In pursuit of happiness

Note: This article was written on the day when the famous Hollywood actor Robin Williams's committed suicide.

Today morning I woke up to the news of Robin Williams’ suicide. I just could not believe that a person like him could commit suicide. He was a source of joy and inspiration for many. His talks were always so motivating and inspiring. Then what went wrong?  Was it such a bad moment that he had to took this extreme step.

Unfortunately we all live in a world where we have a constant desire to prove ourselves. We all want to be rich and famous. We all want to be a celebrity. We all want to be the best, always appreciated, loved and center of attention. Those who have already achieved all this are struggling hard to sustain it. Others who have yet to achieve it are struggling hard to reach there. We all read biographies and autobiographies to understand the essence of success. We watch interviews of people whom we idolize to understand what it takes to succeed. Rich and famous are invited in shows and events to share the secret of their success.

But today I ask myself a number of questions.

Should we really draw inspiration from people who are successful? Those who seem successful, are they really successful? What are the measurement criteria for success? What is the real meaning of success?

Of course these people have worked hard enough to reach this stage, but what about those who don’t reach this stage despite all efforts. Should they be termed as a failure? Is everything that is said on camera by celebrities always true? What if it is scripted or fake? What if they are telling us something only for the sake of making a sale?

Unfortunately, we humans have become a victim to our progressive mode of thinking. We have this habit of calculating and measuring. We have made a complicated world for ourselves. We all compete with each other to gather more power, more money, and more resources. We measure success by the amount of wealth or power that one accumulates in a life time. If not, we feel lost and inadequate. Look at the nature around us. Other living things like trees do not compete with each other. Animals or birds or fishes have nothing to prove. They perhaps don’t even bother. A lion never compares itself with another lion. There is never a talk show of animals on who is a better hunter or who swims faster. A fish swims fast only when it is catching a prey or when it is running away from a predator. Other than these two instances, it swims at its own pace and enjoys life. A butterfly or a bird flies around in bliss with no feeling of competition whatsoever.

Why is that we humans have got into the habit of comparing and competing. We are stressed because we measure our success or failure by the name, fame, money or worldly possessions.We draw inspiration from only those whom we term successful on the criteria of name,fame and money. Instead, we should draw inspiration from people around us who lead a simple life? A simple priest in the corner of the street, who has had the courage to give up on all the worldly possessions, is worth drawing inspiration from.  He chooses or at least attempts to lead a disciplined life. A small time vendor who struggles hard to make ends meet is worth drawing inspiration from. Every person who is working hard and doing his/her job with sincerity and dedication is a celebrity and worth drawing inspiration from. Every young man who works hard and earns to give a good education to his children is a celebrity. Every housewife who sacrifices her profession or maintains a low profile to give a good house to her family is a celebrity.

We will never be successful if we measure ourselves by the amount of money or achievements. Doing so will give a constant feeling of inadequacy. We should instead, measure ourselves by the amount of progress we have made from our previous generations and how much effort are we putting to take our next generation to the next level. Measure an individual by contributions into the society and not by achievements. Measure an individual by the sacrifices made by him/her for giving a better life to people around.

Gandhi is a celebrity because he chose to sacrifice. He is a source of inspiration for his positive contributions in the society. Hitler is not a celebrity because he sacrificed nothing. Instead his contributions were negative into the society.

Measure your success by the sacrifices made for near dear and loved ones. Measure your success by the opportunities you let go for a bigger cause, for family or for just a few extra moments with your loved ones.

If you are in pursuit of happiness, then stop measuring and start living.

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