Friday, March 10

Happiness is Free


Last Sunday, I took my daughter to my parent´s house as usual. She was all excited and raring to go because she wanted to play at the neighbourhood park close by.

Once we reached there, my mother served us some evening snacks. After which, my father, my daughter and I took a short brisk walk to the park. She was jumping and hopping on the sides of the road in sheer happiness. She kept teasing me along the way and vice versa. My father kept cautioning us that we were still on a busy road and to control ourselves till we get inside the park. Yeah..yeah! I stand as guilty as charged when sometimes  I behave even younger than my child in some situations. Somehow, she has the knack of bringing out the child in me.

Finally, we reached the park and my daughter ran towards the play area  and wasted no time in having fun there. She climbed up the slides and came swooshing down in shrieking delight. Then, she headed towards the monkey bars to live out her long cherished dream of being a monkey, swinging from one bar to the other.

Trouble ensued when she mounted atop the merry-go-round. She stood up on her seat while my father and I watched her. She held on to the main rod in the centre for grip while it moved. And as it moved, her finger got jammed in the main rod and she screamed like there was no tomorrow. We rushed immediately to console her as she cried uncontrollably in shock and fear. Alas, her happiness and excitement were short lived.

She couldn't muster courage to even look at her injured pinky finger. My father and I tried to pep her up and divert her attention. But, she was so sorrowfully focussed on her poor ´no longer pinkey´ blackened finger, fearing if she would get alright. When paranoia strikes a young child, all hell breaks loose, I tell you.

So, we rushed her into the closest auto rickshaw and took her to a medical clinic. The physician cleaned, disinfected and stuck a washable bandaid around her finger. He gave her a tetanus injection and asked her to go back to the park and play without a care.

However, this time when we headed to the park, my daughter´s spirits were already crushed. She was happy to be back at the park but the same excitement that she had when came in earlier was missing. She was sober, quiet and just a little bit sad about the state of her pinky finger.

I accompanied her around from one playground equipment to another. And finally, we decided to share a giant swing ride with another family. They were a young married couple with a son and daughter, both under six years.

As the fun ride progressed, I witnessed something that has touched me in a way I had never imagined. The family seemed to come from a modest background from a materialistic point of view. They did not seem to have much and it certainly didn´t seem to come in the way of their happiness. I saw pure joy and contentment in all of their faces. While the husband sat on the swing and gleefully enjoyed the ride, the wife exchanged loving glances at him time and again, while holding on tight to her two children. He remarked excitedly to her, "The same ride would have costed us Rs.40 at the exhibition. Here it is only Rs.5." He chuckled in glee as his wife joined him in their laughter of happiness. The sheer thought of saving Rs.35 was enough to bring such joy to the couple. The children seemed to have no care in the world, simply enjoying the ride.

The husband looked at me and asked me why my daughter was looking sad. I told him that she hurt her finger a while ago at the park and that incident was still playing on her mind. He then asked me if she was my sister and I said, "No! I am her mother." Both the husband and wife looked at each other in shock. They laughed again, together in unison, as the man said to his wife, "This is real life Santoor Mummy."

This ´short and sweet´ encounter with a family I never knew made me realise how simple it is to be happy. Like our choice for the outfit of the day, we just had to make up our minds and decide which mood to wear for the day. The best best would always be to choose happiness over sadness. Perhaps the feel of that old grey sweater is what you like.  Maybe its more comfortable. If you choose sadness over happiness today, it is completely up to you.

As Abraham Lincoln said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be"

Often, we see so many rich families who seem to have it all. Except for one thing - Happiness. In their pursuit of happiness, they go searching and knocking on every possible door. And here was a family that did not own much and they did not have to pursue happiness at all. They were contended, complete and genuinely happy about the littlest of things in life. That day, I learnt from this loving family of four that  "There is no path to Happiness. Happiness is THE path."

Walking on our way back home, I hugged my daughter and asked her if she was feeling any better. I assured her that her finger would be alright. To be patient and give it a few days. Then, I asked her if she noticed the family that sat next to us in the ride and realised anything.

I told her that I learnt something very important today from them. She looked at me point blank and asked me to explain. I told her,

´Wait until we hop onto the bed tonight. I have a story to share with a very important moral lesson -

´Happiness is Free. Pain is Costly´

(This post was published in mycity4kids - https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/beauty-and-the-mom/article/happiness-is-free)

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