“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find how far a person can go.” – TS Eliot.
How to be happy? By reaching out of your comfort zones and taking risks. Comfort zones are where dreams go to die. The real world begins at the edge of a person’s comfort zone, at the edge of the limits within which the person feels secure, safe and normal. And when you’re comfortable with being normal, you don’t take risks – and when you refrain from taking risks you risk even more. A successful life is a series of risky compromises and misadventures; mistakes are what make us learn and grow, not successes.
I grew up in an average income family. I went to the school and college like regular kids, but after all these years of following the norm, I felt the need to let myself go, to take risks, and to reach outside my comfort zone. I had developed a habit of being normal, being typical and doing mundane, uninteresting things. I rarely took risks and realized that I would never be able to face reality unless I figured life by myself, without the humdrum symmetry of conformism and orthodoxy.
That is why after I graduated, I decided to move to another location. I’d applied for a temporary job there as a junior marketer, and the promise of a new world and new people was enticing. I rented a small apartment close to my office-place; it was very close to the sea, so every evening I would go for long walks. There was a two-screen theatre down the road, and the people in the area were full of interesting stories. My job was simple, and work life was uneventful, and pretty soon I grew tired of my increasingly predictable life.
I left my job, organized my savings, and travelled around the country for some time. I landed a job – which I began to loathe soon. Over time I became acquainted with a new feeling that I would never be good enough, that I would always remain directionless. “How to be happy?” I increasingly asked myself, with an aura of desperation. This sinking emotion of helplessness pulled me down for a long time before I decided to just do what I always wanted to do.
My father’s untimely death and my romantic entanglements finally cajoled me to think for myself. I always wanted to be a writer. This, I finally followed up on my passion. I joined a state job for monetary stability. It was full-time, but even so I found time to write copiously. I settled down, got married, and made something of myself.
Looking back on my listless years, I discovered that there was one word that was always an obstacle to my happiness: ‘should’.
I should join this course because it has job security.
I should join this college because it has high placements.
I should join the corporate sector because of the fat pay.
I should work hard at a job I loathe so that I get promoted to do more of the job I loathe.
I should say ‘yes’ to an obligation even if it makes me cringe.
I should live life like that guy; he’s so successful.
I should get into a relationship to seem happy.
I should buy these assortments to seem official.
I should make them my friends so that I seem important.
The word ‘should’ interfered with my life for too long. It refrained me from taking risks, from making mistakes; it made me satisfied with normalcy and sycophancy – it stagnated me.
- Be on the lookout for ‘should’: always be aware that it’s okay if you try something new for a change and that just because things happened in a particular way all this time doesn’t mean that they should.
- Change track: instead of asking ‘should’, ask ‘why?’ Question everything. Innovate, initiate, venture, take risks, make mistakes, try again, fall, rise, fall again, rise higher, learn, grow – it’s called life. And when you let go of ‘should’, you embrace the beauty of life.
- Who are you trying to impress? It’s not wrong to want to be happy. It’s not selfish at all. What you shouldn’t be doing is bringing yourself down to impress others. That’s counterproductive.
How to be happy? Break down the influence of the word ‘should’. ‘Should’ didn’t allow me to do what I wanted to do, to be who I wanted to be. If you concur and feel like you’re on the same page, to escape from the iron grip of this toxic word, remember these points.
Photo Source: pixabay