The pursuit of happiness

Yes, I could have come up with a different title for the blog but why struggle. This title not only accurately defines what the blog is about but also, thanks to Will Smith, will get a lot of attention!

Happiness is a simple word yet its meaning is as deep as it can get. People’s understanding of happiness is basis what they have been told and also what they have experienced. My life of 3 decades and a half has taught me something significant about happiness. It is the most misunderstood simple word. Most of all, at workplace, I find people unhappy with what they do. It is not what they do that makes them unhappy; it is how they do it! Through this post, I am going to try and bust a few myths about happiness.

1. Happiness is a choice

Many people believe happiness is a result. A result of many things working out in favour of us. While that is true, it is not the complete truth. Happiness is a choice. If you wish to be happy, you can choose to and if you wish to be unhappy, you can choose to. If you choose happiness, no matter what happens, there can be a momentary incidence of unhappiness but eventually happiness will prevail.

I see street dwellers. They have nothing but they are happy. I see slum dwellers. They do not have much but they are happy. I see patients with terminal diseases. They know their time has come, yet, they are happy. On the other hand, I see rich people. They have everything but they are unhappy. I see well educated, well placed people. They have dream jobs and vocations. Yet they are unhappy.

If you choose to be happy, you create situations around you that attract happiness. If you choose to be unhappy, you create situations around you that attract unhappiness. It’s that simple.

I tell my team, no use fretting. It only causes pain and agony. Experience a moment of dissatisfaction when things don’t go your way. Then regroup, attack the problem and see how you can be happy again and solve the problem. It is easier to solve the problem in a happy state of mind than solve the problem and then be happy. I have practiced this all my life. I have, by the grace of God, been able to use this to good measure and have a happy life at work.

2. Happiness is for you to find and discover

Happiness and unhappiness or sorrow are to be discovered. Like I said in the point above, it is your choice. Every human has reasons to be happy but has more reasons to be sad. The strange thing about sadness is that it is easier to find and is self-refuelling. You have to only look for a small item of unhappiness. Post that, it will help you find more items of unhappiness.

But happiness is not self-refuelling. Hence, one needs to work harder. You have to look for happiness and keep looking thereafter. Look around you, in personal and in professional life, you surely have a lot of reasons to be happy. You are certainly much better placed than where you were even a year back. You are much better off than many in your organisation. If you are reading this post, you are among the very few who have access to an internet powered system. Focus on things that are good. Find happiness. Happiness has a huge impact on your wellbeing. The most peaceful people are the happiest. They choose to be happy and peace finds them. It is never the opposite. Monks, great leaders, all of them found happiness and then peace.

3. Happiness does not need money

Our understanding of life has been critically damaged because of money. We believe that happiness is all because of material things that we can surround ourselves with. This may partly be true because our lives and comforts have changed, thanks to material goods. However, they are not the only things, and surely not the most important things, that bring us happiness. Robert Waldinger, in his TED talk, mentions about The Harvard Study of Adult Development and the real source of happiness.

Acts of random kindness (ARK) can also bring you a lot of happiness. Feed the hungry, clothe the needy, share a laugh with a bereaved, all these can bring you more happiness than anything that money can buy. You find your ARK — help an old man cross the road, stop your vehicle when you see a child trying to cross the road, allow a physically challenged person to get the ticket ahead of you, make way for the ambulance which is carrying a patient struggling to survive — these are things that you can do every day. You choose your ARK and see the happiness it gets you.

4. Happiness is contagious

If you are happy, it shows. You look energetic, you look radiant and you exude happiness. People around you do notice. They either feel envious or they feel motivated. Either is good. If they are envious, they will do what it takes to be happy as you. If they are motivated, they will ask you for help and work their way towards happiness.

Ever seen children playing in the rain? Or running after butterflies? Or rolling on the grass with puppies around him/her? That is happiness. And when you see kids doing things mentioned above, don’t you feel like joining them and having fun? It is the contagious nature of happiness that pushes you to want to be like those kids. Carefree and happy.

Remember the video of this man in Mumbai who was stuck in a jam and got out of his car and started dancing to music? Remember how it became viral? Why? Because it brought smiles to people, it brought happiness. And instinctively, people forwarded the post — no comment on the post, just a random forward — ARK! Why? Because they wanted to share the happiness. And in the video itself, you would notice people and join him in his dance. All smiling ear to ear, enjoying every second of it.

5. Happiness is everywhere

You don’t have to look much. See that person on the pavement? He has his entire household there. You have a four walled house, with rooms. That is a reason to be happy. Sure, you can also compare you house to the one your rival has and find your house small and claustrophobic, but as I said, happiness is a matter of choice.

There are many things that can and should make you sad. But there are also many things that can make you happy and joyful. Focus on the latter. Your life will change. The happiest people are not those to whom happiness came on its own. Happiest people find happiness in the smallest thing. Your increment may not have been good. But you have a job. Your boss may not be a great person but he has you still working for him. Every point that has the potential to make you sad, has the potential to make you happy if seen from the right perspective.

This may all sound very philosophical and theoretical. Many will read this and proclaim this post as impractical. Well, that is your point of view and I respect it. But this is not all theory. All that I have said above has been practiced and has proved to yield results. The test subject was Apurva Sircar. Thanks to his guru, Aniruddha Bapu, he is happy like a child. He loves the world and everything in it. Life is colourful. Life is a blessing. All because he chose to be happy.

Don’t worry, Be happy. It’s more than a song. It’s a way of life; it’s the best way of life.

PS: Happiness is not contentment. Happiness is not satisfaction. They may not be mutually exclusive but are also not dependent on each other. Nowhere in my post do I mean that the world should be contended with whatever it gets.

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