The United Nations releases an annual report on happiness from amongst the nations of the world. This report is usually based on the response from respondents in each of these countries, being evaluated. Among 156 countries under study, it appears that India ranks in the 133rd place. Sadly, India has been beaten by its neighbours, Myanmar at 130th, Sri Lanka at 116th, Bangladesh at 115th, Nepal at 101st, Bhutan at 97th, and Pakistan in the 75th position. Are we all not surprised? There are certain parameters by which they establish this report. But this article is not about how the detailing of such reports are done, but how happiness is a feeling and every living person has a right to be happy! It is your state of mind to own it!
Clearly the countries happier than India amongst its neighbours, are economies, which have a lower per capita income, which indicates money cannot be the reason. China stands at the 86th position also lower than Pakistan, which is a terror-ridden nation. Compared to both China and Pakistan, Indian nationals have more personal freedom. So, let us evaluate what are the uncertainties that cause us not to be happy!
The population is growing unchecked. There seems to be no aggressive national awareness programme in this sphere. There are people everywhere, they walk into you, the jobs are all filled, they bump and spill your beverage in the cafeteria, it is hard to manoeuvre on the streets, at home and in your life!
This is when we need to create space. You will have to find your nook. A place, treasure-filled with your childhood mementoes, your collection of music, photos anything that you treasure. It needs to have just a table and chair, maybe a couch to stretch your legs – fine, just this much space is all that is required to cut yourself from a world full of people hogging away your space.
Space these days is not easy with soaring real estate prices, but you will have to find that physical space where you can create a world for yourself. It can be that space under a staircase, it can be a balcony, it can be a small place in the porch or even a rooftop. Just anywhere. So, you can find yourself and your equanimity and find happiness. Something has to be entirely yours to feel comforted. I have a small nook, just a space with a desk and chair, from where I write. I keep pretty things around me. It is nice to have a place to keep returning to, a place of comfort.
Space in your head
The brain cannot process happiness in a crowded space. You need to de-clutter your head. This is not easy. Take out your laptop, and first write down the A-P list, A, being the category, P, stands for people. That will be the people you really love and care about, people you have a primary relationship with. Then comes the B-P list, the people in your life on a daily basis who you need to interact with. The third list is very important. The C-P list, the people from the A-P and B-P who take away your happiness. Let me give you an example. Parents, children, husband, and others will fall into the A-P list. B-P list may have colleagues, domestic help, the neighbour and others. The C-P list maybe your overly demanding parent, a son who has become a drug addict, a husband who pushes you into chores and others.
Once this list is ready, you will have to build a wall of protection. There are many as you see, brick, stone and even glass. But your wall has to be built not with aesthetics but with reason. Happiness is usually usurped by people in the C-P category. They are the people who can bring you down. Just as an example, say, there is a daughter who parties too much. You love your daughter. You have tried telling her the dangers of life in the pub, but she just won’t listen. You are driven to protect her partying image with a cover-up. You have done it many times, there seems to be no lessening, it is stressing you out! It will not lessen because your cover-ups are becoming the support-system. Its time to build the wall. Then you will have to sit her down and tell her that you cannot cover for her anymore. Lock the doors at a set time.
Maybe she may have to stay over at her friend’s, that’s fine. This is a wall of resilience you have to build. What can the result be? She will have to deal with the consequences – whatever they may be. Also, you must remember that by not building that wall she will still have consequences to deal with. It’s not the wall that will dictate the consequence, but the intrinsic qualities in your daughter. The less you support it the sooner is it likely to simmer down and eventually resolve. Life is too short to elongate these processes.
You probably have a father who is ailing from Cancer. You want to be there for him, but your husband tells you, it’s not possible that you can spend an hour there every day. It is taking you away from the house, from your children and your husband. Yes, that is true, we have duties, in the times we live, studies are so important, and you will have to be home to make sure, the children are carving a future. But, doing this will you be happy? Must you not return to your father, the care he bestowed upon you? Sit your children down and tell them the importance of parental love. It will come in handy when your turn comes! Tell them your aged parents need you, and you need them to take stock of their lives. Talk on the phone and supervise them. Tell them how brilliantly they are supporting you. They will learn to be productive unsupervised, they will learn responsibility, they will learn human values. Do not allow anyone from the C-P category tells you otherwise. Who cares! You may have to be by your parents’ side for a whole year, so what? You were being responsible for the people who needed you most. You may have lost time with the children and husband. But remember parents have fewer days in their lives. This lost time will always be made up. Only you have to make up your mind to build walls of resilience.
Be true to yourself
We have certain ideals and ethics that we want to live by. Take Chanda Kochhar, she is the classic example. She worked herself up, shattered all glass-ceilings, and reached the top. But now she could even serve a prison term! In this case, we need to ask, why did she do what she did? She must have been under pressure by the C-P category to do the things she did. Remember you may love the people in the C-P category, but they are the people who stress you out and under stress, we make our biggest mistakes.
How to recognise the C-P list? Here is the biggest challenge! When a relationship:
_ Hinders happiness.
_ Builds guilt.
_ Goes beyond physical endurance.
_ Goes beyond emotional endurance.
_ Goes beyond financial endurance.
_ When you feel cheated.
_ When there is too much doubt.
_ When it is too little. information.
Sometimes a certain relationship hinders happiness. The people you love are the ones who bring on situations where you feel compromised. Perhaps we do it too. But these things need to be resolved on a priority. Sweeping them under the rug is not going to help. My friend Shruti was never allowed to visit her parents living in the same city. Shruti is one of those girls who listened to her parents, she was a good student, a good friend. She was married into a very eminent family and that was it. Her goodness became her weakness. She did as she was told.
Her sister was a brat. A deep contrast to Shruti. She got into every trouble one could think of. These were two girls raised by the same parents in the same environment. Shruti grew to be an upright person Priya, her sister was an imp, but street smart. She married of her own free will, held a good job, and shared the expenses with her husband. She dropped in every day to visit her parents because she and her husband picked an apartment close to her parents. Priya became their support when they needed her. Shruti, the apple of their eye, they hardly saw.
What is the purpose of being an upright person when you cannot be there for the people who love you? Living correctly only enhances unhappiness, living right enhances happiness. The most important thing about being happy is having a backbone. Not just guts, the means to possess it. Independence both emotional and financial is crucial to keep the C-P list at bay. Seek independence before you commit. Go girl go!
By Kalpana M Naghnoor