The Happiness Perspective
What are your needs?
Life is not about the things you do in it. Life is about appreciating your existence.
To understand happiness, recognize the difference between your wants and your needs.
An excerpt from Prem Rawat’s address in Suva, Fiji.
The Happiness Perspective
By Prem Rawat
Listen here for free
Duration: 8 minutes 10 seconds
File type: Audio mp3
File size: 11.8 MB
To a lot of people, prosperity means wealth. Well, actually that’s not true. It means three things: wealth, health and happiness. So that means, if prosperity means three things, “wealth, health and happiness,” you need to have something happening for all three of these things for you to become prosperous.
Since I am not a doctor, I cannot help you too much with the health bit. And since I am not an economist, I cannot help you with the wealth bit. But happiness, I can help you with that. That’s what I do. That’s what I’ve been doing for fifty years.
So if you truly want to be prosperous, you’re going to need three things in your life. So let’s begin with happiness. What is the point of being prosperous if you’re terribly sad, depressed? So where does happiness begin? Do you know where happiness begins? You always looked at happiness circumstantially.
“If my wife behaved herself, if my dog behaved herself, if my cat behaved itself, if my buffalos behave themselves, if my cows behave themselves, if my neighbors behaved—if my neighbors got rid of the chickens that, you know, sit there in the morning at four o’clock and, ‘Gyack-ack-ack-ack-ack,’ then I’ll be happy. If my son brought better grades in school, then I will be happy.”
So, your happiness is based upon your external circumstances. You want the world to be a certain way and then you will be happy. In your workplace you say, “If my coworkers understood me, if they were better with me, they treated me with more respect, I would be happy.” And what’s going to happen when you retire? You won’t have your coworkers. Then what are you going to do?
Life does not begin when you get married, and life does not end when you get a divorce. Life begins when you took your first breath; life will end when you take your last.
Your life is not about things you do in it. Your life is about your existence. This breath comes into you; you are alive. If you’re rich, this breath comes into you; you are alive. If you are poor, this breath comes into you; you’re still alive.
And the day this breath doesn’t come into you, you are neither rich nor poor. You don’t have any relatives. You’re automatically divorced— automatically! You don’t have any debts! You’re automatically debt-free. You don’t have to pay any bills anymore. You don’t have to pay any taxes. You have automatically also vacated your house; you’re now no longer a house-owner.
No—I know this sounds funny, and I’m putting it in a way which is funny—but this is dead serious. You are a father, you are a mother, you are an uncle, you are a cousin, you are whatever you are, only till this breath is happening. And the day this breath stops, you’re nothing.
But do we understand that in our lives?—in our busy little, “rdrdrdrrrrrrrrl,” life, of where it’s…everything is da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da, dah, who has the time, who has the time to think about prosperity as, “My goodness, that involves three things. It needs happiness and wealth and health”? Who has the time to stop and say, “What is the value of this breath for me?”
You see, you have to understand that as a human being you have some needs. You have your dreams—I know you have your dreams—but you have some needs. And this is the way the needs go. Three minutes without breath and you’re dead. Is breathing a luxury or a need? Is breathing a want or a need?
Let’s get this clear, what is a need; what is a want. Three minutes without breath, you’re dead. That’s not a want; that’s a need. It mandatorily must be there. Three minutes—it’s a rule of thumb, okay? Some people can go more; some people can go less. But about three minutes and you are dead. Without this you cannot survive.
Now, what is your want? A television with a remote control that shows high definition pictures. That’s not a need. Do you understand? That’s not a need. There’s no medical term, “This person died because he didn’t have a TV.”
“This person died because of asphyxiation because he couldn’t breathe,” yes, that’s a term. “He died of starvation,” that’s a term. “Died of dehydration,” that’s a term. But, “He died because he didn’t have a TV”—there is no term for it.
And what do you pursue every day? Every day that you get up, in your imagination, using your mind, what are you pursuing? Your need or your wants?
So, need, you don’t pay attention to—wants, you pay attention to. Because you will never come across a billboard that says, “Breathe.” You will come across a billboard that says, “Buy this soft drink; buy this television; buy this suit; buy this, buy this, and buy this!” And you will look at it and go, “Yes, I would love to have that; I would love to have that; I would love to have that.”
Am I here to tell you you should not have wants? That’s what’s different about me. I am not here to tell you you should not have wants. You should have as many wants as you want—and more! But you should understand your need.
It’s called “a perspective.” It’s called “a perspective.” Should you look at your speedometer in your car when you’re driving? Yes? And only the speedometer? So, you’re driving, you should be like this? You will crash. You should look out the window; you should see the road; you should see behind you; you should look, and look, and look, and look, and look, and look.
This is life! Understand the preciousness of life, and you will understand your need! Fulfill your needs, and you will have happiness.
– Prem Rawat