Indian monk and lifestyle coach Gaur Gopal Das has once said, “Happiness is not about getting what you like, happiness has a lot to do with liking what you get”. The definition of happiness might be subjective but in the end, it is a process of discovering who you are, who you want to be and doing what brings you the most meaning and contentment to your life. For my househelp, happiness could be a Diwali bonus. For the shopkeeper down the street, happiness could be extra profit. For my artist friends, happiness could be new acrylic colours or freshly sharpened pencils. But to me, true happiness is Mumbai – a city that never sleeps.
I first visited Mumbai during the junior years of my college and since then it has become my escape from the rush of life. I savour visiting art galleries of Colaba and wondering about the inward significance of murals and abstract paintings. The passersby, street vendors and taxi drivers show me the ways of survival and the cobalt blue waves of Arabian sea hitting the shores of Girgaon Chaupati make me realise how endless the world is. Mumbai became synonymous with happiness when I started a tradition with my close friend who studies in a different state, and often misses his home in Mumbai. Thus, whenever he visits me on holidays, we explore Mumbai, its shopping streets, beaches, exhibitions and Irani cafes. To walk in the sand with dirty feet and talk about life, to look at the night sky from Marine drive and eat cotton candy, to walk the narrow lanes, picking up white flowers and giving them to each other until next time, is true happiness for me.
We live in a society where people think it’s okay to tell someone what to do with their bodies. ‘Are you on a diet? ‘ don’t go out,the wind might blow you away’ ‘as thin as a stick’
I grew up dealing with these unsolicited remarks about my body and the way I looked. Educational institutions are meant to make the students feel safe and unapologetic about themselves. But some of my school teachers would corner me during lunch breaks and ask if I was facing any family problem that has caused me to lose weight or if I was suffering from a chronic illness. My peers would pass remarks about how thin I was and how the wind might blow me away, if I go out during windy weather. I avoided family gatherings, because my relatives would never fail to point out how I needed to be fed more. This took away my confidence and made me camera shy. I tried covering my insecurities with new tattoos and dyed my hair every time I felt I wasn’t good enough. This didn’t help me, until I decided to be my own messiah and do the things that make my heart happy. I disassociated with people and friends who did not make me feel comfortable in my own skin. I started taking a stand and speaking up whenever I was being subjected to skinny shaming. From covering every inch of my skin to wearing the clothes I desire, I came a long way. Thus to me, true happiness means having positivity and acceptance regarding my body and loving myself unconditionally. True happiness is understanding the needs of my body and celebrating every inch of it.
Human beings are creatures of emotions. We find our happiness in the little things of life that require less to no reason at all. I find my merriment in the little things that remind me of my childhood. The orange candies sold in glass jars, long bicycle rides with my old friends and feelings the wind on my cheeks, Pepsi cola and bedtime Stories, meeting my school friends after a long time and remembering the good old days of shared tiffins and silly fights, listening to an old track and feeling nostalgic, the smell of new books and my favourite meal cooked by my mother is true happiness for me.
2021-22 has been a rollercoaster for everyone. The pandemic and sudden lockdown took a toll on our mental health. But at the same time, these two years made us slow down and reflect upon ourselves. I realised, sometimes things don’t work out the way we have planned. But the universe has greater things coming our way. It was now time to let go of people that no longer served me well and prioritised my mental health. I stopped giving chances to people who have wronged me and gradually evolved into a better version of myself. And that was true happiness for me. To heal, to learn and to let go.
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