Acceptance Is The Way To Happiness | Sikh Philosophy Network
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Acceptance Is The Way To Happiness


Mar 12, 2009

Happiness is an ecstatic state of mind, inherently subjective, it depends mainly on acceptance. What keeps us constantly struggling with the life is the attitude of non-acceptance, of not trusting the basic process of life unfolding. Prayer and meditation do play important part in internal state of mind by development and increased action in the left prefrontal area and Amygdala center of the brain. Circumstantial factors like income, marital status and education play only a minor role in one’s overall well being. On the positive side, religious faith genuinely uplifts the spirit.
ਮਨ ਤਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਮੰਤ ॥ਨਾਨਕ ਭਗਤਨ ਕੈ ਘਰਿ ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦ ॥

Man ṯan anṯar har har manṯ. Nānak bẖagṯan kai gẖar saḏā anand.

In the mind and body abides the Divine spell and in the homes of the devotee’s joy reigns for ever says Nanak. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Bilawal, AGGS, Page, 802-6

Happiness is a state of ecstasy in the mind of an individual. It is something noble and essential. Human yearning to be happy, seeking rapture in spirituality, love in families and bliss in Mother Nature is universal. Humans were designed to be happy, creative and in harmony with the Mother Nature. Hence, there should be a persistent state of joy at all times. One should stay away from the treadmill of wants and live a simple life in the moment. It is also important to work on social skills, close interpersonal ties and social support to be happy.


Happiness is a state of tranquility free from anxiety and emotional disturbance gained through a moral system based upon the performance of right actions. It is a state of state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happiness is generic, and is applied to almost every kind of enjoyment except that of the animal appetites; felicity is a more formal word, and is used more sparingly in the same general sense, but with elevated associations; blessedness is applied to the most refined enjoyment arising from the purest social, benevolent, and religious affections; bliss denotes still more exalted delight, and is applied more appropriately to the joy anticipated in heavenly situation.

While pleasure is the result of release of chemical neurotransmitters by the brain cells as a result of stimulation caused by food, sex, drugs, and social esteem. Brain cells release Dopamine and or Endorphins or Opiates. These flood and bathe the neurons involved in memory and emotions as a result of the above-mentioned activities and cause pleasurable feelings of joy. Narcotics or alcohol mimic opiates they numb the pain and engender a feeling of euphoria. Repeated ingestion of these can fool the brain into craving those drugs more than food and sex.

Scientific research on neurons shows that the left prefrontal cortex, an area just behind the left forehead, as the place where brain activity associated with meditation on self and spiritual progress is especially intense. It suggests that meditation and mindfulness of spirituality and the efforts to know the “Self” can tame the Amygdala, an area of the brain which is the hub of fear memory. Brain activity related to The “Negative feelings” of anger localizes in the emotional center Amygdala, and the right prefrontal cortex. On the other hand “Positive emotions” of happiness and well being affect the left prefrontal cortex areas of the brain. It is the ratio of right to left activity that determines one’s emotional mindset. If brain activity in the right side is dominant, one tends to be unhappy. And if the activity in the left region is stronger, the person is more likely to be upbeat, happy, and positive. These changes have been repeatedly documented with FMRI’s (functional magnetic-resonance image) and CT scans of the brain by many psychologists and physio-psychiatrics. Guru Nanak denounces the use of mind altering substances differentiating between happiness and pleasure, the former is long lasting while the later is short lived and momentarily in Sri Raag;

ਬਾਬਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਖੁਸੀ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥ ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਤਨੁ ਪੀੜੀਐ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥

Bābā hor kẖāṇā kẖusī kẖu¬ār. Jiṯ kẖāḏẖai ṯan pīṛī¬ai man meh cẖaleh vikār.

O Baba, the pleasures of other foods are false. Eating them, the body is ruined, and wickedness and corruption enter into the mind.-----Guru Nanak, Siri Raag, AGGS, Page, 16

Contentment is accepting the reality of facts with a positive attitude. This is an additional factor involved in the above process. The overall happiness is not merely the sum of our happy moments minus the sum of our sad ones. The three components of happiness are pleasure, engagement, and meaning of a purposeful life. Engagement and meaning are much more important.

As indicated earlier, circumstantial factors like income, marital status, religious faith, and education are minor players in one’s overall well being. Religious faith, by contrast, plays a major role in genuinely uplifting the human spirit.

The basic problems facing humanity are anxiety, depression, neurosis, obsession, paranoia, and delusions. In dealing with them, Acceptance of what has happened is the first step in overcoming the consequences of a misfortune. It does not mean liking the situation; it is just an acknowledgement of reality. It implies a hope that it will pass.

All issues, all disturbances, all conflicts can be handled by understanding what the problem is and accepting it, and then changing it. As the saying goes, we are either part of the problem or part of the solution. When we are disturbed about something or someone, it is because we do not understand the situation from a higher perspective. We view it in personal terms. We tend to control things and want to see ourselves in a positive light. Guru Amardas stresses eternal love and devotional worship towards acceptance and development of contentment that can lead to happiness in, Sri Raag:

ਬਿਨੁ ਪ੍ਰੀਤੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਬਦੈ ਥਾਇ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਸਬਦੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੀਐ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਜਾਇ ॥

Bin parīṯī bẖagaṯ na hova¬ī bin sabḏai thā¬ė na pā¬ė, Sabḏė ha¬umai mārī¬ai mā¬i¬ā kā bẖaram jā¬ė.

Without love, there is no devotional worship. Without the Sabd, no one finds acceptance. Through the Sabd, egotism is conquered and subdued, and the illusion of Maya is dispelled. -----Guru Amardas, Siri Raag, AGGS, Page, 67-5

If some facet of our life is unpleasant, and we have been up front in dealing with it to no avail, then the only way through it may be to accept that it is one of those things over which we have no control. We cannot find serenity when we are at war with someone or with ourselves. Nothing happens on this great green earth by mistake. Unless we accept our situation and learn from it, we cannot be happy. If we learn from it, then we need not beat ourselves up. Nor do we need to beat up others with blame words. We need only concentrate on our part of the situation, on what needs to be changed in our way of thinking. When this is done happiness will follow. Joy is a fragile thing. Still, one should try to bring the self from a negative ailing state to at least a neutral normal status.

Steps for a more satisfying life:

1. Count your blessings.
2. Practice Kindness.
3. Enjoy momentary pleasures of the present.
4. Attitude of gratitude.
5. Forgiveness.
6. Strategies for coping with stress and hardships.
7. Take care of your body.
8. Invest time and energy with family and friends.
9. Free your heart from hatred and mind from worries.
10. Live simply, give more, and expect less.

Happiness is the only way to keep one’s self-healthy and safe. Happiness comes not in denying this but in living with it. The things that bring the greatest joy carry the greatest potential for sadness.

“When God’s words leave an impression on man, and service is performed, happiness is obtained”.

This is not a fatalistic or passive approach to life. We may very well be given seemingly insurmountable obstacles in life in order to learn what we can, by overcoming them. But if we face these obstacles with a basic acceptance, we are much more likely to possess the calmness of mind necessary to see with some clarity, the most skillful means of overcoming them. Guru Arjan questions and answers on the subject in Raag Gauri;

ਕਿਨ ਬਿਧਿ ਕੁਸਲੁ ਹੋਤ ਮੇਰੇ ਭਾਈ ॥ਕਿਉ ਪਾਈਐ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਮ ਸਹਾਈ ॥ ਕੁਸਲੁ ਨ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਮੇਰੀ ਸਭ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਊਚੇ ਮੰਦਰ ਸੁੰਦਰ ਛਾਇਆ ॥ਲਸਕਰ ਜੋੜੇ ਨੇਬ ਖਵਾਸਾ ॥ਗਲਿ ਜੇਵੜੀ ਹਉਮੈ ਕੇ ਫਾਸਾ ॥ਰਾਜੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਸਾਰੀ ॥ਮਾਣੈ ਰੰਗ ਭੋਗ ਬਹੁ ਨਾਰੀ ॥ਜਿਉ ਨਰਪਤਿ ਸੁਪਨੈ ਭੇਖਾਰੀ ॥ਏਕੁ ਕੁਸਲੁ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਬਤਾਇਆ ॥ਹਰਿ ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰੇ ਸੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਿਆ ਭਗਤਾ ਭਾਇਆ ॥ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ਸਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਇਨਿ ਬਿਧਿ ਕੁਸਲ ਹੋਤ ਮੇਰੇ ਭਾਈ ॥ਇਉ ਪਾਈਐ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਮ ਸਹਾਈ ॥

Kin biḏẖ kusal hoṯ mėrė bẖā¬ī. Ki¬o pā¬ī¬ai har rām sahā¬ī. Kusal na garihi mėrī sabẖ mā¬i¬ā. Ūcẖė manḏar sunḏar cẖẖā¬i¬ā. Jẖūṯẖė lālacẖ janam gavā¬i¬ā. Hasṯī gẖoṛė ḏėkẖ vigāsā. Laskar joṛė nėb kẖavāsā. Gal jėvṛī ha¬umai kė fāsā. Rāj kamāvai ḏah ḏis sārī. Māṇai rang bẖog baho nārī. Ji¬o narpaṯ supnai bẖėkẖārī. Ėk kusal mo ka¬o saṯgurū baṯā¬i¬ā. Har jo kicẖẖ karė so har ki¬ā bẖagṯā bẖā¬i¬ā. Jan Nānak ha¬umai mār samā¬i¬ā. In biḏẖ kusal hoṯ mėrė bẖā¬ī. I¬o pā¬ī¬ai har rām sahā¬ī.

How can happiness be found, O my Siblings of Destiny? How can the Akal Purkh, our Help and Support, be found? There is no happiness in owning one's own home, in all of Maya, or in lofty mansions casting beautiful shadows. In fraud and greed, this human life is being wasted. Mortal is pleased at the sight of his elephants and horses and his armies assembled his servants and his soldiers. But the noose of egotism is tightening around his neck. Its rule may extend in all ten directions; he may revel in pleasures, and enjoy many women -but he is just a beggar, who in his dream is a king. The True Guru has shown me that there is only one pleasure. Whatever the Akal Purkh does, is pleasing to the It's devotee. Servant Nanak has abolished his ego, and is absorbed in the Akal Purkh.This is the way to find happiness, O my Siblings of Destiny. This is the way to find the Akal Purkh, our Help and Support. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 175 & 176-4

What keeps us constantly struggling with life is the attitude of non-acceptance, of not trusting the basic process of life unfolding. We suffer under the false assumption that the goal of life is to always avoid what we find unpleasant and to try to dwell in constant comfort. We don't really understand that life is nothing personal. It is much bigger than that. We need to learn to trust in and surrender to this impersonal process we tend to think of as “my life.” Guru Tegh Bahadur in Ragas Sorath and Gauri explains the subject;

ਜੋ ਨਰੁ ਦੁਖ ਮੈ ਦੁਖੁ ਨਹੀ ਮਾਨੈ ॥ ਸੁਖ ਸਨੇਹੁ ਅਰੁ ਭੈ ਨਹੀ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਕੰਚਨ ਮਾਟੀ ਮਾਨੈ ॥ ਨਹ ਨਿੰਦਿਆ ਨਹ ਉਸਤਤਿ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਲੋਭੁ ਮੋਹੁ ਅਭਿਮਾਨਾ ॥ਹਰਖ ਸੋਗ ਤੇ ਰਹੈ ਨਿਆਰਉ ਨਾਹਿ ਮਾਨ ਅਪਮਾਨਾ ॥ਆਸਾ ਮਨਸਾ ਸਗਲ ਤਿਆਗੈ ਜਗ ਤੇ ਰਹੈ ਨਿਰਾਸਾ ॥ ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਜਿਹ ਪਰਸੈ ਨਾਹਨਿ ਤਿਹ ਘਟਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਨਿਵਾਸਾ ॥ਗੁਰ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਜਿਹ ਨਰ ਕਉ ਕੀਨੀ ਤਿਹ ਇਹ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਪਛਾਨੀ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਲੀਨ ਭਇਓ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਸਿਉ ਜਿਉ ਪਾਨੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਪਾਨੀ ॥
Jo nar ḏukẖ mai ḏukẖ nahī mānai.Sukẖ sanėhu ar bẖai nahī jā kai kancẖan mātī mānai. Nah ninḏi¬ā nah usṯaṯ jā kai lobẖ moh abẖimānā.Harakẖ sog ṯė rahai ni¬āra¬o nāhi mān apmānā. Āsā mansā sagal ṯi¬āgai jag ṯė rahai nirāsā.Kām kroḏẖ jih parsai nāhan ṯih gẖat barahm nivāsā. Gur kirpā jih nar ka¬o kīnī ṯih ih jugaṯ pacẖẖānī.Nānak līn bẖa¬i¬o gobinḏ si¬o ji¬o pānī sang pānī.

That man, who in the midst of pain but does not feel pain, who is not affected by pleasure, affection or fear, and who looks alike upon gold and dust; who is not swayed by either slander or praise, nor affected by greed, attachment or pride; who remains unaffected by joy and sorrow, honor and dishonor; that renounces all hopes and desires and remains desire less in the world; who is not touched by sexual desire or anger; within his heart, God dwells. That man, blessed by Guru's Grace, understands this way. O Nanak, he merges with the Akal Purkh of the Universe, like water with water.
-----Guru Tegh Bahadur, Raag Sorath, AGGS, Page, 633

ਸਾਧੋ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਮਾਨੁ ਤਿਆਗਉ ॥ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਦੁਰਜਨ ਕੀ ਤਾ ਤੇ ਅਹਿਨਿਸਿ ਭਾਗਉ ॥ਸੁਖੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੋਨੋ ਸਮ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਨੈ ਅਉਰੁ ਮਾਨੁ ਅਪਮਾਨਾ ॥ਹਰਖ ਸੋਗ ਤੇ ਰਹੈ ਅਤੀਤਾ ਤਿਨਿ ਜਗਿ ਤਤੁ ਪਛਾਨਾ ॥ਉਸਤਤਿ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਦੋਊ ਤਿਆਗੈ ਖੋਜੈ ਪਦੁ ਨਿਰਬਾਨਾ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹੁ ਖੇਲੁ ਕਠਨੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਨਹੂੰ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਨਾ ॥

Sāḏẖo man kā mān ṯi¬āga¬o. Kām kroḏẖ sangaṯ ḏurjan kī ṯā ṯė ahinis bẖāga¬o. Sukẖ ḏukẖ ḏono sam kar jānai a¬or mān apmānā. Harakẖ sog ṯė rahai aṯīṯā ṯin jag ṯaṯ pacẖẖānā. Usṯaṯ ninḏā ḏo¬ū ṯi¬āgai kẖojai paḏ nirbānā. Jan Nānak ih kẖėl kaṯẖan hai kinhūʼn gurmukẖ jānā.

Holy Saints forsake the pride of your mind. Sexual desire, anger and the company of evil people, run away from them, day and night. One who knows that pain and pleasure are both the same, as are honor and dishonor as well, who remains detached from joy and sorrow, realizes the true essence in the world. Renounce both praise and blame, seek instead the state of salvation. O, servant Nanak, this is such a difficult game; only a few Guru willed understand it! -----Guru Tegh Bahadur, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 219

Kabir summarizes the state in Raag Kedara, AGGS, Page, 1123.

ਉਸਤਤਿ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਦੋਊ ਬਿਬਰਜਿਤ ਤਜਹੁ ਮਾਨੁ ਅਭਿਮਾਨਾ ॥ਲੋਹਾ ਕੰਚਨੁ ਸਮ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਨਹਿ ਤੇ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਭਗਵਾਨਾ ॥ਤੇਰਾ ਜਨੁ ਏਕੁ ਆਧੁ ਕੋਈ ॥ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਮੋਹੁ ਬਿਬਰਜਿਤ ਹਰਿ ਪਦੁ ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਸੋਈ ॥ਰਜ ਗੁਣ ਤਮ ਗੁਣ ਸਤ ਗੁਣ ਕਹੀਐ ਇਹ ਤੇਰੀ ਸਭ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਚਉਥੇ ਪਦ ਕਉ ਜੋ ਨਰੁ ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਹੀ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਸੁਚਿ ਸੰਜਮ ਸਦਾ ਰਹੈ ਨਿਹਕਾਮਾ ॥ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਅਰੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਚੂਕਾ ਚਿਤਵਤ ਆਤਮ ਰਾਮਾ ॥ਜਿਹ ਮੰਦਰਿ ਦੀਪਕੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਿਆ ਅੰਧਕਾਰੁ ਤਹ ਨਾਸਾ ॥ਨਿਰਭਉ ਪੂਰਿ ਰਹੇ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਭਾਗਾ ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਜਨ ਦਾਸਾ ॥

Usṯaṯ ninḏā ḏo¬ū bibarjiṯ ṯajahu mān abẖimānā. Lohā kancẖan sam kar jāneh ṯė mūraṯ bẖagvānā. Ŧėrā jan ėk āḏẖ ko¬ī. Kām kroḏẖ lobẖ moh bibarjiṯ har paḏ cẖīnĥai so¬ī. Raj guṇ ṯam guṇ saṯ guṇ kahī¬ai ih ṯėrī sabẖ mā¬i¬ā. Cẖa¬uthė paḏ ka¬o jo nar cẖīnĥai ṯinĥ hī param paḏ pā¬i¬ā. Ŧirath baraṯ nėm sucẖ sanjam saḏā rahai nihkāmā. Ŧarisnā ar mā¬i¬ā bẖaram cẖūkā cẖiṯvaṯ āṯam rāmā. Jih manḏar ḏīpak pargāsi¬ā anḏẖkār ṯah nāsā. Nirbẖa¬o pūr rahė bẖaram bẖāgā kahi Kabīr jan ḏāsā.

Those who ignore both praise and slander, who reject egotistical pride and conceit, which look alike upon iron and gold -- they are the very image of the Akal Purkh. Hardly anyone is a humble servant of Yours, O, Akal Purkh. Ignoring sexual desire, anger, greed and attachment, such a person becomes aware of the Akal Purkh's Feet. Rajas, the quality of energy and activity; Taamas, the quality of darkness and inertia; and Satvas, the quality of purity and light, are all called the creations of Maya, Our illusion. That man who realizes the fourth state -- he alone obtains the supreme state. Amidst pilgrimages, fasting, rituals, purification and self-discipline, he remains always without the thought of reward. His desire and Maya-illusion lifted by contemplating on the Akal Purkh pervasive in the self. When the temple is illuminated by the lamp, its darkness is dispelled. The Fearless Akal Purkh is All-pervading. Doubt has run away, says Kabir, the Akal Purkh's humble slave. -----Kabir, Raag Kedara, AGGS, Page, 1123


It is important to work on social skills, close interpersonal ties and social support to be happy. We need to learn to trust in and surrender to this impersonal process we tend to think of as “my life.” Humans were designed to be happy, creative and in harmony with the Mother Nature at all times for a persistent state of joy. An individual can succeed in attaining happiness with his own efforts if he learns to accept Akal Purkh’s Will.

ਤੇਰਾ ਕੀਆ ਮੀਠਾ ਲਾਗੈ ॥ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਾਂਗੈ ॥

Ŧėrā kī¬ā mīṯẖā lāgai. Har nām paḏārath Nānak māʼngai.

Your actions seem so sweet to me. Nanak begs for the treasure of the Naam, the Name of the Akal Purkh. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 394-4

Happiness comes from spiritual wealth, and not from material wealth. Happiness comes from giving, not by getting, if we try hard to bring happiness to others, we cannot stop it from coming to us also.To get joy, we must give it; to keep joy, we must scatter it.

Virinder S. Grewal
Williamston, MI

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Shabad Vichaar by SPN'ers

These are saloks of Sant Kabir ji. They appear on Ang 1369. There is no rehao. The translation is by Dr. Sant Singh Khalsa. spnadmin

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