COMPARISON COMES BETWEEN CONTENTMENT AND HAPPINESS The provocation for this write up is an article in TOI a few days back. Immediately my mind went back to three incidents and the common denominator in these cases between contentment and happiness was comparison. Mr X was promoted as DGM and he was thrilled and gave a party to his juniors and profusely thanked me for the elevation. Two days later I called him and jocularly asked him about the party. He raised his voice and said what party? And followed up with the statement Y has also been promoted. He had taken it for granted that he would be the Prince of Wales to succeed me but that presumption was shattered by a competitor. The gentleman was well qualified, around 50 and a capable leader. He however refused to acknowledge that somebody else equally deserved the promotion. Comparison spoiled his happiness. Sudarshan had a 3 BHK flat in kodambakkam and he was a contented man ,having a house in a centrally located place. He would proudly show the flat to visitors. He would often tell me that I won’t be able to afford a flat in that area. I agreed and purchased a plot on the East coast road layout without roads or and development, When gravel road came up I was the first to build a house just 500 meters from the sea. I was criticised by everyone including my friend. My argument was that sooner or later people would get fed up with the city and move to pollution free outskirts. How prophetic I was [sorry for being immodest] is proved by the fact that over five hundred houses have come up and I share a common compound with a super star’s plot .The price has shot up by one hundred and twenty times and I have a lovely house with garden and fifteen minutes’ walk to the beach. My friend is an unhappy man, not because of my house, but he missed an opportunity to buy a plot along with me. Contented man is now an unhappy man. Ravi got 95% in class Ten. The family was elated and celebrated. Congratulatory messages poured in from friends and relatives. Proud and happy parents circulated the news of achievement of their son. Then came the news that Ravi’s class mate got 98% and was in the top five in the school. The same parents told Ravi that he should have put in some more efforts and got into the top five. Comparison had spoiled their happiness. Everyone has something or other missing in life .Instead of counting our blessings for what we have, we lament on what we don’t have or compare with what others have. If you have a knee problem look at the man who is on a wheel chair all the time. When somebody complained about the high income tax bracket, the IT commissioner said-congratulations”-you are one of the 3 lakh people in India with 1.3 billion people,in the highest tax bracket. Congrats and be happy that the country has provided you with opportunities to be placed in that position. When someone 80+ complained of his age he was complimented that God has placed him in the exalted position of just over 1% of the population in India .A friend, returning from the hospital complained that he had to spend over 6 lakhs for his spinal cord surgery. He was consoled by a friend-“thank God that you could afford it “. There was a beautiful example I read which sums up contentment and happiness. Two maids were discussing about augmenting their income. One said that if she had two hundred rupees she would buy flowers and make strings and improve her income. The owner of the house overheard it. He immediately went to her , gave her two hundred rupees and told her to start her business .After the owner left, the maid said unhappily-“I should have said five hundred rupees instead of two hundred.” With such a mindset, the person will never be happy. Contentment is nothing but containment of the desire to have more and more. “ Happiest people are those who do not have the best of everything but make the best use of everything they have. Happiness is just like a butterfly-chase it –you can’t catch it. Stand still it will alight on you” For heaven’s sake don’t indulge in comparison and chase the elusive happiness. .