“A Happy Life May Not Be a Meaningful Life”

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” For most people, feeling happy and finding life meaningful are both important and related goals. But do happiness and meaning always go together? It seems unlikely, given that many of the things that we regularly choose to do – from running marathons to raising children – are unlikely to increase our day-to-day happiness. Recent research suggests that while happiness and a sense of meaning often overlap, they also diverge in important and surprising ways.

Roy Baumeister and his colleagues recently published a study in the Journal of Positive Psychology that helps explain some of the key differences between a happy life and a meaningful one. They asked almost 400 American adults to fill out three surveys over a period of weeks. The surveys asked people to answer a series of questions their happiness levels, the degree to which they saw their lives as meaningful, and their general lifestyle and circumstances.

As one might expect, people’s happiness levels were positively correlated with whether they saw their lives as meaningful. However, the two measures were not identical – suggesting that what makes us happy may not always bring more meaning, and vice versa. To probe for differences between the two, the researchers examined the survey items that asked detailed questions about people’s feelings and moods, their relationships with others, and their day-to-day activities. Feeling happy was strongly correlated with seeing life as easy, pleasant, and free from difficult or troubling events. Happiness was also correlated with being in good health and generally feeling well most of the time. However, none of these things were correlated with a greater sense of meaning. Feeling good most of the time might help us feel happier, but it doesn’t necessarily bring a sense of purpose to our lives.

Interestingly, their findings suggest that money, contrary to popular sayings, can indeed buy happiness. Having enough money to buy what one needs in life, as well as what one desires, were also positively correlated with greater levels of happiness. However, having enough money seemed to make little difference in life’s sense of meaning. This same disconnect was recently found in a multi-national studyconducted by Shigehiro Oishi and Ed Diener, who show that people from wealthy countries tend to be happier, however, they don’t see their lives as more meaningful. In fact, Oishi and Diener found that people from poorer countries tend to see their lives as more meaningful. Although the reasons are not totally clear, this might be related to greater religious belief, having more children, and stronger social ties among those living in poorer countries. Perhaps instead of saying that “money doesn’t buy happiness,” we ought to say instead that “money doesn’t buy meaning.”Not too surprisingly, our relationships with other people are related to both how happy we are as well as how meaningful we see our lives.  Feeling more connected to others improved both happiness and meaning. However, the role we adopt in our relationships makes an important difference. Participants in the study who were more likely to agree with the statement, “I am a giver,” reported less happiness than people who were more likely to agree with, “I am a taker.” However, the “givers” reported higher levels of meaning in their lives compared to the “takers.” In addition, spending more time with friends was related to greater happiness but not more meaning. In contrast, spending more time with people one loves was correlated with greater meaning but not with more happiness. The researchers suspect that spending time with loved ones is often more difficult, but ultimately more satisfying, than spending time with friends.

When it comes to thinking about how to be happier, many of us fantasize about taking more vacations or finding ways to avoid mundane tasks. We may dream about skipping housework and instead doing something fun and pleasurable. However, tasks which don’t make us happy can, over time, add up to a meaningful life. Even routine activities — talking on the phone, cooking, cleaning, housework, meditating, emailing, praying, waiting on others, and balancing finances — appeared to bring more meaning to people’s lives, but not happiness in the moment. 

More broadly, the findings suggest that pure happiness is about getting what we want in life—whether through people, money, or life circumstances. Meaningfulness, in contrast, seems to have more to do with giving, effort, and sacrifice. It is clear that a highly meaningful life may not always include a great deal of day-to-day happiness. And, the study suggests, our American obsession with happiness may be intimately related to a feeling of emptiness, or a life that lacks meaning.


The science of exam stress: Beating the study blues

The majority of us have, at one time or another, been in a situation where you sit down at the desk and open your exam paper, only to realise that somewhere between the door and your seat, all of the information that you’ve been revising for the past few months has leaked out of your ear. You start to panic because you’ve completely forgotten a year’s worth of work and all you can hear is the ticking of your watch as it counts down the minutes until the end of the exam.

This particular form of stress is known as exam anxiety and some people are more susceptible to it than than others.

Stress is a natural, healthy bodily response which humans have evolved in order to protect them in times of danger. When an individual is faced with a stressor, a hormone is released within the body which causes various physiological changes; the heart begins to pump faster in order to supply the body’s muscles with a larger supply of oxygen, blood pressure therefore increases and the body perspires more to prevent over-heating due to the body’s increased metabolic rate. Although this evolutionary advantage is excellent at preparing the body for a fight with a wild tiger, it’s not as magnificent when it comes to students and their exams.

According to findings by social research psychologist Martyn Denscombe, teenagers suffer from exam stress for four reasons. The educational or occupational consequences associated with the outcome of the exam; their self-esteem with regards to the outcome of their grades (students are likely to have a higher self-esteem with higher grades); judgements from friends and parents in relation to to their performance; and fear of disappointing their teachers.

So what can you do?

Firstly, you need to remember that although it feels like the most important thing in the world, this test isn’t worth the physical strain that you’re putting on your body. When you’re feeling the effects of exam anxiety and your brain feels blank, take a drink of your water and breathe deeply and slowly. This will allow your body to rehydrate and to stop the effects of the stress response.

Many teachers, friends and family believe that they are further the students by saying “if you don’t get an A-grade you won’t get a job” but it can actually cause increased pressure for the individual. It could be an idea to sit down with your family members before-hand to discuss realistic expectations so that there isn’t too much pressure being put on the student.

Why do we become forgetful and how can we avoid it?

Excessive anxiety can make it almost impossible for the student to focus on their exam and it is often the case that they struggle to recall things that they have studied. This is because – due to that pesky evolutionary response again – the body releases large amounts of the stress hormone known as cortisol during times of stress. Studies have shown that cortisol impairs the speed of memory retrieval in humans.

Nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott’s research shows that there is 50 per cent more cortisol in the blood stream if an individual has six hours’ sleep instead of the recommended eight hours. It is also important for you to maintain a nutrition-rich diet, drink plenty of water and eat three meals a day; this will keep the cortisol hormone at a natural level and allow you to concentrate fully on the task at hand.

Examination anxiety before the exam begins

Some people find that after suffering a highly stressful test once, their past experiences create schemas for how they expect future exams to be and therefore become more and more stressed in the lead up to their exams. This form of chronic stress causes all of the same physiological changes as the immediate stress response but over a longer period of time. This can cause high blood pressure, heart disease and seriously weaken the immune system.

Chronic stress is difficult to overcome as it tends to build up over a period of time. With this information in mind it is important to identify potential future stressors at the beginning of the educational year and to plan your revision timetable and making sure that you attend your lectures throughout the year in order to make it easier for yourself when it comes to the exam period. The typical student stress or is leaving their projects and work till last minute, always using the excuse that they work better with a tight deadline; we all know from experience however, that students are actually just too laid-back.


Educating the Girl Child

An eight to nine year old girl comes every morning and afternoon in my office to help her mother serve tea to us. She is bubbly, effervescent and looks a happy child. Sometimes from her home which is adjacent to our house she waves at me. One day I beckoned to her, waving but she looked recalcitrant and grumpy. After some time I saw her sidling to her mother in the nearby tea shop which the mother owns, showing her an exercise book which I could vaguely decipher as the English alphabets, written by her.  (The balcony of my office just overlooks the tea shop). She stood by obediently and a little apprehensively as the mother nodded gravely. After finishing this chore the girl skipped back happily to the verandah of her house. Obviously relieved with finishing her ‘ studies ‘ normalcy returned and the face was once again wreathed with smiles. 

Every morning and afternoon she comes to my room to take back the cups. She has now got very friendly with a colleague of mine, and speaks to him partly in Khasi and partly in Hindi. My colleague seems very fond of her as she cuddles up to him. The most important thing is that she is a happy child, alert and very sensitive to her surroundings. 

My colleagues in the office tell me that she is Assamese and has been adopted by the Khasi couple who own the tea shop. I tried speaking Assamese to her, she shyly responded. Ever since that time I have tried to follow her movements. She follows her ‘ mother ‘ like a strict disciplinarian. 

Then I remembered the scene where the mother was trying to teach her the alphabets. The mother not being from an educated background herself,  is trying to do her best to educate her adopted child, who is now her ‘ real ‘ child. My colleague told me the other day, that he heard that next year the parents will send her to school. I greeted the news with a personal joy.

In an age where we talk vocally about education for the impoverished girl child, in our country, I actually see it happening in front of my eyes, not imparted by the elite and the erudite, or the privileged, but by the poor themselves. Amidst the fanfare of the International Day for the girl child, which recently concluded we have a million lessons to learn, from people like this foster mother imparting education to her adopted child, a mother who is as untutored as her ‘ daughter ‘.

Against the backdrop of the President of India’s address in the North Eastern Hill University Convocation on the 22nd of October the statement that he made that education in India should be more daring, innovative and path breaking such examples as the one cited above gains ascendancy and importance. The innovation and change process of education begins with school education. The Right to Education is assumptive, in the sense that it decrees that all should get the opportunities of education. That all do not get such benefits, especially the impoverished, the abandoned and the neglected is a truism. The challenge is; how do we get them into the  ‘ classroom ‘. What kind of ‘ classroom’ can we create for them, for a basic education, devoid of stereotypes? For children who have not been going to school for years, a separate and distinct education system should be on the anvil, something that is imaginative, and something which encourages the child’s sensory perception: simple writing, reading or painting. The same may be true of general education, but the difference between the two is that in the former there has been deprivation, the latter is more fortunate to enter school at the right time. It is precisely this entry point which creates the hiatus in opportunities, and in final consequence.

The change must begin here, not so much in teaching methodologies but in infusing the spirit of education to the effete and the unfortunate. The prattle about technology without sorting out the ground realities such as disruption or non availability of technology in remote areas is simply vacuous. Basic intelligence is inherent in every child and practical examples, not so much research has amply proven the fact that the disabled, the physically or mentally challenged still retain an intelligence which can yield creative results. So innovation, in this context will not be so much in the domain of teaching and learning, but using all creative resources to bring ‘ street children’ and drop outs into a learning system, not so much formal but contextualized in a creative pedagogy. This is the biggest challenge. Once this is done then the chain of collegiate and higher education can follow, especially with the resources available in open schools and universities. In fact in an open university one can be a graduate without being a ten plus two passed, or even a class ten passed, provided he or she is of a minimum 18 years. We have flexible options open in both school and higher education in our country, the main thing is awareness and publicity. The National Open school has the option for vocational education as well, and opportunities for the physically challenged. There must be a well coordinated and orchestrated effort in publicity by both governmental and nongovernmental organizations. The ‘Hunar’ project for girls in Bihar of the National Open School is only one such example, but certainly a very worthy one where vocational training for minority communities has proved to be successful. 

The President of India’s statement is of great import for one or two reasons. The first is the decrepit condition of education in our country; the second is the entry point and equitable distribution of learning. Instead of quibbling too much about technology and sanctimonious methods, let us look at an equal distribution and the question of opportunities. Once basic or school education is set right both for the girl or boy child, in the context of being disadvantaged higher education can follow. Every speech by a policy maker or an educator bristles with statistics; instead of this mono mania for statistics we should evolve a concerted policy, which should be inclusive, including aspects like vocational education from school onwards. Statistics need not tell us the grinding truth our surroundings evince this very clearly and loudly, a painful reality.

It is a great sign that the President of the country is thinking in terms of an inventive and creative educational system. But the edifice can be strengthened only if the foundations are strong.

The lady near my office who is educating, adopting a girl child, using the wherewithal of education and resources at her disposal, however limited this might be is a remarkable innovator. It is exactly this exigency which makes her effort a prodigious one!



Today is a time for fireworks and fun
But we should n’t forget its reason.
This is one of the most important days
of the entire summer season.
Today’s the day our nation became free
and the date of the country’s birth.
For so many years we have grown to be
one of the best countries on earth….



Building Self-Confidence


  • Acknowledge Your Uniqueness. Believe in yourself and know that you are one of a kind. In the words of Walt Whitman know:

                                                        “That you are here–that life exists, and identity;
                                                          That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”

  • There is no one else like you on this planet. No one looks like you, has the same talents, experiences, or perspective as you do. You are unique and are therefore here to make your unique contribution. If we each focus on what we bring into the world to share, there can be no comparisons, envy or regret. We are here to “contribute a verse”.
    • Give it Your Best. When you do the best you can, with the best of what you’ve got, you can’t help but feel good about yourself and that confidence comes through in everything that you do. Giving it your best makes you unafraid to take risks or step out of your comfort zone – both great confidence-builders.
    • Persevere. Everybody has setbacks and obstacles to contend with. Don’t let them undermine your confidence. Treat them as opportunities to strengthen your resolve and then persevere. See Article: The Power of Persistence
    • Overcome adversity. Overcoming adversity builds and strengthens self-confidence. The greatest songs, works of art and literary pieces have been written by those who have experienced the depths of despair, loss and emptiness and overcame them. Experiencing sadness and loss, and then rising above them, gives rise to hope and triumph. It makes you stretch and become more than you were.
    • Accomplish something. Set goals for yourself and then push yourself to reach them. Self-confidence soars when you know you can do what you put your mind to. It makes you feel unstoppable. Likewise, achieve mastery. Mastery experiences are those in which you know you have worked hard and put in great effort to achieve success.
    • Separate Yourself From the Event.  You are not what happens to you, nor how you believe others see you. In other words, you are notdefined by what happens to you, nor are youdefined by how others see you. You are who you choose to be – a person of character, dignity and self-confidence.
    • Confront your fears.  There’s nothing that destroys self-confidence more than succumbing to fear. Everyone feels fear at various times; we’re human, however facing circumstances with courage and poise strengthens character and builds self-confidence. Put yourself out there! If you’re afraid to meet new people, attend social events, etc. – don’t stay home and fret. Doing builds confidence. Of course, you’ll feel, and probably be awkward the first few times in new situations, however, the more you do it, the better you’ll get, and therefore the better you’ll feel about yourself.
    • Good looks do not equal self-confidence.  Some of the most attractive people in the world are insecure and lack self-confidence. Marilyn Monroe was considered to be one of the sexiest, most beautiful people in the world, yet she lacked a positive self-image. She misguidedly allowed external factors, such as the approval of others, to determine her self worth. Good looks may help you feel good about yourself temporarily, but are by no means enough.
    • Take good care of yourself. When you are in fit, in good health, and make a point of looking your best, you can’t help but feel confident. This is different, of course, from comparing your looks to others. It’s about being comfortable with you. Everyone looks good when they’re in good shape, well groomed, and healthy. You can’t help but have a glow about you when you take good care of yourself                       
  •  Learn how to give yourself a pep talk.  We all have our down moments, moments of doubt, confusion and uncertainty. When that happens, we must learn how to restore self-confidence. One way is to understand that everyone goes through such moments. Another is to remember past successes, visualize the desired outcome, and keep at it! Practice makes perfect.

Self-confidence is absolutely essential to achieving success in any endeavor. You acquire it by doing, learning, accomplishing, and persisting..

Holidays Homework Of Class XI-XII



Previous Question Papers of Class IX (Math)

MA1 QP 460011       MA1 QP 460012          MA1 QP 460013          MA1 QP 460014           MA1 QP 460015

MA1 QP 460016      MA1 QP 460017          MA1 QP 460018          MA1 QP 460019           MA1 QP 460020

MA1 QP 460021      MA1 QP 460022          MA1 QP 460023          MA1 QP 460024          MA1 QP 460025

MA1 QP 460026     MA1 QP 460027          MA1 QP 460028          MA1 QP 460029          MA1 QP 460030