Understanding Happiness

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I read something interesting about Happiness today. That the definition of happiness changes for people as they pass through various stages of their life. In young age, people associate happiness more with exciting, extraordinary experiences whereas as they grow older, they find happiness in ordinary things.

This piece made something go ‘click’ inside me. I had always pondered on the meaning of happiness, satisfaction, contentment. Considering the fact that I had been doing this for about 20 years, my understanding and definition of happiness had also evolved.

A few years back, happiness meant achievements, accomplishments, accolades. Then, I came across a short story written by an author whose name I do not remember, because I was so struck by what she had to say. It has two women walking down a leafy lane, talking to each other of what happiness means to them. I do not remember the words , but what I do remember is that they talked of the ordinary events in their life and how it brought them happiness.

I was so moved at that time and because the idea was so different from what I believed, that I got a copy made and sent it to my then-fiance-now-husband. It was like opening my soul to him and also a hope for our life together.

The first few years of our married life were, well, happy. We loved each other’s company and loved getting to know each other. It led, slowly to disenchantment. The dynamics of the marriage changed. Oh! Why did no one tell me that it was almost to be expected. I would have worked on it then. But, I thought that what happened to the marriage was tragic. Slowly, I tried to come to terms with it.

As my children grew, my attention was diverted. I started finding pleasure in the simplicity of the daily life. Being in the present felt more important. I was more aware of how ephemeral everything was. Soon, this feeling led me to realise newer joys. A simple meal, lovingly prepared was appreciated. A toddler’s smile uplifted my heart. I was touched by the kindness of strangers. I wanted to reach out and touch the lives of those who needed me. I now wanted to make a difference. I wanted to bloom like a flower and I wanted others to be touched by my fragrance. I was kinder, more tolerant and more loving in all my relationships. I mended my marriage, needless to say.

I thought I had grown wiser, with the years. Now, I know, it wasn’t just me. It is with everyone as they age and realise that happiness lies also in simplicity, not just in grandeur.

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