Why look outside ?

Building from our previous experiences, let’s explore the enigma that goes by the name of ‘happiness’…

Here’s a question – How many of us wake up in the morning thinking “Well, let me have a bad day and suffer as much pain as possible”? Certainly, not many of us would desire such a state. Indeed, as human beings, we have an innate desire for happiness to be an integral part of our daily lives. While our definitions of ‘happiness’ may be different, the fact remains that each of us need this, want this and purposefully look for it everywhere.

We are, without doubt one of the highest life forms on earth from an evolutionary perspective, and what makes us unique is that we are immensely capable of demonstrating the convergence of intellect, emotion and consciousness. Yet, today we face the collapse of the very fabric of what makes us human – every single issue that threatens the very existence of our world has also been created by the same beings who crave for a wonderful world. The same species that is capable of compassion, patience, generosity, sincerity, resilience and love is also uniquely capable of greed, selfishness, lust, anger, violence and apathy.

We need to realize that we are at an important evolutionary crossroads – do we continue in the same way, steeped in convention and prejudice, with the delusions of our own knowledge, constantly battling the contradictions of our own mental systems or should we take advantage of having the unique ability to be the creator of our own change through conscious consent and the willingness to recalibrate ourselves? If we don’t make the right choice soon, we will lose what makes us human – our humanity itself.

Reflecting on this, it comes to mind that happiness is an integral part of humanity, the feeling of complete harmony between the mind and the body not unlike a maestro and his music. Indeed, happiness is a state of mind that is defined by its own universality. Having said that, I feel that we also need to differentiate between pleasure and happiness ; pleasure as a transient state – imagine the pleasure of a dessert that feels heavenly to start with, and can just as easily make you feel queasy if you have too much, and happiness as a constant state that is unaffected by the roller coaster of emotional hijackings that take place in our daily lives.

Why, then, do we have to look outside for happiness?

To me, happiness is about the ability to look inside ourselves, and infuse consciousness into our very being – the concept of self-awareness is the starting point on one’s journey towards happiness. The ability to shed the burden of the past and the unpredictability of the future; invoking the capability to absorb the present every single minute will take us that one step closer to harmony. When it will be possible for us to bring back the innocence and wonder that we’ve experienced as children, and when we will acknowledge that our journey towards happiness will continue as long as we stop saying “I know” and start saying “I wonder”, I believe that it will be possible for each of us to develop that internal state of mind called happiness.

As people development professionals, we should reflect on this while we explore multiple strategies and frameworks for employee engagement, talent retention, learning and growth – in as much as these are important for the organization, the objective should be to create an environment where the employee doesn’t have to depend on transient strategies to be happy; rather, the environment acts as an enabler and happiness is intrinsically driven.

After all, when employees are truly happy, they are your very best ambassadors.

(by Subbu Parameswaran – Partner and Chief Leadership Architect)