The happiness guide

a.k.a “things one should avoid doing in order to attain happiness”

There are so many things that we do that distance us from people we love or hurt them. We always take our closest for granted. We always say mean things thinking it shouldn’t matter. Is it really ok to take people for granted? Is it ok to treat them disrespectfully because they are the near ones?

Here I want to state some simple facts which gives a certain set of people an idea of what provokes/hurts/irritates/annoys/angers people involved.

1. Don’t force someone or emotionally blackmail them into doing something they are not comfortable doing.

This one is the most prevalent tradition in any society. People think love is to do whatever the other person says or wishes. By not doing something the parents or elders say, the youngsters are being disrespectful of them. The expectation that one will feel loved when forced is an unwritten rule in every Indian family. Be it force-feeding the grown up kids or forcing them to attend a wedding or forcing them to get married. The worse form of forcing is blackmailing. People say things like “I want to see you-married/grandchildren before dying” or “you will study so and so course only, because I say so” or “I am not sending you to work, girls in our family don’t go out and work, that is not our tradition”. Why do they think that the other person is obligated to fulfil their wish against their own? Even if the person in question is happy to do what others say, it is still wrong to make those statements.

If I am really antisocial, you can never make me sociable just by dragging me to a goddamned wedding. It’ll rile me up more and I might actually start hating social gatherings. Try to understand why I am saying what I am saying. And if there is a problem with that, discuss it and try to solve it, rather than forcing a solution of your own down my throat. And I won’t even go in detail about the emotional blackmailing. It starts right at home and people attach so many strings to each other in the name of tradition, respect and love that they get entangled, keeping the people involved in a snare.

Some people are what they are, and no matter what you do, they won’t change. Stop forcing and start accepting.

2. Stop lecturing, stop comparing.

No really, I mean it. Whats the point of hitting around the bush when discussing a certain point in conflict? Come to the point. I’ll either accept or not. But don’t spend my energy and concentration in giving examples from a certain family in the colony or a certain uncle/aunty’s son/daughter.

This happens especially during marriage/planning a baby. You should get married because of blah blah reasons and so and so got married at such an early age which makes him the best son ever. You should have a child at a certain age because of blah blah reasons and so and so got pregnant at such young age which makes her a perfect daughter. I am not saying it is wrong to ask them to plan for a certain things. But it is wrong to command them to do so.

And if you don’t do it comes statements like “Its my karma I’m having such a bad son/daughter/husband, that I cannot even expect a happy moment in my life” and I’ve saved the best for the last “I did so much for my son/daughter, I sacrificed all my happiness to bring him/her up and now this is wat I get in turn.” Believe me, people say it all the time. May be they feel it too, but is it not wrong to feel that way? They are entitled to care, respect and love, but children have their wishes and aspirations too. It is very cruel and mean to expect them to give everything up just to fulfil parents’ wishes.

Healthy comparison and competition is good, but more often comparison between siblings leads to rivalry and comparing to someone else degrades self-esteem.

Stop comparing. Start loving unconditionally.

3. Stop abusing

Just because you are my parent/relative/sibling doesn’t give you a right to verbally/physically abuse me. Give respect to get some. Especially once I am a grown up and have a sense of respect. As you keep abusing me, the respect I have for you keeps diminishing. Remember, one day I might even give them right back at your face. Be careful of what comes out of your mouth.

Stop abusing, start respecting.

4. Don’t replace love with respect

I might love and respect you. But not necessarily respect and love you. There is a difference. I can certain respect despite of all the bad things, but I can’t love. Many people can’t. So make sure you don’t expect respect assuming love will follow, it might not.

In case things are already sour, to get respect, you need to only give respect. But to get love, you must give respect, love and something else too to fill the gap. If you know what I mean.

But if things are ok, you still need to give both love and respect to get them back. You can’t get respect by just loving and not respecting. And you can’t get love by just respecting and not loving.

5. Don’t think you have a right over the other person, whoever that might be.

Everybody has their life. They are entitled to one. No one person has a right over any other person. We have right over only things, not living beings. Esp. not living beings which can think. You might have helped them, why, you might have even saved their life too, but that doesn’t entitle you a right over them. You might have given birth, but you won’t have a right over the children. You might be best of friends ever, but you can’t control their lives. Everybody is entitled to live their life the way they want, you can guide, suggest and advice, but you cannot live your life through them or control how their live their life.

Stop living through others’ lives. Make a life of your own.

6. Learn to let go

People are not things that you can always keep with you. If they stay, well and good. If they decide to move on, it’s their wish. You have to learn to let go to be happy. This might just be the hardest thing for parents. Some cry over their children for a long time, some just stop living, some always think of old times, some try hard to hold on to their drifting children. Here I don’t mean kids who leave their parents to go settle abroad. Though, there too letting go helps.

I am actually talking about children growing wings and getting out of the nest to make something out of their lives. The parents might not feature regularly in the children’s new life, but they still love and cherish their childhood. And still visit parents for holidays. It is same for children who expect their parents to be available at all junctures of life. Like having someone around to take care of the house and children. They might like it or not, but it is not their duty. Their duty ended the day you made a life of your own. Now they stand behind and guide you at crucial moments. They might just choose to retire for a leisurely life, unburdened.

Let them go. Don’t hold people against their will.

7. Don’t hold others responsible for your happiness

The main reason for sorrow are expectations. People become sad that something they expected didn’t happen. That someone didn’t behave as they expected. That their son/daughter/wife/husband didn’t treat them like they expected. This one always hurts the most. So try not to expect. It is really difficult not to expect all the time, but with conscious effort one can successfully stop expecting in most scenarios. Trust me, I’ve done this and I’m happy most of the time.

Remember, nobody but yourself is responsible for your own happiness.

A tribute to my first mother

I have troubled her so much, all my life. She has never yelled at me. Not once. She has always been that idol of kindness and love for me. I am sure many who knew her have similar stories to share. But I like to think mine is special.

I used to see her help my mother in the kitchen. They would finish cooking and sit down for a foot massage. Yes, it was a daily ritual. Every evening after cooking food, my mom would massage her tired heels. She never cared enough for herself, always trying to find someone who could do with her help. She was constantly in and out of the house, mostly because of others’ problems. We had to literally pull her down on a chair and hold her to give some respite to the dog tired legs and feet.

She worried about my mom endlessly. I could never understand the bond they shared, like the soul sisters who were not actually sisters. She would always bring exotic food for us, especially for mother, whenever she went out for dinner. I got my share of new clothes and toys from her. She was my tutor too. I learned science, geography and a lot about English from her. I’m writing today because of her dedication, to get me education, so I could make something out of my life.

And make I did. Now I am a writer and a journalist. I see people’s troubles and write about it. I try to help them as much as I can. She might not have been my mother, but I got all these traits from her.

In every way, I can call her my first mother and my own, my second. It doesn’t mean I didn’t love my mother. I did, but I loved her more. She had no reason to look after us like she did. But, she invested a lot of time, money and effort to get me where I now am. She still treats me like a kid, gifting me new clothes and cooking something good for me, whenever I visit.

Now, who would do that for a house-maid’s daughter?