Opinion

Happy with thyself?

Naveen Khajanchi | Updated on March 18, 2019 Published on March 18, 2019

Know what really matters to you and pursue it

As Mark Twain says, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn’t matter.” Queen Elizabeth seems happy in the saddle at 93 years of age and Warren Buffet at 88 years continues as usual. There have been founders who discovered their happiness and purpose threads early in life, got an opportunity to pursue and have made a mark already, say Elon Musk of Tesla.

On the other hand, successful young start-up founders sell their stake for millions of dollars and are now pursuing different areas (like farming, teaching, giving back to society by establishing schools and hospitals, and developing products for the masses) of their larger purpose in life. Joy needs rethinking and recalibrating and the Dementia Village is an eye opener for me.

I went back to studies and joined INSEAD after I was 40. Alongside my work, I now blog, coach leaders entering a phase of post-worldly success, wherein meaning and happiness matter more than ever before. I have found some threads of my larger purpose,that is, to be happy and make others happier. A lot of my friends seem to be going through a mid-life crisis, some living in fear and being comfortable with the anxieties that they have been used, some slowly coming out of the shackles and enjoying the new-found freedom.

My wife and I have very different views on how to lead life. Over the years, we have learnt to mutually accept our differences, to be independent in our ways and agree to disagree amicably. This is because we have complete faith in our unconditional love and trust for each other. For example, she started baking and enjoying the activity, although she hesitates in even tasting the goodies as she does not like the cakes or chocolates (although, I suspect the real reason is putting on weight). I, on the other hand encourage baking enthusiastically, since I love the chocolate, cake and cookies.

Reinventing yourself is exciting and scary at the same time. Across generations, everyone is struggling to let go of what was (identity, community, colleagues, and competencies) to embrace what’s next (as yet unknown, undefined, and ambiguous). There is a mixture of fear (Who am I?) and excitement (I am SO ready for a change), confusion (What do I want?) and certainty (Time to move on).

Most of us have to deal with our own identities — the social one which we seem to have been protecting from early years. We mostly have been living a life for being accepted by others, living up to social expectations and awaiting the approval of the outer world.

It’s our inner world that seems to feel a vacuum and now, the time has come to break away from that. It’s difficult and takes some courage, a dose of conviction but now is the time. We have to leave this shore to experience new things. There is a desire to break the shackles and give all the nonsense a damn… yet, fear seems to hold us.

Your life may be fantastic when you see it from someone else’s eyes. Travelling to foreign countries, solid marriage, well-behaved children, and a successful career — all hallmarks of a life well lived. Yet, there is dissatisfaction and more and more people are proactively doing something about it rather than wallow in self-pity.

Remember, that it is not about succeeding at reinvention, but giving it your best shot anyway. It’s about first accepting yourself and knowing what really matters to you. It’s about unlearning and relearning a new way of doing things that is relevant to the current context — for example, not being able to operate a smartphone is no longer a negotiable thing for a common person. A good way is to think that maybe you are in the departure lounge for heaven and before departing you are asked for advice. Apply it to yourself... retirement then is rejuvenated.

As I say in my ‘ATM for Happiness’: Look inside, accept yourself and others, take charge and make the most with what you already have in the present. It’s time to ignite your inner purpose to become your own ‘Chief of Rejuvenation’ for more joy.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating you.” And you can only create the “you” when you let go of the fear of change and adapt to the changes around you. (Today, March 19, is World Happiness Day!)

The writer is CEO of NKH Foundation Pvt. Ltd

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Published on March 18, 2019
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