Looking at Life and Happiness
(Vinod Anand)

Each of us wants some peace and happiness in life. Still, happiness often evades us. “Is there a simple, straightforward roadmap to get happiness and peace in life,” I asked Swami Paramarthanandji in Chennai. He replied, ‘Reducing PORT is the best way’.

PORT stands for Possessions, Obligatory Duties, Relationships and Transactions. How to reduce these? Happiness is a state of mind; it does not come from possessions alone. There are severe limitations of happiness sought in objects. First, deep effort and some pain are involved in acquiring objects.

Many waste their entire life in pursuit of desirable objects. There is no guarantee that even after getting those objects or positions, you would be happy. You may feel ‘let-down’ after spending so much of effort. You may think, ‘this is not what I laboured for’.

Also, objects of desire keep changing, and so also our goal posts. The chase continues and every new possession brings with it own burden. If someone has a house with swimming pool and ten bed rooms; imagine his plight in maintaining it. He is busy all the time cleaning, fixing, protecting. Does the house serve us, or do we serve the house?

Again, objects make us dependent on them. For instance, once we are used to a particular standard of living, it is inconvenient not to have certain objects such as air conditioners in our life. Hence objects usually create bondage Relationships are meant to make our life happy. But do they? We have to maintain some blood relations for social cohesion, but we create other new relationships, which complicates life.

Every new relationship has to be maintained. You have to remember to wish people on their birthdays and anniversaries, participate in functions like marriage and engagement, or reach out in case of sickness or loss. Also you are experience sadness or pain when the person with whom you have a relationship does not reciprocate. It is said that grief is never caused by outsiders or unknown people. It is caused by people with whom you have a relationship.

Depending on your attitude, your relationships might cause you more pain than pleasure for regular service. Similarly we have to attend to the expectations of relationships. These add to our list of obligatory duties. We cannot avoid basic, minimum obligatory duties towards the office, business, parents, spouse or children. But our optional duties also become obligatory when you maintain too many possessions and relationships. We should also be careful in accepting new roles in life just for the sake of ego-satisfaction.

If you are made President or Secretary of a Society, you may feel good, but that adds to your obligatory duties also. Performance of each of these duties becomes a transaction. This way we try to cope with large number of transactions in our life, and get exhausted at the end of the day. Where is the time to be happy? This is not to say that you should have no objects or relationships in your life.
However, the idea is to be aware of their limitations and try to strike a balance. The mind will be peaceful only if you are able to discriminate between what is necessary and what is unnecessary in your life. Reducing Possessions, Relationships, Obligatory Duties and Transactions (PORT) is a practical way to look at life and happiness. That is the PORT of call for happiness.

Author's Bio: 


Born in 1939, and holding Master’s Degree both in Mathematics (1959) and Economics (1961), and Doctorate Degree in Economics (1970), Dr. Vinod K.Anand has about forty five years of teaching, research, and project work experience in Economic Theory (both micro and macro), Quantitative Economics, Public Economics, New Political Economy, and Development Economics with a special focus on economic and social provisions revolving around poverty, inequality, and unemployment issues, and also on informal sector studies. His last assignment was at the National University of Lesotho (Southern Africa) from 2006 to 2008. Prior to that he was placed as Professor and Head of the Department of Economics at the University of North-West in the Republic of South Africa, and University of Allahabad in India, Professor at the National University of Lesotho, Associate Professor at the University of Botswana, Gaborone in Botswana, and at Gezira University in Wad Medani, Sudan, Head, Department of Arts and Social Sciences, Yola in Nigeria, Principal Lecturer in Economics at Maiduguri University in Nigeria, and as Lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in Nigeria. Professor Anand has by now published more than 80 research papers in standard academic journals, authored 11 books, supervised a number of doctoral theses, was examiner for more than twenty Ph.D. theses, and has wide consultancy experience both in India and abroad, essentially in the African continent. This includes holding the position of Primary Researcher, Principal Consultant etc. in a number of Research Projects sponsored and funded by Universities, Governments, and International Bodies like, USAID, IDRC, and AERC. His publications include a variety of themes revolving around Economic Theory, New Political Economy, Quantitative Economics, Development Economics, and Informal Sector Studies. His consultancy assignments in India, Nigeria, Sudan, Botswana, and the Republic of South Africa include Non-Directory Enterprises in Allahabad, India, Small Scale Enterprises in the Northern States of Nigeria, The Absolute Poverty Line in Sudan, The Small Scale Enterprises in Wad Medani, Sudan, Micro and Small Scale Enterprises in Botswana, The Place of Non-Formal Micro-Enterprises in Botswana, Resettlement of a Squatter Community in the Vryburg District of North West Province in the Republic of South Africa, Trade and Investment Development Programme for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises: Support for NTSIKA in the Republic of South Africa, and Development of the Manufacturing Sector in the Republic of South Africa’s North West Province: An Approach Based on Firm Level Surveys. Professor Anand has also extensively participated in a number of conferences, offered many seminars, participated in a number of workshops, and delivered a variety of Refresher Lectures at different venues both in India and abroad. Dr. Anand was placed at the prestigious Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla in the State Himachal Pradesh, India as a Fellow from 2001 to 2003, and had completed a theoretical and qualitative research project/monograph on the Employment Profile of Micro Enterprises in the State of Himachal Pradseh, India.