Are We Happier Than The Previous Generation?

Previous generations had a somewhat shorter life-expectancy compared to today’s but they led happy and contended lives compared to today’s stressed-out-in the lap-of- luxury generation. We live longer since science has pulled back the barriers of death but what is the quality of those extra years of life? What modern science cannot cure, it merely prolongs.

In spite of landing on the moon and making scientific progress in every field, man can’t create even a blade of grass or answer perceptive questions like what is life? When did it originate? What is its purpose? What is the mind? How does the human brain think? How do cells of our nervous system affect our pleasures and our pains? What does a person in coma think about? How does a helpless foetus feel when the mother undergoes an abortion for whatever reason? How come every person is unique in spite of us being similar biological machines? How was the Universe created? And so on…

Even the process of death was gentle for previous generations. Old people were allowed to die at home in a familiar environment, probably on the bed they had slept in all their lives, surrounded by family, neighbours and friends dropping in with a caress and kind words – a natural death.

Today? In most cases, an unnatural death comes on an anonymous hospital bed or in a frightful ICU with tubes in every part of the body, respirator, pampers and total strangers in the garb of doctors and nurses (however good or efficient they may be). This is scary for old people who die with mental trauma and fear instead of going gently into the next world. The mental-state at the time of death is most important for the soul’s state of consciousness on the other side. What science cannot cure, it prolongs. We can even say that in some cases, it tortures old people. Wherever possible, old people should have a calm and peaceful death at home, surrounded and indulged by a loving family who can play their favourite music, talk to them and give them their favourite treats.

Much of today’s life is determined purely by monetary, financial and economic reasons, making people self-centred, selfish and dissatisfied. In the 1940s, when we went to school, I received a weekly pocket-money of one Rupee and I thought the world of it. Sometimes, I would save half of that amount. Many of today’s kids are unhappy even when their parents spend thousands of rupees on computer games and silly In the 60’s, a married couple could run their house on Rs. 400 to 500 a month. Today obscene amounts are spent by couples, but are they happy in marriage? Most of us had arranged marriages. We obeyed our parents and had no major expectations and are still married after 40 or 50 years. Today’s kids have love marriages with many of them coming to a sad end. Today’s marriages end within a year after many years of courtship or in rare cases, marriage ends in suicide of one of the partners. There’s no family life. It’s an age of double income and no kids. How many families have meals together? Very few.

Our grandparents had nothing compared to what we have today – no fridge, car, air-conditioner, television, cell-phone, washing-machine, dish-washer, etc. What must have been the secret of their contentment and happiness? No fridge meant freshly cooked food and not cold left-overs or packaged food. No air-conditioner meant they had to go out to a sea-shore or a garden for cool air. No microwave resulted in nutritious slow-cooked food. No car encouraged people to walk and be healthy. No telephones, computers, TV or cell phones resulted in meeting friends face to face in the real world and not in the unreal world of Facebook. Still, everyone seemed happy and contended.

Our grandparents had nothing but they had everything but we hardly have anything in spite of the so-called progress. There are only a few real friends today and everyone is social climbing in order ‘to arrive’. Trouble is, everyone tries to arrive fast, causing chaos.

A great many people are stressed out, depressed and unhappy in spite of luxurious ‘toys’ like cars, bigger homes, weekend-flats, cocktail parties and foreign holidays… so many people are turning to spirituality like it’s a soul-pill! Many youngsters say ‘take a chill-pill, chill-out or chillax’. But we can no longer even relate to their language. ‘Just do it’ says the Nike ad, and we overdo it – whether it’s eating, drinking, television, computer – the works.

Previously, we got married and then lived together. Now many youngsters live-in and later get married – not for better or worse, but only till good times last. When we said ‘pill’, we meant Aspro or Anacin, not birth-control pill and never knew phrases like ‘double income, no kids’ which is what many couples want today. Instant meant ‘at once’, unlike today’s instant tea-bags, instant coffee, instant marriages and instant divorces.

The word ‘fast’ applied to someone who lived life in the fast lane – today, it applies to fast food. The only AIDS we had were hearing aids since the terrible disease was unknown then. The net and surfing was confined to fishermen and not to computer-savvy people.

Today, different men judge women differently. Some admire a size-zero woman. Some say ‘she is hot’, while others find her ‘cool’. Some even call her a firecracker (phataka) when there is no Diwali. ‘Shrink’ was what happened to your clothes after a wash, and not to a psychiatrist. ‘Gay’ meant a happy person and not what it means today. ‘Soap’ was soap (Lifebouy or Hamam) and not the trash which is passed-on to us as Hindi serials on TV. ‘Big Bucks’ meant oversized deers at the zoo and not pots of money. ‘Gladrags’ was what you were supposed to give away in charity and not what you wore at the last Mahendi/ Sangeet party. ‘Mouse’ was Walt Disney’s Micky and not a computer term and ‘coke’ was an aerated drink, not drugs. ‘Solitaire’ was a board-game that the whole family played and not a diamond which is the hot currency of today’s love. We played snakes and ladders, ludo, Chinese-checkers and Patience (a card game), not violent computer-games of zap-zap, kill-kill. Today’s kids never heard of innocent games like ‘Kakaria Kumar, Taj Khalu Pidgeon Savak, Pakardao-Bharao Dav’.

Today’s generation has missed out on all the fun we had. They are restless and seek spirituality through columns, books, magazines devoted to new age living. They seek yoga classes, meditation camps, work-shops, lectures, alternate therapies like reiki, su-jok, vastu, feng-shui, crystals, tai-chi and the ‘Art of Living’, all of which come at a price. In fact, lots of big bucks are involved. It’s all about money and it’s not real spirituality. You are looking at the wrong drawer. Look within you and be happy – no matter what your outward circumstances are. Be contended with what you have and enjoy your journey on planet earth which is merely a transit lounge between incarnations and you already have a hotline to happiness!

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