Happiness Is An Attitude

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Happiness does not depend on what you have in life – it is the ability to condition your mind to the state of contentment inspite of your external circumstances. Such that those who see your smiles may be sceptic of the cause behind it as they cannot have it – inspite of everything that they think they have more than you do.
The surest way to find happiness, is in first having a personal vision for your life even if it is to be the ‘best’ mother or house wife… and setting goals to achieve that vision, such that climbing every rung envelops you in the essence of achievement and contentment.
Without a spiritual bent of mind, by dwelling in shallow and frivolous thoughts, and looking at other’s aspirations and weighing their ability to achieve them – you can never find the light towards real happiness.
If you allow your smiles to be dependent on your children’s successes, your loyal and doting wife/husband’s ability to get you whatever you want, your financial situation and lifestyle – your smile can never emanate from your depths. The happiest moment then will only be fleeting as a butterflies life, for profound and constant happiness – is deep rooted within yourself and emanates only from your “self” esteem.
Don’t rely on anyone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – the good and the bad – and make changes – not because you think someone else wants you to be different.

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Once you become fearless and habituated to standing close to the edge, from years of practice, you don’t really care about the threats, baseless fears, inferiority complex and insecurities of those who preach from their limited exposure and shallow thinking. You would rather fall and learn newer lessons each time, than allow their negativity and pessimism restrict your thinking, even if they like to construe – your self confidence that can only come from having taken that dive so often to successfully surface and swim back to shore – as arrogance and irresponsible behavior.
— Shuvashree Chowdhury

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”
— Dale Carnegie
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh

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An Uphill Drive: Hairpin Bends

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Early this morning we’d taken the flight,
Arriving at Coimbatore – to commence our drive
To the town of tea plantations, Valparai,
Which I’d only recently heard of –
Though living in Chennai,
And planned this weekend trip –
From the summer heat – for some reprieve.

After an hour’s – smooth drive
Through the just awaking business city’s life,
We arrived at Pollachi – a small, clean district
At the foothills, from where we were going to climb –
After savouring the best idlis and vadai,
With aromatic filter coffee – our freshness revived:
To appreciate the pristine beauty our eyes imbibed –
With blue sky draped mountains as if waves of varying heights,
Over which green trees, their alluring essence have inscribed –
Like at a perfume infused society ball – where ladies deftly swirled,
And on whose branches varied birds delightfully alight
Before they fly away to form patterns in the dazzling sky
That’s just been washed clean by a light drizzle –
And is sitting out to dry In the early sun’s soft and warm light
That through the cars window is swathing me in delight.

As we deftly accelerate up the narrow winding hill path –
At every sharp turn after the slow and tedious climb
there’s a prize we’re awarded – Of an amazingly picturesque sight
unravelled to us by God who has generously bestowed
on those willing to trod the unforeseen and untold –
Trusting him to shower his benevolence, unconquerable goodwill
To elevate us to a higher, grander plane – our purpose to fulfill.

On each hairpin turn, we deftly took – up the steep but sturdy hill,
There stood a stone slab marking the number just crossed
Out of the fourty in all we’d have to traverse to reach our goal:
I felt a reinvigorated confidence in myself to surge ahead in life –
For failures, hurdles, rejections, criticism, hatred – each is a turnpike
Which must be crossed to reach that garden of successful delight,
From where we can view the world with our personal vision
Without being told – the path you chose will it – your life withhold?

At the end of the fourtieth hairpin turn(year) was a thick forest
Which was so beautifully scented –
it felt like entering an aromatic refreshing spa
That was also playing the recorded strums of a guitar –
Of insects loudly screeching their joyous hallelujah
For the short life that they live with little purpose – unlike us
Who in this wide life we live – don’t find cause for gratitude
That we may pass onto the generations after us –
To find a joyous and purposeful cause to live for:
This forest abounds in a lot of other animals–
Elephants, Leopards, Tigers, Deers, among others – giant Squirrels,
And yet the insects among the titans mark their presence
In the only voice – the buzzing sound God has given them,
Without feeling thwarted by their minuscule presence.

Outside of this enlightening and refreshing forest
We come out onto smooth road flanked by tea plantations –
Through whose tiered landscape there’s mountains
That stare back at us through tall trees that arrest rain,
To ensure there’s bountiful and quality harvest:
So Varpalai is not a mere tourist but a business destination
And plantation workers are gainfully employed, clothed and fed,
That the six owners of the fifty six estates generate more wealth.

The next morning, from my hotel bed – under the quilt,
I hear the sound of a siren – summoning pluckers to their work at six,
Through sounds of cawing, a few melodious – also unidentifiable chirping
Along with the neighborhood hen clucking and rooster crowing –
In the distance I see planters cottages lined on low hills
And cradled in their midst is a wide expanse of multilayered green:
All of it shrouded in mist, snuggling me in a deluge of joyous cozy chill.

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Don’t Write Me Off

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I might be past my prime of youth –
But see, I’m aging gracefully;
Don’t write me off – I’m old wine:
My words, a rehearsed symphony.

The sparkle in my traversed eyes
Has withstood life’s numerous storms;
As for my smile, it’s braved treacheries
But can still rake up a storm in hearts.

I could as well be losing physical agility,
But my mind’s a pliant willow tree –
It’s osiers now weave thought baskets;
Once it’s firm timber – built cricket bats.

I’ve never listened to anyone in my life,
They preach out of experiences of failure –
For I prefer to be guided by successes,
Not let fear – but intuition be my leader.

So don’t write me off, till you taste my elixir
Of curiosity, an innocence that keeps me soaring –
My heart’s a parachute, braces rejections, failures:
As my soul, nurtures a banyan sapling of self-esteem.

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Excerpts from my upcoming novel ‘Entwined Lives’: Thoughts on Love and a Love for Thoughts.

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Please click on the photo to read the blurb/ back cover synopsis.

Thoughts on Love & A Love for Thoughts: Excerpts from my upcoming novel Entwined Lives…

“Nascent love requires a lot of nurturing, just as a sapling that has been sown into the warm brown earth of your heart. If it is ignored by the one you love – the gardener, not weeded off scepticism, ego and fear, it will be plucked out by the errant bird – self-pride, transplanted on to the fertile soil of another planter who considers himself blessed by the gift of love.”

“Love is like a fizzy cola drink. Only the bottle perceives the pressure inside till you open it, though the world sees its perky colour. Then once you uncork, it keeps fizzing for a while and is unsettling, gushing out and over, till it slowly settles down to allow you to enjoy it, cooling you in the process, till it drains out completely and then leaves you with an aftertaste sweet or sour. If you’ve enjoyed the drink, which you’ll truly indemnify only once the bitter-sweet flavour leaves your senses, you’ll crave for another one, perhaps similar, if not you’ll avoid it altogether for a long time to come.”

“Thoughts are like nectar that words both spoken and written carry as Bees do, into the beehive of your mind. Then once sealed in with the honeycomb of your attitudes and values, they produce honey that feeds your soul for a lifetime.”

 

I just read this article in the link below now, but I’m pleased I’ve intutively followed each of these guidelines by plenty of reading – much more consciously, since I decided to be a writer of literary fiction: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/may/13/so-you-want-to-be-a-writer-colum-mccanns-tips-for-young-novelists

 

Dedication on my new novel ‘Entwined Lives’ reads: ‘For the city of Chennai’
Set in Chennai, with the story going back and forth to Mumbai, ‘Entwined Lives’ is my sincere and humble attempt to give back to the city I made my home since May 2006. This is after I married a Chennai based journalist who went on to author four books, all of which I have been closely associated with, but more so Tamarind City – in that it did not require him to travel out of the home city.
As suggested in this article in the link below that I just read, I too got my manuscript read by a Chennai born and raised, reputed and popular, veteran woman journalist, who has been a solid source of inspiration and moral support since I moved to Chennai and shared with her my interest to ‘write.’
It is only after she read and cleared ‘Entwined Lives’, saying, ‘You have nothing to worry about’ – did I move to the copy editing stage with the manuscript.
So please take into account my sincerity in taking on this challenge in writing this novel, even after learning there is little fiction writing set in Chennai, for it apparently doesn’t sell, and excuse my lapses in depiction in the way you might have preferred it.

Warmly,
Shuvashree.

https://lm.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fbooks%2F2016%2Foct%2F01%2Fnovelists-cultural-appropriation-literature-lionel-shriver&h=ATPyhe5LO7rg-ywtAkQd1zCAH0-Dx-TXqfEZKo2TAM2opOeOkD3vZLEdUKY-oDDoOO-T5B4RAeEZ18b8SaVkpcfyFWmpZ4HYgUcS1xgEMYk3zZHPL3bd3w&s=1

On Mastery of the Language you Write in

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To the points here that I don’t lack, I’d like to add one more, that I’ve grown up giving much precedence to, in giving credence – to anyone I’d consider a ‘good writer.’ And that is the proficiency, rather a mastery of the language one is writing in. Which youngsters today think is so inconsequential.
I might be rather old school, and considering this attribute to good writing of utmost importance I find it difficult to tolerate bad language in putting forth whatever great thoughts you’re putting across to the world.

I have immense respect for regional language writers, who are masters in the language they write in, but have not an iota of it for those who choose to write in English but have no clue how to use it let alone have mastery of it and worse still are smug and arrogant enough to not want to try and improve.

I came to Chennai in 2006. It’s been twelve years. One thing I deeply regret is not having learned Tamil, even though I’ve imbibed a lot of the culture, food habits etc. The reason I sacrificed this desire to learn Tamil to feel more at home in my new home city is that my coming to Chennai coincided with my aspiration to be an English language writer for which I had no prior experience. So I spent every ounce of my language learning ability in the last twelve years to improving my usage of the English language by reading classics and skillfully written literary fiction cover to cover and back to back. I had to have a focus, and I couldn’t deviate from it, in the desire to learn another language now. I decided to learn it later.
I did not take my prior knowledge of the English language, of which my school English teacher considered I had a knack for, sufficient. I’ve always, all my life raised the bar to my own goals towards excellence and cannot suffer easily those who do not consider quality in their work of utmost importance. So you can judge my work as much as you like, even by how I look or dress, but my confidence stems from the fact that I’ve done my sincerest best to reach where I’m today in the completion of four books. Though I humbly acknowledge that my best may be very far from good for the world.

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Your Imperfections Make You Beautiful

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This blog is inspired by the post of a very young debut author (Facebook friend) who writes: “The truth is Beauty is more respected by everyone than the real love and talent!”

Her post, though it might be the lament of one who feels she’s losing out to those she feels favoured by destiny, brought to mind a series of interlinked thoughts. I’m sharing one such below, but with the firm conviction that you don’t have to be born beautiful, you have to grow up learning to groom yourself internally and externally beautiful. This is the gist of my upcoming collection of short stories titled “Existences.”

My airline stint ended in mid 2001, with my transfer to Mumbai that I was unable to take up due to personal reasons. After a few months, I joined the about to be launched luxury hotel of one of the premium chains as reservations manager. The first few months passed rather stressfully in trying to realign my thinking – in working for an airline/organization that gave it’s employees plenty of mental and creative space to prove ourselves so as to promote exceptional excellence in service, to one which had no faith in it’s employees to execute discretion or individuality – so expected you to parrot every word/line you spoke to a guest. I felt claustrophobic and frustrated to say the least but I tried to match their ways and hold on to my flashiest smile even when explaining to prospective guests why are rack rates were double than that of all other hotels in Calcutta at the time. Of course I had substantive quality training along with the sales department and all department heads, by an international sales consultancy/training firm to do so.

Now came the time when I had to give my measurements for my fitted designer (Satya Paul) uniform – of a black pant suit with a bow tie. I was shocked when I was called to the HR Directors cabin and crisply told – “The GM and Front office Manager say you will have to lose substantial weight before you can be fitted for your new set of uniforms. When we interviewed you, you were much slimmer. You will have to return to that size…you have a month to go.”
At 28/29 years, after several years of experience of which this HR head knew well from being in the airline with me, I was not just shocked, but was upset and angry. Obviously sitting daylong at my desk, along with eating the hotel meals for months, as compared to my active life at the airline, I had put on weight but I was not fat by any standards.
I had already been facing subtle sexual harrasment from the FO Manager, a man from Jammu – a few years older than me. It was so subtle that I could not complain for the difficulty in justifying to senior management, what was wrong in being called up daily just after I’d left the hotel, on some pretext or other – to be very harshly told things like: “Why didn’t you turn off the fax machine in your office?” or many other sillier things.
So anyway, I spent the next month jogging in the mornings before coming to work, slashing my rice and roti intake at the hotel, even as everyone around me walked around in their new uniform. While the FO Manager, a fit and good looking man, grinned slyly at me – making it a point to peep into my plate full of green salad over lunch and dinner both of which I had at the hotel due to long hours.
After two weeks, I was summoned to the HR heads office and reminded that I had another two weeks to go and I was far from the slimness expected from me by the FO Manager. Obviously I wanted to walk out the door and never return, but my pride prevented me from losing this battle to his whims. I increased my jogging speed and cut my food intake further, till they approved for me to be measured for my uniform.
I wore the uniforms and worked sincerely till the hotel was launched a month later. Then a few weeks after, I walked out of the hotel after lunch, after another tirade by the FO Manager, informing the HR head I wouldn’t return. I sent my resignation to the GM along with the precise reasons of my leaving, by post. My self-esteem could not take this beating any further though I would not have left – crushing my pride completely in losing out to my predators.
— Shuvashree Chowdhury Ghosh
https://shuvashreeghosh.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/your-imperfections-make-you-beautiful/

 

 

 

 

9th May…Adding to the above thoughts:

Whatever you achieve in life, however high you climb – people who don’t have the courage and vision to place their own goals ahead of where you are then, will appease their sense of inferiority and insecurity by undermining your journey.
As a woman the easiest way to have your talent, skills, abilities, perseverance and grit, with your lifetime’s work undermined, is by brandishing your confidence in your looks – so people can attribute it to your appearance and its fathomed ability to win the world.
😊 Why do you have to look drab to demonstrate your intelligence and abilities to the world…if you have confidence in them!
All I have to say to such people who measure their goals by how low they can pull others down, whether men or women is…dare to improve your goals, rather than finding excuses for your inability to raise the bar: for the first rung of success is the confidence that you’re going to make it up.

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On ‘Seriousness’: The other side of the coin

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We are often told: “Don’t take things, or let’s say life – so seriously, loosen up, let it go, just laugh… or whatever it is that will ease our anxiety or our worry and pessimism. But this lack of taking things seriously since childhood, that we are encouraged to do – more so in adulthood when it is of utmost importance, is the root of most of the problems we face today, in my view.

We do not take anything seriously, do we – not our words, neither our actions, and least of all our views and scathing criticism of others, and its repercussions, or let’s say even our lavish and undue praise, that can topple and ultimately uproot the self-esteem of a person who has little ability left for judgement of his strengths and weaknesses to decide on the profundity of his behaviour or his next course of action.

So no…For heaven’s sake, I say…Do take life seriously: Even if it means that you love seriously, even if you hurt very seriously, also cry and laugh sincerely, till you really feel all of yourself in your gut and in your soul.

Don’t laugh when all you want to do is weep and don’t cry for the world when all you want to do is laugh at the absurdity of the world. Have the courage to be real and to be ‘you’, so as to feel everything deeply and connect to your core self, not to what is expected of you – thus turn yourself into a shallow creature that keeps flapping its wings with all the other ducks but has no inherent strength in its wings to fly alone.

You don’t have to be grumpy, boring, whiny and obnoxious to be seriously sincere in life, you can enjoy your life hilariously, uproariously, and be as silly as you like when the mood strikes, but you need to be deeply connected to yourself, to form sincere connections with people and the world and thereby take responsibility for your words, opinions, actions and behaviour and their impact on others. Happiness, especially peace, I believe stems from taking onus and responsibility for your words, actions and yourself.