Dr. Purushothaman
January 18, 2014


Christmas is all about happiness! Aristotle said, "Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence." Gifts, in general, give happiness to both the giver and the receiver. However, the happiness of the receiver is greater. It can be enhanced many fold if the gift is liked, and, furthermore, is specially intended to increase happiness.
"The purpose of our lives is to be happy"
(Dalai Lama)
"Being able to give happiness brings happiness. That is the purpose of life."
(Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche)
So, the purpose of life is to Be Happy! Give others happiness, which in turn will make you happy.
But, how do we increase happiness of others by giving Christmas gifts?
Before we go into the details of this, let us see what the Fundamentals of Happiness are.
The sources of happiness are: Mind (our positive and happy attitude towards life, others, and the world), our body, family and friends, society, nature, human created things (books, music, dance, arts and crafts, films, food, transportation, etc.), love and care, Niskam Karm (action without undue anxiety about its fruits), yoga, including, meditation.
Now, what is the ideal gift which enhances happiness?
This is not an easy question.
Because, there are many dimensions to happiness. Nature does give happiness; but somebody may be happier in the company of books. Then gifts have also many aspects. Should it be useful, in the practical sense, or should it be gratifying to our senses only?
Some of the characteristics of an ideal happiness gift would be: It should be useful; it should be long lasting; it should be desirable; it should be something 'cool' and the latest in-thing; it should be unique, if possible; it should be a proud possession; it should be something which one was dreaming of possessing one day; and, last but not the least, if possible, it should be life changing, etc.
Now, taking into consideration the Fundamentals of Happiness and Fundamentals of an Ideal Gift, what would I suggest as the Best Happiness Gifts?
Happiness Gifts of Love and Care: "There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved"--George Sand.
Hecato wrote, 'If you would be loved, love.'"
Christmas is nothing but the Celebration of Love! Intangibles are more important than tangibles. Give your company and understanding to your family and friends; show your love; help them and generally be around them. Your family and friends need your love and care more than any material things you could provide. Providing your family all the material comforts without giving them love and care is useless. On the other hand, even if you are poor but you love and care for your family and friends, they would be happy and would love you in return.
Happiness Gifts Unto This Last: There are many unfortunate brothers and sisters who have neither near and dear ones for solace to the soul, nor food, clothes and shelter for bodily needs. They don't dream of fancy gifts. Your Christmas party leftover food and your discarded clothes would be enough to make them happy this Christmas! One can never be happy without the higher emotions of love, care, sympathy with and empathy for the poor, and philanthropy.
Happiness Gifts of Motivational/Inspirational Books/Audios/Videos and MP3 Downloads: "We are as happy as we make up our minds to be"--Abraham Lincoln.
Milton in Paradise Lost said,
'The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.'"
Happiness is in the mind. It is our mind which is in the way of our happiness, health, and success. Freedom from stress, anxiety, depression, lack of confidence, fears and phobias, etc. is also necessary. Give Motivational/Inspirational books/audios/videos and MP3 downloads on the theme of how to be happy, including items which teach and utilize mind power, which, ultimately, is the greatest power for happiness, health, and success, through hypnosis alone.
Happiness Gifts of a Day Out or Vacation Trips: Happiness is to be with your near and dear one's in the lap of the nature. Most of the sources of happiness are free: nature, our healthy body and mind, and love and care. Take your family and friends out in the lap of nature. In this way, you are near God created sources of happiness (nature, yourself and family and friends, and your soul). What better gift could there be than a vacation trip to some exotic location! Being in the sun, sand, and sea, with one's family and friends, relaxing or reading a book, or swimming, and then gorging on sumptuous feast, is the ultimate dream. Fulfill it for yourself and your near and dears.
Happiness Gifts of Health and Sports: Our body and its health is the foundation of happiness. Without a sound body we cannot Be Happy! Christmas is, fortunately, just one week before the New Year. People are already making their New Year Resolutions. One of the foremost Resolutions is often regarding health and fitness. You could give them health and fitness gifts. I would recommend giving equipments for a team game or a game where a partner is required as such game has all the likelihood of being continued. This is because, firstly, the game itself is enjoyable (while Gym routine may be 'workout'), and second, one sometimes would continue it as there is the obligation of not ditching the partner.
Happiness Gifts of Books and Electronic Book Readers or e-Readers: Books not only make us happy, but some books are on happiness too. It would be obvious that it eminently qualifies as the best happiness gift on above criteria of happiness and ideal gift. It is useful, long lasting, desirable, 'cool', the latest in-thing, unique, a proud possession, and life changing, as good books are. Reading is an eternal joy par excellence. A digital book reading device, is a portable library! In the long run such device would prove cheap also as downloadable books are cheaper than hard/soft cover books, and public domain books can be downloaded free!

Happiness Gifts of Music and MP3s:

"Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory,"--Percy Bysshe Shelley
Music CD and now MP3 downloads are great gifts. Even though music is universal, people like different kinds of music and songs. So, you need to be a bit careful regarding the liking of the gift recipient.
Some other gift items may be: Videos, Cell phones, Electronics, and Jewelry, etc.

Happiness Gifts of Personalized/Home-Made Items: Personalized gifts are much appreciated, one could give a personalized set of wine glasses. The most appreciated gifts are home-made gifts. For example, one can knit a woolen muffler for one's friend.
Happiness Gifts of Yoga Items: The ultimate aim of Yoga is eternal bliss. Most of the Yoga followers are concerned with health and fitness only. That too is good as sound body is the home of sound (blissful) mind. However, this eternal bliss or Moksh or Nirvan could be achieved in this world itself through Yoga. Even if we don't reach up to the ultimate goal of eternal bliss, great happiness can be achieved through Yoga (and meditation, which is a part of it).
Finally, don't give Unhappiness Gifts (Gifts which will Make the Recipient Unhappy). Great sensibility is needed to give appropriate gift. Don't give a person who is a little obese motivational/Inspirational book/audio/video or MP3 Download on fat reduction unless he or she is likely to appreciate the gesture. Don't give your framed photo; don't give used things; don't give something received as gift (especially if there is chance of getting caught); don't give cigarettes to non-smoker, alcohol to teetotaler; glue bottle or paint bucket is not a gift item; a two piece swim suit is not for a man, etc.

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