A thousand splendid smiles!


For some reason best known to themselves, most fiction writers philosophize about happiness in one or the other way. Scarlett O Hara, the protagonist in ‘Gone with the wind’ says: Tomorrow is another day or Arundhati Roy names her first ever novel ‘The God of Small Things’ outlining the significance of small joys in life.

When I searched for happiness quotes online, this was the first that arrived in my search results. It is by Groucho Marx who says: Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.

I agree with most part but one. I hate being so dependent on events and things for my share of happiness. Often I set about in my spree of seeking happiness without being so dependent. The fact remains that by choice I still like to depend on some people who are centers of my happiness.

When people say that money can buy me happiness, it disturbs me beyond words. So once in a while, I try to discover special joys of life without any penny in my pocket. Recently I did a little experiment in my pursuit of happiness. I challenged my Facebook friends to enlist some non-money happinesses in life. That is, joys and happinesses that do not involve money even in the remotest of form.

Some of the ideas listed by my friends already brought me smiles. Rohan Puranik, one of my old CH students, suggested that you can give a missed call to a pal who you are missing so badly. He cautioned, however, that the pal may not be as happy to receive the missed call as you are to give him one. To this, Naveen Sir, my friend and Senior Reporter with The Hindustan Times Bhopal, invited me to give him numerous missed calls as it would add smile to his face.

But what Ravi, yet another student, suggested was truly commendable. Some of his non-money happinesses included: a hot coffee on a rainy evening; chatting with friends without purpose; remembering school days and looking at old school photographs.

Album seeing is definitely an idea I subscribe to, especially when I do it with my grandmother around. She usually has endless anecdotes associated with each picture that an entire era comes alive before my eyes.

For that matter, Rajeev Edmonds, a technical editor by profession, came with yet another unlikely idea of non-monetary joy. He said, “Go to nearby shelter home for elders. Spend some time with them. See how they hug you, listen to you and talk non-stop. Bring some smile to their faces and see how much you’ll be happy on your way back to home.”

This guy actually made me feel almost guilty. I hadn’t had a hearty chat with my own grandmother for quite sometime and last Sunday I did take time for it. It was fun. I was glad to begin the noble task right from my home.

Mallika Ahuja, who is taking CAT this year, came up with a brilliant idea of humming favourite songs. The reason why I found her proposition quite fruitful is I have some or the other memory associated with old songs. Like ‘I just called to say I love you’ vividly reminds me of my senior year at school because it used to be our class ‘theme’ song sung almost on each of our stupidest celebrations.

One of my best buddies Yash Tiwari, who is studying architecture in Houston, USA, said that he particularly misses the time of sitting on the last three stairs in college and talking endlessly with his friends. He, a poet, would create lyrical lines on a certain situations followed by an array of poetic expressions added by his friends. This ofcourse doesn’t cost him anything and spreads happiness around.

As a teenager, I had a very unusual way of sharing good jokes with my father. Ever since we shifted in a two-storey house, communication became a problem. So my father installed the intercom system that I used extensively even for silliest of things. One such thing was reading a joke from ‘Life’s like that’ in Reader’s Digest to Dad on intercom. I must commend him for his patience as he never lost the humour despite my not-so-audible voice on the phone. This gave us a strange joy. This isn’t exactly a classical example of a non-money happiness yet it does challenge me to put some potentially expensive things to unusual uses.

Yet another ‘penniless’ happiness that I discovered recently was just give a listening ear to my mother who so selflessly devotes her time to ensure my happiness. Last month a friend of mine enlightened me through an e-mail forward. It said that ironically we live in an era where communication technology is at its peak. But the flip side is we say ‘Hellos’ to unknown online acquaintances more frequently than drop by at a real friend’s place on a Sunday.

The idea is not to miss out on little blessings that life so freely provides without any extra charges. When was the last time we gave a real warm hug to a family member? When was the last hearty laughter we had without a dirty joke? When was the last time we really smiled from inside on seeing someone? A few questions such as these may help us in identifying happiness that is just spread everywhere without labels.

Pooja Airen, the last friend who commented on by FB challenge, suggested that smiling to yourself and smiling on others alone leads to a free-of-cost happiness. I couldn’t agree more.

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