How my Nephew Taught Me What Life is All About

It is quite easy to understand the objective of a child’s day. If something makes them happy then enjoy it till the minute where an extra minute utilized to enjoy an object or an activity does not bring them happiness i.e. there is no marginal gain of happiness from an extra minute spent. On the contrary if something does not bring them happiness then they would avoid it at all costs.

Yesterday I fulfilled a long held promise to my sister, that I would take my 4-year-old nephew, Advait, for an afternoon of मामा (uncle) – भांजा (sister’s son) bonding time. So, we started at 12 noon with a family get-togetherk where he spent most of his time playing carom with his cousins, later he used up any spare energy in playing cricket and digging in the dirt.

Then after much convincing he stopped the digging activity so that we can go swimming. Therein lies the next learning from a child’s mind – if something brings you more happiness than what is currently bringing you happiness – quickly change track to enjoy the new well of happiness.

To him it didn’t matter that the path to the new source had a change of clothes, drinking his afternoon milk and waiting for me to pack my bags to hit the pool. His entire wait was rewarded as soon as he jumped into the pool and he could not feel the floor beneath his tiny feet.

His palpable enjoyment was evident in the series of gymnastic floor exercises the weightlessness of his body in the water allowed him to conduct. So, he dived head first, butt first, did under water somersaults, back flips and all activities that were made possible using the buoyancy of the water and his float suit.

After almost an hour when he had soaked in all the happiness he could from the water he wanted to feel “yummy in his tummy” and he ate to his hearts content while I wondered how many calories the slice of cheese added to my vegetable sandwich and if I had the balance to pay off the extra calories consumed. While I was fretting over the calorie his body went into a night long hibernation that will empty his tummy into the energy for a new day and to reset his happiness meter to enjoy a new day in the world around him. He didn’t not wait to get into bed and change into his night clothes so that he could be “comfortable” before he slept – he just dozed off on the car ride home with his head his maid’s lap – how convenient!

The child’s entire day goes in the pursuit of maximum happiness and they are unpretentious, unapologetic and stubborn in achieving their simple & single minded objective. Any deviation to the contrary brings about a wail of unhappiness… where in this unbounded pursuit of success, fame & money have we lost our ability to be true to life’s most basic requirement – to be happy?

So often I meet entrepreneurs, investors, parents, teenagers, grandparents that groan at the dawn of a new day because the reason for their existence has been forgotten for a very long time – there were some instances in life where I was that person. There were times during my roles as a derivative trader, real estate developer and later a real estate sales agent that I spent looking at the wall clock hoping that the last 5 minutes would be the hour it felt like.

However, at least for me, that energy came gushing back when I changed track to something that made me happy – work with entrepreneurs that want to build fantastic leadership & learning cultures in a place called a startup that will positively influence the universe they encounter and that energy grows as the new wave of founders bring an even more complex set of problems to solve.

The realization & energy that spending a day with a child brought me yesterday is should be repeated often as it acts as a reminder that life truly is – simple the pursuit of the maximum happiness in the short time possible.