By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
Class Tenth: A teacher walked into the class and told, “Today, there will be no studies. I am going to give each of you a blank paper. The subject I want you to write is: What do you want to be in life?”
Some of you may want to be scientists, engineers, doctors, hoteliers or entrepreneurs too. I also want you to briefly write as to why you want to be in that profession you have chosen.
She distributed the blank papers to the class and asked them to start writing. Every one in the class was busy writing except a boy called Rahul, who was just sitting and watching others write. After half-an-hour, she collected the papers from all students but was curious to know what Rahul had written. He had written only one sentence: “I want to be happy.”
She called him and told him: “Rahul, I think you misunderstood the question,” to which Rahul answered back: “Madam, I think you have misunderstood life. If you had asked what profession do you want to do in future, I would have answered it truthfully, but you asked what do you want to be in life? And my answer is I want to be happy in life. Am I wrong?”
The teacher was stunned.
Even the King of Bhutan was ridiculed when he introduced Gross National Happiness [gnh] as the measure of measuring the success of the country instead of gdp, as done all over. But he persisted with a strong belief that ultimately happiness and contentment counted the most.
Now this concept has been accepted by even the UN and most of the countries make an evaluation of their governance and citizens happiness based on this concept.
At least in the present times, most of the parents do allow their wards the freedom of choosing their own careers at least in metro cities. A decade back, parents used to lay down their rules and ask their children to study what they wanted them to do. Doctors expected their children to become doctors. “What do I do with such a huge setup?” was the common refrain. Even politicians have started the new trend of expecting their children to follow them in politics. Their happiness be damned.
In my Kovalam (Kerala) posting, a young man in white kurtha once came into my office and asked me to allow my Officers to undergo a yoga course offered by the Isha Foundation. The yoga classes were to be held in the city of Trivandrum, nearly 16 kms away. The fees was nominal and I promised him that I would nominate some officers for the course.
However, I was very intrigued and impressed by his presentation and manners so I asked him as to his educational qualification. He smiled and kept quiet. I got more curious and so persisted.
He said, “Sir, I have done my B.Tech from iit kanpur and mba from iim, ahmedabad. I ran my own company for six years. One fine day I decided that this was it — handed over my company to my family and here I am teaching yoga for Rs. 500 a month.” For a moment I did not know how to react. With a qualification that people dream about, he was happily teaching and propagating yoga all over the country, sleeping on floor and getting a stipend of Rs. 500.
I asked him as to how many more followers were there with his kind of qualifications in the Ashram. He replied that there were at least more than 100 such teachers, who were professionals like doctors, engineers, scientists, etc. He then told me, “The girl who will be teaching you yoga is a doctor. We are doing this because we are happy doing this. The day we feel we have to go back to our old lives, we are free to go; there is no bondage.”
To conclude, in the process of getting success in life, one tends to forget the real goal of life. If one could make a little less money and spend more time doing what one loves, would that not make you more happier?
A friend of mine left a job at a multinational company in the US and joined as translator in a company at quarter of his original salary. I asked her and she said, I love languages and I love this job. Money is secondary.
Another software engineer joined a library as a librarian. She loved reading books and this made her happy.
So do not trade your happiness for what you think you need. “Things” can never make us happy because they are temporary and limited but experiences can make one happy and last forever. Do not do anything to impress people. It just does not matter. We become successful by what we get, but we become happy by what we give. Do you agree ?