Last week I met Mr. Sharma at a party. He is very famous among his peers and is a dignified man. I remember how my dad always used to talk about him to motivate us. Mr. Sharma was born in a lower-middle-class family and had seen many hardships in his life, but despite all the adversities, he is a very successful man today. Since I saw him after a long time, I went near him to start a conversation. I asked him how he feels after achieving most of his childhood dreams. What he told me; intrigued me. He said, “The happiness that my dreams promised me was much more than what I experienced after achieving those dreams.”
Isn’t this is very true? We all have experienced this in our lives. When we close our eyes and dream of our future, we see ourselves as very happy and content, but once we achieve those goals, happiness seems to diminish. It is true that because those dreams are very alluring, they keep us motivated to achieve them but why it is that after we meet them, they fail to deliver what they promised. What is it that goes wrong?
The answer to this question lies in the general attitude towards life with which we all are brought up. Since childhood, we are raised in an environment where the future holds all the happiness. We are asked to chase dreams and in doing that we neglect our present. To fulfill those dreams, we develop a habit of ignoring the immediate sensations. The result of all this is that even after we achieve those goals and they become a part of ‘present’ instead of ‘future,’ we are not able to enjoy them fully. In all these years we develop an attitude of not being able to live fully in the present. We learn to find happiness only as a part of ‘future’ or as something which was a part of ‘past.’ We acquire the habit of diminishing the value of present, the only moment where we can experience life.
“He pays for future happiness by deadening or denying the impactful presence of current sensation. But even when he arrives at the Promised Land, an unwelcome by-product of his bargain is that the habits of downgrading present experience have accompanied him into that future which has finally become his present.” – Erving & Miriam Polster
What can we do to overcome this situation?
We need to remind ourselves that in our treasure hunt for the treasure box of happiness which is hidden in the future, we must not forget to enjoy the treasure hunt itself. By enjoying this treasure hunt, not only we create more possibilities of finding the treasure box, but we also create much more possibilities of enjoying that treasure. We need to remind ourselves that happiness doesn’t lie in that treasure box but in our attitude of being able to appreciate the riches of life.
Let us do a small exercise. Try to point out a few things which were once your dream and are now a part of your present life. Give it a try. Count even small things which give you happiness. Let me give you an example. When I was young, and mobile phones were scarce (they were shown only in movies and TV serials); I had a dream of being successful in my life and owning a mobile phone. I don’t know how successful I am today in comparison to that dream, but I am happy that I am the owner of a mobile phone today. I am sure there would be many such instances in your present life too which are like a dream come true from your past life. Try to be mindful of that.
In our pursuit of happiness, two things are significant to understand. One, that happiness is something which needs to be pursued; we need to make efforts towards achieving it. Second, and the most important one, that in this pursuit of happiness we need to appreciate what we have in the present. Only when are mindful of the joy around us, we create much more possibility of achieving our dreams and even much more likelihood of enjoying the same. It is only in ‘here and now’ that we can make all the difference. So, in simple words, appreciating happiness in the present moment creates more possibilities of being happy in the future.