Happiness 101: What Does it Take to Be Happy?

One of the biggest ironies that elude us all our life is that each one of us knows the secret sauce to happiness and yet we strive and seek it all our life!

Let me cut to the chase – our happiness is in our own hands and yet we let others control it! If someone gives us a compliment, we feel elated. If someone is critical of us, it makes us sad. It is almost like we have given the remote control of our happiness to others and let them decide whether or not we will have a happy day! But get this – if you were meant to be controlled by others, you would have come with a remote! So I suggest you tap into your inner self and draw from the reservoir of happiness (trust me it’s real, not mythical!) that we are all born with and which, contrary to our perception, is always brimming, even when we draw from it endlessly. We just need to be conscious of its existence and realize that we are the master of our reservoir and the more we draw from it, the more happiness we have.

Happiness exists all around us. In abundance. In the day to day things. We just choose not to see it because we are so preoccupied with our ‘un’happiness which is a result of mostly self – inflicted thoughts and miseries! And as they say, eyes are useless when the mind is blind.

So how and where do I ‘see’ and ‘find’ this Happiness, you ask? Well, you don’t have to. It exists in you. It’s what you are made of! You just need to realize it and tap it. You will find it in simple acts of love and kindness. In the attitude of gratitude. It is veiled in seeing the good in everything. In living a life sans pretence or distrust. It’s in believing in people. Believing in their innate goodness. Assuming good intent. That’s when you will realize that not everyone is out there to get you! Because, they’re really not!

Consider these situations we encounter every day:

a)We bump into our neighbors or colleagues in the lift. Instead of making eye contact and exchanging pleasantries (you know, greeting them and checking on how they are doing), we just choose to conveniently look away or pretend to read an already read message on our phone!

b)We see an old man on a bicycle trying to take a free left turn ahead of us and instead of trailing behind with patience for a few seconds and letting him turn first, we make it a point to startle him and announce that we are right behind and would like to be the first to go.

c)We realize there’s a person walking behind us to enter the same door as us and yet, instead of keeping the door open for a split second for that person to come in, we enter, slam the door and walk away.

d)We see pedestrians walking on the roadside on a rainy day and we drive past nonchalantly splashing water all over them.

e)There a group of students looking to cross the road, but we must go first in our car. They can wait. We don’t even realize that the one on foot has the first right of passage.

f)We are aware that our apartment society’s guard has seen us approaching the main gate and yet we must honk hard to announce our arrival!

g)Someone just decided to switch lanes and drive ahead of us in our lane. We get livid and honk frantically expressing our disagreement to this move!

h)We behave differently with different people based on their stature or calling in life.

Need I go on more?

As a first step in our quest for happiness, even if we were to make small efforts to just undo the insensitive things listed above that we indulge in all the time, you have no idea how pleased you will be with yourself and how this will add to your happiness quotient, and consequently your mental and emotional wellbeing.

As a second step, I set out below a ‘laundry list’ of things that can be the key source of that happiness we seek all over and which is so much within our reach.

Spoiler Alert: As small and insignificant as some (or all!) of them may seem to you, just know that these small acts can provide us the power to be responsible for our wellbeing and happiness.  For our health and our ‘wellth’.

So here it goes:

  1. Clean & Mindful Eating – You are what you eat! So make an effort to eat clean. By that, I am not for a moment suggesting penance. While there is no harm in indulging in the occasional Maggi or sugary treats or a bag of potato chips or the processed high – sodium delights like bacon, eating clean largely entails consuming simple yet delicious self/homemade food comprising of whole grains, seasonal vegetables, legumes, fruits which ensure that we acknowledge the importance of the different food groups and their contribution to our wellbeing. Sleep and hydration are just as key. In our fast-paced lives, we tend to undermine the importance of hydration and ever so often, confuse our body’s need for hydration with hunger. Quit smoking. Your body starts to repair the many damages you have caused to it almost immediately! Replace caffeine with green tea a few times during the day. Or, just plain hot water. It’s delicious and therapeutic! Mindful eating encourages us to be aware of what we are eating and the benefits that the food thus consumed will have on our body and mind. This is in sharp contrast to the mindless eating we indulge in all the time because we are busy, distracted or plain bored.
  1. Mindful Breathing – Indulge in mindful breathing (aka meditation) every day, even if it is for 15 minutes. Once done, go about your everyday chores and you will be surprised how meditation calms you and insulates your brain into making focused decisions with the keen assurance that everything will be just fine. Meditation is my absolute favorite. Even on a day when I find it genuinely hard to squeeze time out to exercise, I steal 15 minutes to just focus inward and draw attention to my breath and it never lets me down. I focus on my breath – I inhale – hold – exhale initially to a count of 5 for about 5 – 6 times and then graduate to the One – Minute breathing, where I take 20 seconds to inhale, 20 seconds to hold my breath and 20 seconds to I do this about 5 times and then chant Aum 11 or 21 times. The vibrations and calming effect of Aum insulates me from any fear, anxiety and keeps me nimble and alert the whole day with a nice blissful feeling of contentment. Do make an effort to do this breath play or at least the Aum chanting, every day. Just 10 minutes a day.  
  1. Stretch Everyday & Course Correct Your Posture – You do stretch yourself at work, but I am talking about stretching your muscles. Everyday. Our spine which stands us in good stead all the time could do wonders with just a few minutes of stretching. Stretching helps our spine and the complex ecosystem of nerves, muscles, bones, ligaments in and around it to stay fit. Another huge favor that we could do to ourselves to be conscious of our posture and correct it. We often torture our spine with poor posture thereby compromising its strength and integrity. As a matter of everyday discipline, try and incorporate activity into your daily life – go for a walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator, do your chores yourself, spring clean your house and cupboards. Mop your house, clean the fans, the windows. Spring cleaning is good not just for your cupboard and house, but also for your soul! It de-clutters at every level.
  1. Spread Positivity. Not Toxicity – Smile is such a winner and yet we are always hesitant to smile. Whenever I see people, I smile at them and am amazed to see how they instantly and spontaneously smile back. And yet, no one wants to take the first step for fear that their smile may not be reciprocated. Similarly for greeting people. My children often tell me how embarrassed they are when I go about smiling and greeting people – the guard, gardener, neighbors, old people who are rank strangers. But I always teach them it is alright to smile and greet people and be the first one to do it! So drop that guard, smile and greet people and 99.99% times you will see them smile back and reciprocate. With a smile, you radiate positivity and happiness. Remember, the more you spread it, the more you will get it. Don’t waste your life-giving explanations to people. They ultimately hear and believe what they want to! So do the right thing and don’t bother making everyone happy. You’re not Pizza!
  1. Above all, be the heroine of your story. Not the victim – Never play the victim card. It makes you bitter and toxic. You will never be happy and we give what we have! So if we have toxicity and negativity, those are the exact things we will spread. Take charge of your life and whatever you do, never visit the ‘Self Pity Spa’ down the road. Whenever you are overcome with grief, collect yourself, breathe and with the realization ‘damn! I am alive and kicking!’ take charge of your life with relentless positivity. After all, what is the other option? Grief, pity, pain, misery? Nah…who wants that? Unless you are a certified sourpuss!

 The choice is yours…

 Cheers, Namrata!

Read More from the Author:

Work It Out with Your Work Out

To Aum or Not to Aum & Why I Aum Everyday

Find Your Greatness & Challenge Comfort Zone – Everyday

Combining Cardio & Contemplative Practices

Embracing Silence

 Meditation 101: Debunking the Myths

The Importance of Breath in Combating Everyday Stress

About the Author

Namrata Singh is a corporate lawyer by profession based in Delhi and a mother of two footballers aged 9 and 12.  She is absolutely fascinated with understanding how stress works on the brain. Namrata runs marathons and practices contemplative practices like yoga and meditation, which she strongly believes has the power of dramatically altering an individual’s entire paradigm with its subtle but significant approach.  Namrata can be reached at singhnams@gmail.com

Image Credits: pixabay.com

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