The Happiness Equation

Some of us are born smiling, most of us have to work at it, which means learning new techniques and unlearning some old mental habits, but the good news from the frontiers of psychology is that mood is malleable and happiness is yours for the choosing. Everyone wants happiness. We want it, strive for it, envy others who have it (do they really?) and in the process, make ourselves unhappy. Why? Because we believe it’s elusive, ephemeral, just round the corner. We think it’s simply a matter of getting richer, skinnier (size zero anyone?), older, younger, married, divorced, having a baby (or a baby-sitter), finding a great job or quitting a lousy one, finding the right man… If only! If only!

But WAIDAMINUTE!!  The high-quality kind of happiness I’m talking about – the kind that runs on wisdom and doesn’t run out when times get rocky, turns out to be readily available and extremely inexpensive. It’s a natural resource and it’s yours for the taking! Recent breakthroughs in psychology, neurology and chemistry, supported by practices like yoga and meditation have revealed that happiness ‘IS’ attainable and the brain ‘CAN’ change. Scientists call this discovery ‘Neuroplasticity’, a revolutionary idea. The brain does change by life’s experiences. We have a number of tools to be happy ranging from getting sufficient sleep and exercise, nurturing close relationships with family and friends, using your skills at work, having a hobby and above all, living with gratitude. These tools seem too simple to be true but they are extraordinarily effective. Also, the practice of forgiveness is a trait strongly linked to happiness – since you are no longer handcuffed to the person who hurt you!

Learn to laugh at yourself and you’ll be happy. See comedy films and TV shows or read a joke book. Without the ability to laugh at ourselves, we might be destroyed by our family conflicts, our lame deceptions and our own stupid mistakes. Seeing comedy in most situations in life tells you that you can forgive yourself and one another for inadequacies. Be simple like children, like animals. They always seem to be happy. Dogs are a good role model for us. I wish we could all work like a dog, with purpose and joy, play like a dog, with unabashed devotion and complete lack of concern about what others have, what they do for a living, which car they have, or how much they are worth. I wish we could be faithful like dogs in all our relationships.
By transcending our needs to help others, we boost our happiness to another level.  Use whatever resources you have to make others happy and you’ll be walking on clouds. Being selfish and so-called upwardly mobile has unfortunate side-effects like fragmenting communities. A lifetime spent in chasing money is a waste. A bigger house, car, more exotic holidays, more cash, luxuries, do not necessarily give real happiness. These are just inanimate things, toys for the rich and famous who have still not grown up as evolved beings. We all have tragedies in life but we can choose to be the most joyful people. We have created most of our unhappiness by wrong thinking. We are a species that keeps moving forward, seeing new sights in new ways and enjoying the journey. So join the fun. Today, make a list of ten things that make you happy. Tomorrow, list ten more.  This way, we’ll spend our lives enjoying life and creating a happy future. That’s your true and effective Happiness Equation! Use it!!

Ruby Lilaowala
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