Discovering the Happiness Around Us


Dr. Venkatesh Tamlurkar
Faculty Assistant General Manager
Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Banking and Finance
Gachibowli, Hyderabad

My experience:

I felt perturbed when I received the unexpected call at 7 pm on my office landline. Not because the abrupt loud ring at that odd hour frightened me in my silent cabin but it dangled my thought flow process on a topic I was preparing for the next day's session. Annoyingly, I lifted the receiver and in a thick voice screamed, "Hello!!"

The stuttering sweet voice of my three year old daughter at the other end melted my heart and swiftly composed me. She started complaining on various issues beginning with me for being late again. Then she cutely griped about my wife for not offering her favorite combination of chapatti with ghee and sugar, grumbled over her five year old brother for not giving her the coloring crayons, finally ending the 15 minute amiable talk with a command to bring for her the regular Dairy Milk chocolate bar on my way back home. The entire monologue, as I would depict it, totally refreshed me and constrained me to instantly shut down my computer system and rush home to embrace her.

How many of us face similar situation that instantly invigorates us smothering the entire day's exhaustion? How much ever we get engrossed and tired with our work, there are several encouraging triggers that often energize us to carry on life with optimism. Do we ever try to identify such numerous straits that immune us from the everyday physical and mental stress we suffer? An earnest reflection on this devoting a modest time regularly would lead us to discover those channels, utilize them suitably to remove the distressing toxins, help us achieve a perfect life balance and real happiness that we all seek both professionally and personally.

The reality:

I remember a brilliant colleague of mine who always planned to leave on time to fulfill her personal goal of joining cooking classes and pleasing her family members with new dishes. However, she could never enroll as the last minute office exigencies and circumstances forced her to stay back beyond normal working hours. Soon her performance dropped as she developed a sense of negative feeling and inferiority complex mounted in her straining personal relationship with many. Our superior who was a seasoned banker with wide experience sensed the severity and to rescue an efficient performer, at once provided an opportunity to realize her dream with simultaneous series of counseling sessions. Within few days, there was a remarkable transformation in her as people observed more enthusiasm and cheerfulness while she worked and interacted.

Sharing the experiences once in a forum where my superior was talking about foregoing some of our personal goals, at times, in the larger interest of the organization, he quoted the above instance as how he enduringly counseled and persuaded the lady to differentiate and understand her priorities. He propitiously made her realize the importance of organizational objectives and what she needs to focus at a given situation. Guiding further on managing time efficiently and making some adjustments in her daily routine, he also facilitated her to attend the classes without affecting the daily routine as well as her personal life. The wisdom of our superior with timely recognition of her emotions and proper support acted as a catalyst that entirely subdued her skepticism.

Ideally, many of us too plan to leave on time to fulfill our personal goals, but it practically does not work out on some occasions due to the circumstances. Genuine work pressure, deadlines, work delays due to inefficient systems, our inability to complete the task on time, compelling by the bosses for some/no reason, peer pressure, pleasing the bosses at times, certain personal issues and so on are few of the causes that hinder such preparations. However, some people just leave conscientiously once they finish their day's task while some procrastinate for the next day or burden their colleagues. Regrettably, a lot of us usually remain clueless with regard to the quantity of time we need to bestow for the organization and self. While there is no thumb rule with regard to allocating time in a given proportion between work and personal life, few are able to perfectly balance. Many fail to justify themselves as they simply spend most of their active work time doing personal chores or vice versa. It is difficult and bewildering to prioritize, organize and discipline oneself for a proper work-life balance. By and large, in the Indian context, leaving on time in many organizations in the normal course is taken negatively by the higher ups and colleagues who presume such employees as escapists defaming them with tags like irresponsible, unaccountable, freeloader etc., Such environment builds mistrust, disrespect, hatred, misunderstanding and discouragement amongst the employees spoiling the overall office atmosphere. Entangled in such complexities that create more confusion, people forget and lose sight of the genuine happiness that actually encircles them at work and in personal life.

At this instant, I wish to share another incident one of my colleagues recently shared with me. On a particular day, her friend had to leave office early in the evening to attend a function. Accordingly, she completed all her tasks on time and was about to leave when the cashier informed that the day-end cash was not tallying with the billing machine totals. Being the Outlet Supervisor, she was advised by the Outlet Manager to leave only after the issue is resolved. Attending the event on that day was very important as her husband was being felicitated amidst top personalities of the town for a national level achievement in sports. The whole episode emotionally disturbed her as it was for the first time he requested her presence being a significant occasion and she couldn't make it.

If we revisit the situation and try to analyze the thoughts going on in her mind and her feelings that evening during various interfaces while tallying the cash register along with the Cashier, her body language when informing the Outlet Manager at the time of leaving, when facing her husband at home who was honored in the absence of his wife. While some would justify the stance of Outlet Manager citing job as the first priority for anyone, some would be compassionate and pity her situation.

Recreating the situation again and assuming that the Outlet team gladly allows her to attend the function while they handle the cash tallying issue themselves. How would have been the overall Outlet atmosphere the next day? Possibly, they all would have celebrated with a small revelry from the proud and joyful lady. Perhaps, she would work with extra motivation and dedication, show more affection towards her colleagues and would be eager to help anyone in future whenever required.

Could we identify the stimulus in the assumed scenario and compare with the actual situation the lady faced? Such situation probably could not arise, may be because of lack of mutual respect, coordination and team spirit amongst the Outlet staff themselves or any other reason unknown to us. How could have everyone, including the lady, worked on various aspects that would turn the overall setting in everybody's favor helping them end their day with gratification?

Maturing to understand:

For different people, varieties of prompts act as motivators to perform better as well as to get along with life happily. It's upon us to identify the constructive ones as few of them may prove useful to some in the short-run but may become harmful in the long-run. Hence, deciding wisely while selecting and applying those triggers lead to discovering the real happiness. A sense of maturity has to be achieved to maneuver oneself in a right way that benefits us to live a joyous life.

I remember an old friend in sales who always felt relaxed the minute he smoked one cigarette before making a sales call or meeting a client. Initially, he used to depend on single cigarette per day but within no time the number increased to one full pack. Similarly, another senior colleague in my previous organization had the habit of taking 4 ounces of whisky every evening before sleep to feel peaceful after the day's pressure. Though both gained instant relief, their immaturely decisive practice troubled them in the long-run as the habit not only affected their health and wealth but also strained their family and social relations. It eventually wrecked their career prospects that depressed and distressed them all through life.

As shared by few well-wishers, some people in order to come out of their anxiety or avoid the work pressure or to gain temporary happiness behave appallingly or resort to several other ill practices like visiting pubs/night clubs, eating frequently, chewing tobacco, torturing self or family members, etc.,. While the above class is destructing themselves and their personal life, a definite set in search of seeking happiness employ odd and hurtful means that twinge even their colleagues disturbing the organizational environment. Such conduct include talking sweetly in front but backbiting, misbehaving/mistreating the subordinates, unreasonably poking in others' private lives and offering unwanted advises, habitually filling bosses' ears portraying themselves good and others as bad, siphoning the accounts, destroying organizational assets, turning as kleptomaniacs etc.,

It is to be understood that the very purpose an individual works is two-pronged to achieve the career objective and to have a meaningful personal life. While career objective focuses on the professional growth, personal life revolves around self-development or meeting family values. Though our individual effort to utilize the right means is very significant as it enables us to approach in right direction and achieve the desired happiness, many organizations too are playing a major role and supporting their employees to lead a balanced work-life. Some of the areas where different organizations contribute are

- flexible work options like part-time work, work from home, teleworking, unpaid leave, flexi-time, health care facilities, maternity leave;
- conducting workshops/seminars/trainings on work-life balance;
- allocating staff welfare funds;
- organizing family outings;
- sponsoring outstanding children of employees for higher studies etc., to name a few that benefit a wide class of their employees

However, they may explore the possibilities of working on many more employee friendly measures depending on their organizational policy and feasibility.

Deliberately, no specific suggestions are being offered that could be practiced or followed by any individual or organization. The idea behind is to shun any individual bias as well as avoid getting influenced by others' advocacy. To reiterate again, we need to be mature enough and become the best judges in choosing and applying the most appropriate trigger that unwinds and makes us happy promoting an affirmative surroundings. At the end, we all seek to have a happier life, society and the mankind, as a whole.

Dr. Venkatesh Tamlurkar
Faculty Assistant General Manager
Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Banking and Finance
Gachibowli, Hyderabad

Source: E-mail April 9, 2014


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