Thanks to my experience with unhappiness, i could know happiness is something more than Hakka noodles And as Eric Weiner quoted “Happiness is not mere the absence of unhappiness but presence of joy”. Lets get started. My search for happiness took me to places and had me meet a lot of people. The first one happens to be the one working in the “Splendid Country”, or at least that’s what I thought, and he was the wisest man i ever met.
When my relationship had gone steep downhill, i was left broken and shaken,and perhaps that was the first time I understood unhappiness. My friends suggested, a cheerful evening at bar called Splendid Country , drinking and dancing, will surely help drown my sorrows. Those who drink to drown their sorrows must be taught that sorrows can swim, and mine was doing somersault in the ocean of wine i had gulped down. Finally the burden of grief got so heavy that i couldn’t help crying. I looked around and found myself amidst the crowd of drunkards, so high that they didn’t give a damn to anyone crying.
Happiness is such important thing. We go to parties, we go to bar and enjoy so much, and then one day some thing happens and we realise it wasn’t the drink that was making us happy. The things that gave you happiness earlier, doesn’t make you happy any longer and you have no clue why.
I noticed a bar tender looking at me, who averted his eyes when I caught his eyes. He appeared to be the only sane man out there. I moved to his counter and sat there, and he greeted me with a pleasant smile.
“How may I be of assistance, Sir? ” said bartender.
“My girlfriend left me, for another guy. Can you do something about it” I said sarcastically.
He merely chuckled, and poured some drink in a glass and offered to me
“This one on me” he said, and after a long pause he continued ” Do you really want her back”
His question made me think, do I really want her back.
“I am not so sure, if I want her or not, probably not, because she never loved me, had she loved me she wouldn’t have left ” I said, enjoying the delicious drink he gave to me.
” Exactly my point, Sir. ” he said.
” But, why am I unhappy then, why am I crying” I asked.
He didn’t say anything, didn’t look at me either.
“What is this drink ” I asked
” Is it nice ” he asked
” Its delicious, the best drink I ever had ”
” Its called God’s Nectar ” he said.
” Never heard of it ”
” Its not common, it’s God’s Nectar after all ” he said playfully
” So, you are God ” I asked
” Sure enough, my parents named me Jesus “he said happily showing the shining name plate.
I couldn’t help laughing
” Mate, your parents had a good sense of humor” I said happily
” Its good to see you laughing ” he said
” Its the happiness I seek ” I said
without knowing why am I sharing my personal life with a bartender who didn’t look like a bartender and owns an expensive watch.
” If you seek happiness, happiness will seek you, and you’ll eventually find it. It’s a good thing that you know what you want. ” he said looking at the drunkards lying unconscious ” they, get drunk to be happy. No drink in this world can make you happy, no material, and no person can make you happy. ”
” Wow, counselor. You don’t sound like a bartender ” I said
” I was a psychologist research associate at Iowa University ” he said
I was taken aback, what was a psychologist doing at this country bar. This guy had stories to share, and I was always interested in listening to them.
” What are you doing here? ” I couldn’t help asking.
” Seeking something” said bartender looking at me. He continued “aren’t we all travellers looking for something, but often get distracted by the trifle things, often forget what we are seeking.”
“And what about the pangs in the heart”
“One intelligent lady once told me, don’t suppress your emotions, you may fall ill.” he said with a twinkle in his eyes ” Every emotions has its purpose, but you should never get carried away. If you are going through hell, keep going. After some days you’ll have lot to brag. And you’ll be proud how beautifully you managed to to get out of the hard times”
Was he weird, well he surely was. And a lot interesting.
“Why are you working in a bar” I asked.
” Because it help me see the real face of men. Their sorrows, their happiness, and their mind.All open. And these drunkards become my subject. Good for psychologist, you see.” he said pouring the fourth helping of the God’s nectar.
“Tell me more about happiness ” I asked desperately.
He rolled up his sleeves and with a serious look, said.
Positive emotions have a very interesting impact on the human brain. This impact is explained by the so-called ‘broaden and build theory’. To understand this theory, it’s helpful to first understand how ‘negative’ emotions work. Emotions like fear and anger close down your mind and heart and narrow down the number of possible reactions for the brain to only very few choices.
Think about our ancestors in pre-historic times. When a wild animal was about to attack them they felt either fear or anger. In response to this life-threatening situation, their brain triggered what we call the ‘fight or flight or freeze’ response. This instinctive reaction was responsible for their survival at times of danger. In these situations, the brain had only three options to choose from:
- They could fight the animal
- They could try to run away as fast as possible or
- They could pretend to be dead.
The very same mechanisms still work in our brains today. In the face of danger, we respond to threats either by mobilizing our energy for combat or for flight, or by freezing in helplessness, collapsing in the face of an overwhelming situation. Speaking scientifically, those (negative) emotions limit our thought-action repertoire.
Positive emotions, however, have a different function. Instead of narrowing down the possibilities available to us, they open our minds up to new ways of thinking and acting. In the moment, they help us be more creative and think outside the box. When we feel positive emotions we become more open to new experiences. We feel more comfortable making connections with other people, consider alternative solutions to old problems and are able to zoom out of a situation. Positive emotions flood our brains with dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that not only make us feel good but also make our brains function at higher levels. All in all, these emotions broaden our thought-action repertoire: the results are short-term increases in creativity, problem-solving ability, and attention.
What all this does for us in the longer-run is transform us for the better. Over time, positive emotions allow us to form new friendships, develop new skills and gain new knowledge. These ‘resources’ last much longer than the emotion itself and are the reason why positive emotions can gradually transform our lives. This transformation does not happen overnight. It needs continuous reinforcement and dedication. The brain can only be changed gradually.
I was overwhelmed with amazement.
“Only thing you need to remember is,” he continued.
“There is a myth surrounding happiness that certain achievements are gonna make us forever happy, or certain failures are gonna make us forever sad. Happiness is like a bicycle, you need to keep pedaling. And during the hard climbs you need to pedal hard. ”
” I am so fortunate I met you” I said
” You asked for it, and if you ask for some thing, it will be given to you. All the research about the happiness can be summed up in four words. Happiness is a choice. ”
My life improved gradually, and I learned lessons I would never forget. I could never see that guy again. Must have gone somewhere else, for a traveller he was,seeking something.