How Happy Are You?

happinessWhen we talk of healing from mental illness (or any other devastating illness), what is our main motive? Recovery from the clutches of the illness or reclaiming the ability to live life fully? A person who wants to continue evolving, uses recovery as a platform to reach level next. I felt a strange emptiness after I thought I had ‘conquered’ the bipolar monster. A question which kept dogging me was, “What’s missing? Shouldn’t I be over the moon now?”

At a workshop conducted by International Life Coach, Malti Bhojwani, I sought her help in this regard. The aim of the workshop was to ensure that we adopted the right approach to claim our cherished life goals. “I have overcome depression and sadness, all that is behind me, but something is missing. My goal is to be happy.” Promptly she replied, “Happiness cannot be a goal for it is a way of being, to be experienced in the Now.”

How right she was! Let’s say, I declare, “I shall be happy by February 14, 2016” (yes I know that’s Valentine’s Day). It doesn’t make much sense, for I cannot preorder happiness. Once this simple key to the elusive lock was provided to be by Malti, I began exploring the concept more. Began walking on my journey of transcending from survival to the path of fulfillment. It began with a quest, one which I resolutely pursued.

In order to achieve a goal, we must know what we are looking for. Do we really understand ourselves well enough? What really makes us happy? Modern living tends to alienate us from our intrinsically simple needs and wants. We tend to mistake pleasure for happiness. During festivals, we are inundated with advertisements selling everything under the sun and moon to dial in nirvana. The glitziest car, swanky new houses, gadgets we will be bored of in a month and which throw all our financial plans into disarray. Do these form our basis of happiness? Indulgence and festivity go hand in hand. However, to what extent we go overboard in gratifying our senses is a choice we make. Instant gratification is a bane of a consumerist society and that of long-term happiness.

In simple terms, happiness is keeping things simple. The main reason a baby is happy is because its life is so uncluttered. A toddler derives joy from the silliest of things and activities. Why allow our hearts to age?

So, here’s the Special Happiness Recipe, guaranteed to make you “instantly happy”. Alas, *terms & conditions do apply. We need to apply these diligently first.

1. Professional pride: The times we live in make each one us want to feel relevant. Since such a chunk of our lives is spent working, a satisfying career makes life easier. Even a homemaker needs to be reassured that she is doing the toughest job in the world and that she does it with the greatest finesse. Excelling at what one does is a fine booster of self-worth.

2. Passion: Do you know of a friend or colleague who never lets her or his armour of enthusiasm down? I have been blessed with fine Mentors and all of them fall in this category. Even when nothing is going right, passion fuels their fight! They back their ideas and failure does not baulk them. Hobbies, learning, evolving, encouraging and fulfilling their potential- all these are attributes one would associate with them. Passion also means a love for life. Mindfulness, a mantra that is a rage globally, allows us to live in the moment, distancing us from worries of the future. Mindful meditation has been proven to have great rejuvenative and healing value, whether in a structured form or enjoyment of passions such as music, nature or art or playing with a child, begin enjoying life in the truest sense. And there’s, of course, passion for one’s work.

3. People: Technology, ambition, work pressures and the competitive nature of this world has alienated us from our own breed. Bonding is rare, relationships feel the strain as ‘We’ gets replaced by ‘Me’ in an assertive era. In a marital relationship, for instance, when a spouse succeeds at the cost of the other, eventually neither is happy. A life-work balance coupled with a commitment to those we love contributes to a happy family. Rarely can an individual be happy if her/his ‘home is unhappy’. Making money is not a goal in itself but is supposed to be to make life easier. Research proves that contrary to popular belief, it is not big ticket purchases or fancy vacations that are really effective. What makes a family bond together is quality (and fun) time spent together. A dinner, weekend getaway or going to the movies together are even more important. Laugh a lot, play even more. We are children at heart, how about a brand new life by turning back the clock?

4. Purpose: The one huge difference between animals and humans is that we have the power of choice, the ability to ask ourselves questions. Meandering through most of life while just fulfilling responsibilities leaves one feeling empty. The key questions to ask ourselves are,
“Who am I?”
“What was I created for in this life?”

Here, introspection is a great mentor. The inner voice never lies. A mentor or insightful coach can also hold a mirror to your soul. How about meditating daily and writing a journal? My meditative practice for over a decade has been the single biggest factor in my turnaround as well as my happiness factor. This was just the appetiser I needed to march onward on my spiritual quest. It opened a window to the spectacular inner world, one which dazzles with a permanence, independent of what happens around me. Material pangs pale into insignificance. Based on the insights the abundant wisdom we have on tap, we can tell ourselves, “This is what I have been created for. This will be my central mission in life, for it gives me the greatest fulfilment”

5. Philanthropy: Faith is entirely a matter of choice and has little to do with religious beliefs. The enlightenment that I am not the actual ‘doer’, that I am an instrument to carry out His acts was a humbling thought. It also took off a great burden off my shoulders. I was never walking alone, His benevolence always protected and guided me. It also dawned on me that my larger purpose was to be of service while never claiming credit for the results of my actions. We hold our wealth in trust for Him. The sense of ownership is the cause of insecurity and a lot of heartburn. The movie, The Gods Must Be a Crazy is such a powerful narrative of this theme! Sharing and caring empower us too. Empathy is a powerful healer, (and research on that could fill up a separate post).

So be kind first to yourself, your family and loved ones, and society at large. Feel the surge in your Happiness index.

Let’s smile together, Let’s laugh together, Let’s walk together.

This post is a modified version of a Post Published by me
on DNA India (Web Edition)