This may sound contradictory but the truth is I found happiness the day I gave up the notion of happiness.
Mostly, we tend to define our happiness by our success in various aspects of life – material possessions, imagined status, popularity, a desire for one particular love fulfilled et.al.
When we don’t achieve our desires, we live in a constant state of discontent and unhappiness.
I was no different.
Till, a moment and day came when I let go of most of the standard desires held up by the milieu. In other words, I gave up the notion of happiness as defined by others. And looked instead to self-acceptance and self- respect. Soon, I came to the realization that happiness emerges from self-respect. Or, put conversely, self-respect = happiness.
True, there are still times when something or the other upsets my equilibrium. At such times, I turn to Mother Nature for peace and calm. You can read all about that in an earlier post I wrote titled Have you seen God?
Or, you can read what the late Vinod Mehta had to say about his friend, Ruskin Bond, in his book Editor Unplugged: Media, Magnates, Netas and Me (I would highly recommend this book to readers of this blog who are familiar with the ex-editor of Outlook magazine. In inimitable Vinod Mehta style, the book is a treasure trove of information on India’s political and social scene. Though I must say that his earlier book Lucknow Boy was far better).
Here’s what I came across in Vinod Mehta’s book. In the pages where he talks of his friendship with Ruskin Bond (Chapter 8), he quotes these beautiful lines from Ruskin’s Notes from a Small Room:
Happiness is as elusive as a butterfly, and you must never pursue it. If you stay very still, it might come and settle on your hand. But only briefly. Savour those precious moments, for they will not come your way very often.
Mehta places in context Ruskin’s philosophy by describing Ruskin’s bond with Nature. I quote again:
Then you read Ruskin Bond effortlessly describing the joys of nature and the beauty of Mother Earth, and you are transported into another world. Tranquil, quiet, calm, charming, unhurried, gentle, optimistic, simple yet not simplistic, Ruskin Bond’s universe and Ruskin Bond’s identity are one and the same.
I was delighted when I read the above lines. Happiness, or rather, the notion of it beautifully described by two writers par excellence. And, echoing what I have long felt about happiness. I wonder how many people agree with me on this.
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Featured Image Credit: The Jacaranda in full bloom in Ooty by Lata Subramanian.