Secret to a happy life

Happiness is the goal of everyone. It is a universal aspiration. Everybody craves for happiness. This the level where distinctions between people—gender, race, religion, culture, and language—break down. We are all the same; each one of us aspires to happiness and no one of us wishes to suffer. This is our most fundamental reality. Everyone  wants to live a happy and peaceful but only some people get to taste it throughout their lives. It is greatest of all wealth and riches. No matter how much worldly possession we have accumulated but it cant guarantee happiness and life satisfaction. We keep on searching for happiness in material possessions, degrees, jobs, destiny, fate but end up disappointed, we still don’t feel what is called inner bliss, spiritual solace, Aha feeling because happiness comes from within. It can be achieved by reshaping our attitudes and outlook, the key to happiness is in our own hands. We don’t need to rely on luck or chance to achieve happiness, waiting for the day when all the outer conditions of our lives finally fall into place—the day we finally lose weight, get rich, get married (or divorced!), or get that coveted promotion. Having a happy life is an achievable goal for which we need to train our mind. Over the past decade, more and more people have rejected the idea of happiness as something that is merely a by-product of our external circumstances, in favour of seeing happiness as something that can be systematically developed, as we have witnessed the exponential growth of a new movement—a Happiness Revolution which was started by Martin Seligman, the pioneer of Positive Psychology which many people call Happiness Psychology. For the first time in human history, happiness had finally become a legitimate field of scientific inquiry. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was another brilliant researcher who along with Seligman conducted researches on happiness. Since that time, the Happiness Revolution has had a growing impact on all levels of society . For instance Harvard university introduced “Happiness  Course” as the most popular undergraduate course, with enrolment quickly soaring to well over 1,400 students each semester. The impact is even being seen on the governmental level in nations around the world, with the country of Bhutan, for instance, replacing GDP with GNH (Gross National Happiness) as its most important measure of success as a nation. Policymakers in many nations are now even exploring the idea of shaping public policy based on happiness research..” ; researchers began looking for “ what makes life worth while . The focus shifted from Human illness to “Human wellness” ; from human deficits to human assets.

Key Practises for Happiness:

There are some key practises that would fill our life with happiness in every circumstance.

1. Never compare yourself. In order to be happy one should never compare himself/ herself with those who are superior to to him/her in looks, wealth and fame. Looking on a superior gives the feeling of awe and we get to feel that our life has nothing good to offer and we begin to feel disheartened and disappointed. Instead if we will look on destitute, orphans, disabled, we would realise that if we don’t have branded shoes to wear others don’t have feet to walk ;if we dont have soft beds to sleep others don’t have bread to eat. This positive mindset  breeds happiness and life satisfaction. Happy people are successful people in real sense as Success is not measured by wealth and fame but by the amount of happiness and peace which we feel in our life.

2. Shun the unrealistic expectations. The oughts and should which we have set for ourselves; for instance; i should be loved by all, i should be successful in everything I do, my wishes should be taken as laws, I should get everything I want are the chief causes of our suffering because these are unrealistic expectations and these can only be achieved in dreams not in real life. Life is a matter of compromise. When we begin to accept and embrace this reality our sufferings end.

3. Perfectly love the imperfect you. Love yourself unconditionally. It means we should not set conditions of worth on ourselves. For example a person who feels low just because he hasn’t been able to crack IAS exams is lowering his morale. People who love themselves unconditionally have high self esteem, confidence and optimism which are very much important to thrive in life. They provide a shield to a person against stress and are immune to various psychopathologies like anxiety and depression.

4. Be optimistic. A person should have a optimistic outlook and should search for opportunities in adversities. He/ she should be hopeful of better things and should feed self with positive statements like self good things are on way to come .My efforts will pay off ; because a heart is like a child it believes everything we tell it . So one should be optimistic to have a positive self image and future so that he/she can feel happy.

5. Get your bond with the creator strengthened. A person should spent some time in meditation , yoga or other religious activities. They transcend the psyche above stress and strain and gives inner bliss for which every human being is craving in the world ruined by materialism. Meditation has a cathartic effect. A neurologist William Davison has found that people who mediate and spent time in religious practice have greater functioning in left prefrontal area of brain called happiness region. This is the reason that monks, religious scholars have lower levels of stress and higher level of happiness and life satisfaction. They live for present. They have harmony with nature and they live a life of contentment.

6. Be kind and compassionate. Research has shown that when we help others we automatically feel happy. we feel good that we did something nice. Researchers on human happiness identify compassionate service to others as one of the key characteristics shared by many of the world’s happiest people. When we help others, the focus of our mind assumes a broader horizon within which we are able to see our own petty problems in a more realistic proportion. What previously appeared to be daunting and unbearable, which is what often makes our problems so overwhelming, tends to lose its intensity.

Researchers often wonder about the causal sequence between compassion and happiness. They ask: Is it the case that compassionate people are happier or are happy people more compassionate? But on practical lines it is a two way process when we are happy we act compassionately and when we act compassionately we become happy (Dalai Lama). The good news is that both are cultivable . We can develop compassion as well as happiness.

7. Never let the past baggage ruin your present. Don’t keep on thinking over past failures, disappointments. Past is a lesson not a punishment for whole life. instead cherish the present moment and prepare for future. No amount of regret or lamenting can change the past and no amount of worrying guarantee successful future.

8. Dont have lust for more and more. Lust for more destroys inner peace& ruins a man .This was beautifully highlighted by leo tolstoy in his story How much land does a man need where a character named pahom in his lust for more and more land lost life & was finaly buried in just a 6 inch grave. Nature has enough to provide sustenance to mankind but not enough to satiate their lust. Needs are limited ; wants are not.

8. Don’t envy others

9. Don’t catastrophise negativities in life

10. Learn to let go and Move on.

Benefits of Happiness: One of the factors fueling the Happiness Revolution has been the startling research in the past decade revealing the many benefits of happiness, benefits extending far beyond merely “feeling good.” Scientific studies have shown that happy people are more likely to attract a mate, enjoy stronger and more satisfying marriages, and are better parents. Happy people are also healthier, with better immune function and less cardiovascular disease. There is even evidence that happy individuals live up to ten years longer than their less happy peers! In addition, happiness leads to better mental health, greater resilience, and an increased capacity to deal with adversity and trauma. Recent research has proven that happiness leads to greater creativity and improved mental functioning.

Author is a research scholar, Dept of Psychology; University of Kashmir