Dr Megha Dhillon has a day job as a professor of psychology at Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University. But in her off-time, she has taken it upon herself to spread joy wherever she goes. “The world isn’t full of negativity – it has good and bad in equal measure. And it’s important to acknowledge the simultaneous presence of both,” says the psychology expert, who enjoys conducting research on psycho-social issues with a special emphasis on women’s experiences.
Born and raised in Delhi, Megha has been teaching psychology at prestigious girls’ colleges for about a decade now, before which she was involved in social work in the field of intellectual disability and mental health. “I belong to a loving and liberal family. Both my parents had their own businesses. My father wanted me to join the IAS. But my parents never imposed anything on me. I was allowed to make the career choices that I desired,” says the 35-year-old mother of a little girl.
When Megha started studying psychology in class 11, there was almost an instinctive attraction to the subject. “It is as if I have an inbuilt desire to understand human existence and the human condition. And psychology satisfied that yearning. Perhaps I was destined to study the subject,” muses Megha.
Noting the existing gap in availability and supply of mental health services in India, Megha presently works with youth from economically challenged sections on their social emotional and career development. “If that brings them joy, I am happy to be able to do that,” she says.
Megha believes that much of her personal growth stems from her own psychological struggles particularly with self-worth that began in adolescence. “I don’t know the trigger for those struggles. All I know is that I transformed from a happy child into an awkward, confused and self-conscious teenager. It remained like that for years till my work pulled me out of that space, instilling in me a certain degree of confidence and enabling self-acceptance. The journey of self-growth continues even now. I am slowly but surely learning to appreciate and embrace myself,” she shares.
Along the way, Megha was inspired by a host of people and issues she worked with. “I came to understand many issues around disability. For example, how disability is significantly impacted by the existence of social and infrastructural barriers. My work at an NGO called Manzil is also a great learning experience where I constantly witness the resilience of young people who grapple with economical and family stressors but find in themselves the determination to persevere,” she says.
Megha has taught a variety of papers in psychology – from those that focus on the relationships between the individual and society (social psychology) to those that focus on issues of the youth and on health. She constantly guides her students to look for the ‘magic in the mundane’: “You can do that by keeping gratitude in your heart,” she advises.
“For example, just by making a list of five things you are grateful for everyday, you will realise that there is magic and happiness in ‘everyday-ness.’ These feelings can be created just by the little pleasures of life,” she goes on.
“A hot cup of coffee, an interesting conversation with an old friend, a good book that absorbs you, seeing the rain… It is these everyday experiences that are special in their own ways. And ever so enjoyable. Instead of taking them for granted, if we realise the beauty in them and feel thankful for them, life will always feel good.”
Listen to Dr Megha Dhillon speak on “Self-Compassion: The Power of Being Kind to Ourselves” at eShe’s personal growth workshop for women, ‘Shine Your Light’. Click here for details.