HappYness is…

Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder. Thoreau

Nothing you will read here is new. And most certainly it is something that you may have heard or read about before. In all honesty, more than anything else, this is just an attempt to explain the meaning and importance of happiness in my own life. And if it makes any sense, you will end up doing the same.

Happiness. A word so often used and abused ; A feeling that inevitably controls our actions; An emotion that has different meanings for everyone, but essentially its all the same. An idea so elementary yet so complicated that we spend our entire lives running after it like children chasing rainbows- Its there somewhere, yet its not.

Admittedly, I have no life-changing philosophy about the pursuit of happiness.  But in all my years as a person trying to live a happy life, I have realized two basic things:

First, happiness is everyone’s right. So if any person you come across says they are not happy, they are wrong; they are being unfair. Just because they may have to work slightly harder to feel joy in their hearts, does not mean they have to negate it altogether. Just because the entire universe may be hell-bent on sabotaging their lives, does not mean they have to deny themselves of a God given right that appears and disappears as swiftly as a fluttering butterfly. It’s not just for your rich neighbor who has it all. It’s not there solely for your school mate with the best career. Happiness is a all-pervasive right. Of course its never as easy as these made up words make it out to be. Like all important things in life, you have to work for it, while at other times it comes as easy as breathing.  It’s not a miraculous intervention from the heavens. The feeling will not suddenly materialize when you land the perfect job, or marry the most beautiful spouse. If that were the case, the most successful businessmen, actors, celebrities would be the happiest people on Earth. Some are, but then many are not. If that were the case, all ordinary people  would be the unhappiest creatures to have existed; Never to have a smile caress their lips; never to have their hearts jump with joy.

If you are alive then you most certainly can find joy in some hidden corner of your life. Look harder. Look closer. That is all.

Second, its not in the big things. We all have heard this somewhere along the way. In philosophical one-liners, from inspirational speakers, or as quotes on beautiful landscape portraits on our facebook pages. They are not speaking rubbish. It’s as true as the rain. Happiness is the feeling that comes along the way. It comes during the struggle. It appears during the journey, at every pit stop, at every intermission. Life has an interesting way of jolting our happy cells from slumber; usually through things that never get their due credit. In the twinkle of your child’s eye. In the hearty laugh of your parents. In that heart to heart with an old friend. During an old board game match with your sibling. Or when you get to read a good book without interruption. Or enjoying ice cream without any guilt. Or when your mom cooks your favorite meal for dinner without being asked to. Or when your husband surprises you by coming home early from a work trip. Or when you get a discounted shopping deal at the grocery store.

It appears in the nuts and bolts of daily life. These crumbs of joy, one triviality at a time, are all responsible for the joy that our hearts feel. That is precisely why it is for every man, woman and child that ever lived.

So like I wrote in the beginning, none of this is new and most of these thoughts on happiness are clichèd too. But this is my truth. This is my happYness.

Bowl of cereal from the heavens…

Turning thirty is usually a big deal. That momentous time where a child begins calling you an Aunti and you begin to make peace with that fact rather than fantasize about teaching the little devil a lesson. I don’t suppose anything tangible changes except for maybe a few unwelcoming strands of squiggly grey hair and creaking knees. In my case more than anything else, it has been an increasing spate of bewilderment at the world. Every time I sit down to write, a flood of random and some not-so random thoughts attack furiously, left, right and center; begging to be found and figured out.  Nothing is trivial anymore; yet everything can be ignored. Nothing is too serious, or too funny, or too crazy; like I have seen it all before; yet every time its all invigoratingly new.

Even feeding breakfast to my eight month old daughter is not as simple as it used to be. So one fine day, there I was trying out a new cereal that to my dismay she despised. Like most moms, I am a persistent bug, so I kept feeding and hoping she would take to the new taste eventually. All traces of my maternal instinct appeared as I thought; “She needs to eat this, its good for her!” Just then I noticed a speck of food on the floor and bent down to pick it up. Out from no where came my elbow and knocked down the bowl from the table and caught me completely off guard! SPLAT!! An artist might call this intricate design of milk and cereal on the floor, art.  I had other nice words in mind, apparently unfit for my blog.

If babies could talk, I am sure mine was thanking my elbow. The “mommy” me was hurriedly cleaning away. The annoying “writer” in me thought: “Was that pure coincidence or a sign from above signalling the stop sign?” Should I ignore this accident and get her some more cereal or should I appease her little taste buds with something she already likes to eat.  Of course, a bowl of cereal on the floor rather than in your child’s mouth does not exactly fit the criterion for divine revelation. Notwithstanding, I could not help but think about the presence and impact of signs in our lives.

Follow your passions, they say! Don’t give up, no matter how long it takes! But who gives us the time stamp? How long is ‘how long’?! Does someone stand there holding a board blinking with colorful lights assuring us we are on the right track? Of course not. Nothing is ever as overtly expressed in real life. However there are numerous instances that help you understand where you are headed even if its not your cup of tea. The globe is replete with people having crazy, raw, admirable gifts bound to set many green with envy. Delusional feelings of grandeur or not, these people mean business! Some even spend their entire lives like color-blind bulls running after the matador’s cape; huffing and puffing towards an invisible line that packs its bags and changes towns every time they are near. They struggle on until one fine day, someone’s elbow knocks down their house of cards. They roll up their sleeves and start all over again. Some actually make it past the finish line. These people are what the world’s catchiest quotable quotes are made of! Wonder what signs the student of astro physics from Toronto saw that made him leave his line of profession; and succumb to a passionate life in which he now entertains through strange tricks involving fire, body contortions and humor.So many people around the world change religions when they notice startling signs around them. I recently saw an interesting and candid account of how an atheist Australian Ruben studied all major religions and finally converted to a religion he believed was the best for him;  because the signs he so desperately desired were the simplest ones, staring him right in the face.

Inwardly, we all believe in signs, omens, sixth sense…the whole mystical shebang! Though far more difficult to decipher than even the ancient languages, hieroglyphs etc. , its interesting to derive meaning out of daily happenings in life.  I read somewhere how everyday things like highway signs and boards, overhearing a conversation, losing a job, starting a new business, moving to a new home, the ever-familiar feeling of dejavu can all be harbingers of what lies ahead and how training our hearts and minds to understand those signs can make a huge difference in our lives (source). Sometimes, I think the more delusional others think you are, the better it is. This uncanny ability to see a beautiful angel as a prophetic omen from the heavens as opposed to a Medusa waving the warning signal, is a core ingredient for the passionate and the pure at heart.

So in case any of you are wondering, I took notice of the fallen bowl of cereal and my daughter was saved from the ordeal of eating another bite. That however was the simpler side of it all. I am not a master of sign-reading, nor am I a passionate or pure soul, but I believe that our lives are all laid down on a map with invisible signs and signals. It’s only a matter of time when the appropriate sign will manifest and direct the way. I cannot comment on what signs may direct my future as a writer. But fortunately, I have all the symptoms of a delusional sign reader, which will keep the writer in me alive. Unlike the breakfast incident, I will stubbornly pick up remnants of unfinished letters, words, sentences and continue to write, hopefully waiting for the next sign to reveal itself.