In the quest to fulfil our materialistic aspirations, we tend to forget the happiness around us, discovers Dr Shrirang Bakhle
I was walking on the road. I noticed a small kitten – a cute sight. But what was cuter was a small three-year-old girl squatting next to the kitten and reciting – almost teaching – the nursery rhyme, “Pussy cat, Pussy cat where have you been…”! The kid is totally sincere and engrossed and in full flow with all the gestures, while communicating with the kitten. And the kitten? It’s looking at the kid with an amused expression! That unforgettable sight made my day. And, in fact, even now, it makes my day whenever I remember it!
I am sure you will be able tell so many such wonderful or funny or heart-warming or mind-cooling small stories. “I reached that hill station at night. And when I woke up the next morning and went out into the verandah, my god, what a beautiful scene!” You will certainly remember different recipes that you have enjoyed at different places. These cannot be called be called the Big Pleasures of life – like marriage, getting the first job or promotion or getting admission into the coveted college or buying a new home etc. But these small joys have an immensely important place in our lives.
The Big Desires and Big Pleasures are certainly important. We spend a great deal of our time and efforts in fulfilling those wishes. It is also true, that after all the hard work, the happiness of having achieved is great. It keeps us happy and proud for a long time. But these Big Joys don’t happen every day. (For example, how many times do you get the joy of getting married?!)
But the small joys are different. They keep coming our way so often. Somebody cracking a joke is one such Small Joy. If you have cracked the joke and made people laugh, then the joy is much bigger! There are many such small pleasures. Listening to or humming wonderful songs can give so much pleasure. Watching a beautiful piece of acting by an actor or watching a master player in action gladdens the heart.
There are many times when we are looking forward to that joyous event such as a favourite TV show. But many, many times life gives us pleasant surprises – like the story of the girl and the kitten. We are passing by a house and we suddenly see a beautiful flowering plant and, perhaps some butterflies. There are two types of reactions to such a sight. One reaction is a flat unemotional response, “So what’s great about the flowers? Haven’t you seen flowers before? I am not a kid now. I am too mature to enjoy such silly things.” Then there are some others who will relish all such beauties that nature offers. No prizes for guessing which of these two people will lead a happier life?
It is important to realize that one has to have a receptive mind to pick up and enjoy such small pleasures. My daughter is one such raconteur or storyteller. She will tell the story of how the teacher scolded a classmate with such funny details that you may think that she has been to a stand-up comedian’s show! A jolly mind can pick up such small joys easily. But a depressed or anxious or irritated mind is not receptive to all such small joys that come our way. Can you understand the trick that the mind plays in his matter? If you are in a happy mood, you pick up and enjoy all the small joys – becoming happier in the process. Whereas, if you are in an unhappy mood (sad, fearful, angry), then you don’t pick up or enjoy the small pleasures. Either way, the mood is self-perpetuating. The happy mood will continue and so will the unhappy mood.
So what’s the moral of the story? Start enjoying all the small pleasures. They will keep adding to your bucket of happiness and help to get into that cheerful mood that everyone wants. On the other hand, if you are unable to enjoy the small pleasures, check yourself. Is an unhappy mood the reason? Then put in all your efforts to change that.
It is true that many of us get many problems in life. Sometimes, counting the problems leads to the feeling that ‘my life is full of problems – and there is no happiness in my life’. This thinking is a hallmark of depression. When problems come – and the Big Joys don’t come, this conclusion seems real. But here the person is forgetting all the small pleasures. Just as the problems come, the small pleasures, too, come into our life all the time. This is the realistic, balanced view of life.
The best part of the small pleasures is that they are not ‘achievements’! We don’t have to put in a lot of efforts to get them. We just have to notice them – and ENJOY!