Too much planning brings misery because we cannot predict the forces of the future and hence have no control over them. This obviously leads us to worry about the outcome. We should therefore follow the American maxim; “We will cross the bridge when we come to it”.
All of us aspire to have a good life and happiness. However, each has their own definition of happiness depending on their outlook in life. For example, some get it from money, fame, or helping others, while others might get it by being close to their loved ones.
Irrespective of the definition, happiness is a state of mind, and when humans feel comfortable with the hand they have been dealt with, happiness ensues. So, what is that state of mind which makes us happy?
When the whole mind concentrates on a single object or subject for a considerable amount of time, we get a sense of well-being. This is called ‘Samadhi’ according to Patanjali Yoga. I am sure each one of us has personally experienced episodes of happiness when we do our work with deep concentration and get completely engrossed in it, regardless of whether it is mundane or creative.
During this process, we are even oblivious of time. All great inventors and creative people have often said that they were so immersed in their work that they lost all concepts of time and space. Examples of Newton, Einstein, Bach, Beethoven, Thomas Edison, and others come to mind. They all had powerful brains with enormous power of concentration.
Why does the whole mind concentrating on a single positive thought give us a sense of well-being? Part of the reason could be that with huge processing power, it can resolve conflicts so that we are at peace with ourselves. Another reason could be that during this mind-expanding exercise our minds get connected to the universal consciousness. Thus, all of us, when concentrating on a positive thought or an idea, have knowingly or unknowingly connected to the universal mind, which results in happiness.
So our everyday work, whatever it is, should be done with honesty, ethically and with deep concentration. Whether we are doing mundane work like cooking or creative work of research, new design, music etc., we should do it with concentration, and it will give us joy and happiness.
From US to India
I would like to share some personal examples to bolster this claim. I came back from the US to Phaltan in 1981. Phaltan at that time was a small overgrown village with hardly any facilities or communications network. Thus to make urgent long-distance calls, I would sometimes hop on the bus and after a four-hour journey to Pune make those calls. Similarly, there was hardly anything available in Phaltan so for every small thing one had to go to Pune to get it.
I went to the best English school in Lucknow, and to the best IIT in India (IIT Kanpur) for my B. Tech and then to a well-known University (University of Florida, Gainesville) in the United States to do my Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. So coming to a small rural town in Maharashtra was a nightmare. But there was a 'junoon' (passion) to do something useful with my education; hence all the pinpricks did not bother that much since with tremendous concentration we did our work.
There was a flat piece of land on the Institute farm where I was supposed to build my lab and do some meaningful rural development work. So every day we did work focusing on the work at hand and did not think about the future but only about the present. Slowly but surely things took shape and we did some interesting and pioneering work.
Power of now
This is the power of now. As somebody said, yesterday was history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. If we focus on reality or now with concentration, then we will do good not only for ourselves but also for the surroundings.
This is how nature evolves by being focused on now and comes in equilibrium with the forces of surroundings. Since the surrounding forces change with time this allows nature to change its design and that is the process of evolution. There are no great futuristic schemes or plans in nature’s design strategy, but it keeps on changing day to day. And by being in equilibrium with the surroundings it produces slowly but surely, wonderful structures and designs of all sizes and shapes.
This process allows nature to be very frugal and efficient. If we follow this strategy, it will allow us to live in a sustainable, simple manner and will result in happiness and satisfaction. That is what we should follow in our day-to-day living. I have shown this with my life and in a small but meaningful way helped myself and the surroundings.
Too much planning brings misery because we cannot predict the forces of the future and hence have no control over them. This obviously leads us to worry about the outcome. We should therefore follow the American maxim; “We will cross the bridge when we come to it”. That allows us to use all our energies to focus on the work at hand and if we do it ethically and honestly then it will provide us with happiness and satisfaction. That is the mantra of getting happiness in everyday life.
(The writer, an IIT and US-educated Indian engineer, a 2022 Padma Shri award winner, is the Director, of Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute, Phaltan, Maharashtra. Views are personal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)