How to achieve peace and mental happiness in life?
Updated on February 13, 2013
Human life is full of wants; Most of our life is expended in satisfying these wants. Amongst our wish list, having peace in life is also one want and it is something which we hardly get as long as our hunts for all other wants are consuming our time!
Peace gets disturbed by two major channels in life. In the first channel, we get trials and tribulations that come on their own, without our control. We never wish, love or want them to happen and we do not do anything individually or knowingly to make them happen. When they occur, we call it fate.
In the other channel, it is we who, propelled by our own whims, fancies, omissions and commissions get entangled in activities and pursuits aimed at satiation of our senses or ego. Some of them however end up disturbing and destroying peace in our lives.
I have tried to list out some of these peace-killers under both the channels.
(A) Peace killers on account of happenings beyond our control.
Natural Calamities: Earth quake, floods, Tsunami, forest fires, storms, droughts, avalanches, landslides, epidemics and so on.
Accidents: Road/rail/ air accidents happening beyond our control, blasts, poisonous gas leakages, bites by poisonous creatures, electric shocks, food poisoning etc
Social Conflicts: Wars, terrorist attacks, robbery, attacks by criminals and vandals, political turmoil, economic recessions etc.
Personal calamities: Untimely death of dear ones, congenital diseases or physical handicaps, loss of income due to retrenchment / global recession, social stigma/ problems on account of anti-social behavior of parents and elders in the family, poverty in childhood, desertion and orphanage in childhood, totally unexpected incompatibility in marital relationship etc.
The loss of peace under the above categories, from the point of view of religion, cannot be easily overcome unless the sufferer clings to a higher force (God) for help and succor.
(B) Peace killers arising out of our own thoughts, behavior and actions
We think that ambition is a desirable quality to taste success in our goals but from the spiritual point of view, ambition is not a meritorious quality. When you run around with your ambitions by possessing a good deal of merit in the form of your skills (in-born as well as acquired), hard work, sacrifice and support from near and dear ones, you will be able to achieve something or even substantial.
But if your ambition is not backed by merit, hard work etc, you may end up frustrated and terribly unhappy.
In both cases, there will be a considerable demand on your mental peace and tranquility. There will always be a question lingering after, even assuming that you have achieved something. Is it all worth the effort? Could you have been much happier with those little pleasures that you sacrificed en route in your quest for the big one? You have attained something. What next? Another higher goal? Another merry-less-go-round? What for?
Greed is an ugly face masked behind a desire. Greed goads you to bite more than what you swallow. Greed wants you to enjoy more than your rightful share by tress-passing into other’s territory. A desire or ambition, not properly regulated outgrows into greed. Greed has many faces – greed for money and wealth, for sex, for power, position and manipulation of others, for notoriety, for name and fame. Greedy persons will never enjoy peace in life.
Name, fame and recognition:
Many of us do not like to be unidentifiable morons amidst a milling crowd. We want our face to be noticed; our name to be remembered. We love people showering accolades on us. We go to any level to gain attention. We learn to sing, dance, draw, act, write, debate, argue, lecture, do charity work, volunteer service, donate money, participate in church activities, participate in TV live shows, write blogs and do impossible and life-risking fetes just for an entry in to Guinness records!
The more we run behind these, the more we disturb our inner peace. Our mind becomes restless to steal the limelight. If we fail to get noticed, we become morose.
If we get recognition at the local town level, we long for a state level recognition. When we achieve it, we long for a national level identity. It is a never ending thirst.
Becoming a very popular figure by itself robs you of several things; the most predominant of them is your privacy. Loss of privacy could be the greatest peace killer in one’s life. If in doubt, think of Princess Diana of England who lost her very life in the search of the elusive privacy that she bequeathed in exchange of her celebrity status.
If the previous ones can be termed as positive mindset, seeking notoriety is a negative tendency. People bully others, do a strip tease in public, steal, spread rumors, create panic, carry weapons and indulge in indecent behavior in a gathering – just for the pleasure of being notorious. Peace is the last thing in their wish list.
Extravaganza and materialism:
Spending beyond earning limits is another great peace killer. “Live within your means” is an age-old wisdom which is forgotten in today’s Credit Card culture.
A debt trap is a virtual death trap for mental peace.
Addiction to alcohol, tobacco, cigarette, drugs and sexual urge – each one of them will end one up in grave health hazards and kill mental peace for sure in the short or long run.
Being a workaholic is often treated as a merit, in par with being ambitious. It is far from true. Addiction to work is as bad as addiction to alcohol. People get addicted to work as a consequence of ambition or as a way of escapism from facing certain unpleasant situations outside the work environment. Some people get addicted to work because they are unfit to do anything else!
It is really funny to see people justifying workaholism stating that only by working hard and long they can earn enough to enjoy life but they are so much engrossed in work that they find no time to enjoy life!
Obsessive allegiance to a political party, leader, sect, faith etc, fanatism towards one’s religion/ religious sub-sect etc are human tendencies that can cause terrific mental turmoil. At extremes, fanatics can indulge in riots, mob violence, cause mass destruction etc and still take pride in such activities. Fanatics can never live in peace.
Lack of honesty in money matters, intentional cheating, sexual promiscuity, breaking the sanctity of marriage, non-straight sexual leanings – many of these activities can give short term thrills and gratification but end up as long term peace killers.
Acquired ill health:
People lose mental peace by becoming sick by virtue of following an unhealthy lifestyle, triggered by any of the preceding headings – addiction, ambition, greed, poor morality and workaholism! People become sick by eating poorly, by eating in excess, by eating and drinking unhealthily, by disinclination to do physical exercises and due to stress, tension and strains of modern lifestyle.
Excessive obsession with body:
This is the funny opposite of the previous one! We are over-conscious about our looks, our age and our health. Many ladies spend a vital portion of their lifetime in make-ups, hair styling, chasing the latest fashion and on endeavors to look much younger than their real age! Some men spend a fortune in exercise and fitness equipment and to build their body like a Samson. People spend sleepless nights in worrying about the size of their belly or the breasts.
People read about ailments, sicknesses, contagious diseases, viruses and bacteria and imagine their existence inside their bodies. People treat doctors as demigods and swallow ceremoniously more and more pills they prescribe and then start worrying about their negative side effects! People spend sleepless nights imagining about possible loss of sleep due to sickness affecting them in future!
The world tolerates to some extent the egotism of a person who has some temporary or permanent merit, power, position or status. If one’s egotism is disproportionately bloated, one starts getting into trouble.
Egotism tempts one to offend others; egotism goads one into over-indulgence; egotism makes oneself imagine possession of nonexistent qualities and merits.
A politician winning in one election thinks he is a statesman par excellence and assumes his position is unassailable. A soccer player tasting unprecedented success just in one season thinks that he is the greatest player of the time.
The more egoistic a person, the more he loses mental peace. And egotism, without your knowledge, secretly digs a pit for you to fall.
The loss of mental peace under the above 12 categories is our own making. Even though we may very well acknowledge these facts, many a time, we will not put any effort to come out of these traps and seek peace of mind. Why? Hinduism calls these tendencies as “vasanas” – past impressions deeply imprinted in our psyche. We have developed many of these tendencies across several births and they cling to us like leaches. We require a very deep yearning to come out of our own traps that we ourselves have lovingly laid.
Hinduism says you require to develop viveka (discrimination) and vairagya(dispassion). When these two are coupled with a deeper longing for a much higher goal (which you can call as love for God, or love for getting eternal peace, or attaining the true state of your Soul) then you can put a meaningful effort to get out of your traps. God’s grace will then flow towards you to help you succeed in your endeavors.