A feeling that is more precious than the rarest of diamonds and coveted by each and every one of us. A feeling that seems to inexplicably decline with advancing age in most people, barring undying optimists and idiots. Babies and young kids are the happiest and the ‘grumpy-meter’ seems to swing wildly into overdrive with teenagers, settling into a mildly dissatisfied apathy during grown-up-ness.
Happiness is the ultimate destination for all. The need to progress in life, gain material comforts and social status, establish relationships, build a family, kiss babies, dunk marshmallows in hot chocolate on a winters’ eve, advance careers, go to Disneyland, buy a flashy convertible — our inherent need is to be happy somehow. But many times, we do things that make us unhappy in the present, believing those choices will lead to happiness in future. That scarcely happens, because the future is merely a continuation of present moments and if I am unhappy now, it is unlikely that will change, unless I change my current actions and attitudes to make room for doing what makes me happiest.
And perhaps, the landscape of our current choices can be altered fundamentally by:
Following Genuine Passions: If your passion is to ride a unicycle with a cherry perched atop your nose, do it. It takes courage to follow your passion because what you love to do may not be necessarily categorized within the buckets of ‘lucrative professions’. It is wonderful if your passion is to heal people, in which case you can become a doctor. But what if you would secretly love to entertain people and become a circus clown? Would you have the courage to leave your nine-to-fiver and follow your dream? Even if you cannot give up your day job, how about following your passion as a part-time vocation, irrespective of what others think of you? Can you stand firm against the wide-eyed astonishment and gleams of disapproval that will come your way?
Increasing Our Emotional Quotient: High IQ is very hot everywhere and everyone is supposed to have it. I say, have the highest EQ possible — view the bigger picture of your life with healthy emotion. Develop a loving mental picture of you in the future, identify the little steps needed to sculpt that into reality and then sprinkle a big dose of love on that picture. When you commit yourself to something with love and intensity, you are sure to achieve it.
Broadening Our Horizons: If my life revolves too narrowly around ‘my group of people’ that comprises of a truly minuscule percentage of the world’s population — I should make an effort to step out of my comfort zone and know more about the galaxy of people not in my group — about their challenges, lifestyles and world views. This helps me to shake myself out of my self-absorbed daze and feel immensely more gratitude for what I have been blessed with in my life.
Residing Within A Sphere of Inner Appreciation: Cultivate self worth. “I am invaluable — and I love myself to bits.” Many times we self-flagellate and mentally rebuke ourselves for the slightest of mistakes. Other times, we are victims of constantly comparing ourselves to another, or are afraid of letting others down. Keeping aside pure me-time each day, to do what we excel at and find pleasure in — makes us realize our talents and develops healthy self-assurance. And healthy is always happy.
Being Happy Everywhere: We seem to be difficult to please and uniformly unhappy in our lives, sometimes. “That movie was great, but the leading lady not so much since that nose job”. “ Why did you spend five thousand rupees on my birthday gift, do you think money grows on trees?” Someone might do the best they can for us, yet we are perpetually unhappy. Instead, we should learn to be happy in any circumstance — “ my boss was really mad at me today, but never mind, I was smiling inside looking at his bright yellow shirt.” You catch my drift.
Spotlighting the Smiles: Banish the frown-based face forever. Smile at everyone you see genuinely and sure enough, you will be showered back with a million smiles — most of the time.
Thinking Joyously: Allow exclusively thoughts of what you look forward to in your life to drift across the deepest reaches of your mind. The Universe believes in simplicity and so, happy thoughts will manifest happiness. Bleak thoughts can breed nothing but shadows in life. After all, if you sow weeds in your garden, flowers cannot be harvested.
Developing a Shorter Memory: Do not harbor a memory resembling that of an elephant. Do not cling to every real or imagined slight encountered. “ In 1932, he stole my pencil and broke my favorite doll’s neck. Its payback time.” Forgive and forget is the mantra for happiness.
Avoiding Weeping Willows Like the Plague: Sometimes, you meet people who are perpetually weepy and whiny about everything. They are like violent cloudbursts on the flowers of happiness. Avoid them if possible and if you must work with them, use noise cancellation headphones.
The recipe for happiness is not gourmet. It is a simple concoction of consciously practicing being happy and attracting more of the best in life.