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Saturday, 11 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 11: Secrets to a Happy Life

This Wednesday, I was at a meeting of a local Mahila Samaj where Veena (I hope you remember her from this post) had invited me to speak. I hadn’t given the talk any title as such when I spoke to them, but in my mind, it was “Secrets to a Happy Life.”

During the talk, I covered several areas such as:

  • The need for physical fitness and regularity in practicing it 
  • Tips on achieving mental calm
  • Dealing with recalcitrant (meaning: obstinate, difficult to manage) husbands
  • The need to live a dhaarmik way of life
  • Bringing up kids with basics of Bharatiya culture
Most of the audience comprised women in their 40s and 50s. Women who had college-going kids or married sons and daughters-in-law.

One major point some of the ladies emphasized during the question-and-answer session was this:

When an argument begins, and I think, “Ok, what’s the point of arguing now? Let me keep quiet for a while. Maybe we can talk about it later,” and thus, avoid reacting, it sends across a message that I’m at fault and so, I’m keeping quiet. This gives the other person an upper hand, and he gloats over the fact that he’s succeeded in suppressing me.

I wasn’t really surprised by this observation. It’s true – since ages, it’s been believed that the person who’s in the right will have the moral courage to keep speaking; the guilty one is the one who will give in.

Of course in today’s times, most of our disagreements have run counter to this logic. An Arnab Goswamiesque free for all is what rules not just on television channels but also in our homes. No wonder then that these ladies are reluctant to give up one of the few tools they say they possess to draw attention to their discontent with something.

While helping them reason through this conundrum, I asked them to focus for a minute on few things:

First, what is the purpose of your life? Is it only to exert control over another person or to prove that you are right – which, for that matter, even winning an argument may not prove? Or is there a higher goal we must seek to achieve with this human birth?

Second, how important is this matter – over which you’re now squabbling like a matter of life and death – going to be a few days, a few months, a few years from now? In the whole scheme of things in your life, how significant is this issue? And, to make it even more vivid, I asked them – Many years from now, when you are lying on your death bed, ready to leave this world, will this issue be something that you’ll remember and cherish as an achievement?

Quite a sobering thought, their faces said in response.

Indeed it is, and it makes a sea of difference to our attitudes if we learn to occasionally pause in the middle of whatever we are doing, a few times during the day, and ask ourselves – how important is this action/thought in the scheme of my life. The answer will be your guideline to live a more fulfilling life and gradually lift yourself up from petty, energy-draining pursuits.

Later in the day, when I mentioned about this talk and it’s title, someone quipped, “Ok, so it’s proven that Anu is happy!” And I replied, “Of course.” Because in that moment, I realized that through long practice, I’ve learned how to stay away from being unhappy – most of the time. No doubt there are of course instances of minor irritations, but I don’t let them disturb me for too long because each time they strike, I ask myself those questions I presented to the ladies in the Mahila Samaj.

On the topic of dealing with recalcitrant husbands, there was a vociferous discussion, but that’s matter enough to make for another post, some day in the future 😈😈

Receiving a fruit basket in gratitude.
The smiling person on my extreme left is Veena. 

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