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Creation and Criticism

ISSN: 2455-9687  

(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal

Devoted to English Language and Literature)

Vol. 08, Joint Issue 30 & 31: July-Oct 2023


Happiness - A State of Mind

Anil Shrivastava 'Musafir'


A New York-based agency called “Sustainable Development Solutions Network” brings out an annual World Happiness Report, whose 2023 version has ranked India at 126th position out of 136 countries, much below strife-torn countries like Palestine (ranked 99), Iran (101), Sri Lanka (112), Myanmar (117) or Ethiopia (124), many of which ruthlessly suppress the civil liberties of their people. Their rankings depend on six parameters: per capita income, social support, life expectancy at birth, freedom to make life choices, charity, and perceptions of corruption.


The first thing that came to my mind was who gave them the right to be pontiff to the world and why people accept their politically biased judgments. I don’t. I lived in India and often visit my old country. I find Indians living there quite happy despite their positioning on Maslow’s Pyramid. The ranking by the West reflects their own cultural, racial, or civilizational bias without bearing an iota of truth, and is intended to generally demonstrate the so-called superiority of the West which is now slowly decaying politically, morally, and also economically over the rest of the world.


Let’s analyze happiness. All human beings, men and women, young and old, rich and poor, well and unwell, want to be happy, so much so that happiness has been equated with the meaning and essence of life, the reason for our existence, our ultimate destiny.


According to the Hindu Holy Book, Gita, “One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace? (Bhagavad-Gita 2.66)”


When I was growing up in India, we didn’t have many amenities and the poor among us led a meager existence. However, most of us were happy. Thanks to the social and family structures. “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”-Charles Spurgeon”.


I don’t claim that we were always happy. The problem is that the mind cannot be permanently in an equilibrium state. As a matter of fact, it is ever-changing. Hence happiness cannot be a constant state of euphoria, but rather a balance of emotions that somehow brings a sense of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. Happiness is often equated or confused with well-being which is produced by the interplay of a number of extraneous factors like income, health, education, basic liberties, choices available, relationships, physical and social security, etc. But even then, it is a subjective sense of well-being, which is neither measurable nor quantifiable.


Coming back to Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s report, it is the wealth of a nation that provides happiness and hence will always favor rich nations over poor ones. So, the richer you are, the happier you are; in other words, income is synonymous with happiness, an assumption not validated by facts, just as happiness cannot be equated with success in material terms.


How about positive experiences like joy, inspiration, or love, positive traits like gratitude or compassion, and positive institutions? Aren’t they sources of happiness? Should wealth be the only measure of happiness? To avoid such possible confusion, Aristotle had said much earlier, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” Without trying to define.


Yes, events outside our control, like natural calamities, disruptive technologies, global financial crises, mental health issues, etc. can completely overtake us, ejecting us out of our orbit of happiness. There is no linear pathway to happiness that can insure against all insecurities. But the reality is that many people who have suffered devastating financial or emotional catharsis, have overcome their losses and their fears of uncertainty, and learned to live simpler, balanced, and fulfilling lives. Happiness is a state of mind.



About the Author:


Born on Dec 03, 1946, Anil Shrivastava (pen name Musafir) is a retired engineer with great accomplishments but writing is his first love. He is a founder member, partner and managing editor of TheThinkClub. He is a great proponent of independent thinking among fellow human beings, which also means being non-partisan and unbiased. He resides in Rochester, Michigan, USA and can also be contacted through email-



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