Dependent or Independent

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How to be blissful independent of the environment?


I love doing aerobics at the gym.  No matter how tired I feel or how late I slept the night before, the days when I have an aerobics class, I spring out of the bed in excitement and happiness.  I thoroughly enjoy the class and have equally passionate people who share similar sentiments.  One among the group whom I’m particularly fond of is Lakshmi.

She is a smiling, bubbly, charming lady and always as fresh as dew!  She not only dances well but is also one of the best-hearted ladies I know.  She would often share tips on health, postures, right food, etc.  One day she told me, “Babita you should do weights too.  Strength training will increase the bone density and will halt muscle loss too.”

When I asked her how she had so much idea about health, she replied, “My husband was a doctor and he used to share a lot of these information.”

It was shocking to hear about her loss.  “I’m sorry to hear about it.  But I must say I am really inspired by the way you are living your life.  How do you maintain this smile, this passion and enthusiasm?” I asked.

“My husband used to say, ‘Do not always be dependent on people for your happiness!’  And I thank my husband for preparing me for it.  It helped me a lot to emerge strongly out of this major loss.”

I feel this is the plight of almost every woman because she is always dependent on her spouse, children or family for her happiness.  If any problem arises in the relation, they sink into mental disturbance.  They have to learn to be emotionally independent by having the mind diverted to many other activities, depending on personal interests and choices.  Becoming more emotionally self-reliant will surely transform relationships and bring home happiness.

There was a point in what Lakshmi said.  We all are emotionally needy.  We want someone to make us happy and someone to blame for our unhappiness.  We hardly realise that this dependency causes all kinds of troubles.

Yes, we are dependent on each other, as in depending on the farmers, servants, builders, doctors, lawyers, etc.  But that’s interdependence.  Depending on another psychologically and emotionally means to depend on another human being for personal happiness.  This is where the problem starts.

It’s incorrect to believe that someone or something can ‘make me blissful’.  What’s really happening is that we are making our happiness dependent on them, and that dependency makes us unhappy.  Then no matter how much time and attention people give us, it will never be enough because it will continue to make us feel alone inside.  As a result, we have an attitude of wanting ‘all or nothing’ from people instead of appreciating whatever is offered.

“I’m sorry to hear about it.  But I must say I am really inspired by the way you are living your life.  How do you maintain this smile, this passion and enthusiasm?” I asked.

We have to create our own source of built-in happiness.  There are so many ways to find happiness within one’s own self.  As in Lakshmi’s case, she involved herself in activities like dance, social work, reading books and going for job, etc.  Though she loved them, she wasn’t doing them earlier.  Once she started engaging her mind in these things, they gave her a zest to look ahead.

In her case, it was the loss of the spouse; in our cases, it might be that emptiness due to many other reasons like spouse becoming too busy in his or her work, children going abroad for higher studies or getting married, etc.  That vacuum has to be filled.  Other than our daily chores, we have to develop certain talents or hobbies which will give us a new zeal to live life.

Get involved in some social work.  Focusing on the needs of others steers your mind away from sad thoughts.  It’s impossible to feel lonely when you’re feeding the homeless, reading to kids at an orphanage or dancing with grandmas.  Helping the less fortunate will also fill you with immense gratitude.

Take a camera, and go out and start taking beautiful pictures of things around you.  A sleeping child, a sunrise or a laughing baby – filling your life with beautiful things can take your mind off loneliness.  Enrol yourself in online classes, learn a new language, try a new recipe, create a scrapbook, have a pet.

Join any sports activity which gives your body a workout, or read, which will give your brain a workout.  Do something that gives you a kick, a tinge of freshness – dancing, gardening, painting, playing a musical instrument… anything that would make you look forward to.

These activities will not only make you emotionally independent but will also give you a sense of self-efficacy.  By making use of these tools, you can once again learn to live whole-heartedly, find new passions or reclaim existing ones, and rejoin your community with strength and purpose.

Michel de Montaigne put it so beautifully, “The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

Being emotionally independent and resilient is an integral part of being happy.  When we depend on others for our sense of self, we never truly know who we are.  Fortunately, by accepting ourselves, transforming our thinking and taking active strides to be true to whom we are and how we feel, we can find that inner sense of peace and independence.

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