Every morning when I start for my walk, I see one of my neighbors, squatting on the floor in the front veranda of his house, busy writing something in a notebook, placed on the low desk in front of him. On one day I stopped and asked him what was he writing every day? He smiled back and said; “I invoke God by writing the word ‘Rama Jayam’ to fill at least 10 pages every day, and when I have collected enough of these notebooks, I send them to the Rama temple in the city”
This fifty plus gentleman is a brilliant chartered accountant who was heading the Finance Department of a large Chennai based industrial group with all the perks that go with the job, including a chauffeur driven car. One fine morning he gave up all these privileges by resigning from his job. He was just 40. He was fed up of compromising on his values to keep his corporate job. His conscience was against all that the management was asking him to do to produce a healthy picture of the company, when the facts were otherwise. Interestingly, he decided not to take up any other job because he knew that in any corporate job he would have to make compromises and he had also begun to hate the rat race. He decided to stay put at home doing what he enjoyed the most.
He has a small family of three including his wife and mother and obviously has enough savings to lead a decent life. He acquired a bicycle and uses it locally for doing errands for the family. When he has to go out of the locality to attend functions he uses the public transport. He has kept himself busy with assignments from a professional institute, which he can do sitting at home. He hardly watches TV nor reads any books but uses any spare time he has to write the word ‘Ramajayam’ in his notebook.
When he is around you will always find him laughing heartily, narrating some interesting story or the other. I have never seen a more cheerful and contended man.
Another friend who was a doctor gave up his successful practice in Mumbai to settle down in Chennai.
He decided to play the stock market sitting at home in front of his computer. Rest of the time he takes life easy looking after the interests of his family and generally leading a relaxed life. He also seems to be very contended with his life.
I also know of two other friends, both brilliant students, opting for careers, where they refused to push themselves. Both were reluctant to take promotions after a point in life because of the stress and strain that would involve. One took to religion in a big way – a pious man who performed the ritual Sandya Vandanam three times a day. With no specific ambitions in life, except for performing his family duties he was a contended man who spent every spare moment invoking the name of his favorite, Lord Krishna.
The other friend reached a reasonably good stature in the corporate world. A practical, no-nonsense guy, he is the coolest person I have known in life. Nothing ruffles him, nor does he get excited over any event in his life. Though an atheist right from the beginning, he has been reading scriptures of all religions to find out the answer to the eternal question ‘Who am I?”. I don’t know whether he has found the answer yet but I know that as a person with no great ambition, no big targets in life but with a very positive attitude he has been leading a much contended life.
If contentment leads to happiness you can say that all the above people are a happy lot.
Unlike these friends, right from childhood I have been a very ambitious man. Always trying to take on challenges and converting them into opportunities. A born dreamer I am forever pursuing small targets often leading to bigger goals. I am aware that I give the impression of being an impatient man who cannot tolerate slow coaches leading to my being tense most of the time. Does it mean that I am not content? Am I an unhappy man? Certainly not! I have thoroughly enjoyed the seven decades of my hectic life and continue to find new challenges which will keep the adrenalin flowing in my veins all the time. That is what makes me feel contended and happy.
Happiness is a state of mind. So also is contentment. Obviously what leads to contentment and happiness varies from person to person