Everyone has a right to be happy the way they are

Someone’s idea of happiness need not be the same as yours. But this does not mean you can hold it against them for being happy the way they are.

Today’s Economic Times runs a story by Rashmi Menon on VIP Industries Managing Director Radhika Piramal speaking openly about her sexual orientation. Piramal says that she knew she was gay when she was 15 but she was able to come out in the open only 2011. She adds that her sister, parents, extended family and her colleagues, all of them have been very supportive all through. Piramal’s story, and her wearing her Life on her sleeve, is indeed a reaffirmation of a deep spiritual principle – follow the path of your inner joy and you can never quite go wrong.
This is not about sexual orientation alone. This is about anything that is a personal choice. Between living for social norms and rituals, in the name of “culture and traditions”, or simply “earning a living” to drive your economic engine, and being unhappy, and being happy doing what gives you joy, choose the latter. Always. Even if it does piss off some people or forces some others to ostracize you!

Here’s a simple thumb rule on happiness to follow. If you are not happy with the way your Life is going, if you are not happy doing what you are doing, start over afresh tomorrow. Try something different. Trying this repeatedly is how you arrive at what really makes you happy. And once you know that, just go live that Life. Don’t bother about what people will say. Remember: They have a right to say or do what they want and you have a right to be happy the way you are. 

Let’s learn to let our children be who they are

The biggest support that you can offer to your children is to never compare them with others.  

Each child is unique. Each child is independent. And each child has a different way of experiencing and making sense of Life. We must learn to appreciate this difference, this uniqueness, and to allow our children to grow up – and evolve – into being good human beings. This is our “only” responsibility with regard to our children.

But most of the time your parental concern for protecting your child from Life’s truant ways comes between you and your child’s journey to explore – to touch and feel – Life. From taking time, or even being unable, to appreciate a child’s dyslexic condition to forcing a science curriculum on a child who is interested in arts to forcing a young adult into a software career, when all he wants is to create music, to insisting that your daughter marry someone from within the community than someone who loves her deeply – there are a million ways in which you – and I – often fail to support our children. Or, for that matter, even understand them.

Therefore, I was very encouraged to read renowned theatre actor and film director, Chitra Palekar’s (who is divorced from Amol Palekar) views on a “different” choice her daughter made many years ago. Chitra shared her personal story with The Times of India (TOI) yesterday saying how her daughter walked up to her one day in the early ‘90s and reported that she was a homosexual.

Chitra Palekar (right) with her daughter
Pic Source: Internet
“Would you love your child less if he is left-handed? Would you hate her if she is dark? You don’t. It is the same case here. Nothing changes because she has a different sexual orientation. Science has proved it’s not a disease, it is merely a difference. She is your child. And you want her to flower,” Chitra told TOI. She added: “She told me: ‘Amma, I’m a lesbian’. I wasn’t shocked. I was just surprised, taken aback. Heterosexuality is what we’ve all grown up with. My only knowledge about homosexuality was through films and some literature. But I immediately accepted her. Because she was the same that she was till two minutes ago. Nothing about her had changed for me.” Chitra says she was only hurt that her daughter had not shared this ‘difference’ in her with Chitra any earlier. But being the mother that she is, Chitra forgave her daughter and moved on. Her daughter, now 41, teaches at the University of Western Australia, and lives with her partner of 14 years.

When it comes to our children, not all of us have to always deal with situations as difficult as the one Chitra had to. But her maturity and her understanding are indeed an inspiration. Comparing our children with other children and pining for them to “not be different” is ruining our own happiness and that of our children. What we can learn is to just let our children be who they are. We can teach them good values, we can invite them to learn from our experiences by sharing with them openly – but beyond these we must cease to have any expectations from them. They have been created to experience Life in their own unique way. That way may not be the one we know or understand. I believe the only blessing we can ask for, is for our children to be happy doing whatever they choose to do in Life – whoever they choose to do it with!