It was another casual dinner when we watch National Geographic. The additional aspect was that it was 25th January - the eve of India's republic day that is celebrated on 26th January each year. The programme was about Indian Air Force. Beyond our craze for high-end fighter jets, this programme was how the helicopters in Indian Air force helps both soldiers and civilians.
One routine activity is reaching ration and other supplies to people located far away from civilization or shops. I can not even imagine how life at such places would be! For example, patrol posted at extremely high altitudes like Siachen (the highest battlefield of the world). All that exists in such postings is bitter cold with temperatures generally below freezing (-20 degrees centigrade), snow and a sense of duty to guard the nation.
We always notice the sense of duty. But, beyond the responsibility, the programme featured an amazing level of happiness in the pilot and the army officer born out of synergy from transportation. The pilot said that the level of happiness he gets when he sees how happy the army officer is when the helicopter reaches his much-needed supplies is something that is so immense that it is difficult to even talk about it. This smile on the officer's face gives him a purpose and meaning in life. Similarly, when the army officer was interviewed; he said that he cannot express how happy he becomes when he hears the sound of the helicopter coming towards them. This struck me and also shows how beyond the job descriptions (pay hikes, ranks, pension schemes) and promises of responsibility; happiness bonds between such people are the backbone of organizations. In another incident, the helicopter team took a risky flight in bad weather conditions to reach ration supplies to small sized villages deep inside mountain territory with road links cut off due to snow in winter. Again, in the small group of 15, every one of them had an immense smile to see the helicopter drop a big bag of supplies. The pilot smiled back heartily.
What is it that makes such states of happiness possible? For the pilot, being of value is paramount and such valuations stem from agency of one's action. For the army officer, the sound of the helicopter is a conditioned cue for inherently valuable things (food, social contact, maybe letters from home). Such happiness in people which can thrive even on a stark cold mountain range is the essence of human society - where there is warmth on being a help to each other and also being happy in the same process.
The valuation and its associated happiness bring to light how our brains function at fundamental levels and need very simple, similar things across people. This happiness when broadcasted on television or any mass media communication has the immense force of reaching it to many other hearts. This is good information. It made me realize that happiness is much beyond indulging in petty conflicts and shaming other people, beyond the ruthless desire of going for one's promotion but very close to a hot cup of tea on a cold winter morning when I am writing this blog. More about tea, in some other post :)