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December thoughts

Happiness. Often used as a substitute for success. Both highly intangible words. Both can't be contained in a single definition. And yet, we are conditioned all our lives to believe that it is something we 'achieve' if we do certain things. As kids, we make our parents happy and ourselves happy if we do things that are supposed to be 'right'. So, we complete our engineering or medical degrees (what else can poor South Indian children dream of? shudder shudder if they think of something like the arts, especially boys!) and we will be happy? We go off to the US, do our MSes, and think we and our parents and our families have been wrapped in one big happy bubble! Then we marry. If that partner fits the standards set by our closest set of relatives and friends, we are doubly lucky. Soon enough, we start a family. And the cycle continues. A car, an apartment, then two, our quest for material symbols of success is one long relentless one. We parade our achievements on social media so the whole world knows we have found happiness and success. There's no one to match us. See our shining lives, our picture-perfect families, our fabulous vacations, our office parties, aren't we spectacular?

Not once are we taught to live in the present. Not once are we told that happiness need not necessarily be found through stereotypical institutions of marriage and family. We are single, so we can't find happiness till we find a partner. We are child-free, so happiness won't come anywhere near us. We don't make enough money to have that big car, so we aren't happy. Like a video game where we need to complete level after level, make all the right moves, complete all the missions. And then, happiness? Yeah, we score all those points, but then the game's over as well!

Why wait for something to happen to us so we can be happy? Why wait? Why can't we learn? To appreciate poetry, art, music. To listen. To empathise. To introspect. To care for our inner lives as much as our outer lives. To find our comfortable spaces. To not compare ourselves with anyone else. To be comfortable with exactly who we are. To be humble. And above all else, to find peace. Happiness is overrated.


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Let me know if you need help or something like that!

I have spent time as an attendant to a family member on more than a couple of occasions, for at least a fortnight or more each time, and am just recording my thoughts, in a random fashion.

When you are a caregiver, you often get offers like, "if you want help let us know". But how often does a caregiver remember your offer, especially when he or she is caught up with taking care of the patient? How does the caregiver know what kind of help you are willing to offer or whether you are reliable? The burden of providing you with opportunities to help can be too much for the caregiver, especially sitting in an ICU waiting room or a ward with a patient in pain. If you really want to help, show up, find out how you can ease the burden off the caregiver in little ways. And act. Often, you could be offering help just to satisfy your conscience or as a nicety. You move on, once the caregiver says, "Thanks. Will let you know." The caregiver doesn't know if you really wan…