Inculcate Happiness!

I am presently reading ‘At First Sight’ by Nicholas Sparks. I am halfway through and the fact that the book lacks the signature style of the author is rather painfully conspicuous. However, the basic plot of the novel gave me some food for thought. The book details the struggle faced by the protagonist after relocating to a rather small town from New York which was very relatable.

Being a kid, to a parent who worked in Indian Defence, I have had the luxury to move across the length and breadth of the country. I spent my infant years in Cochin, was a pre-schooler in Delhi, a teenager in Mumbai, Visakhapatnam and Bangalore before going to reside in Hyderabad and Delhi as a working professional!

Living in different cities and meeting new people especially for an extrovert like me has always been enriching! However I have noticed that there is a gradation of liking towards the cities that I have lived in. To elucidate, there are some cities that I have loved staying in (read Mumbai) and others have been a notch lower. In this debate my opinion about two cities have undergone major transformation during my second stay.

I was a pre-schooler in Delhi and frankly did not remember much of the place and always viewed it as the media projected it. However, I got a chance to stay in Delhi for three years as a working professional and my opinion about Delhi changed completely and I started loving the place. On the contrary, I stayed in Visakhapatnam as a teenager and did college here and had special love for the place until I came back to work here from Delhi.

Now that I get to be pensive while writing I wondered if this is to do with associations as described by behaviourists’ school of thought. Association-ist school defines association-ism as mental processes which operate by the association of one mental state with its successor states. Historical review of literature details that this idea was first recorded by Plato and Aristotle especially with regard to the succession of memories.

This last bit of information about ‘succession of memories’ made me further ponder over the reasons for the change of opinion that I have had. In a contemplative mode, slowly it began to hit me that it was actually the good times which I spent with family and friends that became a succession of good memories. Furthermore, it was these memories that I associate with the place and hence developed a love for the place itself!

What I found even more fascinating is that when not met with the same succession of good memories I was not liking the place! I could hear a bell ringing and found myself transported to Ivan Pavlov’s famous conditioning experiment.

Happiness_1Surprisingly, I see that the human race functions on this very core concept of conditioning and ‘learns’ to derive happiness out of it. So if you are unhappy make an effort to create a succession of good memories. Let the good memories reinforce your love for a place or a person!

Until next week try stirring the spoon in your coffee to find the sweetness instead of drinking it and realizing later that the sugar had settled at the bottom undissolved!

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