In one of my recent TEDx Talks I referred casually to a hypothetical breakfast with Bollywood diva, Deepika Padukone. Believe it or not, my innate intent in mentioning this unlikely possibility, was more to highlight the importance of ‘breakfast’ than to enhance the prominence levels of the already much celebrated Ms Padukone!
At times I like to ask my audiences, about the duration of time that they actually spend on breakfast every day. I give them multiple choices- zero to one minute, one to three minutes, three to five minutes, or more than five minutes. The answers I get seldom surprise me. Very rarely does a hand or two go up in response to the last option.
It is a malaise of our era that we do not spend enough time on the things that really matter. We will spend hours in traffic travelling to and attending a wedding, gaping at others, unable to speak to anyone since the music is blaring and rather cacophonously at that. But we will not spend even ten minutes with our own family at meal time. We are too busy for that, too engrossed in our work at lunch time, and too engrossed in the idiot box or the internet at supper time. Meal times present opportunities for us to catch up with our loved ones, especially our children. The simultaneous viewing of television has to be a strict ‘No, no’. Unless a T-20 match is being beamed live – Just kidding!
Of course, if Ms Padukone were to actually accept an invitation to breakfast, we would surely pay much more attention to that event. We would take the day off, not wanting the thought of work to mar it. We would hope that it would be a long and leisurely occasion, with the conversation and laughter flowing endlessly. But the next morning we would be back to being our usual selves, rushing to work after having nibbled at a sandwich, after having gobbled up a banana. Milk would be gulped down in a trice and we would soon be in a car speeding to its destination.
In some ways, even our lives are speeding to destinations that are unclear and hazy. We need to enjoy the journey and not wait for 2024 to be happy! Socrates, the great Greek philosopher who knew a thing or two about life,
famously warned mankind to ‘beware the barrenness of a busy life.’ Busy lives are meant to lead to happiness in some way, otherwise what is the point of living them? If one is forever occupied in work at the cost of spending quality time with self and family, something is missing.
Success undoubtedly comes from working hard. But what price is success if we forget to relish our wins and savour the sense of achievement that comes with it? A Harvard Business Review (HBR) article on ‘busyness’ by Silvia Bellezza, Neeru Paharia and Anat Keinan, mentions the fact that phrases like ‘crazy schedules’ and ‘having no life’ are used by people seeking to ‘influence perceptions of status in the eyes of others’. So here we have another malady of our times. Even if one is not as occupied with work as others are, one seeks to create an impression of ‘busyness’.
Success, alas, does not come through such games that people play. It comes from being able to feel a bounce in the heart and being able to a sing a song of joy. And these happy moments do come from material success but they come even more from inner peace.
The ever charming actor, Richard Gere, who is something of a philosopher now, states that he would ‘rather be loved than have money and those sorts of things’. Perhaps it takes years of ups and downs to come to such conclusions in life. Till then most of us love to remain busy or just pretend to be so. Thus it is dinner each day with the family that matters more in the ultimate analysis than that one-off dreamy breakfast with Deepika Padukone. Let us give it
the attention it deserves. Ms Padukone has many other things on her plate anyway!