HOW SO HAPPY ? : A QUESTION I’VE BEEN ASKED A MILLION TIMES AND I’LL TELL YOU HOW..
I seldom cry.
And no, that isn’t the reason why I’m always happy. There does not exist a magical correlation between them because life doesn’t simply slope around two axes. There are too many variables to fit into one graph. Too many possible outcomes for happiness to emerge as the sole solution. Over time I’ve tried to filter out the complexities, removing one unknown at a time. And I’ve managed to strip them down to three. Three stubborn resolves to weather any storm raging inside my heart. And those three are kept in sync by the truth that ‘Happiness is a choice’.
- Be happy for that one person who cares enough to ask you how you are.
Time has proven that human beings take to grief in so many varied forms that to figure out a panacea remains as elusive and Utopian as the word itself. We have bouts of inexplicable anger, periods of hopeless withdrawals and thoughts of self-harm. We generalise our close ones and our surroundings as a reflection of the thing that caused us pain, thereby shying away aggressively from anything that might have tried to make its way into our lives as a silver lining. Words of genuine care seem superficial, a harmless gesture is frowned upon and doubted, years of friendship and care is made insignificant overnight. It’s not your fault if you behave this way. Every pain is new; every sour experience is distasteful in its own away. But at the end of the day, happiness is a choice: Easy on some days, extremely difficult on others. What makes the difference is to keep just a little window in your mind open to the possibility of goodness. When a friend, who doesn’t know you’re hurting, asks you how you are, do not be enraged at his audacity. His gesture isn’t a poke at your sorrows; it’s a way out of them. It might not necessarily be a friend. What we tend to forget is family. When you parents or siblings ask you about your day, it’s easy to shut them out or vent your anger out on them. But once again, you’re letting go of that choice. A choice that presented itself since the day you were born and never really left you. For those without a family, for those without friends, close your eyes and you will find at least one person that was honest in his concern for you. Let them in. If not, at least don’t push them out. Even on my worst days, I keep that latent strength inside me, waiting to surface at the prospect of hope. You should too. In your own way if you want to. Because we are beings with a free mind, unchained and always but a step away from our choices.
- You might be having a bad day, but someone else is always having worse.
I know the concept of relativity seems too preachy to us. And I do not mean to undermine your pain by comparing it with someone else’s. What I want to address is our inherent tendency to think in extremes. I remember how after my first heartbreak I was sure that I’d never be able to love again. I remember how after my first failure in life, I was certain that I’d never be successful again. I remember the first time I lost someone close to me, and I could feel a part of me decaying into permanence. But ask yourselves; was it the be all and end all of things? Did you never love again? Did you not rise again? Did you not overcome your grief in honouring the memory of the one you lost? Human beings are by nature, self-centred to an extent. It’s important to be so. This is why we’re born with it. We live our lives around it; we want to be happier and more successful than the person next to us. And when it comes to grief, we do the same. We assume that nobody had it worse. So just for those instances in your life, open yourself to the idea that the world is full of suffering and pain. And what you might be feeling is but a drop in that sea of sorrow. Go to a shelter for stray dogs, teach a few underprivileged children, paint or write or dance or sing whenever you feel that the pain is too much. Do not be slaves to the emotions that you do not deserve. Fly instead with the ones that you do. Take a day for yourself because we’re human after all. But do not waste a minute more. Wake up the next morning no matter how heavy your heart is or how red your eyes are and do something that makes you happy. Live for someone whose pain is a little worse than yours. Find happiness by sharing your mutual burdens and always remember of that choice.
- Embrace the fact that happiness isn’t a guarantee.
Does that mean you should pretend? Do you need to put up a fake smile even if you’re dying inside? The answer is NO. And NO again. I’ll go back to where I started:
‘I seldom cry. And no, that isn’t the reason why I’m always happy.’ Does it make sense now? It does a little, doesn’t it? There are days when none of the above remedies will work. The pain will seem so unbearable that you’ll scramble for solutions. And it is of utmost importance that in days like those, you do not falter. You might ask how putting up a smile over a wilting heart makes sense. I’ll tell you how. Imagine for a moment how grief works. Your pain keeps rushing over the synapses, conveying its state to the brain. The brain in turn restricts your muscles; you’re heavier on your feet, your demeanour is slow, your cheekbones are restrained from their normal movements of smiles. It’s as if your spirit and your body conspire to stop you from being what you want to be. And yet, you battle against them and manage to put up a smile. And to call that fake or to term it as pretence is a sin. For that struggle alone is a victory over evil, the first and most difficult step that ultimately leads to happiness. It’s a tussle that opens up that choice again. The one you always have, no matter what.
So the next time you look at me, you’ll see me happy and smiling like always. But this time, I do not want to see envy in your eyes. I’ve bared my soul to you, along with its little secrets.
The next time you look at me, know that my life isn’t perfect, know that there’s a lot rumbling inside me. Just like it is in yours. You and I are made of the same sorrows over which we have no sway. But you and I can be rebels to our emotions, battling on the edge of happiness.
The next time you look at me, tell me you’re happy too and burn that question mark. Let’s smile together because I’ve told you how and you finally remember that you already knew.