More than a decade ago, an American researcher called David Lykken made a rather drastic and depressing statement about happiness. He said, “Trying to be happier is as futile as trying to be taller.” But rejoice! He quickly changed his verdict, and confessed that he had made a ‘dumb’ statement. Glad he realised, because we know for sure that happiness can be ours for the taking.
How I Get Happier
I Phone A Friend: Anita Thakur, 29
Why it works: Chatting up with a pal fulfills the very human need to feel close, connected and intimate. Each time I share some good news with a friend, the joy doubles. When I’m sad, reaching out to a friend makes sure my misery is halved.
How I make it happen: I’ve learnt not to say ‘let’s meet more often,’ without meaning it. If it means a choice between some supposedly ‘important’ chore and catching up with my best friend over coffee, I nearly always choose the latter, and I’m always glad I did.
I Think Positive: Amita Dewan, 32
Why it works: Well, as they say, ‘At the end of the journey the pessimist might well turn out to be right, but at least the optimist has a more fun ride.” Luckily for me, I’m blessed with ‘happy genes.’ So, a few years ago, when I lost my purse in the middle of a crowded market, I refused to think it wouldn’t come back. Everyone scoffed, saying, ‘Nobody returns a free load of money,’ (and my purse contained a load.) But guess what, someone actually called and returned it!
How I make it happen: I practise replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. So, ‘I can’t’ and ‘it won’t’ become ‘I can’ and ‘It Will.’ Try it. Works every time!
I Do Something: Sylvia George, 49
Why it works: I believe studies show that action encourages ‘the happiness hormone,’ endorphins, to flow fast and easy. I’m no researcher, but I’ve seen this is so true. When I’m feeling low, I clean out a cupboard, or roll out some pastry, or go out for a brisk walk.
How I make it happen: I’ve learned to replace ‘mindless’ activity such as watching television or playing a video game with positive action: earlier, I used to let myself sink into the couch with a bag of chips, and that just made everything worse. Now, I can take most difficulties head on, because I make the right moves!
I Do Nothing: Anand Srivastava, 55
Why it works: Meditation or simply sitting in stillness for a while helps you tune out of your stresses and tune in to your pure consciousness, where there is nothing but calm and happiness. I’ve discovered that my mind is clearer afterwards, which helps me make the right decisions, leading to more happiness.
How I make it happen: I practise Transcendental Meditation, or dhyana.
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer
“Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient.” – Aristotle.
“If we’d only stop trying to be happy, we’d have a pretty good time.” – Edith Wharton
DID YOU KNOW
Our happiness levels swing up and down with age. Most of us start life happy, but grow a little less happy as the years roll on. Studies show that people are the least happy in their 40s. After this age, happiness levels start climbing upward again!
Turbocharge your joy: Help someone in need! Studies show that doing something thoughtful for someone gives you ‘helper’s high,’ which is a deep sense of happiness. To keep the happy hormones flowing, resolve to do five acts of kindness every week, and increase the number as you become happier!
Meet the Writer: Babita Raikwar is a freelance writer. She believes in love, magic and babies.