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Tuesday, February 20

Is Being Discontented Such A Bad thing?

As a child or even now, when I bend down to touch my Nana/Nani's feet or my parents or elders, they say - "Khush Raho"(Be happy). That's the Indian way!(the actual words might be different depending on which region you belong to)...

Yet, I remember a long chat I had with a cousin of mine(Gopal Bhaiya) late one winter night in Delhi around the subject that increasingly despite all the blessings:-) we are a little discontented all the time.

How the moment I/we reach a personal goal, the goal ever so quietly shifts further away! And here I am not referring to the discontent of not having the bigger flat or the car or a fatter pay cheque...

We were just referring to the fact that a better job, a promotion, an achievement at work, writing an article/ making a presentation that everyone appreciates no longer gives the same amount of happiness which a similar/ lesser accomplishment would have given a decade or two back. But more importantly the duration of happiness for that particular activity also shrinks all the time!!

I think I felt happier when I won the first prize in elocution at my school than when I got a big raise some time back...

A long summer spent at my Nnani's place gave me greater joy than a business/ pleasure trip to beautiful Cambodia recently.

I suspect part of it can be explained by the 'nostalgia hue' with which we paint the past and selectively remember/ amplify the good things!

Anyways, that chat with Gopal Bhaiya didn't have many answers....And the Qs keep swirling at the back of mind. Until few moments ago when I was reading an article by Paul Graham(the writer). He has a nice point point to make on 'It's okay to be discontented'..

Paul Graham - "To me it was a relief just to realize it might be ok to be discontented. The idea that a successful person should be happy has thousands of years of momentum behind it. If I was any good, why didn't I have the easy confidence winners are supposed to have? But that, I now believe, is like a runner asking "If I'm such a good athlete, why do I feel so tired?" Good runners still get tired; they just get tired at higher speeds.

People whose work is to invent or discover things are in the same position as the runner. There's no way for them to do the best they can, because there's no limit to what they could do. The closest you can come is to compare yourself to other people. But the better you do, the less this matters. An undergrad who gets something published feels like a star. But for someone at the top of the field, what's the test of doing well? Runners can at least compare themselves to others doing exactly the same thing; if you win an Olympic gold medal, you can be fairly content, even if you think you could have run a bit faster. But what is a novelist to do?"


Thanks Paul for the wise words...So being a little discontented all the time ain't such a bad thing after all...As I keep discovering all the time, most things in life follow the AND rule and not the tyranny of OR!

So actually I feel I am happy and discontented and not happy or discontented as I thought...Hope I am making sense...

2 comments:

Divya Pratap said...

Hey bro: I guess you've touched a topic which has no ultimate answer. But truly an interesting perspective to bring harmony in our never ending world

Manish said...

:-)baaki baatein bambai mein...