Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pursuit of happiness

I was speaking to a colleague during a water break. He is part of the hospitality division; the one that sweeps, cleans the toilets, does the dishes, takes out the trash, etc.

While in the conversation, he proudly mentioned that he had two daughters, and both were studying in English Medium schools. Most of my competitive acquaintances ask, “What are you doing nowadays”, or “where are you nowadays”, or “how much of a hike did you get”, or “what is your package”. I am at a loss to tell them about the plethora of things I am doing nowadays. I do not understand if the where are you question is meant to understand my geographical location of stay or work. It pains me to see that their friendliness depends on the amount of hike I have received, or the package I earn.

I ask people about their health, their family’s well-being, and their happiness with life, and work. I never ask people their salaries. At least I had never done that before. 

However, since my colleague mentioned that he stays at Santa Cruz, my curiosity was roused and I asked him the ever so delicate question about his remuneration. I was shocked to know it was 5000 INR per month.

His working wife could manage to earn about 7000 INR; a fact he was immensely proud of. What amazed me more was that they were raising two children, in the heart of Mumbai, had a flat in Nala Sopara, and was funding the education of his two girls which cost him 4000 INR a month!

Their net monthly income was 12000 INR. And yet they could do this much. While most of us earn ten times that amount, we are in neck deep loans, are forever worried, and seldom content.

Of course, our standard of living was better than the lowly hospitality guy, right?

What constitutes standard of living? The car we drive in the maddenning traffic? the cell phone we use to while away time? The boxed up house we live in, and pay sky high charges? The over-charging, unhealthy food serving malls we spend quality time in? 

Well, I know of a masseur who earns a bulk of his livelihood on weekends by tending to more than 8-10 clients at 200 a pop. By the end of the day, he is extremely tired. I’d imagine he earns about 15000 a month, and he works hard for his money.

I once remarked that it was a tiring profession, being a masseur, and he replied that he had vegetables and daal cooked in ghee, and all his exhaustion disappeared.

Most of us, the well to do people whose standards of living are oh so high can either ill afford ghee, or are cautioned not to consume it due to health considerations!

We don’t eat well, we don’t sleep well, and we don’t exercise. We rely on junk food and alcohol for entertainment and satiety. We have no free time, no health, and no peace of mind.

Who do you think is richer, actually truly richer? Who do you think is happier and more content? Who do you think leads a higher standard of living? The hospitality guy and the masseur, or us?

I think they are. And I think:

  • We need to prioritize our life. Our physical, mental, spiritual and emotion health and well-being should be our first priority.
  • We need to stop doing things to portray ourselves as better and bigger in front of others.
  • We need to be proud of what we have achieved, and strive to do more.
  • We need to draw a line between dedicated work and a false show of workaholism.
  • We need to realize that we must learn from the past, live in the present and plan for the future, not feel guilty or rue the past, keep worrying about the future and rob our present of joy.
  • We must realize that most of the worries we have for the future do not transpire. We can plan and then leave the future to unravel itself.
  • We must acknowledge that we cannot control everything, we can just control ourselves, our thoughts, our actions, our perspectives, and our life.
  • We must embrace change as it is the only constant in life. Look back into your life and do a double check on this.
  • We need to start doing whatever makes us happy!

Well, this is what I think. What do you think?


  1. Liked the way it started.
    Invites us to think that yes, you're taking a water break and you're practicing whatever you're writing

    1. thank you Niv. I wouldn't write anything I don't approve of, or don't practice. Why else haven't I written a best seller yet?! ;)

  2. Liked it.

    -Rahul Karn

  3. It is an irony that despite earning handsome remunerations, we are leading a nearly gruesome life. On the other hand, people who maintain a low key profile are more content. The message is clear, Running after money is not wise idea, the main thing is to be happy with whatever we have and try honestly to grab the best opportunity that we get. Beautifully written concept, indeed. Congrats!