Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

16-year-old Kartikeya Kothari has written a book on happiness. Shailaza Singh talks to this sixteen-year old about his pursuit of happiness.

In a world where consumerism and materialism are invading the minds of adults and children alike, teenager Kartikeya Kothari comes across as a breath of fresh air. He has recently authored a book on happiness which not only talks about the various belief systems associated with happiness but also delves into the true essence of happiness.

What would the word happiness mean to a teenager? More gadgets? More friends? More pocket money? More video games? If I were to tell you that there is a teenager who believes that all these things will not make him happy, then would you believe me?

Kartikeya Kothari is the author of a book titled ‘Happiness’. For this teenager who is currently studying in class XI, this book was not just a psychology project assigned by his teacher Asha Mathur but was also a quest which was inspired from a casual question from his grandfather Dr. L.K. Kothari who is a doctor by profession and a retired professor of SMS Medical College, Jaipur. Kartikeya started to think about happiness when his grandfather asked him if he was really happy. The book  which was a result of this quest talks about various aspects like the neurological aspect, the old prescriptions and the modern-day approach to happiness. It explores the reasons for happiness and unhappiness in humans. It also talks about measuring happiness in terms of the gross national happiness which it says is more important than GDP (Gross Domestic Product). It questions the prevalent belief that money and fame bring happiness.

To create this book, the author has referred and read many well-known books such as Understanding Medical Physiology by Dr. RL Bijlani, Art of Happiness by Professor Ramesh Arora, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Edward Fitzgerald.

While talking to Kartikeya, my mind was constantly thinking about the prevalent scenario in the world of teenagers. They are constantly inundated with new gadgets and new toys. Peer pressure is a force to reckon with in their world and many often succumb to it in order to look cool amongst their friends and peers. But not for Kartikeya. This quiet boy is happy playing guitar, pursuing photography and writing stories full of suspense and mystery besides authoring books on happiness. He loves music and says that music gives him happiness. He likes experimenting with flute and many other musical instruments.

Kartikeya says that the book has been a result of numerous discussions with his grandfather. These discussions were more or less about questions that kept coming in Kartikeya’s mind. As his grandfather answered them, he had new questions for those answers. These questions and answers are a part of this book.

 As we sat in his living room and talked, the sounds of the birds chirping outside reminded me of the simple pleasures of life. I wondered about the impact that writing this book would have in Kartikeya’s life. There seem to be many things in the book that will take time in making their way to this teenager’s psyche. Yet, a beginning has been made. In a world which is obsessed with consumerism and materialism in pursuit of happiness, at least Kartikeya has been able to document the very essence of happiness in his book.

Perhaps more than the book, it is the company of his grandfather which would enrich this young boy’s thinking in the years to come. The age-old experience, the story-telling that imparts values and the caring and sense of responsibility that is passed on to the younger generation when they are with their grandparents is invaluable.

 In Kartikeya, I noticed a maturity that is seldom seen in teenagers. With this book, he has begun his pursuit of happiness which perhaps will take him beyond the endless desire for materialism and help him to understand the true meaning of life.

This article appeared in Rashtradoot Newspaper on 17 March 2020


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