My conversation with champion of Indian art, culture and Gandhianism V.R.Devika for my ‘The Happiness Road’ Series that appears in DT Next every Sunday. Read the conversation on the DT Next page here. ‘The Happiness Road’ is also my next Book. Photo Credit: Vinodh Velayudhan
“Happiness is a decision”
Mention Devika’s name and people will relate her to Gandhi, to the charkha and to Indian art and culture. Yet, to me, Devika is a champion of intelligent living – she lives by tenets that protect her inner peace and happiness. “When I was younger, I did wallow in self-pity and succumb to worry. But some years ago, when I had to go through a biopsy to rule out cancer, I told myself that I would face whatever came my way. My condition was not malignant – thankfully. But the experience taught me to overcome uncertainty and insecurity. I made a conscious choice then to be happy no matter what the doctors were to report. Therefore, happiness is a decision you take and it is not dependent on your circumstances,” says Devika.
She firmly believes that her entire Life has been serendipitous. She lives in an apartment that has been gifted – ‘with no strings attached’ – to her by a good friend. She has travelled to many countries to deliver talks and presentations – all of them on invitation. And every time she has needed work, someone has come along and given her a project that’s cut out just right for her. “How can you be unhappy when you have so much grace, so much abundance in your Life? I know I am one of the luckiest people in the world,” she confesses. She reveals that over the past several years she has created her own way to deal with debilitating emotions like worry, anger and anxiety, whenever they come calling: “I look into the mirror and tell myself that I am not going to let such feelings linger. I shift my attention to what I have instead of focusing on what I don’t have. I constantly remind myself to be grateful and content. That’s how I sustain my happiness.”
Devika reiterates that to be happy you have to be decisive. “When I was young, I was sexually abused by a powerful member of my family, my brother-in-law (who is no more). For years I pitied myself and lived in fear. But when I was in my 40s, I came out and told my family about it. Almost immediately, I stopped pitying myself. The secret to happiness lies in stepping out of whatever makes you unhappy,” she explains.
“Be decisive, be happy!” – that’s my key takeaway from the conversation. Surely, it’s yours too!