One of the joys that I experience in life is that of someone being genuinely happy for another person. I don’t always have to be the recipient of such generosity (though I must confess, it feels nice when that happens!) but it gives me a tremendous high when I see someone looking and sounding genuinely appreciative of or happy for someone else. But if I were to observe the world around me, I do find it in scarcity. Of course, whenever I hold a mirror to myself instead of just a holding a magnifying glass on the society that I am part of, I see my imperfections too, both past and present. But I sincerely feel that of the areas that I have to work on to become a better human being, being generous may not be one of them. This is not to suggest that I am a saint. I have, especially in my younger days, had streaks of selfishness, self-absorption and jealousy. But I do believe that over the years, I have grown a little more assured of myself, a little more focused on what I truly want to achieve. Which is perhaps why I feel a little less tolerant of those that still seem to struggle to completely hold their own, feel driven by a constant need to brandish their sharply pointed knives of sarcasm and smugness. Is it the case that in an increasingly competitive world that people are uncomfortable with how tall they stand that they constantly look to the side to see who is taller and see if they can pull that person down? Which leads me to the question - why does the height of your happiness have to be measured on a relative scale? Why not instead measure it on an absolute scale?
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If I were to adjust the focus of my magnifying glasses and look with a little more perspicacity, I realize that some people make it a point to live life in a carefree manner. In order to not be weighed down by the burdens of adulthood, they puncture anything serious that balloons in front of them. In those people, I can sense a casual irreverence, the unwillingness to take things too seriously. It is actually a sheer joy to be in their midst. I have seen them pass comments on others that may come across as a tad insensitive or disrespectful. But once you get to know them, you realize that it is never to hurt or to not be genuinely happy for someone else. Instead, it is the notion that anything that’s not feather light is too heavy for them! They might needle you but the needle is meant to just a prick the bubble of seriousness, not create a wound that festers.
Contrast this to another type of person that I’ve come across – the hardcore competitive person who starts to worry about others’ successes and joys. This is where I struggle the most. And, it is not because I just can’t relate it. It is because I can actually relate to it. It took me years of toiling hard in my academic life – especially during my MBA days from 2007 to 2009- and my professional life to realize that even a minute that I spend looking away from the sights that I’ve set for myself and start to feel even an iota of jealousy about others in the professional or personal setting, is a minute wasted. As I had written in an earlier blog post*, freeing up myself of these extraneous factors has allowed me to be happier and more generous towards others. Also, it is one thing to look around, to get inspiration from others in different walks of life. But it is another thing to start to feel small when someone else is rising in front of your others. The people that I sincerely admire in both my personal and professional life are the ones that can exert the tremendous self-control that it takes to just look at maximizing their own potential, staying laser focused on their goals and looking around just enough to learn, to grow and live life in an even better way. It is an area where I feel like I’ve come a fair way from the days of my brash youth. But as with everything else, I am sure that I can evolve even further. For the time being, let me just cherish the heights of happiness that I have been blessed with!
* If time permits, read my companion piece on this topic: