Sunday, October 13, 2013

Stop yearning for yester years..

Let me articulate a problem that people don't realize they have, and two words that cause this: Happiness & Sadness. We people like to be happy (whatever be the cost), and do not like to be sad. However, almost all of us, mistakenly assume happiness to be the exact opposite of sadness. This assumption is ingrained in our psyche, thrust onto us by our education system, our family, the society, the media, almost universally. But why is this wrong?

Take something banal from your own life, from say 10 years ago, say sharing a cup of road side chai with one of your friends/roommate, or taking a bus ride home on a bus that had barely any place to stand, or maybe just looking outside the window of your room (10 years ago). How do they make you feel now? Nostalgic, yes.. but also happy. How did you feel when you were actually living those moments? Just meh!

Now, take some actual defining moments in your life, when you were actually happy in that particular instant: these includes graduation, marriage, winning some contest that only 50 people in the world care about. How do they make you feel now? Those were just a blips in your existence when you were almost ecstatic. You were definitely happy during those few hours or few days of festivities, but your journey to those defining events, your college years, your courtship period is what made you more happy than those events itself.

So are you happy now? Most of us too jaded by the monotony would respond to this ambiguously, and even if someone replied that they were happy, they wouldn't be able to articulate why. Let me articulate it now for every one of you reading this post; You were happy in the past.. you will always be happy in the past.. 10 years from now, you will think you were happy at this very moment.

Lets switch to sadness. What makes you sad? Traffic Jam, chores at home, office work on weekend, existential crisis, when things don't work according to you.. in short pretty much everything.

What about some sad defining moments in your life? Loss of a loved one, an accident, getting fired from a job? This generally tend to generate two different kind of reaction, either you will look at them fondly (yes you heard me right) because it made you what you are today (the hardship you faced gave to skills to progress in life), or it will make you shed a tear whenever you think about it. The first kind generally tend to invoke happiness indirectly when you look back on your struggle, the second one might put you in a downward spiral or sadness, but you do eventually recover from it.

On an average, when are/were you sad? Now.. and when are/were you happy? In the past. This justifies the predisposition of people to yearn for the past, sometimes elevating it up to the utopian standards. This is a sad universal truth; in America, people want to live the way their parents lived, when the jobs were plentiful and everyone had a car and a house, but they discount and turn a blind eye to slavery. In India, the movies and soaps puts every one on a trip down memory lane, with all the bahus (daugher-in-laws) taking care of the house and guys bringing the moolah, but discount sati and dowry practices.

Everyone is chasing the proverbial happiness carrot, without realizing that it is something that cannot be achieved, only looked at. If you are not sad now, then you'll be happy in the future thinking about this very instant, so don't be sad because you are not happy now, because that'll rob you of your happiness in the future.

Learn from your experiences, and make new ones, but don't try to yearn for old ones.

PS: Inspired by the Republican rhetoric and Jon Stewart :)