Monday 8 October 2012

Money Can Buy Happiness – Part 3: Who cares for Gandhi and Einstein today?

Do we live in the present or in the past? Ideals, thoughts, ideas evolve with progress. However, some people don't change. They are still stuck with the old school thought process. Imagine someone following the ideals of Gandhi or Einstein today without any modification based on today's world!

To check my understanding of the importance of the people who made a difference to the world, I requested my business partner, Manish Bengani, to help me.

Manish and I were waiting for our train at New Jalpaiguri railway station when we were discussing this. He took a piece of paper and a pen and walked away to interview people. His results shocked him. When asked whether they know Albert Einstein, and what he is famous for, only one out of 11 people knew the correct answer!

In another experience, courtesy Manish again and a friend of his, he found that two kids (poor and in not so good clothes, but studying in a school run by some NGO) heard about Mahatma Gandhi. But what they said was again a reflection of the thought process today, "Gandhi ek budda tha, mar gaya!" ("Gandhi was an old man, he is dead now!")

I don't think the kids meant any disrespect, they were not aware, or knew little. Manish's friend did a good thing in educating those kids about Gandhi, but it was an eye opener for us!

So what is the truth? Getting stuck with old thoughts don't allow us to move ahead. Lectures on ideals and who did what a hundred years ago don't work anymore. We need to wake up and look at things with a new light. Even Gandhi brought change, and so did Einstein. If they would have been stuck with already existing ideas and situations we wouldn't even have heard about them!

Money and happiness are correlated. The old school folks are not ready to accept it.

I remember when I was younger and my family did not have enough money. My parents ate once a day and ensured that I could get all three meals everyday. Penury isn't a happy feeling. All the optimism and belief in God and ideals of philosophical teachers did not help in killing hunger. Ask a hungry man about the importance of food. Food has to be bought, and it requires money, even if very little.

When I grew up and started earning, I could feel the difference at home. The "smiles per hour" increased. I could buy a pair of jeans at last after wearing the only pair I had for 5 years. I could pay the essential services bills on time and that meant less tension for everyone. My father felt happier as he had less pressure to earn, and my mother could pay of all the debt she had accumulated buying food on credit. I was happy to see that my sister could now get a good education.

Ideals don't feed people. Hope generated by positive thinking has to be translated into action, which in turn generates money. You can then get food and clothing. You can go to the college you want to and travel to places.

Do you think money can buy happiness?

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