It is said that to live life happily and meaningfully, one needs three things: Time, Energy and Money. When you are still a student, you have enough time and you are bubbling with energy but no money. While earning your livelihood, you use your energy to earn money but have no time. After retirement, you have all the time in the world and enough of retirement money, but your energy level goes on diminishing! All the three things rarely happen together and that’s the irony of life! But even with the given constraints, one can decide to lead life soundly and meaningfully if one has a purpose or purposes of living. The onus is on us, the choice is entirely ours.
Living soundly with a purpose is only living in true sense of the term. Living unsoundly is not living at all, it’s surviving or just existing by increasing the weight of the already overcrowded planet. Please do an honest introspection and ask yourself, ‘Am I living fully and soundly?’ The question sounds quite absurd. Anybody would surely say, ‘well, so long I am breathing and not been declared dead, I am living for sure.’ We homo-sapiens have evolved from the animal world. All animals also breathe, eat, sleep and reproduce in the process of living like us. But, evolution of human beings went much further, manifold, to become the most intelligent species in the world and are still evolving in that direction. Our highly intelligent brains have created a huge gap between us and our supposedly animal forefathers and made us fundamentally different. So, shall we continue to do just only the same things that the other animals are doing for millenniums together? Ponder.
Humans are also social creatures. From time immemorial groups of human beings first lived in a cluster called the clan, then it got upgraded to tribe, village, community, race and then to a nation. But at whatever level, social interactions within the same group or among other groups of people was always a part of living which formed the basis of support system for survival. But unfortunately the social life, especially among Indians, continued to be just an extension of family life. Our social life is not always for doing positive things together for the betterment of the society we live in. It’s mostly limited to lose gossips and attending a few social dos, generally wearing a pretentious or forced smile. Our social relations pause at a definite problem because many a times those are just tolerable, even unpleasant and unendurable. The problem becomes compounded when these become unavoidable. Such social relations do not bestow happiness and meaning and should preferably be avoided.
Quality of our social life should be able to make us positively happy and contented. This demands certain qualities in the environment, in people we interact with and above all in ourselves. But a person cannot be happy all the time who has to perpetually depend on others for happiness. Some quality solitude can add spice to your happiness. Some people believe that ‘when you are alone, you are in good company’. But the crux of the problem is that we cannot give up everything and go to the Himalayas as a sadhu. We crave for good company to share our happiness as well as sadness and that has to be occur in a society only. We need true positive thinking friends and well wishers around to make our living meaningful and purposeful. An intricate balance has to be drawn. Or else, we would render ourselves in Alexander Selkirk’s shoes.
In early eighteen century, Alexander Selkirk, a castaway Scottish Royal Navy officer was marooned in an uninhabited island of the South Pacific Ocean for four years and four months. Initially he took the ordeal into his stride and survived by hunting and making good use of the local resources. But finally he had to exclaim:
“I am monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute
I am lord of fowl and brute.
O solitude where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
Then to rein in this horrible place!”
Another problem is, we tend to consider happiness as the end goal of the process of our living. So, most people sacrifice ‘living’ for livelihood. But happiness is a journey and not the final destination. In the process of earning our livelihood, especially during youthful years, we make it our sole purpose of living. True, as responsible providers we are required to take care of our dependants besides ourselves thinking that we shall derive happiness at the end by following this path. But is there any foregone guarantee? So, why not enjoy life during the climbing itself? Once you reach the plateau you shouldn’t repent the loss of valuable prime time of life. Any remorse or repentance will only bring unhappiness. Alongside our journey of livelihood, we can undertake a few purposeful endeavors of our choice, like, taking out time to do some positive social activities, supporting education of a few street urchins, sharing our knowledge for social betterment and so on. It is not necessary to wait for our post retirement period to do such things. During the twilight years these can be consolidated further.
We must always remember two things: we have the right to our earnings but the resources belong to the society and whatever we have today for our comfortable living, have been drawn from the society. So, it becomes our ardent duty to pay at least something back to the society. We should go empty and debt-free when we bid final adieu. If we carry such a purpose in our heart and activate it, fulfillment, happiness and meaning of life are assured.