The Happiness Project | Day 6

Yesterday, I went with my friend Pooja to Phoenix mall. I have been to Phoenix mall multiple times, but it never fails to mesmerize me with its crowd. People there usually are so well-dressed and good-looking that in the beginning I used to get inferiority complex! No kidding!

Having stayed in Bangalore for about 2.5 years now and having reached sort of a financial security in my own life, the inferiority complex is gone. In fact, yesterday, looking at so many good-looking people actually inspired me.

Back in 2017, I used to hit the gym almost five days a week. It had become a great habit. However, 2018 took a bit of toll on me and somehow, I ended up stopping going to the gym. The thing with life is, it is not always a forward-looking journey. It is filled with loops – sometimes the loops take you forward, sometimes backward. Not always you are moving linearly towards your final goal. I feel growing up is about accepting this and not beating ourselves up on missing a set goal. There is a reason why new year resolutions do not work for the most part. Life takes a dig at you almost everyday, and to stay put to a fixed set of goals is difficult. Sometimes, the changing goals are not bad either, it means you are responding to the lemons life is throwing at you.

Nonetheless, yesterday, I was so excited that I thought I’d definitely go to the gym. I had already walked a lot yesterday, since we were at the mall for close to four hours. Besides that, I had gone to buy groceries as well, which is another half an hour of walk to and fro. Unfortunately, when I went to the gym, there was no light, none of the switches was working! I don’t know when this happened, but last time I checked, people used to hit the gym in the evenings on weekends.

Then I thought I’d go in the morning, between 8 to 9 today. I went to bed on time, around 11.45 PM, much earlier than my usual 1-2 AM. And guess what? The mosquitoes were so annoying that I was up close an hour in the morning around 5 AM. And then I finally got up from the bed at 10 AM! Another missed goal, there!

Anyway, I am not going to let this affect me. I will figure out some other form of exercise (there is a TT court at office, probably will put that to use). The idea is to get back to the usual scheme of things (by which I mean a healthy, happier lifestyle) by this weekend. I’ll keep you guys updated! 🙂

 

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The Happiness Project | Day 5

Yesterday, unfortunately, there was no post added on The Happiness Project. I did make a promise to write everyday for the rest of the month. However, I just ended up lying on my bed and watching SUITS the entire day.

This is what today’s post is about: not SUITS, but being unable to keep commitments.

I have always been someone who has been able to keep promises. I usually always finished my school homework on time. My lab reports in college were always filled. I am never behind on my bills. I repaid my education loan on time.

But there are other things in which I am consistently falling behind: things which are personal, which do not require external commitments. I am not able to keep the promises I make to myself.

In December, last year, I started my YouTube channel. I had been posting videos on them consistently. Recently I crossed the 100 subscribers milestone as well. My channel is growing. On the one hand, it makes me happy. On the other, I am losing motivation to keep making the videos. It does not feel like a lot of work, really. But I am struggling to come up with new ideas to execute videos every week. Besides, with every video I put out, the pressure is to get a little better every time. I do not want to put up something just for the sake of putting it.

Over the course of last two years, I have realized one thing about myself: I function best when there are set goals that I have to reach. I did well in school and college because we had set grades to get and I managed my schedule around that. Now that everything is fuzzy, I am struggling to take decisions. How much money is enough money? How much should I save every month? What should by my next five year plan?

I have made plans before, plans which were sort of people-dependent. The people moved on, and I had to forget those plans and make new ones. The solution seems simple: to remove people-dependency. Logically, I know this is the right thing. But deep inside my heart, there is this craving to do something together, to share my life with people who care, to be around people who make me smile and share the same appreciation of life as I do. Such people are hard to come by, as I am not in a situation in life where I meet a lot of people in my everyday life. Plus, I am living far from my immediate family.

Somehow, coping with all this is hard. I find it hard these days to drag myself out of bed and be the boss of my own life. But that said, at least I am making efforts to live each day, without giving up on living life. Somewhere, I have this hope that things will start getting better, somewhere down in the timeline. Somewhere, I will start meeting the people that I will need in my life. And for now, perhaps that is enough.

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The Happiness Project | Day 3

A Matter of Chance

For the most part, I believe that what our hearts desire is often rewarded by the Universe. Oftentimes, I would want something badly and would not be able to figure out how on Earth would it be possible to achieve it. And then, voila! Out of nowhere, the Universe would present my heart’s desire to me.

However, as I said, this is true only for the most part. I can definitely remember countless other things that I have wanted and they have not been fulfilled so far. I have made my peace with that and moved on. In fact, in retrospect, I realize that I do not really need those things in my life.

Which is what brings me the question, in the grand scheme of design, how does the Universe decide which wants to fulfill? Especially, when there are more than one person involved in the process of fulfilling that desire? How does Universe know how far to go? Does it automatically know what is best for us and it is best to make our peace with that? Should we really leave things to chance?

How far do we have the capacity to change, what they call, the course of our lives? Am I simply destined to travel the world or can I make it happen by my sheer grit even if I was not destined to?

In my mind, I can imagine the Universe sitting at this table, with a constant flow of requests flowing in queues. It takes but a moment to decide which want to grant and which to reject. The rejected piles, with the face of dejected humans, stand by in a corner. Some of them probably accept their fate, while others decide to challenge the ruling of the Universe.

Who is the cleverer of the two? Is it always better to challenge the Universe? What if your plea was a wrong one in the first place? And your appeal is rewarded with a burnt out future? Wouldn’t giving up in the first place have been a cleverer choice?

What if you do succeed in your appeal and you really get your heart’s desire? Maybe, the appeal was all that you needed for the Universe to change its mind.

How do we decide? Growing up is perhaps this balancing act: to weigh our options of possibles and impossibles and deciding what is worth fighting for. That said, the results are never guaranteed.

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The Happiness Project | Day 2

As human beings, it is definitely important to be civil. We should be polite to people when we speak to them. But how often are we able to do it?

Over the years, toxic wastes that are not handled accumulate in relationships. We do not see their effects right then and there, but the cracks are already forming. And when they show, they are too ugly and we just can’t see how the people we knew could be that way.

I feel the best way to stay sane in life is to expand our horizons, to do a variety of things, to keep our brains involved in different things. When that does not happen, our minds think about the same things day in and day out, and we end up not only ruining our days, but for others as well.

People in suburbs and small towns face this lot more often than in big cities. Their lives are limited to their neighborhoods, their workplaces and the thoughts of making ends meet. For example, for my parents, their focus through the years that my brother and I were born and grew up, was to somehow hold the family together, manage the finances and ensure there was food on the table and education for the children. In the process, they forgot to explore their own likes and dislikes, forgot to explore who they were as people, what they liked to do for themselves, etc.

Now that both the children are away from home, they do have time on their hands, but not a variety of things to do. Eventually, they end up worrying about us, all the time. The phone conversations reflect that. The news reports they read have almost always to do with how people get killed in traffic or food adultery, and they parrot it to us so that we can be careful while walking on the road or while ordering food from outside.

None of this is bad. It is good to make your children aware of things that are important. But if the only news you feed them is of the negative things that are happening around the world, it does not really help much.

For the most part, I am myself quite negative about the states of affair of the human world. If I am being given some information, I would rather want it to be something positive that is happening around us. Our childhoods were amazing because when we read newspapers we would see amazing news of innovations in the worlds of science and technology. Those inspired us to become better than who were were, because they inspired us to be part of a world that we did not know.

Today, I am inspired very little. By myself or the world around me. That’s perhaps the most significant thing that is different from the world now and the world then.

 

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The Happiness Project | Day 1

There are times in our lives when we are at a certain juncture. In these moments, you need to take a hard, long look at your life and make certain changes.

For a large part of 2017, I was depressed. For me, depression manifests in two forms:

  1. Self-loathing, crying at the sad state of life and starting to believe that nothing better will happen again
  2. Being unable to sustain happiness for a long time, frequent mood swings through the day

2018 is an important year in my life. I have been out of college for the last three years. I have been working in my first job for close to 2.5 years. There has been a lot of learning. To be honest, I am a much confident woman today than I was 2.5 years back. But this confidence has come at the cost of desensitization. I am a lot more confident today because I care a lot less. I also understand that most things in life come in phases, so the bad times are not going to be permanent. But that the same time, I have seen good things end and I have been finding it very difficult to adjust to it. Nothing feels permanent anymore, and to an extent, it is true. Nothing really is permanent.

This is something that has been bugging me for a while now. If you know nothing is permanent, how do you still find sources of happiness in everyday living? How do you stop yourself from feeling negative?

I don’t have a direct answer to that. But to answer the question, I decided to take a look at my childhood self. When I was younger, I could just laugh at silly things. I was so full of curiosity. When we got internet connection at home for the first time, for limited number of hours in a day, I used to literally make a list of things I wanted to search. There was a hunger to learn new things. Today, I have internet access 24*7, but I rarely search things. I don’t download movies by the GB from Torrent anymore. Desensitized to everything, like I said.

I feel that in order to be happy again, I need to find that childhood version of myself and find out what her priorities were:

  1. Learn new things
    1. Read more books
    2. Watch more movies
    3. Learn a language
    4. Learn to play an instrument
    5. Learn about world history
    6. Learn about world politics
  2. Travel the world
  3. Meet new people
  4. Converse in English
    1. Improve vocabulary
    2. Improve pronunciation
  5. Build her own home
  6. Grow plants
  7. Achieve goals
  8. Grow hair long
  9. Be a boss
  10. Write everyday, be a published author

When you are a kid, there are set goals in life. After you get a job, the goals are not that clearly defined. When do you switch your job? How much money should be you saving every month? When do you start planning for your marriage? Will you ever find true love?

None of these questions have textbook answers. Everybody’s situation is different, everyone is trying to find the answers in their own ways.

Anyways, the goal for me, for the remaining part of 2018 is to reconnect with that childhood version of myself, be the person who I always wanted to be as I was growing up.

Which is why, I am going to write a post every day for the remainder of May, no matter how difficult my schedule is. This is one of my first steps towards getting back on track. A lot of this writing is probably going to be very personal. But maybe, some of that experience might help some of you in some part of your life – that’s the only reason behind putting this online. Glad to have you all as part of my recovery journey.

Until tomorrow!

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Remembering childhood

Summer afternoons have this amazing quality of transporting me back to my childhood. A magical, magical place! Of course, I was not aware how magical it was at that time. It is in retrospect that the present looks magical.

I think the best part of the afternoons was between five thirty and seven. The sun would have set by then. If we were lucky, the trees would start to wave and blow some wind. My brother and his gang of players would be playing cricket on the green slice of field in the middle of the neighborhood. Sometimes these balls would end up hitting the tin roof or the wooden windows of an annoyed neighbor and he’d be rushing out of the house with angry eyes, asking, “Who has the audacity to hit the ball on my roof again? Today, if I don’t stop this game of yours, my name is not So-and-so!”

When there would be no right answer from the boys’ gang, rather loud pleas for the ball to be returned, he’d just fetch the ball from the courtyard and scream that the boys could wave the ball goodbye. They could go buy another. Better yet, they should stop playing altogether.

Some of these neighbors now have kids and grand kids of the same age as my brother was then. I am not there to see how the cricket games are unfolding these days, but I am sure the scenario wouldn’t have changed much. It would just be fresh set of annoyed neighbors, and another bunch of enthusiastic kids. That’s probably one thing that is still unchanged about my hometown, the fields are still played in.

I was never a part of these games, rather a spectator from a distance, from my balcony. Or sometimes, after I got my bicycle, I would be circling the neighborhood, with the air flowing through my shoulder length hair, watching the kids play, tasting my own kind of freedom.

There were days when there were storms, when the kids would be forced indoors. At the onset of the storm, the dry dust would rise up, almost choking us and blocking view. With the dust rose stray plastics that were strewn all over the neighborhood. On those days, my brother and I sang our hearts out, as we watched from the balcony the trees bend with the vigor of wind and rain. The air smelled so sweet, sweet from the smell of mangoes and the smell of moist Earth. Throughout the storm, my mother would be shouting to close the balcony door and get indoors, because the water would come inside. But who would want to pay any heed to her? Besides, closing the doors meant pitch darkness inside, because the storm always meant no power, and a solid hotness inside the house.

Where I live today I don’t have a balcony to sit and enjoy the rains. Today, there are thousands of miles between that balcony and me, but in that space, the heart is still the same age as in those summer afternoons. A bunch of simple children who wanted to do everything but study, a bunch of parents whose simple aim was to get the children to study and do well in life. I am sure most of us are doing well in the expected sense of the word. But somewhere, we are still stuck in those afternoons, refusing to accept that we grew up.

 

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Love, unrequited

There is something beautiful in getting to know a person. To spend solitary moments with him/her in the wee hours of a morning, sitting in the balcony of a high-rise, watching the stars watch over the Earth and her inhabitants, fast asleep. There is something beautiful in munching on the past, a past that possibly has no bearing to the upcoming future, or perhaps, has everything to do with it.

There is something beautiful in sharing simple moments, without the expensiveness of food or extravagance of a well-arranged party. There is something beautiful in just discussing the past, looking at digital copies of a faded past – a past that is sepia in our memories, but still as colorful in their digital versions.

There is something beautiful in well-balanced silence. Silence that comes in between conversations, naturally, not because all that could be said has been exhausted, but because they add subtext to what has been told – in deep understanding and acceptance.

There is a lot of pain in hopes that will possibly never be fulfilled. I wish I could say there was something beautiful in love that is unrequited, something beautiful in the pain, something beautiful in the missing. But what is possibly beautiful in a flower that’s nipped in the bud? A promise of a beautiful future, a future that will never be.

Give me a solid promise. Give me a solid future. For once, give me something that I can hold onto, something as solid as the comfort of a hug in a restless night, something that calms me to sleep after weeks of insomnia.

Love, unrequited.

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