By Dr. Ashok Jain
Our ancestors and grandparents always expressed that their time was a golden time. We cannot deny that today we are technologically much advance, efficient, and productive. Longevity of life has increased due to medical innovation. What about our happiness? Majority of people think that having lots of money will make them happy. However, we cannot buy happiness with money. The world happiness report of 2019 shows a declining trend of happiness among US adults (R-1; R-2), which appears to be a global trend.
Happiness is the central purpose of human life. Happiness depends on ourselves. What makes people happy? Possibly many things might make people happy, which can be categorized in to three things: (1) close relationship, (2) an achievement such as a dream job, or success of a project, artwork, or an award etc. and (3) helping others, which is the most rewarding form of happiness. On the other hand, money and material things do not have a lot to do with happiness and people who emphasize them are less happy than those who do not.
The more important question is how we can avoid or stay away from depression or unhappiness? What is the main reason for depression or unhappiness? The top reason for our unhappiness might be the feeling of our own guilt that resulted from our irresponsible actions. Accumulation of our irresponsible actions surely leads to deep depression and unhappiness.
I find that Anuvrat has the hidden power to minimize our irresponsible actions that cause unintended unhappiness. These small vows, called Anuvrat, are central to respect other life forms and control our own conducts; stimulating our self-awareness to cease our irresponsible behavior. In a deeper sense, Ahimsa (nonviolence) teaches refraining from causing injuries to any other living being. In its true sense, one must be so careful, even avoid using any word that can hurt others. We know that violent verbal expression can ignite fight, violence, and conflict leading to long-term inflammatory scar/s leading to depression.
Satya (truth) simply keeps us refraining from false statements, falsifying the facts, manipulating and misrepresenting things for self-benefit. Today false information is being spread easily through the social media. False statements are the birth of greed and corruption. One can lose trust, social status leading to internal inflammation and cause of unhappiness. However, we need to understand that the vow of Satya does not mean that one is permitted to use insulting words or language while expressing the truth about someone who has limited capabilities, unattractive physical traits etc. In fact, Ahimsa superseded the second vow of Satya [‘Ahimsa Parmo Dharma’ – Nonviolence is the supreme religion]. We need to remember that hurtful feelings mean one is renouncing the first vow.
Asteya(non-stealing) refraining us from claiming anything, which is not ours – physical or personal property, ideas, art, music, articles, or intellectual expression. Similarly, practicing ‘Brahamacharya (Celibacy) and Aparigraha (non-
Therefore, I believe that the secret benefits of Anuvrat driven happiness should be shared through social platform so the Gen X (born 1965 to 1980), Gen Y or Millennials (born 1981 to 1996), Gen Z (born 1997 to 2012), and Gen A or alpha (born 2013 to 2025) can understand the secret of happiness and pass it to the future human race. This will help humans to live with gold standards of happiness with technological advances and intellectual innovations in coming eras without cultural genocide.
R-1. Jean M. Twenge, 2019. The sad state of Happiness in the United States and the role of Digital Media, Chapter 5. World Happiness report 2019 (https://s3.amazonaws.com/
R-2. Twenge, J. M., Spitzberg, B. H., & Campbell, W. K. (2019). Less in-person social interaction with peers among U.S. adolescents in the 21st century and links to loneliness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
Figure 1 – Status of overall happiness in life
Dr. Ashok Jain is a Professor of Biology at Albany State University, Georgia, USA and has contributed two articles on Anuvrat.