Gratitude And Happiness.

Last week, as part of the Thanksgiving messages going around the internet I got this on FaceBook:

I strongly believe that this is true and as my readers who have been with me for some time know, I am one thankful dude. (Tammy, how do you like the description?) I shared the image on my page on FB and my friend Nandu had this to say about it.

“Nice one and got me going again I am afraid! (Nandu is a gifted orator who can wax eloquent on any subject.)

Sadly there are so many people who have SO MUCH to be thankful for (applies to most of us if not all on FB at least) and yet are unhappy! I always advice the moaners around me ” Just visit a hospital – or a slum or deep rural areas – and walk around for 1/2 hour to realise how lucky you are – even marvel at the spirit and positive attitude of the seriously ( even terminally ) ill and maimed.” Some might object saying it smacks of “contentment with a mediocre/sub-optimal existence”, not happiness or those stuck in abject poverty. But that precisely is about people working hard to preserve their state of unhappiness and wallowing in misplaced self pity!

I sometimes marvel at the people of especially our country who are poor ( by any definition , except our Governments, and who do not have any “social security” net worth talking about) and yet smile & laugh & share, poor and yet DO NOT resort to crime (more than can be said of the rich and famous!) , poor and yet proud , poor and yet hope & dream , poor and yet have the courage (not ignorance ) to have children ( especially a girl child ) despite an uncertain future for them – many somehow educating them so that they do not inherit the same fetters of misfortune and go on to lead better lives in a cruel world !

They fully realise that only a pitiful few become “slumdog millionaires” or even come anywhere close to it or have Dame Luck smile upon them once in a while . Disparaging as some of us “better off intellectuals” are of Bollywood “formula” film genre , at least it transports these people into a dream world for a couple of hours for a few rupees – brief respite from a harsh inescapable existence!

In this scenario “charity” (in any form, even giving time) by the relatively well-off is hardly an optional or discretionary act of “do gooding ” – it is an obligation that transcends being Thankful (to God or Fate or whatever) and makes our short existence on the planet a bit more meaningful and just…we owe it!

Narsi Bhagat’s poem so loved by Mahatma Gandhi puts it beautifully.

Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye jay peerh paraaye janneyray;

He who understands the pain of others is one of God’s own.
Helping others in need, he or she does not gloat in pride.

This person respects all people in the world, and does not condemn or criticize anyone.
He or she is pure in speech, deed and thought. Mother of such person is blessed indeed!

He is equanimous and has given up all desires. To him, other women are [equivalent to] mothers.
He or she never speaks a lie, and does not covet others’ wealth.

Delusion and attachment do not affect him or her, with mind firm in detachment.
Such a person is ever engrossed in meditation of God, and embodies all places of pilgrimage.

Such a person has no greed or deceit, and has overcome lust and anger.
Narsi says: Such a person is worthy of worship, and alone elevates his entire race”