How not to find happiness – II

Searching for happiness

How not to find happiness – The Conclusion

In my last blog I promised you the truth about happiness. The truth that shall set you free. The truth that if you accept happiness as an attainable state of mind, you’ll move forward towards greatness. Seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? 

I would like you to close your eyes and retrospect on your lives or the lives of people around you like a movie reel. Let’s start from the bare beginnings of a human life.

The very act of being born isn’t happy at the first place. The fear of a failed delivery, or the danger of life on the mother and the child, mixed with the pain of birth. I have seen and been among the ones who have faced it and trust me, it’s no happy place. 

Common folk like us, try make it look happy with the extensive facade that we go through. Relatives come bearing gifts. The ladies of  the house tirelessly singing and dancing to the folk music. It ends in a few days though and real life sets in. 

The initiation into parenthood is filled with months of sleepless nights, nervous breakdowns and hormonal outbursts. Quite a lot of couples never recover from it. Ever heard these words?  – love is labour lost. 

The childhood itself is in no happy place either. Contrary to what most of us think, there is a struggle to fight helplessness, struggle to walk, struggle to learn the new world. Do you remember a happy child on the first day of school? How many of us remember a three year old enjoying his first letter writing experience? Exceptions exist, but we all know the answer to the majority of cases. 

Let’s fast forward the movie reel a decade. How many happy teenagers have we actually seen? They want to experience life, be among friends, fall in love and almost always end up choosing books or careers. And if they don’t, there is another kind of sadness in store lurking over the sidelines. We are all living in an age of population explosion and the sad part is that our teens will never have equal opportunities. 

And when they have won that opportunity, a dream job or a flourishing business, the hard part is to keep it sustained. It’s their purpose to fly and never look back. That’s how the world goes. 

Nonethelessin all human beings, and animals, there is an inherent strength to bring a new life into this world, raise it to an age and let it go when it wants to fly away. Most of the old and retired folks look at their kids with a sense of personal achievement and pride, despite of the sadness that they will never come back to them. At least not in the way they used to when they were little. 

I’m not painting a glim picture of life, showing you the reel, as most of you would suspect. All I’m trying to argue is that the best things in our lives are born of unhappiness or pain including our children. 

The greater amount of pain we endured to complete a certain set of actions, sorting every little problem that came in the way, the more beautiful was the outcome. It may be a more exceptional task like creating breathtaking music or a more common one like raising your kids. 

I can tell you this by an experience of fourteen years. I have taught physics to high school students, preparing them for the toughest engineering examinations in India. Any student who falls in love with the pain of solving a difficult problem, is bound to succeed. 

It is strange to observe the psychology behind this. How can a sixteen year old live with the daily grind of being challenged by mathematics and science? How can anyone make that grind a part of their routine? Well most of them can’t. And the ones who do, make a future for themselves. Accepting unhappiness to achieve greatness. 

Each one of us is like Harry Porter and each one of us have our version of lord Voldemort. We must remember that Harry, no matter fictional, will always be remembered as the boy who brought down one of the most powerful wizards of all times. 

He won’t be remembered for his friends, or that he loved and married Ginny Weasley, or had a kid who also went to Hogwarts. 

My point, you’ll  always be remembered for the problems that you solved in your life. It won’t matter if those problems were slapped on your face or you chose to take them up. All that matters is that you weren’t happy with those problems, so much so, that you rose up to fight them back and created a solution. 

If someone wasn’t unhappy about walking the miles, or carrying load on elephants we wouldn’t have wheels. If someone wasn’t unhappy at the speed of transportation, we wouldn’t have automobiles. 

If someone wasn’t unhappy with blackberries, that were the height of human craving, two decades back we wouldn’t have touch screens. 

If I was happy with my job and the bliss of my married life, the two books would have never been born out of the consequence. An insignificant achievement in the larger scheme of things, but an achievement nonetheless. 

It is the sadness, the pain or the dissatisfaction that drives us, that motivates us. Without them we are like that baby girl Vedna. 

Some would argue that sadness or pain leads to mental sickness and I would agree with them on a larger part. My logic is simple though. Sadness is as a non quantifiable thing, but a thing nonetheless. Just like salt and sugar. It’s good as long as you consume it. When it starts to consume you, there is a place reserved for you in a cardiac care unit. 

I may discuss in a different blog as to how we turn our sadness and pain into a formidable force that is creative and not a  weakness that is destructive, but I haven’t made up my mind on it just yet. 

Let me tell you two stories and then ask what you find in them. 

A young man, an electrical engineer, with bright prospects in industry gives everything up for a purpose – to rescue kids from child labour. Then starts the grind of finding kids who are being forcefully employed in various industries, like the firecrackers industry or the circus industry. He has to fight with everything from the attitude of corrupt officials to the attacks from child employers. It is always a problem to rehabilitate the rescued children. Well, because the money is limited. 

On a rescue mission in 2004, he and his team get brutally attacked by the circus mafia and that is not even the worst part. The local government officials file a report blaming him and his team for the ruckus. One of his team mates is killed in a similar incident elsewhere. His life is a daily grind of pain and sadness, sometimes even fear. 

But when we look back, the man is responsible for rescuing 90,000 kids from slavery and a Nobel Peace prize for his years of service in 2014. Yes, we are talking about Kailash Satyarthi. 

Now comes my question. I don’t know that man in person but what is it,  you think, that drives him? Happiness or unhappiness. 

And here is the second story.

I know of a young Australian actor, music video director who gets a role in a big budget Hollywood movie. The role is cliched and this time he decided to do things differently. He wants to portray the antagonist is a way that has never been done before. He locks himself in a room for months, to get in the skin of the character. Allegedly he even experimented with drugs. In the end, the character becomes him and he becomes the character. We all know what was the outcome if we have watched Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. 

Cristian Bale or anybody in that movie, barely managed to match up to what Heath had to offer. The character of the Joker becomes and overnight sensation. People forget the old incarnations of the same character played by the bigwigs like Jack Nicholson. 

The story does end here though. It’s us said that the Joker never leaves Heath and he dies of an overdose before he could receive his academy award. 

Many people might argue that there were ways he could have lived a fuller life. I have a different view though. 

We all die, but Heath created an unforgettable phenomenon. Something that was so hateful, so ugly, a pure evil that it costed him his life and yet so beautiful. 

What do you see? Sadness or greatness? Because I see both of them as twin sisters walking hand in hand. 

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