March 22, 2015

A pocketful of sunshine

 "Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

What is happiness really? Can we define it at all? Some might try to define it as an emotional state of well-being. Some might say 'Happiness' is being pretty, rich, famous or popular. However, the concept of 'Happiness' continues to be confounding, just like its pursuit.
Different people experience emotions at varied levels. So how can 'Happiness' mean the same thing to all of them?

Personally, I am someone who believes that happiness is more of a personal choice. One can only be happy if one chooses to be happy. However, if you constantly hound life for happiness, its very likely that you might miss it by searching too hard. A watched kettle never boils. Likewise, if one keeps looking for opportunities, he will never find them.
I have often thought about this. Everyone in this world wants to be happy. This pursuit does not have an end. As we get nearer to our goals, our expectations tend to increase. More expectations lead to disappointment. We strive harder to meet new demands. In this chase, our satisfaction and peace of mind takes a back seat. We are constantly running after ephemeral milestones...success, money, fame. But in this rat race, aren't we all forgetting what really matters?
Meanwhile, Happiness, arrives like an unexpected visitor and taps softly on our door and waits for you to let it in. But we are too caught in our lives to notice the tapping. The visitor silently leaves thinking that it is not welcome. We, however, continue to crib in oblivion, losing sleep over something we miss, yet cannot identify. Sleep eludes. Happiness evades. Tomorrow is going to be yet another tiring day, we complain, exhausted and unhappy.

I am only human. I have made mistakes in life. I have lost out on chances only to learn that they will never come my way again. Like everyone else, I too have learned from my experiences.
Somewhere down the line, when winning or losing ceased to make a difference, I realized that what is most important is time well spent. What matters is not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. Life is not about the destination. It is more about the journey, about the scenery you enjoy along the way, the people you befriend, about the lives you make a difference to.
I have realized that happiness is just not a experience of contentment or well-being. It is the very force that drives the world into motion...that brightens up hearts and faces. It is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient, just like God.
However, for it to make its presence felt, it needs our acknowledgement. It needs us to let go of our fears and embrace it. It wants us to open up our hearts and welcome it...whole-heartedly.

Happiness is a limitless concept...blurred around the edges.. The more you try to encase it the more fleeting it becomes. Hence, I have learned to let it free. We can hardly know when it will arrive, but when it does, I have learned to embrace it with all my heart and soul, breathing in the magic, basking in the pristine simplicity of the emotion..

Below is a list of some things that have the 'Happy Effect' on me: (in no particular order)
  1.  Petrichor: This has been one of my very old favorites. They used to call me 'The rain child' back when I was a kid. The fact that I am a 'June baby' might have something to do with why I love the rains so much. The pleasant scent that frequently accompanies the first rain adds that magical quality not just to the surroundings, but also to my mood.
  2.  Birds flying freely over vast expanses of blue sky: These, to me, signify freedom, freedom that I wish humans bound in the shackles of society will be able to attain someday. Someday, I want to live in a world like theirs, where we are free to choose our own sky.
  3. Reading old diary entries: because they remind me of how far I have come.
  4. Dinner conversations with loved ones: Good food and good company is the perfect recipe for a happy evening.
  5.  Seeing the joy on a child's face when he is given his favorite chocolate: Reminds me of  the simple pleasures of my childhood. 'Nostalgia' is my happy drug.
  6.  Writing/blogging: makes me happy. That way, my heart and mind can be best friends at least for a while.
  7.  Red roses: because they remind me that beauty, love and passion still exist in this world.
  8.  Chocolate: An instant stress-buster I know I can always count on.
  9.  Shooting stars: Wishing on them always fills me with hope. Isn't 'hope' another name for happiness?
  10.   Libraries and book stores: My favorite place in the world. I can never realize when minutes at a library/bookstore change into hours.
  11.  Cuddly fat gurgling babies: With not a care in the world, their enthusiasm is contagious. That's the only time you will catch me talking in baby language *blush*
  12.  This one is a recent one...When my novel 'Twists Of Fate' does well in the sales chart, and readers tell me they loved my book This 'Happy' effect lasts the whole morning, afternoon and night. It's indeed rewarding when your efforts are appreciated.
  13. Leaving footprints on wet sand on the beach: There is a special kind of happiness in watching the waves crash away the shore, observing floatsam getting swept away in the clear water, listening to the sound of the sea, collecting sea shells, or even a simple introspective walk alone by the sea side. 
  14. The 'Eat all you want but don't gain an ounce' happiness: This one is every woman's dream, and I am sure all the girls out there will be able to relate to me when I say this. No matter how short-lived this joy might be, nothing can beat the exhilaration when you tip toe nervously to the weighing scale and discover (much to your surprise and excitement) that you have lost a couple of pounds despite eating out thrice in the previous week. This might last only until your smart-ass spouse/sibling or some other smug family member points out the error in the scale. (At least it makes us happy for a while. Sigh!)
  15. The feel of holding a paper-back in hand and reading it as opposed to a kindle or Ipad: Call me old school, but I still adore turning pages by hand, using fancy book-marks to mark pauses, going shopping for book-ends, and making room for new books on shelves in the library. 
  16. The smell of coffee brewing early in the morning: This always manages to kickstart my day on a happy note.
  17. Phone calls or text messages from my favorite people: Distance can never be an issue when friends want to be together, isn't it? We choose to be happy despite the odds.
Having mentioned all these, I have also come to realize that happiness is an emotion very fickle. Something that makes us happy today might have the same effect on us tomorrow...especially if we depend on someone else for it. Broken relationships would stand in testimony of how something that made us so happy in the past has changed into a bitter memory of the present. So how can we make sure that our reason for happiness stays the same forever? Sorry boss! There is no such a guarantee. All we can do is choose to stay happy because it once made us happy. Then step away and move on. Easier said, eh? I know...
Happiness is a lock to which the key keeps changing. Disappointing isn't it? Such a traitor, this happiness!
However, all is not lost. The keys are all with(in) us. It's just that often times we hang on to an old key way too tight. We keep forcing it into the lock hoping that it will open. (It must. After all, it did so in the past, right?). Sadly, in the process of trying, we forget to try out the other keys on the key chain. We keep feeling dejected, lost., unhappy,..when the truth is, all the while, the solution is in our lap, waiting patiently to be picked.
The basic rule is this: When the old key doesn't fit, try another one. Happiness is a choice. We got to keep motivating ourselves to make necessary changes. Life offers us many privileges...friendship, love from our dear ones, self respect, potential. All we got to do is keep our eyes open and recognize each one of these. Acknowledge them. Embrace them. At the end of the day, our happiness depends on the happiness of those we love. Laugh a little more for them. Make them laugh a little more. 
Find a little more time for your friends. 
Cook that surprise dinner for your wife. 
Sacrifice that daily 'Saas-Bahu' soap for your husband. 
Tell your mother how much you love her.
Spend an evening with your dad. 
Take your kids out to an amusement park. 
Spread some light in an otherwise monotonous life. 
Buy a meal for a beggar boy. 
The next time, the locality kids break your window with their cricket ball, smile and tell them to be careful next time. 
Go surprise that grumpy old Aunty next door with a friendly hug, or simply offer to share a Coke with her.
Carry a pocketful of sunshine wherever you go, and hand it to someone who could really do with it.
Spread some smiles around. Happiness is always just a step away.

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