20 years after we first met, I ran into Mr. Michael Siromani, a retired IAS officer, under curious circumstances — he was collecting roadside weeds in a plastic pouch.
After the initial greetings, seeing a quizzical look on my face, he explained, “These are medicinal plants. In fact, I have good training in flora and fauna because I joined the Indian Forest Service before getting into IAS.”
Then, he added, “The Forest Service is such a wonderful job but many don’t enjoy it because they are unhappy about not being in the IAS.”
In fact, one big reason for our chronic unhappiness is that we rank-order everything.
For engineers, Computer Science is ‘higher than’ Electrical Engineering.
For an MBA, consulting/banking is ‘higher than’ an operations or marketing job.
For college applicants, engineering is ‘higher than’ science, which is ‘higher than’ humanities — or at least that is how it used to be.
And once something is ‘higher-ranked,’ that is what we all seek — personal interests can go to hell. Stuck in these rank-ordered choices, we often realize our folly only late in life.
The world is too complicated to follow an arbitrary rank-ordering. And even if we rank-order things for glamour and money, we can’t do so for happiness.
Happiness is about us, not about a society-approved rank list.
That is why, rich or poor, we all can find happiness. And yet, so few do.
This is the tragedy of life.