Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | The Speaking Tree, TOI | March 14, 2014
Areport published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, details experiments conducted on ‘trying to become happier’. The participants were made to listen to ‘happy music’, and those who actively tried to feel happier subsequently reported the highest levels of positive mood. (Dec 19, 2012).
Such happiness is certainly of an artificial kind. Life is full of problems. When one is living with the so-called ‘feel-good’ factor brought on by ‘happy music’, problems still exist all around you. It is but natural for your mind to keep reacting to these problems, as you cannot stop the thinking process of your mind. Therefore, this happiness through music will be artificial and unrelated to reality.
It is not possible to achieve absolute happiness by using this procedure. It is like wearing an artificial smile on your face while you are sad within. And anything less than real happiness cannot satisfy you. What is achieved by this method is only a temporary state of happiness. It is better to recognise it as self-deception rather than happiness.
If researchers were to extend their investigation to the entire life of the participants, they would certainly find that these people in the long run had become dull. In actual life, there are always problems. If you want to live in a state of happiness, that will be possible only if you stop the thinking process. And, when your thinking process is stopped for long periods, it is but natural that you will become intellectually dwarfed.
The only formula for happiness is to manage problems rather than forget about them. Problems are created not by man but by nature. Because according to nature, problems are nothing but challenges. When you call a problem a problem, it seems to be an evil, but when you call it a challenge, it becomes a useful part of life, something that spurs your intellectual development.
Select two persons from your neighbourhood: one, who was born in affluence and never experienced any kind of difficulty, and the other born into difficult circumstances, who had no choice except to face the difficulties as a challenge and tried to achieve success. You will certainly find that the first person is intellectually dwarfed, while the second will be intellectually enhanced.
The British historian Arnold Toynbee has insightfully formed his well-known formula which he calls the mechanism of challenge-response. According to this, the formula is: a problem creates a challenge, the challenge leads to a response and the response results in success. This is the scheme of things in nature. And, in this world, a positive result can be achieved by following the path of nature.
According to the law of nature, happiness is not the greatest good; struggle is the greatest good. One who escapes from struggle and tries to live in happiness, is trying to live in a fool’s paradise. This kind of artificial living is bound to fall apart. Such people can live in a state of happiness for a temporary period, but then they are doomed eventually to become sad.
It is not happiness but seriousness, it is not an easy-going life but struggle, it is not living in comfort but being involved in hard work that matter in life. This is the natural path and it is by following the natural path alone that can one attain success.