Recently someone posted a question. He said that he has achieved everything he wanted from life, but still he is not happy. The answer to this lies behind the question “Where do you search for happiness?” In this article, I would like to elaborate little more on this issue. Let us begin with the words of this great philosopher.
He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.
Socrates was a great philosopher of his time, who made people understand the meaning of ethics in life. He focused mainly on the core human values that lead our lives. Such intentions of his clearly reflect in each of his writings that one would come across. An example of the same can be seen in the above line said by Socrates.
One who has achieved self-content is richest in the true sense, for self-contentment requires winning over your own desires, ambitions and passions which mainly drive most of our lives today. Most of us look for riches and wealth in material objects. Such ideology of ours forces us to strive and struggle for achieving that wealth in the hope to filling up the emptiness in our lives. In that pursuit, entire life passes away and then we ask the question, “Why am I still sad?”
Then we understand that it is too late. Those who are brave enough will start implementing the learning even at that stage. But most of us fail to do so and find ourselves with nothing. So what went wrong? Where are the roots of this unhappiness and disappointment? The answer to this is our thinking and that is what I intend to target through this article.
Our desires are never ending and keep growing with our “so-called” achievements. But these achievements are not the cause of these growing desires. The cause is our wrong thinking. And the roots of this wrong thinking lie at the core idea of being happy. We believe that we can be happy if we achieve everything we want in life. It is not only the case with the person who posted the question mentioned at the beginning here, but most of us move ahead with this ideology.
When we run behind achieving material wealth, that excitement, those ambitions are actually acting as a fuel to the anxiety within us. To be precise, it can be considered equivalent to sitting on a hot plate. Sitting on a hot plate makes you uneasy and restless. We feel the heat within us. In such a situation, how can one feel that happiness or joy that he/she is looking for? Our desires and passions are like a hot plate. By no means can it provide you happiness and joy. It will only increase in intensity and eventually make you restless, fearful and full of uneasiness. You will actually feel its heat within you.
When this happens, we understand that the happiness that we perceived out of our passions and desires are a delusion. Now you need to compare this scenario with someone who has overcome his/her desires. Overcoming desires is being contented.
Self-contentment is the nature of human being. You can take an example of a drop of water. As per science and even if you observe closely, a water droplet has a nature of compacting itself into the smallest possible circle of its own. Until then, it remains restless and keeps rolling around. Same is the nature of a human being or in general any living being.
Self-content is our true nature. Until we attain that state, we remain restless and keep rolling or looking around for the truth. Self-content is that truth where we need to settle down to. When we compact ourselves to that level, we relax and that uneasiness vanishes.
This is what Socrates has mentioned as quoted at the beginning in this article. Self-content is the wealth of our own nature. When we attain that wealth, then we become richest in the true sense. To attain this wealth, we need to overcome our passions and our desires.
We require that we keep performing our duties with integrity, and accept and stay contented with whatever we have. Whether one attains material wealth or whether one has to stay with a limited amount, he who is content in either case is the richest and this is what Socrates says. When you feel contented in this sense, you free yourself from the fear of losing that material wealth. You develop the quality of acceptance and you learn to stay within yourself and that is when you achieve true happiness.
Now, to overcome our passions and our desires, we need to put our thinking on the right track. Think on the lines of the examples of hot plate and water droplet. Comparison between these scenarios puts our thinking on the right track. After that what is left is our self-will to improve on those lines.
The whole world is there to advise us but until we ourselves develop that will-power, things will not change. We are independent to do that. Achieving this state is not easy. But it is neither impossible. With inspiration from people like Socrates and other individuals, and also with conscious efforts, we can overcome our desires and move towards that change.
Do post your views on this. We all are incomplete in some sense, but what makes a difference is our will and our effort to attain completeness.