Marriage and The Happily Ever After

This is my second column for theswaddle.com – http://theswaddle.com/marriage-happiness-happily-ever-after/

I’m always fascinated about how people approach marriage as a cure for unhappiness. My perspective about self-love, marriage and happiness.

Would love to hear your perspective on it.

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Declutter and Reboot

Every time I sit down to de-clutter my wardrobe, there are few clothes that have been around forever. They continue to sit in my cupboard for years and stare at me. These clothes are like leftovers, I can’t manage to make up my mind if I need to discard them or keep them.

Maybe this is a simile that works beautifully with the mind. Some thoughts continue to exist within us, leading a silent life, they gnaw at us and remind us that we need to give them a closure. But sometimes we wonder if we have the courage to deal with them? Would it feel like opening a can of worms?

Sometimes sitting on the fence is so easy, but it stops any movement and allows mind to stagnate. So this time, I’m choosing to discard few old thoughts and refurbish/redesign some old scripts that have shaped my life. I’m hoping to get in touch with some old thoughts that got deeply buried in my pursuit of work, and so called success.

Do you also feel the same? Do you too have old items in your cupboard that need discarding?

Are Indian Television Shows promoting suicide

Today when my daughter was playing in the garden and I was watching over her, I suddenly heard a boy of about 6 or 7 years scream out loudly to call his mother. After the boy called couple of times and his mother didn’t pay attention to him, he shouted loudly and said “If you don’t come right now Mom, I would kill myself”. ( conversation was in Hindi).

I couldn’t believe what I heard. I approached the mother, who by now was standing with her young boy and scolding him. I asked the mother about where he had heard this and the mother said she had no clue. When I asked the young boy,he mentioned how on a reality show, he had heard a participant say this line.

Just yesterday twice on Indian sitcom, I heard the characters,speak about self-harm and the desire to end their lives. These serials run anytime between 7 to 9 pm – primetime slots where children are likely to watch television. I consciously monitor TV timings for my daughter, but I have come to realise that I can’t have complete TV control.

At a time, where suicide rates are increasing among children and young people, are we glorifying death? Is it right to promote suicide on television and portray it as the only alternative when we find life meaningless? I don’t remember hearing or knowing about suicide till I was in my teens. English shows are censored beyond recognition in India, but does the Indian Censor Board set the same standard on Hindi channels? It is our responsibility to create resilience in children set examples by using characters who have a will and desire to bounce back. As a psychologist and a parent, I monitor and limit TV hour to just children’s cartoons, but I can’t control everything that’s been played on television.

In Indian settings, many people have 1 television and all family members watch the same serial. The very thought that television is introducing the term suicide and portraying it is heart wrenching. I know I can’t control what my daughter sees on television, but I can at least choose how she sees it and what meaning she makes of it, by talking and listening to her.

Research shows how suicides result from ‘CopyCat ‘ Phenomenon.Therefore it is in the interest of children and adults that suicide is not glorified

Friendships

Some conversations fill our heart with happiness. Strange as it may sound,there was a time couple of years back when I realized all my closest friends have moved out of the city or moved abroad. But what remains constant is our ability to connect with each other,no matter when we speak. We pick the phone and start from where we left.The boundaries of distance, time barely matter.May be with age, the perspective on friendship has changed. Now I feel the need to be around people who are kind, compassionate and warm.So the need for mere intellectual connections or people who validate myself is less.In these friendships, I find genuineness,deep sense of connection and most importantly realizing how our conversations flow. So whether we discuss Pink Floyd, Psychology, Children,or Life we deeply understand..and even the long the long silences which linger between two phone calls disappear in that moment.

Happiness as a life goal

Being a psychologist has its advantages. Everyone has a story and just because I’m a therapist, it gets easier for people to share. So, because of my role, I have the privilege of parents, children and teenagers telling me their most intimate experiences. What I often hear is a need for achievement and it usually overrides the need for happiness.

When babies are born , they start belonging not only to the family  but also in to the baggage of parental dreams, expectations.What would happen if we start expecting our kids only to be happy? Our only dream would be that they are good human beings.

In the pursuit of good grades or let’s say high grades, getting in to the best college, choosing either Science or Commerce, having a successful career and making money, happiness gets lost.

My mother used to tell me that if you find what makes you happy, you will find yourself. She trusted my ability to wander, and believed I would still not be lost. She taught me that I must strive for a goal that is meaningful to me. In this process, she taught me responsibility and the ability to find personal happiness.

As adults we need to create environments where children find happiness first and only when there is happiness, would they be able to believe in their ability to be.

So when I work with a group of teenagers, one of the exercises I ask students to participate in is finding ways they can teach happiness to those around.