Exercises in happiness

I’d like to claim that all days are the same and that each of them is as sublime as the other. But I don’t want to lie- in writing or to myself. Some days are good and some days are bad : But some are downright shitty.

Today, when I was I barely keeping myself abreast of my schedule, I had one of those strange epiphanies in the middle of work. From the backseat of my breezy-blue car I rolled down the window and allowed the monsoon-ish wind to sting my eyes and whip my hair back. I was completely lost in my own world of morbid speculation for the most part, until I felt this subtle change in my vision. I had been looking everywhere, but not really seeing anything. For the first time, my gaze was drawn to the other commuters :

Salesman astride bikes wearing starched white shirts and threadbare trousers were shuddering under the intense heat. Women dressed in floral printed saris were chatting on sidewalks literally leaking into their blouses. Young and harried looking girls waited for the red light, dressed in striped kurti’s and straight jeans. Love-struck couples were seated entwined on scooters, the guys in ripped T-shirts with ear-buds stuck in their brains while their irate girlfriends wearing cool denim shorts and classy shades giggled into their ears.

I guess some of them were glib and chatty, but most of them were either frowning or grimacing or chewing their lip or looking at the time or shouting into their phones or swearing about the traffic or massaging their necks (or like the ubiquitous Auto-wallah’s, spitting themselves dry).

So I wasn’t the only one having a rough day. And I wasn’t the only one struggling with dragging-week-end blues. That thought in itself was very liberating. I saw another common factor uniting us : We all seemed to be contemplating what was wrong. We all had that look, like we were seeking something but weren’t sure what. And most of all- we were all struggling to stay happy.

Happiness, I’ve found, is the one lady that breaks all our hearts. She courts us and after a brief whirlwind romance, suddenly abandons us like a spurned lover, only to find someone else and cheat on us. Happiness, is what we’re all looking for in the end and we yearn for it everyday and favor it above success, money and love.

Taking the cue from that thought, I began compiling a list of all those things that were upsetting me in that very moment. The mildew-weather ( I use that term for a time when the smell of rain and earth keeps taunting you, but it never actually rains), a complicated clerical job, lack of food, the noise of trucks, a friend’s missed call,  charcoal smoke from exhaust pipes, an itch above my eyebrow, a disturbed night’s sleep, boredom, a long journey and so many other things that were just pissing me off.

When things annoy you they have a habit of snowballing into something much bigger. Then they cause the domino effect- one negative thought highlights another- thoughts you’ve been assiduously trying to dodge. Slowly you find yourself sinking into this abyss of darkness where all you can do is brood and grimly try to fight a losing battle.

When I comprehended that this was where I was heading, I deliberately brought my attention to the fact that no matter what went wrong , I couldn’t afford to lose my happy feeling : That volatile and precious state that suffers from frequent imbalances due to unfortunate nuisance. I had to, absolutely had to try and be happy- because that is the one thing in this world that I could control.

First of all, I thought about the last time I felt sad and what happened after that which made me happy again.

Then, about the things I love about myself and how proud I am about them.

About things that I can do or have that others don’t or will never enjoy.

About people I adore and all the things they’ve said to me that make me smile.

About difficult times and how I clawed my way out of every conundrum.

And about all my hopes for the future : Every vision, every dream, every wish that I want to see fulfilled in this lifetime.

It worked. It really did. I realized that every unhappy thought I harbored was like poison working its way through my bloodstream. I valued my own state of peace more than anything else in the world and I was voluntarily and sluggishly screwing up my own chances.

Delineation from disappointment, fear and anger can make a difference or we can try replacing it with hope, faith and optimism- either way, our only fight is to try and be happy. And when things don’t allow us to, then we wait till the situation gets better and try again. And again. And again.

Sometimes, just trying to be happy is happy enough.

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Published by: Abby

Abha is a final-year law student; She's a trainee family law advocate, a virtual speaker on sexual violence and a volunteer at the local legal aid cell. She enjoys listening to indie rock, reading romantic thrillers and eating Chinese food. She also loves her dog, but suspects her dog isn't too thrilled about that.

Categories Life as it wereTags, , 2 Comments

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