On the Road to Happiness

Its not the road less taken, its the road most desired. Its that path lined with small outdoor cafes and open bistros with large patches of green in between. Wooden bridges to walk on and idyllic scenery with quaint cottages forming the backdrop of much of the landscape. Streams bubble with joy along side this road and there are large trees which give good shade and move around to the motion of wind which seems rhythmic with your own.

If there were a road to happiness surely it would be something like that. When I had just graduated afresh from my college there was a zest in all the people I knew. The usual clap trap about the world is your oyster, was somehow embedded in all those in my vicinity, supplemented by doses of “Best Convocation Speech Ever!” videos. My friends were rushing to give various exams not different from those which had handed them their undergrad degrees. High school mathematics and logical reasoning of a variety which would not be logical to presume, could present it self in real life; were the talk of the town. There was an unnerving enthusiasm in the air which as you can imagine I did not share. Then slowly and surely as a year or two progressed and those who had indulged in such competitive pursuits also moved out. The dregs of our graduating batch had only each other for company. It was at this point that a friend of mine asked me : “At first you and I were eager to give these exams and pursue higher education of the kind most people our age do, what has changed?”
I replied : “First we were chasing success, now we’d settle for happiness.”

There are lots of people on the road to happiness, nearly everyone’s there struggling to move forward. People build houses along side this road and yes its true as you go further down the road and the numbers of the milestones decrease, the sizes of these houses get smaller. There is a very interesting diversion on the road, the one to contentment. At that point you feel almost as if the road has ended and you find all your fellow travelers taking this new route. There are a few who try to climb over the  diversion sign on the main road, you don’t get to see them after that though. The route to contentment is a short one from there, a general feeling of settlement in the town once you reach it. Its a relatively big town with simple folks.

The pursuit of happiness is a difficult thing to discuss, one could reason it begins only after the quest for survival takes a back seat due to prosperity. Happiness, as Rahul Gandhi  would put it, is a state of mind, an overrated one at that. Most of us have ours determined by external factors which makes the entire idea ironic. Parents deciding what kind of a match would make their child happy, often ironically ruins the happiness of a child (Or at least if that child has learned to divine his/her idea of the thing). Their estimation of projected happiness from marital bliss is drawn from societal influence in times current and past. This society is in itself influenced by the ideas of happiness of these very families. The very cyclic nature of this exercise is painfully obvious. There are many more moments which people do claim give them happiness like, the birth of one’s first child or buying your own house and so on. These milestones themselves coming from not your own but a coached definition of this desirable aspect of life. One could look at this as you stopping to take directions on the road to happiness, but the point is will that lead you to a destination where you would be happy? Or where the navigation provider would? As we see those who have settled along this road or moved to contentment, we feel so ashamed of our future that the urge to carry on strengthens.

After all happiness is not a destination where someone can tell you have arrived, you need to know yourself.

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