“Independence is happiness.”~ Susan B Anthony
It’s 24 unbearable hours without power and internet!
I exclaimed. We had to spend the remaining battery left in the mobiles and laptops intelligently. Fortunately, we had food and water. Seconds seemed to be hours. It was one of those moments in life, which made me pause and think about what life is all about. I asked the following questions:
Why am I dependent on social media, Netflix, and Amazon, which were not there in my life 15 years ago?
Are there other aspects of life where I have a dependency?
How can I experience true freedom?
The Real Connection Between Independence and Happiness
These questions made me realize how we are left with feeble freedom and independence causing us mental agitation. I remember Bob Marley’s quote:
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”
Let’s take a more in-depth look at two critical dependencies in our life:
Family plays an essential role in everyone’s life. During the pandemic, the family’s importance has increased immensely, and unarguably without family support, “new normal” days would have driven people crazy.
Our emotions vary with that of our loved ones. For example, you smile when your child smiles. If she does not say, “I love you, mom,” you feel sad.
If John comes top at his class, you are on the top of the world.
Why does your mood vary with your partner and children?
Immediately comes the reply, “Come on, it’s your family, you love them.”
When this love goes out of control, you start to have unrealistic expectations about the people around you. When those expectations are not met, you go through an emotional roller coaster ruining your happiness.
It makes you a person dependent on others’ whims and fancies. Imagine how you would feel when you get to know your wife forgot to buy you a Valentine’s Day gift. She may have genuinely forgotten about it.
Without trying to understand her side, you throw tantrums, spoiling the evening. If you had the right expectations, you would have said: “No problem, honey! You owe me a big one next time. Now you come up with something creative to entertain me.”
Just practicing independence would make a big difference.
Do You Use the Mobile or Does It Use You?
Just reading this question might make your palms sweat. Now, without realizing it, you pick up your phone to check if it’s there. If your wi-fi is down, your peace of mind is down as well.
It’s an irony, as people lived comfortably before that device came into our life. We read physical books, spent more time outside, were more physically active. Even if there is a rule, “no phone”, during the family meal, you find innovative ways to sneak out and check how many likes you got on your latest Instagram post.
It would be unfair to paint technology as evil unilaterally, as, without technology, we would not have stayed sane during the pandemic.
The question to yourself is why are you so dependent on your phone? How conscious are you about “mobile time” daily? How many hours can you spend time with yourself?
The good news is there is a way to reduce dependency on people and technology.
The Answer Lies in Independence.
Often, independence is understood as being indifferent. That is not true. It means you are happy with or without people and technology.
Unlocking the path toward independence has the following two parts:
1. Acknowledge the Problem.
Before you go to a doctor for treatment, you need to accept you need medical help. Similarly, it would be best if you acknowledged being dependent on others will not make you happy and peaceful. Why is that?
The world is in a state of constant flux and it will not always cater to what you like or dislike.
Once a week, spend at least 30 minutes with yourself, asking how are you doing? Are there factors bothering you?
Writing your thoughts in a journal will make you identify problems and give you ways and means of solutions.
2. Develop intellect, your capacity to think
The reason for our dependency on family and technology is uncontrolled emotions.
Imagine you leave your 5-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl alone in the house for the day. When you come back, it will not be the same tidy house you left. It will almost be a war-torn city.
The children might hurt themselves as well in the process. Parents need to be around to guide them. Similarly, we need to develop intellect, which is our ability to think, reason, and judge to control our emotions.
A. Parthasarathy, the world-renowned eminent philosopher, mentioned in his book, The Fall of the Human Intellect, that there are two ways to develop intellect:
- Never take anything for granted.
- Question everything.
The Fall of the Human Intellect is the cornerstone book to learn how we can develop our intellect to gain self-sufficiency and rise above unexpected situations in life.
Once you develop this skill, you overcome any challenge thrown at you with enthusiasm, and your happiness will be underway. It won’t matter whether you have a mobile or not; it doesn’t matter if your spouse doesn’t say “I love you” daily as you are in charge of your happiness.
You are independence and happiness embodied.
With time, that day won’t be far when you echo Mizuta Masahide, a 17th century Japanese Poet:
“Since my house burned down, I now have a better view of the rising moon.”