Ten years into the past

Recently, I read a book called  'What Alice forgot' by Liane Moriarty. The book was a quick and fun read. There was nothing extraordinary about the story, but the concept of the novel stuck in my mind. The female protagonist of the novel forgets ten years of her life in a freak accident. Even though she’s close to forty, she thinks she’s thirty. The worst part is she forgets even her children, and everything looks new to her.

When I read the story, it seemed too-good-to-be-true that someone can change so much in ten years. I laughed it off. But then I began thinking: Is it really possible to change so much in ten years? Is there anything about my present state that would’ve baffled my fifteen-year-old self?

1. It would have shocked me if somebody told my fifteen-year-old self that in ten years I would get a place in the University of my dreams, join a multinational company as a software engineer and that I’d be married to an amazing person (love marriage at that) and have an adorable daughter.

2. My fifteen-year-old self wouldn’t have believed it if I told her that in ten years I’ll be comfortable wearing a little make-up and leaving my hair loose. At that time I had no time even to consider wearing make-up, and I always braided my greasy hair in the same way without even trying for a different hairstyle. I was not an average teenage girl, interested in girly things. I was far busier studying for my future.

3. I wouldn’t have believed that in ten years I’d face some major ups and downs and learn my lessons. It matured me in some ways but there’s still a long way to go. At that time, if I didn’t get expected marks in a weekend test, I used to be crushed. But ten years taught me enough to know that: life has its ups and downs, and it’s not always possible to plan it. If something goes according to your plan, consider yourself lucky, but if something doesn’t, don’t take it to heart. Whatever happens, life moves on. My fifteen-year-old self wouldn’t have understood that.

4. My fifteen-year-old self used to play music all the time and read a little, but in these ten years that’s reversed. Now I listen to music rarely but read a lot.

5. In these ten years I made a lot of new friends whom my fifteen-year-old self wouldn’t even have recognized. At the same time I’m lucky to say that I still have a few childhood friends.

6. I wouldn't have expected that I'd live in so many places. I spent the first sixteen years of  my life in the same place, Rajahmundry. But now I've lived in Hyderabad, Chennai and Seattle and yet to call a place home. 

Well, ten years is definitely a long time to change a person completely. If you find the concept interesting, do grab the book. It’s an engaging read.

How to be happy?

It's quite difficult to define the state of our mind. When we get something we want, a new job, a house, we become happy and when we lose something, we become disappointed. I always imagine the state of mind as a speedometer whose needle usually swings between being content and being disappointed in life.

I always wanted to know how to be happy, not content, which is a deeper form of happiness. How to be just happy, everyday? Before I proceed, let me first clarify why I don't like being content.

Being content, according to me, is a state of everlasting happiness. You have no expectations, no disappointments, no desires and no problems. You love your life as is and are no expecting no more from it. While there huge perks to being content, there is also a minor problem i.e., 'stagnation'. You become 'stagnant', you have no desire for achievement. No, I dislike being content and thereby becoming stagnant.

So, should everyone be disappointed in their lives? Disappointment in life,sometimes, can drive us to achieve something bigger and better. I believe that high-achievers are disappointed with their lives and their achievements, which is why they constantly try to achieve more. Once they become become content, they lose the desire, and there starts their downfall. Being disappointed in life has its perks too, but, sometimes, being deeply disappointed in life can lead to depression.

Coming back to our question, how to be happy, everyday? The key to happiness is to strike a balance between being content and being disappointed in life. That state is being 'not disappointed' but 'not content' either. Since you're not disappointed, you're happy. But since you're not content, there's some desire, which will drive you towards achievement,

In her book The Secret, Rhonda Byrne, the author, advises people to end their day by writing down the list of things they're thankful for. This will definitely help us feel satisfied with what we have now. And then she advises people to write down what they want in future. I believe it's a brilliant idea to help us strike a balance between contentment and disappointment.

The key to happiness is to be satisfied with what we have now, but to have the desire burning within us to achieve something better.