Dead Men Tell No Tales

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Our columnist Nisha JamVwal shares her thoughts on finding true happiness through life’s rocky path

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Earlier in the week when I heard of Robin Williams taking his own life, I was shocked beyond reason. He who once made the world laugh is now no more.

When the world sees a happy, well-adjusted energetic person it might not be a reality. Perceptions are not reality however real appearances might be.

The news of the death of one of Hollywood’s greatest comedians – Williams’ suicide baffled me. Prior to that, many years ago, Dale Carnegie who wrote self-help books on happiness also took his life due to depression. Instances like these make me wonder what happiness is all about, how does one define and quantify it and more importantly, how do we find it in our lives?

Is it success and material possessions? Can’t be! Because then Alexander McQueen, a celebrated, loved and wealthy to the point of excess fashion designer, would definitely not have taken his life. Could it be pain and tragedy that cause a person to end their lives? I doubt that because pain and unhappiness are part of every human’s life existence. Yes, I know, depression and drug overdose are obvious causes, but in the first place, they occur due to inadequacies born out of unhappiness.

Name, fame, wine, song, friends, admirers, popularity, money, all the conveniences that are supposed to make life so ‘happy’ and ‘comfortable’ and ‘content’… What more could life have offered them? Jets and limousines at their beck and call could not probably have brought the requisite happiness obviously. What was so lacking that all this and even life itself was not worth it? A mystery most tragic and one that we will never know, as the saying goes, ‘dead men tell no tales’.

Difficult as it may be to understand that – having got it all, all the material accoutrements, cannot provide long term peace and lasting happiness. So my conjecture then is that accumulations and adulations cannot solve problems. Quite obviously they are hollow and life can seem empty despite and inspite all of the props that one lusts after.The real high, the real challenge then, is in the journey within us. It is where the meaning and value of existence lies.

I’m not going to preach from spiritual guides, it’s for us all to find our own answers, but when curiosity took me to hear Sadhguru Jaggi, one thing that resonated clearly to my understanding is what he said about happiness and life – ‘Even earthworms can make a living. There is life beyond work and career and earning a living and eating sleeping and procreating. There is the real meaning of living – going into ones inner consciousness and delving into the self.” I get it. That true connect with ourselves, being comfortable with our own company, finding peace with our demons, failures, losses, coming to peace and finding reconciliation with it all. To my mind, this is what allows us to live with ourselves and not reject and end our lives.

In a more general sense, to be kind, generous, giving, forgiving, averting gossip and negative conversations are not words from a moral science lesson; they do up the feel good factor immensely. They give you a sense of general well-being. Some moments of the day, spent quietly with oneself to recharge ones batteries, especially when spent in nature are a great way to power up and regenerate the soul. To develop a hobby, read, introspect and share experiences, to exercise is also an important way to regenerate and cope. Think positive and use happy memory banks to cash into when something messes you up. When you pull out happy memories you have saved in your heart or written down in the notes section of your phone, you can actually avert and push out negative thoughts. It is an exercise that must be practiced.

Be who you are without trying hard to be what your friends and family expect you to be. Allow people around you to understand your needs, your feelings, communicate and try also never to compare. You can never be as good as, as rich as, as happy as… Each of us has a unique life and must work out our own happy quotient through spiritual calm and active positive pursuits of contemplation and action.

Extricate people who pull you down from your life. The universe is full of beautiful people and places, why waste time with people who tire you, use you and abuse you. You must learn to edit and sift out the chaff from the wheat. It is a difficult exercise to throw out the debris and clutter but each of us has to. As a growing-up process, do it forcibly.

I recently did. I sat down and after reflection edited out those people whom I found spent copious amounts of time in gossip and laughing at others angst, life choices, ambition and pain. My friend for eighteen years, I found, left me exhausted after every meeting. I realised that Sandeep Seth must be got rid of. So like a cancer that was growing in my life I forcibly extricated him. We have to make tough calls to lighten our burdens and allow ourselves to soar and fly. Tough calls are not easy calls, but must be made. Let go and move on with positive feelings. Don’t dwell on the drains, look at the skies and stars, literally and metaphorically they will uplift you. Nothing heals like time, nature and exercise.

Last week my best friend did not reply to my WhatsApp messages despite three reminders. I was offended. Turned out she hadn’t got even one. Jumping to conclusions and making hypotheses’ can be painful to you and can complicate life. Do not think too much, instead be calm, wait to make assumptions and ask questions. Communicate and don’t bottle up problems. Have those go to positive people who can guide you right instead of pushing you into wrong thought and fanning your flames of discontent, misunderstanding and angst. Happy people, calm friends, counsellors who can be objective help make life more equanimous.

And most importantly, simplify… Simplify life, simplify living and keep happy. Appreciate the prized values of giving, sharing, kindness, generosity, love and helping others around you. You will be surprised how much self worth, joy and long term peace and happiness these qualities will bring.