That critical step, one I can and do control, is enthusiasm.
Optimism allows me the liberty of missing some targets without being too critical with myself for doing so. You can’t gauge a person’s happiness but you can’t ignore enthusiasm.
To go out for a walk at night, sometimes all of us, sometimes alone.
To allow each other the space to do what they like, whether it is a visit to the library for me, Saturday morning squash games for my husband, time and space for everyone to listen, to speak, to cry if needed, without interruption or judgment.
Like ducklings that get imprinted by the first moving object and follow it around, assuming it is the mother, I fully absorbed and internalised the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” principles of the Declaration of Independence that underscore life in America. Acquiring a driving license allowed me to drive on wide highways with the windows down and the radio turned up, happy to experience a worldly pleasure that was commonplace in America but beyond my father’s reach in our middle-class life back in India.
I went on a boat ride to the base of Niagara Falls, walked along the Grand Canyon and floated above the vineyards in Napa Valley in a hot air balloon.On the days I feel blue, I choose to confront it the same way I approach everything, with enthusiasm.If I see a glass less than full, I am that optimist who enthusiastically fills it, not always completely, but definitely until it is half-full. I choose to focus instead on concrete actions, not knowing whether they are long-lasting solutions or interim measures. To eat dinner together, even if the meal does not have the preferred food of each member.One Friday night, returning from a Christmas party, I stepped out to find a blanket of snow covering the streets, street-lights and the twinkling holiday decorations that adorned them.I trudged through fresh powdery snow, towards the statue of Abraham Lincoln that dominates the iconic building, not caring about the damp seeping through my new silk sari.Falling short on material goals translated to unhappiness. Much of our obsession with feeling happy, being happy, making ourselves happy causes us to be anything but happy.I do have a nice home, a supportive husband, two children and still have the Ph. “Happiness is a state of mind” proclaims a popular bumper sticker.The walls of my home were lined with pictures of visits to London, Paris, New York.I had friends and hobbies, a job and a bank account with enough money to support myself. Everything around me was a reminder of what was missing in an outwardly perfect life.The first time I saw falling snow was also the first time I saw the majestic Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.I had landed in America, a few weeks before Christmas, as a naïve twenty-two-year-old bride.