Articles / Samsara Living Spotlight on Mr. Viswanatha Setty, who is never too old to start something new
Samsara Living Spotlight on Mr. Viswanatha Setty, who is never too old to start something new
Life begins after retirement – a new life, a new cause, new learnings and new beginnings… all these are possible in your second innings in life is what we learnt from Viswanatha Setty!
It was refreshing to spend time with both him and his wife as they shared their journey of life after retirement.
Life as Usual…
Originally from Shimoga, Viswanatha moved to Bangalore in 1967 and joined Kirloskar for a year and then HMT where he retired as the department head after 30 years with the company. He recalls how he was single-mindedly focused to the extent that he never even changed departments in the 30 years. After retirement, he considered offering his expertise as a consultant to other companies, but somewhere in the back of his mind he really wanted to do some social good.
Back in 2001, one of his ex-colleagues introduced him to the concept of a laughter club in Malleswaram so Viswanatha decided to check it out. He took an instant liking to the concept. Having been an ardent sports person as well as a Yoga practitioner (Pranayama) over the years, he was able to combine these with laughter to create a unique syllabus of laughter yoga. He began a chapter in R T Nagar where he resides and as the saying goes, there was no turning back. He reached out to his ex-colleagues and began facilitating the sessions on a daily basis. By his side was his wife whose presence encouraged many women to step out of their homes and actively participate in the club. The number of members grew through plain word of mouth and references. The benefit went beyond the daily dose of laughter – the club became a unit to make new friends, share experiences, bond with like-minded people and even go on planned picnics and trips together! Life after retirement suddenly wasn’t as lonely or boring as it could have been.
Why laughter? One may ask…
The unique program Viswanatha has designed ensures all parts of the body gets enough exercise and further it also relaxes the mind.
Viswanatha amazed us with this fact about laughter! Did you know there are 50 types of laughter?? Well, we didn’t! He went on to show us some videos of programs he has conducted over the years at various places, including IT companies. The amazing thing about all the videos we saw was his ability to help individuals shed their inhibitions and join in wholeheartedly in the program. In his words, “Now, our lives are more satisfying… truly sartaka jeevana.”
He went on to start multiple chapters of laughter club in and around the city. He would hand hold a new chapter for the first week and then let the people within the group sustain it, making a periodic visit to keep the bond and enthusiasm alive. He would also give them a manuscript. “Seniors also tend to forget so manuscript is important.” He adds. “The response has been good… and it is heartening to see more ladies than men participating on a regular basis. I think it is because now that their children are gone, they prefer going out of home, make new friends who they become very close to. There are single ladies, whose partner may have passed away, for whom life has taken a U-Turn. For them this is a comfortable platform to share their experiences and life journey.” Viswanatha articulates.
He further adds why he feels this has become so popular, “I don’t add any pressure on how an exercise should be done. I encourage members to stretch as much as their body allows them, based on their own comfort level and I never complain or criticize about how much one does. It is also heartening to see how the seniors’ social life gets better because they all invites each other for social functions and events as well as organize and go for small trips – be it temple, sight-seeing etc. It is deeply satisfying when members talk about how life has changed for them because of the club…”
Interestingly, life had more turns and experiences in store for him…
After the sad and untimely demise of their daughter in law due to an accident in the US in 2011, Viswanatha and his wife had no choice but to spend 6 months a year at their son’s house in Oregon, USA. He noticed there were a lot of parks around and decided to start the laughter exercises, more as a means to stay occupied and have a healthy routine, every morning and evening. Suddenly a number of other parents, typically Indians like themselves, joined in out of curiosity. And so laughter clubs were formed and popularized in Oregon too! So much so that these folks enquire about Viswanatha’s itinerary so they are aware when he would be back and bring in the much required enthusiasm to the clubs. They even coordinate their own travel plans based on his.
What it Takes…
“My ability of having no inhibitions and a never say die attitude is what helped me create something like this even in a completely new and unknown place!” shares Viswanatha humbly. He goes on to describe a touching incident with us, “Two years back, on Guru Poornima, out of the blue I was felicitated at one of the laughter clubs in the US. I was presented with a purse and everyone touched my feet, even people much older than me. It was most touching.” He adds with high emotions shining through his eyes.
Fortunate enough to have children who support them, Viswanatha Setty believes their “loneliness is non-existent because of this and we are happy to do the same for others as well.” he further adds, “Materialistic life doesn’t give much happiness at all… as much as this has given me these past 15 years. In 15 years I have conducted almost 100 programs!”
For more on his programs, we encourage you to visit his channel on YouTube.
Samsara Living applauds Viswanatha Setty’s truly Jiyo Dil Se attitude! On that note, we wish both Viswanatha Setty and his wife many more decades of spreading laughter, joy and companionship for seniors across the globe.