Because I’m Happy

Happiness. That’s the ultimate goal. We all want to be happy. The moment we throw our heads back and laugh without a care for the world. When we cry with joy and sigh with contentment. When everything feels calm. When life feels serene. Sounds so perfect, doesn’t it?

So what does that for you? What makes you happy?

My mother’s friend was planning on sending her son to university in a foreign country. Unfortunate for them, the plan was cancelled last minute and he got stuck here. During a fight about the whole situation, he said “I cannot live here. This place does not make me happy. I need to go there to be happy.”

Do you remember a time in your life when you were so happy that it was undescribable? When nothing you will ever say could sum up what you felt at that very moment? Was it the place? Was it the people? Was it you?

I remember, when I was a kid, my grandmother and I used to play cricket with a plastic bat and ball in the living room. There were only two rules. When I held the bat, everything was a winning hit. When she held the bat, she lost in the first play. I was so happy. It was a tiny house with a living room the size of my current bathroom. We didn’t have a lot of money and we didn’t have a lot of things. It was the happiest time of my life.

I feel like, as we grow up, we begin to feel more miserable by the day. What we feel no longer depends on the people who love us or the moments we have. Our happiness starts being defined by the person sitting next to us. She has an iPad. He has a Ferrari. They have a Phd. His family is bigger. They are more in love than we are. I don’t have those things. My life isn’t like theirs. I have nothing. I don’t feel enough. My house is smaller. My car is older. And I won’t be happy until I get that particular iPhone with the slow motion capture or that fancy car with those amazing speakers. I won’t be happy until I am loved as much as he is.

“You wrecked my happiness by not giving me enough !”

That is not right. I do not agree with the concept that I will only be happy when I have what someone else does too. That I can only be happy when I’m loved like someone else is. It’s not how it works.

I’ve had some very unhappy moments. But they came from within, not from the outside. When I’m upset, I can’t blame the next person for it. I will always have more than someone else and if I don’t know how to use the opportunities presented to me, that’s my fault. There is always someone looking at us and thinking “I want what they have so I can be happy.” Instead of gloating in that feeling, wouldn’t it be nice to set an example ?!

And often, people get the feeling of happy and lonely mixed up. They presume that if you’re lonely, you’re depressed. But that’s not true. You can be so utterly happy and yet feel unbelievably lonely because you don’t have someone to share that happiness with.

We don’t need that man, that woman, that mansion, his car, her earrings, their life – because you can have it all and feel absolutely miserable. You can be sitting on top of the world and be the most unhappiest person on the planet. Take a look at a poverty stricken area in your neighborhood. I will assure you there are more people laughing there than in that of a fancy gated community. They are not happy from the money. They are not happy from the fancy phones or cars that they cannot have. They are happy from within.

Any moment of joy you will ever feel has to come from you. Because I can give you the best of the best but know that with time, something better will come along and you will be exactly where you were all over again.

I’ll say it now and I’ll say it always. Life is shitty. It’s miserable for the most part. There’s always the lack of something or someone. If we want to start picking on all the things that are wrong, we will spend the rest of our lives feeling so irrepairably miserable and depressed. There’s never a moment in your life when something is not right. Find that. Hold on to that little positive thought. And choose to smile. Be happy. Not because it’s what’s expected. Not because you’ve got something someone else doesn’t. Not because you’re loved like no one else is.

Be happy because you can be.

Understanding the Differences

In a world of over-achievers, I’m a mediocre. I live my life in a way that I see fit and not everyone understands or approves of it. But that’s every one of us, isn’t it?!

My brother has a book coming out called Ketchup & Curry. As he explained to me the concept of the book, I started thinking – We live in a world that is unbelievably diverse. What I saw in Los Angeles,  I can never imagine seeing in my city and it works the other way around as well. So what happens when one of us decides to go and live in a place that is filled with people who couldn’t be more different than you are?! How do you live in a foreign country surrounded by people who are unlike you and still live peacefully and happily?

I’ve travelled quite a bit. My passion is to learn and understand different cultures and someday, write about it all. I need to be the most nonjudgmental human being on the planet to pursue a career out of that. Like I’ve mentioned before, my parents raised me saying “thou shall not chill with a man who is not your brother, father, family or betrothed.” When I first moved to a foreign country, the first couple I saw making out on the street were both women. Here’s the culture shock – you don’t kiss people in public. If you’re older than 20, your own father will flinch when you try to kiss his cheek in public. Then comes “OMG ! THAT’S TWO WOMEN !” But I thought that was the most beautiful thing. The freedom to be who they are and not having to hide. I lived there for about four months. When I left, I no longer had the need to judge people for the choices they make out of love. That was the first thing most people didn’t understand.

When I started university, my classes were only a few hours a day. I had plenty of free time on my hands and I spent three quarters of them on YouTube. Have you ever been so bored that you started out with a music video but a few hours later, found yourself in that weird part of youtube? That happened to me. I was watching Paradise by Coldplay and somehow ended up watching videos of people with Gender Identity Disorder and videos of Transgenders and their everyday struggles. In my city, the only kinds of transgenders I’d encountered were the ones who usually come and ask for money. When you say no, they try to bully you into giving them money or whatever it is that you have. So whenever I saw them, I’d get scared and try to walk away. But those videos forever changed my idea of them. I never realized how incredibly nice they can be if you just understand them and accept them. You know when you’re the black sheep in the family and everyone’s giving you the cold shoulder and you just look at them thinking “My friends understand. Why can’t you? Come on ! A little acceptance would be nice!” Imagine living life like that every day. But you’re not just asking your family. You’re asking the entire human race (with the exclusion of a few people here and there) to understand you and accept you. I might not be their best friend, but I stopped running away. I chose to stop and give them an answer when they asked me something. Sure there are some of them that are thieves and cheaters. Tell me a time when a man or woman you trusted wasn’t a thief or a cheater? We’re all human beings and the least we can do is treat each other the way we’d like to be treated. In a society that already lived like that, I learnt to accept them and live in peace. That’s the second thing most people don’t understand.

I still meet people who are completely different from who I am. I meet people who make choices I can never imagine making for myself. “She had six boyfriends in the past” is a statement that is approved in one culture while looked down on in another. Judging the people who disapprove of it isn’t going to make my life any better. But that doesn’t mean I have to change who I am. Every person is entitled to their own opinions. I can’t control my thoughts about things. Similarly, the other person’s thoughts are his own.

I can be cheesy here and say “Please let us love one another.” But that’s a statement that won’t ever work. We can’t all love everything. So let me tell you what I’ve learnt in my life – “Yes, we’re all different. We may not all have the ability to accept our differences and love each other. But the least we can do is to keep the hate to ourselves. Stop the stupid fights on comment sections. Stop comparing. Stop name calling. You do your thing and let them do theirs. If you don’t like something, walk away. It is not your place or in your right to judge someone who likes it. You can go ahead and live your life the way you want to. But the next person’s life is theirs. It’s their choices. It’s their interests and if they screw up, it’s their consequences. Unless you’re asked, don’t give your opinions. It’s as simple as that. Remember, who you are is insignificant when you’re gone. It’s the words you say and the actions you do that you leave behind..”

In a world of over-achievers, I’m a mediocre. I live my life in a way that I see fit and not everyone understands or approves of it. But nobody gets to judge it. Nobody but me.

And that’s the only thing I wish people would understand.

Beauty…

We all have those unanswered questions we wouldn’t dare ask in fear that someone might call us stupid. Here’s mine : What is beauty? A perfect winged eyeliner? A Picasso painting? A genuine person? A generous heart? Why? Can anybody really explain beauty?

Wikipedia tried : Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction.

Pleasure. Have you read The Fault in our Stars by John Green? That book just about killed me. It was in no way a pleasurable experience. But I thought that book was absolutely beautiful. I cannot explain why.

I decided that the best time to get my question out there without being labelled stupid was now. Hence I started with the closest of friends and family – “I’m doing research for my blog. What, according to you, is beauty?”

I got the typical answers – Beauty is my girlfriend. Beauty is the love of my life. Beauty is a genuine person. Beauty is a loving heart. Beauty is confidence. Beauty is perfection. Beauty is anything that makes you feel good.

Then I asked them “How do you say that? What exactly makes you use the word ‘beauty’ towards those things?”

I got one answer : “I don’t know. I can’t explain.”

That’s the thing. Nobody knows. I was almost on the verge of giving up when someone I know gave me her definition of beauty :

“By the magic of sight , anything which on looking makes me feel fresh.
By the magic of my palette, anything that tastes and gives me the yummy yum yum
By the magic of my nostrils, anything that gives the fragrence which I want to capture”
I didn’t ask her how she came to that conclusion because to me, that answer was beautiful.

She might not have nailed it, but her explanation was something I couldn’t question. Beauty was her accepting the simplicity of the complex things in and around us. Beauty was that she noticed something no other person I know did. Beauty was that she found it magical.

I wish I was someone that could figure it out and give you scientific facts. But I can only talk about what I’ve observed.

When I look at Miranda Kerr, I think she is so cute. When I look at Meryl Streep, I think she is dynamic and utterly gorgeous. But when I look at Angelina Jolie, I think she is beautiful. There was a time when I hated her. But as I realized just how much she gives to the world, I began to love her.

There was an Indian celebrity that I used to love. I thought his talent was unbelievably amazing. His grace so utterly beautiful. A few years ago, his personal life took a hike. His behavior during that period was everything I stand against. From that day, every time I see him do what he does best, I see an asshole. I think to myself “Look at him, trying to cover up his act with grace. He can’t fix what he’s broken.”

I’ve noticed that our perception of a person or a thing changes when the story about them changes. I used to love Romeo and Juliet. It was the most beautiful love story on the planet and an incredible one too. Then I saw the movie Shakespeare in Love. The idea (which I highly doubt is true but is the story of the movie) that Romeo and Juliet was based on an affair that Shakespeare had, ruined the book for me. Ruined the love they shared. Whenever I pick up the book, I no longer feel like I’m reading a beautiful love story. I feel like I’m reading a scandal report of how a man cheated on his wife.

Our emotions define the beauty we see. When the girl we hate looks absolutely perfect, we don’t see beauty. We say “I cannot stand her and her perfection! It’s so fake.” But when the person we love looks like crap, we see a beauty we can’t define.

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is in his heart. It is in his emotions. It is in his love.

Beauty is the book that makes his heart yearn. Beauty is the song that reminds him of happiness. Beauty is his family and a place he calls ‘home.’ Beauty is the girl he fell head over heels for. Beauty is his first pet. Beauty is the way his mother takes care of him. Beauty is the doll he’s had on his bed since he was two. Beauty is the unforgettable connection he had with the girl he met at a party weeks ago.

It might be painful. It might hurt you. But if you love it, you’ll find beauty in it. We can’t all love the same person, the same book or the same movie. There arises the difference in our ideas of beauty.

John Green had me falling in love with Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace. He had me falling in love with their stories. With their personalities. And no matter how much that book kills me, I will always love it and I will always think it was beautiful.

Because love doesn’t always come from a place of joy or pleasure. Sometimes love comes from pain and hurt.

And hence we call it Beautiful…

Life Choices : Choose Happiness

My friend and I were just having a very heated argument about life choices. The guy I have the world’s biggest crush on works at a giant corporate and gets paid a pretty decent amount. He can ask the company to send him a cab every morning to take him to work and back, he gets a bonus for every holiday, health insurance – pretty much the whole package. Here’s the catch : He hates his job ! He always talks about how every minute he spends there he feels like he’s going insane. So why on Earth can he not quit his job and do something he loves? “The money it pays.”

I’m an intern at an advertising agency. I don’t get paid at all. But I find a reason to wake up every morning and show up here because I love what I do. Isn’t that what life is supposed to be like? Doesn’t every person deserve the right to happiness? Should money really dictate his life? That was my side of the argument when my friend fired back at me, “What about his family crisis? What if they need the money he makes?” I did not have an answer to that. So I paused as I ran that idea through my mind. My parents don’t expect my money. So I can make a choice that makes me happy. But can everyone afford to do that? Can everyone choose to be selfish when in fact, maybe his parents have been waiting for him to graduate so he can contribute to the income in his household? How can I suggest that he stop doing that?

Here’s how. Sure, they need the money. But parents who have waited for four years for him to complete his university, can wait a few more for him to make this kind of money again. Except, this time around, he’ll make that money happily. My friend got a job that he loves. But he can’t take it. I asked him why and he told me that his dad had made a comment : “When you’re getting your sister married, you expect the guy to have triple degrees. What’s to say that the girl who marries you won’t expect the same of you? You have to study more.” (This is in accordance to the Indian arranged marriage system) But shouldn’t the girl he’s with care that her husband is someone that is mentally happy and peaceful? Should she just look at his bank account? Should he marry someone like that?

My crush isn’t the only person I’ve known to complain of these things. My friends who work in similar companies pretty much all hate their jobs. “I have to work weekends.” “I have to work night shifts.” “I don’t get a holiday for New Year.” But why? If majority of the employees feel this way, why can’t the companies make a difference? What are the organizations doing that keeps their employees so mentally depressed and stressed? Why aren’t the employees (who are in majority) taking a stand against it and saying “I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY !” ?

My dad’s friend was talking about how his son had quit Harvard Law to pursue music, about how much he hated his son for giving up what so many other kids in this world would kill for. But in the end, he understood that his son is now happy. He smiled at his happiness. He said “Isn’t that what we parents want in the end? A happy child?!” I assure you three quarters of the parents in this world are no different to this one. They might be furious in the beginning, but in the end, they’ll be happy that you’re happy. So why is it so difficult for us to make this choice?

Why do we fail to see thirty years into the future? You need the money now. Sure. You’re unhappy now, but you earn enough to save for the future. What future? You’re not going to quit when you’re forty and take a trip around the world. You’re stuck in a job you hate already and thirty years from now, you’re still going to be stuck in a job you hate. Only then, you’ll be taking your stress and depression home and instead of depressing only yourself, you’re going to be depressing your entire family.

So think wisely now. Make life choices not based on financials or current situation, but plan them for what your life would be like ten or fifteen years from now. Choose to be happy rather than rich. When you’re working out of your mind with no time for anyone, you’re not living. But even if you don’t make enough money and don’t live in a fancy beach side duplex, when you’re happy, you’ll attract people and those people will always be there for you. You’ll have all the love in the world. Isn’t that what life’s all about anyway?!

Daily Prompt : Happy Happy Joy Joy | Well…

This was a good Daily Prompt topic. What does “happiness” look like to me..? Hmmm…

Happiness is..

The giggling child in a theme park..

The smiling man walking in rain..

The long walk along Santorini Island, Greece, by myself..

The groom’s face when the bride walks in..

The bride’s face when the groom says “I do”..

The mother’s face as she holds her baby for the first time..

The father’s face as he registers “I have a baby”and makes up his mind “I’m going to take care of her/him”..

The couple’s emotions when they hear they’ve been approved for adoption..

The student who worked so hard for four years and graduated top of his class..

The girl’s face as she walks home after an incredible first date..

The teenager who loves going “home” to his/her family..

The couple that just said “I love you”

The old man walking along the streets that used to look so different in his young days and smiling at the memories that happened there..

The kid that learnt to ride the bicycle by himself..

The parents who watch their little one live his/her dream..

The feeling of content when you are surrounded by your loved ones..

Happiness doesn’t always look like a fancy bayside condo or villa.. It doesn’t always look like a brand-new top of the line Porsche.. Happiness is waking up and realizing just how beautiful this complicated life is.. Happiness is in the smallest of things and moments.. Happiness is all around you.. You just need to look closer.. 🙂

2013 Going On 2014

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As I sit here, listening to songs from Sound of Music and sipping hot tea, I realize, the year 2013 has been the most trying year of my life. I have never cried so much. I have never been so depressed. I have never felt so hopeless and lost. But it was also one of the best years of my life. I have never been happier. I have never felt more need to do something with my life, to give my life meaning. I have never learnt so many life lessons in such a short period of time.

It’s true what they say – Experience is key. Sure, you can learn from others’ mistakes. But some things in life, you learn only through your own experience. In 2013, I had to give up something I absolutely loved doing. For no fault of mine. I was trapped in a corner. I thought my life was over. I had hit bottom low. There were days when I felt like I didn’t have a reason to wake up. I cried myself to sleep. I refused to walk out of my room. I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I was watching my life flush itself down the drains and I couldn’t do anything about it. I was pissed with everyone. I hated the world. I was drowning in an emotion that I didn’t know or understand.

Then one day, something changed. There was an incident when I did something without realizing what I was doing. I felt like someone slapped me awake. I stopped and stared at the mirror. Oddly, I had no idea who the person staring back at me was. Because that person was a bad friend, was a bad daughter, was a self-loathing, self-pitying ghost of a human being and I was not that person. I was never that person and I knew something had to change. I didn’t know what to do but I had to start somewhere. I told myself, I’m getting my act together. This is my life. I’m the only one that can fix it. I took the longest shower I’ve ever taken while I gathered my thoughts together. When I walked out, I knew. It was a new day and it was going to be better than yesterday.

I know people always ask you to surround yourself with loved ones when you’re going through a bad phase. But there are times in your life, when it is better to be alone. For you to sit down and map out your life. Make your decisions. Think things through. I started by making a list. Of all the good things in my life at that point :

1. I got a dog and he loves me the way I’d always hoped someone would.
2. I had a family to support me, no matter what I do.
3. I was healthy. 
4. I had a roof over my head and food on my plate, everyday, no matter what. 

I realized, I have more than most people in my country do. All I needed was the right attitude. And a plan. So I started with the small changes, a little bit every day. I did positive things. I talked to positive people. I took long walks and enjoyed Mother Nature. I started drawing and sketching. Finally, I started writing. This was my biggest step. I’ve always wanted to start a blog, but I never got around to it. If my life had stayed intact, I probably never would have started a blog. This may sound cheesy, but this blog is the best thing that has happened to me this year. It has given me the ability to do what I love and share it with people with similar interests.

I still can’t say that I’m completely happy and I don’t want anything to change. I would, of course, love to go back and do what I used to do. But I wouldn’t trade this year for anything, ever. This year, I’ve loved, I’ve accomplished, I’ve said goodbye, I’ve said “Nice to meet you,” I’ve let go of a memory I didn’t realize I was holding on to, I fell for someone after a very long time, I’ve had heartbreak, I have put my faith in hope and I have dreamt a dream bigger than any I’ve ever dreamt before. The lessons and values I’ve learnt are indispensable. The most important lesson, however, has been :

“No matter what happens, or where you’re stuck, don’t stand still. Put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. As long as you do that, you will get somewhere.”

So here’s my New Year’s Resolution :

  • I want to wish on a shooting star.
  • I want to dream BIG and chase those dreams.
  • I want to spend more time with nature.
  • I want to fall in love.
  • I want to enjoy the rain.
  • I want to save some money and travel.
  • And I want to fly…

On that note, here’s wishing you the most incredible year ahead. I hope you dream and that you dream big. And I hope all those dreams come true..

Happy New Year 2014 ! 🙂

(Pic Courtesy : Me and my incredible doodle skills)