The Art of Living – Zuchano Khuvung, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Everybody wants to be happy and everyone has different ways of achieving it. It might be a new car, a new house, a new job, finding the one or getting married, a promotion or performing a random act of kindness. Whatever it is, happiness has a great deal to do with the manner in which we choose to lead our lives. No matter how we define happiness for ourselves, a sure shot way of experiencing it everyday is to have positive energy around us at all times. 

The Art of Living
It is a well known fact that every human being wants to live a joyful life, a life with content. So, how do you achieve that or why can’t you achieve it? It may be because you are missing out the very implications of a contented life. There are many ways through which we can achieve this, but most importantly we have to be a grateful person and need to have a good conscience, count our blessings, focus on giving and keep low expectations. People who have all these see the world differently and know that there are always good things behind everything that happens. We human beings tend to see only the negative side of things and overlook the good things. Try to see things differently and be observant of all the good things happening in and around you. If someone calls you a friend, that’s something you should be grateful for, or if you see a child smiling, that should remind you that there is always hope. One should know that bad or unwanted experience gives us valuable lessons and when a person has this mindset, it is not difficult to see the benefits one can get out of unpleasant experiences. Focusing on giving can also significantly help a person to be grateful. By giving, your mind will automatically focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have. Most people focus on receiving which makes their mind focus on what they don’t have – this is where greed creeps in, an insatiable want. No wonder it is difficult for such people to be grateful. This is when I want us to think about the things we possess, and the important thing is, we do not need them actually, which in other words would be wastage and a sin. . So what happens normally is, we do not physically go and hurt or kill someone but things are happening the other way round. In the pursuit of amassing wealth and prestige we may, in one way or the other, rob others means of survival which would be no less hurting them physically. So the question is do we feel guilty about that?

Aristotle opines that no one tries to live well for the sake of some other goal, rather than being happy, which is the highest end. All subordinate goals like health, wealth and other such resources are just means to achieve the highest end – happiness, because they promote well being, and not because they are what well-being consists of. This is what most of us fail to differentiate – means and the end. We make the means which in this case, can be wealth, our highest end and somewhere in the struggle, we lose the most important thing called happiness. Meister Eckhart rightly quoted, if the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, then that would suffice. Gratitude may mean many things – thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means being aware on a continuous basis of how much you have been given. It shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. When people become oriented towards looking for things to be grateful for, they find themselves starting to appreciate simple pleasures and things that were taken for granted earlier.

Furthermore, a person should have a good conscience which is indispensable to self respect because no one can really respect oneself if we do not keep a good conscience. Without it, you can have but little influence over others. We should first set our conscience right and live according to its dictates, and then only a time will come when people hear and regard what we say. Keep your moral sentiments strong and be an example and a blessing to others. The reputation of a good conscience will give you such a character that whatever you say or do will have weight and you become a person with a most valuable power of influence for doing good. For those who are not blessed enough to have a good conscience are never aware how they appear to others and they never have thought about this. They are self-opinionated that they would be so blind to their own real character and not aware of the impression they make on others.

If we are to regard ourselves as good human beings, it must have something to do with being human, and what sets humanity apart from other species is our capacity to guide ourselves by using reason. If we use reason well, we live well as human beings or to be more precise, using reason well over the course of a full life is what happiness consists of. Happiness is possible through virtuous activities like justice, courage and temperance. Living well consists in doing something because ethics is never theoretical alone. It is always accompanied by practice. It consists in those lifelong activities that actualize the virtues of the rational part of the soul.

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