I had an interesting insight reading the Gita course.
You can define happiness in a simple mathematical equation as follows:
Happiness = No. of desires fulfilled / No. of desires entertained
All our adult life, we focus on the numerator. We work hard, party hard, travel the world, eat in fancy places, buy probably couple of houses, cars……
When we focus on the numerator, our focus is on fulfilling our desires. Mere mortals like us will definitely have desires and there is nothing wrong about having desires and working to fulfill our desires. After all, desires do inspire us to take actions. Moreover, we experience a definite satisfaction when we fulfill our desires.
The equation set me thinking about the denominator too! “Can we make it zero?”
1. If I had no (unfulfilled) desires, (i.e if the denominator = 0) then I should experience “infinite happiness”. This is tough as I constantly want something or the other.
2. If I had most of my desires fulfilled (i.e if the denominator tends ‘close to’ 0) then I should be going towards “infinite happiness”.
Now the dilemma is as follows:
I have no idea how many desires I have in me! The desires of family members adds up too!….and so on…I have no idea how long I would take to fulfill all of those desires…..
Therefore it is practically impossible to make the denominator zero, or close to zero. However, we can still experience higher levels of happiness by looking more closely at the equation.
a) Managing the numerator: Identify as many ‘true’ desires as you can, rank them, set timelines, budgets and go ahead and achieve them. Draw up a list, continuously update it and start working on it. For example, if you had always wanted to visit new places in the world, then make time for it in your life. Budget for it. Do it as quickly as you can and feel the happiness.
b) Managing the denominator: Identify ‘fleeting desires’ and ‘eliminate’ them from your list. For example, if you are like me who views a car as a “machine that takes me from point A to point B”, don’t put up “I have to own a Ferrari” in your list (even if your eight year old son is throwing tantrums that you have to take him around in your brand new Ferrari!!!)
Most often, we mistake our ‘fleeting desires’ for ‘true ones’ and then start spending time, money, efforts towards achieving it. It is quite difficult and very personal to each one of us about what our desires truly are. So, you are on your own to do some thinking on what you truly wish!!
Sit down silently for a few moments a day (~10min should do) and focus on the most important things for you. This regular practice will help you clarifying (over time – don’t expect instant results) what you truly want. And as a precaution, if you doubt whether you truly wish something or if it is a fleeting one, just give it a pass – save time, money and energy in trying to fulfill that! (Aren’t you better off not putting your money in the ‘new kid on the block touting cloud computing’ if you are not sure of its growth prospects and rather stick with IBM ?)
Would love to hear your thoughts!