fetch it. For example, a change in job with more income or shifting to a bigger home in a newer locality or making new friends do not guarantee happiness, in fact they may even result in a desire to revert to old situations. Even earning more does not guarantee happiness as money beyond a threshold point has diminishing returns. The comfort level that money can buy stops at some stage. Then how does money get us happiness? If the wealth is shared after a point when our needs are taken care, to bring comfort to larger number of people then there is happiness. It is not the money that gives happiness but what we do with it does. Likewise it is not the job we are into that matter but how it benefits others is the point. This is what brings greater mental satisfaction. The bottom line for sustained happiness beyond the initial satisfaction is what we do for others in view of the larger good, than what we do for ourselves.
Happiness cannot be measured as it varies from period to period, person to person, place to place. “Happiness has nothing to do with material things or with man’s outward circumstance. A man living in the lap of luxury can be wretched, and a man in the depth of poverty can overflow with joy.” It is for each individual to identify what brings happiness without causing unhappiness to others and pursue it. But one thing can be said with reasonable certainty, happiness is contagious. If we are with happy people, our mind also gets pulled to the path of deriving happiness.