Why We Choose Misery Instead of Bliss


Why We Choose Misery Instead of Bliss
Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash

The only duty you have is to be happy. Make it a religion. If you are not happy, then whatsoever you are doing, something must be wrong and some drastic change is needed. Let happiness decide. I am a hedonist. And happiness is the only criterion man has.

So always look at what happens when you do something: if you become peaceful or restful, it is right. This is the criterion; nothing else is the criterion. What is right for you may not be right for somebody else; remember that too. Because what is easy for you may not be easy for somebody else; something else may be easy for him. So there can be no universal law about it. Every individual has to work it out for himself.

Two reasons why we choose unhappiness

This is one of the most complex human problems. It has to be considered very deeply, and it is not theoretical—it concerns you. This is how everybody is behaving—always choosing the wrong way, always choosing to be sad, depressed, miserable. There must be profound reasons for it, and there are.

Being miserable feeds the ego

First, the way human beings are brought up plays a very definite role. If you are unhappy, you gain something from it. If you are happy, you always lose. From the very beginning, an alert child senses this distinction.

Whenever he is unhappy, everybody is sympathetic toward him. Everybody tries to be loving toward him. And even more than that, whenever he is unhappy, everybody is attentive toward him, he gains attention. Attention works like food for the ego, a very alcoholic stimulant. It gives you energy; you feel you are somebody. Hence so much need, so much desire to get attention.

If everybody is looking at you, you become important. If nobody is looking at you, you feel as if you are not there, you are a non-being.

The ego exists in relationship. The more people pay attention to you, the more you gain ego. If nobody looks at you, the ego dissolves. If everybody has completely forgotten you, how can the ego exist? Hence the need for societies, associations, clubs. All over the world clubs exist—Rotary, Lions, Masonic Lodges—millions of clubs and societies. These societies and clubs exist only to give attention to people who cannot get attention in other ways.

From the very beginning a child learns the politics: look miserable, then you get sympathy, then everybody is attentive. Look ill—you become important. An ill child becomes dictatorial; the whole family has to follow him—whatever he says is the rule. When he is happy, nobody listens to him. When he is healthy, nobody cares about him. From the very beginning we start choosing the miserable, the sad, the pessimistic, the darker side of life. That’s one reality.

Happiness attracts jealousy

A second thing related to it is: whenever you are happy, whenever you are joyful, whenever you feel ecstatic and blissful, everybody is jealous of you. Jealousy means that everybody is antagonistic, nobody is friendly; at that moment, everybody is an enemy.

So you have learned not to be so ecstatic that everybody becomes inimical toward you—not to show your bliss, not to laugh.

Look at people when they laugh. They laugh very calculatingly. It is not a belly-laugh, it is not coming from the very depth of their being. They first look at you, then they judge… and then they laugh. And they laugh to a particular extent, the extent you will tolerate, the extent where nobody will become jealous.

Even our smiles are political. Laughter has disappeared, bliss has become absolutely unknown, and to be ecstatic is almost impossible because it is not allowed. If you are miserable, nobody will think you are mad. If you are ecstatic and dancing, everybody will think you are mad. Dance is rejected, singing is not accepted. A blissful man—we think something has gone wrong if we see one.

Misery is considered OK, and bliss is nonsense

What type of society is this? If someone is miserable, everything is okay; he fits because the whole society is miserable, more or less. He is a member, he belongs to us: If somebody becomes ecstatic, we think he has gone berserk, insane. He doesn’t belong to us—and we feel jealous.

Because of jealousy, we condemn him and we try in every way to put him back to his old state. We call that old state normality. Psychoanalysts will help, psychiatrists will help to bring that man to the normal misery.

Society cannot allow ecstasy. Ecstasy is the greatest revolution. If people become ecstatic, the whole society will have to change, because this society is based on misery.

Signs that you are choosing misery

If people are blissful, you cannot lead them to war—to Vietnam, or to Egypt, or to Israel. No. Someone who is blissful will just laugh and say: This is nonsense!

If people are blissful, you cannot make them obsessed with money. They will not waste their whole lives just accumulating money. It will look like madness to them that a person is destroying his whole life, just exchanging his life for dead money. And the money will be there when he is dead. This is absolute madness! But this madness can not be seen unless you are ecstatic.

If people are ecstatic, then the whole pattern of this society will have to change. This society exists on misery. Misery is a great investment for this society. So we bring up children…  from the very beginning, we create a leaning toward misery. That’s why they always choose misery.

In the morning, everybody has a choice. And not only in the morning, every moment there is a choice to be miserable or to be happy. You always choose to be miserable because there is an investment. Because that has become a habit, a pattern; you have always done that. You have become efficient at doing it; it has become a track. The moment your mind has to choose, it immediately flows toward misery.

Misery seems to be downhill; ecstasy seems to be uphill. Ecstasy looks very difficult to reach—but it is not so. The real thing is quite the opposite: Nobody wants to be miserable and everybody IS miserable.

Education, culture, parents, teachers-they have done a great job. They have made miserable creatures out of ecstatic creators. Every child is born ecstatic. Every child is born a god. And every man dies a madman.

This is your whole work-how to regain childhood, how to reclaim it. If you can become a child again, then there is no misery. I don’t mean that for a child there are no moments of misery-there are. But still there is no misery. Try to understand this.

A child can become miserable, intensely unhappy in a moment, but he is so total in that unhappiness, he is so one with that unhappiness, that there is no division. The child separate from unhappiness does not exist. The child is unhappiness—he is so involved in it. And when you become one with unhappiness If you become so one with it, even that has a beauty of its own.

So look at a child—an unspoilt child, I mean. If he is angry, then his whole energy becomes anger; nothing is reserved. He has moved and become anger; there is nobody manipulating and controlling the anger. There is no mind. And then see the beauty, the flowering of anger.

The child never looks ugly—even in anger he looks beautiful. He just looks more intense, more vital, more alive-a volcano ready to erupt. Such a small child, such a great energy, such an atomic being-with the whole universe to explode.

And after this anger the child will be silent. After this anger the child will be very peaceful. After this anger the child will relax. We may think it is very miserable to be in that anger, but the child is not miserable—he has enjoyed it.

If you become one with anything you become blissful. If you separate yourself from anything, even if it is happiness, you will become miserable.

So this is the key. To be separate as an ego is the base of all misery; to be one, to be flowing, with whatever life brings to you, to be in it so intensely, so totally, that you are no more, you are lost, then everything is blissful.

Misery or happiness—the choice is yours

The choice is there, but you have even become unaware of the choice. You simply choose it automatically. There is no choice left.

Become alert. Each moment when you are choosing to be miserable remember: this is your choice. Even this mindfulness will help, the alertness that this is my choice and I am responsible, and this is what I am doing to myself. Immediately you will feel a difference. The quality of mind will have changed. It will be easier for you to move towards happiness.


And once you know that this is your choice, then the whole thing has become a game. Then if you love to be miserable, be miserable, but remember that this is your choice and don’t complain. There is nobody else responsible. This is your drama. If you like it this way, if you like the miserable way, if you want to pass through life in misery, then this is your choice. You are playing it. Play it well!

Don’t go and ask people how not to be miserable. That is absurd. Don’t go and ask masters and gurus how to be happy. The so-called gurus exist because you are foolish. You create the misery, and then you go and ask others how to uncreate it. And you will go on creating misery because you are not alert to what you are doing. From this very moment try, try to be happy and blissful.


Body Mind Balancing, Copyright OSHO  International Foundation, www.osho.com

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