“Everyone you meet always asks if you have a career, are married, or own a house as if life was some kind of grocery list. But nobody ever asks if you are happy.”
This beautiful quote by American actor Heath Ledger has stayed with me on the tip of my fingers reminding me of caring for more important things in life. About mental illness. It aptly reflects the pain of almost everyone who is somewhere battling with mental illness today.
Have you ever asked someone, if they are happy? Well I haven’t. Neither has anyone asked me. In spite of the fact that probably it the most important thing we should ask each other but do not. We do ask “how are you” more so as a formality.
I think the underlying reason could be the fact that we often tie happiness with material things and achievements. If someone has a good house, a well-paying job, a car, a family, holidays, etc., they ought to be happy. Isn’t it. Then what is the use of even asking them if they are happy? Unfortunately, it is not the case. Because in the shadow of material achievements, we somewhere neglect mental health, which is mostly unrelated to our position, money, or powers. It is instead directly related to our state of mind and level of contentment and satisfaction. Equally true is the fact that in this social media world, dissatisfaction, jealousy, and depression has increased 10 folds which makes it more important to keep our loved ones in our happiness loop.
According to the 2019 happiness report, India’s happiness ranks at 140 among the 156 countries surveyed by the UN Sustainable Development Solution Network. On the other hand, India has the fifth largest economies of the world. No prizes on guessing that happiness is not a parameter to calculate a country’s development.
No, don’t get me wrong, I am not against the development of any nation. But I do want to point out the difference in India’s position in terms of development and happiness. Now read Heath Ledger’s quote again.
We are more concerned about one’s net worth and not his mental health or happiness. This is the reason why we sometimes lose our dear ones for reasons unknown. Because we do not talk about mental health.
A few weeks ago, I watched a short film titled “Baatein starring Shivani Raghuvanshi, Supriya Pigloankar, and Sankalp Joshi. While I would leave the plot for you to discover, I would like to highlight the message of the film that I could resonate with. It said that while we are always concerned about the physical health, grades, success, looks, and career of our loved ones, especially of our kids, we rarely try to enquire about their mental health. They are suffering in silence all the time and we don’t even know. We ask them if they need the money and if they are doing well in school, but never this simple question, “are you happy”?
The story of Shaheen Bhatt, daughter of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and sister of actress Alia Bhatt, who came forward with her depression story a few months back illustrates how money cannot define mental sanity. In her memoir “I’ve Never Been (Un) Happier”, she describes her battle with depression and the shroud of silence that surrounded it. In an interview given by her father, Mahesh Bhatt, he accepts that she was on the verge of suicide a number of times as are many youths today, and it is only because of the lack of awareness that their condition goes unnoticed till the time they can no longer take it.
Mental health is AS important as physical wellbeing. You never ask your loved one to not to see a doctor if he is suffering from disease, then why not care about them when they show signs of mental illness. Why not confront them about their happiness more than their economic wellbeing. Why do we give more value to things than to beings?
Please think about it.
And the next time, when you meet someone, ask them how they are; before you jump to inquire about their monetary health and achievements in life. It’s time to look past people’s achievement and care about their mental health coz a glitch in the latter can be fatal.