Happiness and Tolerance - Dr Mona Khanna

Photo Courtesy The Doon School Weekly  August 25, 2018, Issue No. 2510
 “The key to happiness is the tolerance of those who do not do as you do." ~ Jeanette Winterson.” 

We argue the most with the people most important to us, our family. As children, we are blissfully unaware of parental duties and oppose so many decisions that our parents make for us. As parents, we try to impose those same expectations on our children. 

In today’s world, the generational gap is becoming increasingly evident and prominent. A member of Generation X, I am seldom in sync with the beliefs held by my Gen Z children. There are so many similarities and differences between their upbringing as compared to my own. Over the years, I’ve adjusted and adapted to their ideologies and principles as they have to mine. True happiness can only be achieved via harmony and mutual respect. Tolerance goes a long way in arriving at that harmony.

My son, Shiven, turned 20 years old recently, and I looked back at his critical decisions. It doesn’t matter if I agree or disagree with those decisions as long as he is satisfied with them and is making the most of his time. All my life has gone into studying and then teaching mathematics. My father was a civil engineer, my brother studied engineering while my daughter is pursuing medical. Safe to say, we are a science family. 

Ever since a child, Shiven shared my interest in Maths and Science. It hardly came as a surprise when he opted for PCM, post his 10th results. His career path was structured, and I was happy that he knew what he wanted to do in life. Fast forward two years, and I was stuck at a crossroad, I had never imagined myself to be facing. Shiven had given the IPMAT exam for IIM Indore’s 5-year dual degree program. The exam was supposed to be a back-up, and we weren’t expecting him to clear without preparing. So when he got through and then decided to accept their offer letter, I was not ready.

For ten years, we had shared a vision. It was really tough to let go of that dream and drastically switch careers. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision Shiven to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree. Unprepared and confused, I sought counsel from many people on the program and curriculum. Shiven was adamant about joining, and I had to agree that the course was promising. Conflicting emotions led to unnecessary arguments that took time to mend. 

It was a crucial point not just for him but for me as a parent as well. I was going to have to learn to tolerate and accept some of my children’s decisions. I am a staunch advocate of the philosophy, ‘‘Live and Let Live.’’ I have lived my life on my own accord, making my own decisions, many of which haven't panned out the way I expected them to. It is incredibly challenging seeing your loved ones make mistakes, even more so if you could help prevent them.

As Shiven enters his 3rd year at IIM Indore, I marvel at what he has been able to achieve over the last two years. We are never going to get everything that we hoped for. Nor is everyone going to follow your principles or listen to your advice all the time. If that were the case, the world would be deprived of different talented individuals and lack creativity. 

Happiness and Tolerance go hand in hand. Keeping others happy, especially the ones you love, goes a long way towards your own happiness. At times, that requires tolerance, patience, and the ability to compromise. 

Ambiguity is a ubiquitous part of life. A student may spend his entire two years preparing for the course without knowing if the search will be in vain. He may stare at an abstract painting on a gallery wall, uncertain if the vague shape is a bicycle or a product of his own imagination. The tendency to view ambiguous and uncertain situations as appealing versus threatening is known as ambiguity tolerance (Frenkel-Brunswik, 1949; Budner, 1962) or uncertainty intolerance (Freeston, Rhéaume, Letarte, Dugas, & Ladouceur, 1994). People who are more tolerant of ambiguity report being happier (Bardi, Guerra, Sharadeh, & Ramdeny, 2009), more motivated to learn (Tapanes, Smith, & White, 2009). As teachers, we should be prepared to be more tolerant of ambiguity and be flexible to tap the best potential of the child and allow them to be risk-takers, creative and make the world a happier place for themselves. Tolerance doesn’t just make peaceful coexistence possible, another advantage is that being open to other ways of thinking can help with personal development.

Teaching children about tolerance is the best gift that you can give them as teachers. Children shouldn’t grow up with feelings of hate and suspicion. Children who grow up with hate and jealousy of others turn into unhappy people. And children who are forced to believe certain opinions will develop into people who aren’t free or independent thinkers. Tolerance can help shift the attitudes toward others, leading us to a more productive and happy life.

- Dr Mona Khanna, Vice Principal at Unison World School, she has joined the PLP Cohort for the Joy Of Learning Program at the John Martyn Memorial School in Salan Gaon near Dehradun, India Dr Khanna's professional profile - linkedin.com/in/mona-khanna-244198175 

Photo Courtesy The Doon School Weekly August 25, 2018, Issue No. 2510

Good Schools of India Journal @ www.GSI.IN

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