How to be Happy

HOW TO BE HAPPY

Self Help Musings By Vikram Karve 

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/02/happiness-equation-how-to-be-happy.html

THE HAPPINESS EQUATION

Happiness may be expressed as degree to which you can fulfill your desires.

In a nutshell:

Happiness is the ratio of Desires Fulfilled/Total Number of Desires

Have a look at the “Happiness Equation” below:

Happiness =  Desires Fulfilled / Total Number of Desires

We can increase our happiness by either:

  1. Increasing the Numerator (Fulfilling Your Existing Desires)

Or

  1. Decreasing the Denominator (Decreasing the Desires in Your Mind)

The second option is easier.

How do you achieve this…?

How do you decrease your desires…?

It is simple.

Here is a “self help” article I wrote a few years ago on “Desire Management”

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR DESIRES
Philosophical Musings
By
VIKRAM KARVE

DESIRES and HAPPINESS

Over the years I have realized that the Two Main Reasons for Unhappiness are:

1. Dissatisfaction caused by unfulfilled desires

and

2. Anxiety that you will not be able to fulfill your desires in the future

There is a close connection between happiness and desire-satisfaction.

When you get what you want you feel happy and when you do not get what you want you feel unhappy.

Happiness results from getting what you want  (desire-satisfaction)

and

Unhappiness results from not getting what you want  (desire-frustration)

Therefore, there are two strategies you can pursue with respect to any given desire:

  1. You can either strive to fulfill the desire

or

  1. You can try to eliminate the desire

No philosopher has better explored this than Epicurus, a Greek Philosopher of the Third Century BC.

Epicurus (341-270 BC) espoused a strategy for achieving genuine human happiness by:

Emphasizing on the delights of the mind (over which you have control)

and

De-emphasizing the delights derived from material things (which are beyond your personal control).

This desire management strategy will help you scale down your desires to the basic minimum which can easily be satisfied.

Yes, you follow this this two phase desire management strategy:

  1. Firstly, you scale down your desires to those desires which are feasible for you to fulfill

after doing that:

  1. You satisfy those desires. 

This will make you happy since fulfilling a desire creates happiness.

TYPES OF DESIRES

Epicurus distinguishes between 3 types of desires:

  1.      Natural and Necessary Desires
  1.      Unnatural and Unnecessary (or Vain and Empty) Desires
  1.      Natural but Non-necessary Desires

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE THREE TYPES OF DESIRES

Our tendency to happiness (or unhappiness) depends on how we tackle each of these three types of desires.

  1. NATURAL and NECESSARY DESIRES

Examples of natural and necessary desires include the desires for food, shelter, health, sense of security and basic physical needs, cravings which will necessarily lead to greater pain if they are not fulfilled.

These basic desires are easy to satisfy yet difficult to eliminate since they are “hard-wired” into human beings naturally and create a sense of well-being when satisfied (eg. “Happiness begins at the stomach” )

Furthermore, natural and necessary desires are necessary for life, and these desires are naturally limited: that is, if one is hungry, it only takes a limited amount of food to fill the stomach, after which the desire is satisfied.

Epicurus says that you should try to satisfy natural and necessary desires.

  1. VAIN and EMPTY DESIRES – UNNATURAL and UNNECESSARY DESIRES

Vain, unnatural and unnecessary desires include desires for excessive powerwealthfame, and other egoistic ambitions which have all the trappings of status and prestige.

Vain desires are difficult to satisfy, in part because they have no natural limit.

If one desires wealth or power, no matter how much one gets, it is always possible to get more, and the more one gets, the more one wants.

These desires are not natural to human beings, but inculcated by society and by false beliefs about what we need.

For example, we falsely believe that being very powerful or wealthy or famous will guarantee us happiness.

In actual fact, Opulence may attract thieves and other dangers, and Power and Fame may attract sycophants.

Yes, such vain desires, which are unnatural and unnecessary, are sure to put you into the spiral of unhappiness.

Epicurus says that such vain and empty desires should be eliminated.

  1. NATURAL but NON-NECESSARY DESIRES

An example of a natural but non-necessary desire is the desire for luxury food.

Although food is needed for survival, one does not need rich expensive gourmet food to survive.

Thus, despite his hedonism, Epicurus advocates a surprisingly ascetic way of life.

Although you should not spurn extravagant foods if they happen to be available, becoming dependent on such luxury food (and other luxuries) ultimately leads to unhappiness.

These natural but non-necessary desires are those cravings that are not necessary for life, but give you great happiness.

However, should you become dependent on them, such desires can lead to great unhappiness if they are not fulfilled.

Natural but non-necessary desires are typically recreational in nature and examples of such desires include Sexual Gratification, Friendship, Aesthetic Desires, Entertainment, Social Intercourse, Creative Expression and Intellectual Stimulation, Liberal Arts, Reading, Social Networking, Sports, Travel etc

In the case of natural but non-necessary desires you must approach life like a banquet.

Think of your life as if it were a banquet where you would behave graciously.

When a dish is passed to you, extend your hand and help yourself to a moderate portion.

If a dish should pass you by then enjoy what is already on your plate.

And if a dish has not been passed to you yet you must patiently wait for your turn.

In the same way as described above, you must treat your desires in the same way as you deal with food in a sit down dinner banquet.

CONCLUSION

To paraphrase Epicurus:

If you wish to make a man truly Happy

DO NOT GIVE HIM MORE MONEY

rather

If you really want to make a man Happy

TRY TO TEACH HIM HOW TO REDUCE HIS DESIRES

The Epicurean Philosophy of Life recommends that you must strive to do two things:

  1. Eliminate the unhappiness caused by unfulfilled desires

and

  1. Reduce the anxiety that occurs because of the fear that your desires will not be fulfilled in the future

Adopting this wise Epicurean philosophy of life will enable you to attain tranquility and enjoy everlasting happiness.

VIKRAM KARVE

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Disclaimer:

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/02/happiness-equation-how-to-be-happy.html

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This Self-Help Article was written by me more than 21 years ago in 1995 and Posted Online Earlier in this Blog by Vikram Karve at 9/09/2014 07:49:00 PM at urls: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/09/self-help-musings-how-to-be-happy.html  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/03/self-help-how-to-be-happy-happiness.html

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