Do this experiment once. Next time when someone asks you ‘how are you?’, instead of telling ‘fine’, just mention that you are not, and enumerate one or two troubles you have. For example, ‘not fine, I don’t know, but since last couple of days I am feeling intense pain in my stomach’. Or, ‘my children not faring well in exams’, ‘my husband is too busy with his own work, and I am not able to handle so many things alone’. Or just anything. And then see the magic!
The other person would listen for a while, and then start a long recital of own worries and troubles — ‘Ah, that is nothing, I too am facing so much trouble . . .’ In most of the cases you wonder — ‘Well, is it indeed a trouble? From which angle’? I wonder whether the aim of these well-wishers is to make your trouble seem less painful in comparison to their own.
We love competition. We compete in terms of everything — in resources, number of friends, status, salary, everything. And we compete in terms of worries too. If we have lesser troubles than any other person, we feel guilty.
This is one of the several drawbacks of success worship. In every success story, you are told about the various troubles, difficulties and hardships the poor child had to go through, and the child faced all of them very bravely and achieved its dreams. So Lal Bahadur Shastri had to cross a river to reach school, Rajendra Prasad had to struggle with smoke coming from lamp, and so on. And we think we are doing something wrong by not having to go through similar difficult childhood. So we construct ‘artificial hardships’. You often hear complaints like ‘Oh my parents did not support me’, ‘my teachers were abusive’, ‘school curriculum was not good’, etc. It does not matter if others have shone from the same darkness and achieved great heights. Instead of searching for excuses, they could have considered their position as an add-offset. That is, if Prasad started from such humble origins and accomplished such excellence, why Sir, starting from a position better than his, ought not we able to accomplish better things?
Let us suppose that two lines segments are to be measured. One child places the scale at zero, reads the other end as 9, and declares that the length of the line is 9 inches. Other child places it at 2 and reads the other end as 11. And declares that the length is 11-2=9. Both lines are of same length. The second line starts a little ahead, and goes on a little farther. It is simple. But what we are doing is to make every effort to pull the origin to zero; and if the zero label is not there, we get upset.
Not just in education and profession, instead in every field you would come across similar practice. Sadly, even in 21st century we have instances of harassment and discrimination. But then we also see that others from the same community try to gain sympathy, irrespective of whether in their own lives they have experienced any discrimination and ill-treatment or not. Not only is this a fake experience, but also an insult to all those unfortunate people whose each day is a struggle.
Another area where I personally feel annoyed is that of TV serials and family drama. I have seen so many instances of a very happy family, stopping only little short of being an ideal family, watching family dramas day in, day out, with all those tears, fights, and conspiracies, and they feel their own lives to be empty and devoid of any excitement and drama. So they start living what they have learnt from the TV serials. You would so often hear the dialogues from one or the other TV serial being used in family disputes.
My dear friends, if God has blessed you with a happy and comfortable life, free of worries about daily bread and security, please be grateful for the same. Try to explore the various avenues by which you could exploit your better position for greater achievements. That way you would be able to create a beautiful and better life both for yourself and for others who are less fortunate than you. It is not a crime to be happy. You need not feel guilty or be sorry to have been blessed with comfortable and peaceful life free of worries or struggles.
photo credit: Steffen Kamprath Light rendering test image at F/11 for Jupiter-8 50/2 via photopin (license)