To be happy is possible, to be happier than others is impossible

We all want to be happy, but we often tie our happiness to certain conceptions. One such common conception is that we will become happy when we become better than others in whatever we consider as the sources of happiness. For example, we may think that we will be happier if, as compared to others, we get a more attractive physique, a higher paycheck, a bigger house, a sleeker car, a smarter phone and so forth.

Even if we better others in such things, someone in our circle of comparison will, sooner or later, go one up on us in those things. And nowadays, with technology enormously expanding our circle of comparison, we will almost always encounter someone who has these things better than us.

Additionally and more importantly, we often believe that others are happier than what they actually are. Why? Because we attribute to worldly things the capacity to provide far greater happiness than what they actually provide.

Because of these twin misbeliefs about things and people, trying to be happier than others is a permanently doomed pursuit.

Does that mean we can never be happy? No, we can be happy if we consciously strive to look at the good things we have and learn to relish them. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (17.16) urges us to cultivate satisfaction as a mental discipline.

For cultivating such satisfaction, the most important good thing that we always have is our indwelling Lord, Krishna. Being the all-attractive Supreme, he is the ultimate source of all sources of happiness. When we connect with him by practicing bhakti-yoga, we start relishing sublime inner fulfillment that doesn’t depend on externals. Moreover, that inner connection gives us access to divine guidance, whereby we can mold ourselves to make worthwhile contributions and thereby gain meaningful satisfaction.

Think it over:

  • Why is trying to be happier than others a doomed pursuit?
  • How can we cultivate satisfaction?
  • What causes you dissatisfaction? Does comparison with others underlie that dissatisfaction? How can you free yourself from such dissatisfaction?

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