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Our Children's Quest For Happiness..

We often wonder what makes us happy? How many times do we pause to think how happy we are? How many times do we look around us and feel content? How many times do we feel thankful for what we have? When I think, I feel we don’t feel what we are supposed to feel because we are not looking for happiness. What we look for are things and reasons why we should be unhappy. Everything we get, we want some something else. Everytime its raining, we want the sun and when the sun stays on for long, we want the leaves of fall. Don’t we always want to eat what our spouse ordered from the restaurant than what we chose for ourselves from the menu? Don’t we always wonder if we could have “that” gift instead of “this”? Don’t we always want a bigger house, a thinner waist, a different cut of diamond or a better parking spot?
I don’t know about you, but I come from what you call a “middle class” family in Kolkata. I grew up in a house which was build by my grandfather. My mother took care of us while my father slogged at his office doing his best to bring us the best that life could offer. When I look back today, I am filled with gratitude and appreciation for what they did for me. But back in those days, it was a different story. I looked around and always complained – sometimes to myself and sometimes to them. The new sweater, the hand me down imported books, the first class train compartment was never good for me. Why couldn’t we shop from the markets where the elite shopped? Why couldn’t we get new books? Why did we have to take the train? It was endless I believe.
Today after living in the United States of America for 12 years, I feel I am blessed to have what I have. This standard of living, this quality of food, this house, the school my kids go to, the vacations we can afford – according to the American standard might be petty, but to me its heaven. I had never in my life imagined, life will be so blissful for me. Every now and then, I think of my childhood, try to cling on to the moments where I can hear my mother frying the fish, or the days of the first rains when the air carried the scent of the dirt with it, the whiff of the new clothes – I try to put everything together, recreate those days but its never the same. The richness of today’s life fades in comparison to the quality of life we had then.
I see my children grow in luxury. They can have the best clothes, food, toys, books, vacations – they have almost everything I once craved for. And they remind me of me when I was young. And sometimes it is scary. Can you guess why? Its because I see them complaining like I did once. Like me, they too express their displeasure at what we get them. Sometimes, they too mumble to themselves as to why they have to wait to get a toy? Why cant they just have everything like their friends do?
I have talked to my friends and I have talked to family and they all say the same. Their children do this and they see this everywhere. The quality of life that we are giving to them is a dream to us. So many of us have given up the idea of going back to India, because we want our kids to have better opportunities. We as parents are so much more informed than our parents so that we know which book, which toy, which school is best for our children. On top of everything, we are still trying to better ourselves. I remember my father who always sensed my unhappiness but never gave in. He always believed in himself and always felt he was doing the best he can. Today I try to be like him and try not to give in. I try to talk to my son and explain how fortunate he is to have what he has. How much he understands and how long this memory stays with him is another story. But I try. I hope that just as I appreciate my parents upbringing today, one day he can look back and think how fortuitous he was to have the childhood he had.  
I realized that the more you give, the more our children want. I strive to give my children a life that is simple, modest and humble. In this country, this is very hard. They grow up seeing abundance of everything everywhere. This abundance leads to wastage and our children become a part of that cycle, wasting instead of preserving or reusing.
Books are a great way of enriching them, helping them learn about different countries and their living standards. Foreign films are also a good source. Films from European and Asian countries often present a more realistic picture of the underprivileged world.
Being a content parent is also a good way of setting examples. Children are great in learning from observing and parents are their most immediate source. Watching us whine and complain will naturally teach them this way of reacting whenever their wants are not met.
I want to teach them how to appreciate the blessings in life that we take for granted. I aspire that one day they will realize how fortuitous they were to live the life they led. My boys are not the ideal example of how children should be. I am merely sharing what I dream my boys will grow up with as values and beliefs. I want to instill in them the desire to appreciate what they have. How much they will learn is upto them, but as a mother I will try all I can.

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"Happiness: We rarely feel

"Happiness: We rarely feel it.
I would buy it, beg it, steal it,
Pay in coins of dripping blood
For this one transcendent good"..Amy Lowell

I liked your article...and I

I liked your article...and I agree that not for one second we feel happy with what we already have.

Very Nice Brinda !

I simply loved ur post ! Ayon

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