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Comparison Comes Between Contentment And Happiness

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by sln, Jul 26, 2021.

  1. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    COMPARISON COMES BETWEEN CONTENTMENT AND HAPPINESS

    The provocation for this write up is an article in TOI a few days back.

    Immediately my mind went back to three incidents and the common denominator in these cases between contentment and happiness was comparison.

    Mr X was promoted as DGM and he was thrilled and gave a party to his juniors and profusely thanked me for the elevation. Two days later I called him and jocularly asked him about the party. He raised his voice and said what party? And followed up with the statement Y has also been promoted. He had taken it for granted that he would be the Prince of Wales to succeed me but that presumption was shattered by a competitor. The gentleman was well qualified, around 50 and a capable leader. He however refused to acknowledge that somebody else equally deserved the promotion. Comparison spoiled his happiness.

    Sudarshan had a 3 BHK flat in kodambakkam and he was a contented man ,having a house in a centrally located place. He would proudly show the flat to visitors. He would often tell me that I won’t be able to afford a flat in that area. I agreed and purchased a plot on the East coast road layout without roads or and development, When gravel road came up I was the first to build a house just 500 meters from the sea. I was criticised by everyone including my friend. My argument was that sooner or later people would get fed up with the city and move to pollution free outskirts. How prophetic I was [sorry for being immodest] is proved by the fact that over five hundred houses have come up and I share a common compound with a super star’s plot .The price has shot up by one hundred and twenty times and I have a lovely house with garden and fifteen minutes’ walk to the beach. My friend is an unhappy man, not because of my house, but he missed an opportunity to buy a plot along with me. Contented man is now an unhappy man.

    Ravi got 95% in class Ten. The family was elated and celebrated. Congratulatory messages poured in from friends and relatives. Proud and happy parents circulated the news of achievement of their son. Then came the news that Ravi’s class mate got 98% and was in the top five in the school. The same parents told Ravi that he should have put in some more efforts and got into the top five. Comparison had spoiled their happiness.

    Everyone has something or other missing in life .Instead of counting our blessings for what we have, we lament on what we don’t have or compare with what others have.

    If you have a knee problem look at the man who is on a wheel chair all the time. When somebody complained about the high income tax bracket, the IT commissioner said-congratulations”-you are one of the 3 lakh people in India with 1.3 billion people,in the highest tax bracket. Congrats and be happy that the country has provided you with opportunities to be placed in that position. When someone 80+ complained of his age he was complimented that God has placed him in the exalted position of just over 1% of the population in India .A friend, returning from the hospital complained that he had to spend over 6 lakhs for his spinal cord surgery. He was consoled by a friend-“thank God that you could afford it “.

    There was a beautiful example I read which sums up contentment and happiness. Two maids were discussing about augmenting their income. One said that if she had two hundred rupees she would buy flowers and make strings and improve her income. The owner of the house overheard it. He immediately went to her , gave her two hundred rupees and told her to start her business .After the owner left, the maid said unhappily-“I should have said five hundred rupees instead of two hundred.” With such a mindset, the person will never be happy. Contentment is nothing but containment of the desire to have more and more.

    “ Happiest people are those who do not have the best of everything but make the best use of everything they have. Happiness is just like a butterfly-chase it –you can’t catch it. Stand still it will alight on you”

    For heaven’s sake don’t indulge in comparison and chase the elusive happiness.





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  2. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    Sometimes we need comparison to rise above what we are.Though contentment is a bliss, it cannot be stated to be ideal. If we had been contented with mere land line phone we would not have had cell phones and androids. Comparison is the main string or ladder on which development in any field is based.We need not long for more riches,but certainly aspire for more knowledge.They say that jealousy is acceptable in the field of education.
    There are positive things in every body's home, everyone's surroundings.
    We feel happy when we compare our house in the city with a 'powerless' village thatched house. We may be matriculates or mere graduates.But we feel joyful seeing our children getting P. G. degrees.

    Though comparison initially brings in unhappiness and discontentment, ultimately it is the motivator.

    Jayasala 42
     
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  3. Hopikrishnan

    Hopikrishnan Platinum IL'ite

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    When someone is unhappy, they could come and read a few posts in some of our sub-forums here, and see how miserable the human condition is. And how wonderful their own life has been in comparison. Comparison is what makes people happy.

    Some countries keep their poor people just to make everyone else happier in comparison. If you haven't got anyone to compare in your own neighborhood, go abroad (using the internet) and see how happy you are for not being in Somalia, Afghanistan or Sudan, etc.

    Happiness -----------misery, as well as Content-----------------discontent are continuous functions of where you sit, and which end you look to for a comparison.
     
  4. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Hopikrishnan,
    You have made a valid point. Having worked in Ethiopia I know how fortunate we are to live in India. When I conducted a study tour of Ethiopian professionals in India, they felt unhappy about the living conditions in their country.
    A wheel chair person curses his fate when he sees others walking and jogging. My suggestion is that he should make efforts and train himself to be as much free as possible instead of lamenting on his fate. Mariappan Thangavelu,the paralympic high jumper is a classic example.You have summarised beautifully-depends on where you sit and which end you sit. My message is to make the best of whatever you have .It does not imply that the lesser mortals should not have aspiration and do every thing possible to improve their lot.
    Thanks
    SLN
     
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  5. Hopikrishnan

    Hopikrishnan Platinum IL'ite

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  6. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear SLN Sir,

    Thank you for your enlightening snippet with examples of what happens when one compares himself/herself with others. It is always better to benchmark ourselves with what we were yesterday as opposed to benchmarking with others. Everyone has come with his/her own agenda and comparison with others is equal to comparing Apples with Oranges. Even competition we experience in the school, college and at work place are all mental aberration. Even grades one gets do not reflect the knowledge one has about the subject. The depth of our understanding can be measured only by our own mind when it contemplates and derives the answer.

    Multiple factors contribute to our performance including social, economical, psychological and intellectual stimulations. Performance is derived from different factors and how can one measure the performance based on a single factor? Economically sound student may have other social and psychological issues contributing to poor performance whereas a poor student can have a solid intellectual and social stimulants to perform well. My simple formula is Happiness is equal to higher performance and lower expectations. If the denomintor of expectation is decreased and skillset for performance is enhanced, the Happiness quotient becomes higher. I call it as PE (Performance/Expectation) Ratio.
     
  7. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Viswa,
    "My simple formula is Happiness is equal to higher performance and lower expectations."
    You have hit the nail on the head. Academic excellence does not guarantee career/material success and vice versa.
    Madam jayasala argued, rightly so, that comparison leads to higher aspiration to be matched by efforts.Let me give a real life example.
    My friend, a retired Army officer made his daughters life miserable for five years after she failed in her 10th exam. He day in and day out compared her with her elder brother who excelled in studies. The girl completed her degree and worked very hard. Her greatest strength was her reading habits and excellent communication skills. Today she is a senior employee handling HR in a top MNC. But to spite her father she from an orthodox brahmin family married a Christian boy. She accosted her father and said "you punished me for five years. Now I got a chance to punish you for the rest of your life". The old man cried and suffered. With his co morbidities he passed away carrying the insult to his grave. It is a different matter that the boy she selected is a good human being and doing professionally very well.

    On the other hand I have come across lazy fellows who say"we lead a simple life and can survive with curd rice and pickles" commenting on others like what vishu does in the movie samsaram oru minsaram".There is another movie 'BAMA VIJAYAM'" on the other hand , brings out how comparison and competition wreck a family's happiness.
    This is not a straight forward subject and arguments can be supported both ways and that is what makes it intellectually stimulating.I enjoyed preparing this reply.
    Regards.SLN
     
  8. Anusha2917

    Anusha2917 Finest Post Winner

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    Sometimes some threads are in our mind and never make it to the forum.
    I had one such thread in my mind "is happiness elusive? "... Your thread answers my question to some extent.
    Nice thread.
     
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  9. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    I have touched upon only one aspect of happiness ie comparison and its influence on happiness. This is an evergreen topic like the MIL/DIL conflict and the last word has not been pronounced yet. It is also a question of whether the chicken came first or egg came first. My earliest guru was the book "how to enjoy at work and home" by Dale Carnegie about 5 decades back. Now inspirational gurus/speakers throw light or confuse on the different dimensions of the subject. For example Satguru says "contentment kills the joy of aspiration and achieving your goals" .On the other hand there are now live cases of the rich and famous languishing in jails by pursuing happiness through devious means.
    Please marshal your thoughts and post your version in IL and don't allow happiness to elude you.
    SLN
     
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