DI Voices | India taught me how to find happiness

By Sanchita Teeka, Senior Columnist

When I was packing my giant suitcase for a visit to India — my first in about five years — I had imagined a simple trip full of delicious food, catching up with family and the seemingly best part: buying tons of Indian salwar and other goodies. Yet, after just three short weeks in the motherland, I came back with something more.

I’ve lived almost my entire life in the United States. Because of this, much of my upbringing and perspectives on life and the world have been through the lens of American society. Growing up, I was taught to find happiness in the label on my jeans and the swoosh on my sneakers, often left wanting more and more. 

This trip to India was my first since becoming an adult and was the first time I spent my time observing and experiencing a different country for everything it had to offer. 

One thing that stood out to me was the simplicity of everyday life that brought out the happiest smiles in people. I noticed a huge difference in people’s sources of happiness, especially in the smaller towns and suburbs of India.

While happiness from material items still existed and persisted, I also saw people find happiness in simpler things like afternoon conversations with neighbors, morning chai, a visit to a temple, a fruit that they absolutely love and even simply taking a nap after a big meal.

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    Hearing about my parents’ lives in India before coming to the United States, I distinctly remember noticing a lack of material items attributed to their happiness. In fact, most of what they recalled and missed about India were intangible. They missed their connection with their cousins, the support of having an entire village on their side and knowing all their neighbors. 

    When I was in India, I started to feel myself enjoying the simple aspects of life more than tangible things. I felt myself become more open, talking to more people and feeling happy without needing things in my hand.

    By changing my focus, I’ve been able to enjoy my life and the people around me more than I had before, and have since brought my newfound mindset back to the United States. I’ve started to find happiness in experiences and people such as laughing late at night with friends in a car, making conversation with the person sitting next to me in class and taking the time to enjoy the view on a bus ride.

    In a way, I like to think I’ve brought back more than just snacks and sweets from India — I brought back the Indian culture of happiness.

     

    Sanchita is a sophomore in LAS.

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