If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy — this is the title of a book. A while ago, I heard about it on a podcast and the catchy title got my attention. Few days ago while on a walk it again came to me, so I decided to share a few thoughts.
Personally, I grew up always striving to be intelligent and smart. I think both “intelligent” and “smart” mean the same, I got used to the latter when I moved to the US over a decade ago but growing up in India it was all about being “intelligent”.
But then we experience life and life is the greatest teacher. Over a period of time, my priorities changed. I stopped running after more money, didn’t care as much about what “others” thought about me, stopped trying to make others happy and began feeling comfortable in my own company.
What was the point in trying to keep getting “smarter” if it didn’t make one happy? My mind would always come up with reasons to do the opposite but I started to follow my heart. It was the beginning of seeking for me.
When I first started getting deeper into spirituality, my relatives warned my mother that some people go crazy and leave their family. I don’t know how people define words like crazy, madness. Einstein said if you keep doing what you have always been doing and expect things to change, that’s craziness. But I try not to judge others and just follow my heart.
A few years ago, I came across the story of Alok Sagar, a former professor of IIT with a PhD from US. He left his comfortable life and moved to a village in Madhya Pradesh in 1982, where since then he has been helping transform lives of the villagers.
Most people might think he is crazy. In fact, when I shared his story with a friend of mine, he said “kya pagal admi hai” ( what a crazy man). An IIT graduate, PhD from US, IIT professor — smart definitely, but was he happy?
A few of his interviews are available online and one can derive tone’s own opinion or conclusions. I think it wouldn’t just require a person to merely change, it would need transformation to live such a life. How many people are there like that? We won’t really know because they are not going to be on Forbes magazine or Instagram.
Swamiji says what makes you happy is good, but what makes you compassionate is better. What use is being smart if it doesn’t make us compassionate, if it doesn’t help others and humanity at large?
“Bada hua toh kya hua, jaise ped khajoor,
Panthi ko chaya nahin, phal laage atidoor”
What use is it to be the tallest like a date tree,
It offers no shade to the travellers, and the fruit is hard to reach.
Happiness is a matter of heart, how we feel. Being Smart is a matter of mind, the story we tell ourselves. I think it’s extremely difficult to be happy and have a big ego.
And that’s the challenge I faced.
When I was striving to be smart, I had a big ego. And the ego is what drove me, that’s where I got the energy and motivation from. But when I have felt really happy, I just couldn’t care about the outside world. It’s an inner world that gets created and it doesn’t matter wether others see you as happy.
The only thing that matters is how you feel in your heart. For me, I connected with spirituality and it made me happy. I fell in love with Kabir ke dohe. The same dohas that I had no interest at all while in school, filled me up with love and gratitude.
“Jab main tha tab Hari nahin, jab hari hai mai nahin
Sab andhiyara mit gaya, jab deepak dekhya mahin.”
When “I” was there, Hari was not; Now Hari “is” and “I” am not
All the darkness mitigated, when I saw the light within.