Everyone wants to be happy. The Dalai Lama, head of Tibetan Buddhism, is of the opinion that we possess the key to happiness. We are like the person who has been knocking on a door again and again without ever checking whether the door was locked in the first place. The door to happiness is not locked. So we don’t need any key. We just need a change of attitudes.
We are like the woman who was searching for her lost earring in the sunlit front yard of the house though she had lost it inside the house. When asked about it she said, “But there’s no light inside.” She was searching for the right thing in the wrong place. We keep searching for happiness in wrong places like wealth, position, luxury, etc.
The Dalai Lama puts compassion in the top of the list of attitudes that generate happiness. Compassion for other people is essential not only for our personal inner development but also for happiness. A happy human being feels responsibility towards other people. He respects others. Happy people accept other people’s right to happiness. The Dalai Lama argues that acknowledging other people’s right to happiness keeps us connected to those people which is the true basis of compassion.
But happiness is not an individual affair totally. That is why Bhutan speaks about gross national happiness and tries to promote that rather than gross national product. Bhutan is not the happiest nation according to surveys, however. Denmark is. More than two-thirds of the Danes are very contented with their lives, according to certain surveys. The problem with surveys is that they are conducted in limited spheres. Bhutan was probably not part of any of those surveys. Never mind. We are interested in the findings that will help us become happy rather than knowing which country is the happiest.
Denmark is a welfare state. It has a prosperous economy and a well-functioning democracy. It has the highest level of income equality. Psychologists who analysed the surveys also found that the Danes do not have particularly high expectations about the future. Psychologists like Ed Diener and Joseph Smiley (who are known as happiness researchers) have shown that the average life satisfaction of nations is highly related to income. In other words, wealth does play an important role in happiness. These happiness researchers also found that happiness is not an individual affair; it is associated with social variables like trust, safety, and lack of corruption.
Now we know why India cannot be a happy nation. In fact, India ranks very low in the list of happy nations in spite of all the propaganda dished out by the Modi government about development and tackling of corruption. Modi and his party are promoting the welfare of a particular group of people. The group is amorphous hitherto because it calls itself Hindu but excludes Dalits and all poor people like farmers. It claims to include anyone who is willing to call himself a Hindu even if he or she is a Muslim or Christian or whatever. The problem with Modi is that he is not a visionary who can spell out clearly the ideological foundations of his view. Yes he is clear about one thing: hatred. He hates a whole lot of people. But hatred can never bring in happiness. Compassion is an essential component of happiness. That’s why Modi has to change himself. Or India has to change him.
Let India awake. Let India be a happy nation.