You’ll be happy if you know it

A conscious endeavour to foster happiness can help you make a habit out of it.

A happy kid enjoying herself among tall grasses

I had seen a photograph of my friend’s daughter. She was right in the midst of greenery, kneeling down and lively in the lap of nature. Her wonder-filled eyes and infectious smile seized my second. Unknowingly, I experienced the happiness that the instant eternalised in itself. I felt it. I wished if only I could hold on to that happiness or engage with it as effortlessly as the child did.

The absurdist author, Albert Camus, wrote, "You will never be happy if for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life."

But we are incorrigible. Each of us is in pursuit of happiness. Few realise, it is but a function of our will. Some claim to have found it in their own bitter-sweet ways.

The other day, I heard my daughter singing full-throated, the insanely-popular Pharrell Williams song, 'Happy'. She was rehearsing her Zumba moves for the upcoming concert at school. As I enjoyed it, I consciously held on to the lyrics of the pronto-mood-elevating song.

The song does not throw a spot on a person finding the key to the elusive state. It sings rather of a feeling when “happiness is the truth.” The repetitive use of the action 'clap-along' is, I gather, a cue to ask oneself the big question, “Are you happy?” Then almost immediately, it offers a prescription to experiencing it. The best part, the recommendation is general yet specific. One to be administered by the self. Happiness is that which you want to do. Simple yet overrated.

Happiness has nothing to do with a random universe or a carefully laid-out plan. It does not lie with an individual, thing or event outside of ourselves. How many of us get that? A lucky lot, I presume. But why not give it a shot?

The trick is getting the chemical quartet to do their number again and again for you. The who? Dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins - you know, the happiness hormones. The four sisters who make our brains feel warm and high. Once you tame these, you don’t have to live vicariously off other people’s Facebook timelines, the curated parade of updates that often leaves you scratching your head on where they found the secret to happiness.
No matter what monotone your life is playing right now, be a sport and try these steps to see what I see.
Tell yourself, 'I am a happy person.' : I confess, it is a lie. Even the most exuberant of us are not happy all the time. But I tell myself so, every waking hour of every day. My brain laughs at me, louder with each hour, supplying me with reasons why I am not. But within a few days, the happy quartet is at my beck and call. After all, a sentence said aloud reverberates umpteen times in our subconscious.

Get the body to work : I won’t heap on you the science behind it. Just Google credible sources and you will be spoilt for choice. Bottom line, I try to be active. A physical activity that gets me moving even for five minutes, ten times a day, lets the happy four gush through my veins. Sweat it out to swear by it.

Resolve to find a reason : Right from childhood, our mind is wired to ask for reasons. Teachers and parents propel us to question the ‘why?’ of everything and not be content with just the ‘how?’ The same holds good for life. Each one of us needs a reason, gloriously termed, ‘a purpose’ to live. It could be anything from becoming a space astronaut to being a leaky-tap-mender-water-saver. Oh yes, haven’t you heard of Aabid Surti, the energetic artist, writer, cartoonist in his 70s, who has fixed dripping taps in more than 13,000 homes? He is inspirational and the perfect picture of a purposeful life. Create a rationale to look forward to every day and feel the buoyancy as you pass it.

Two sparrows on the edge of an old terrace

Imagine a sanctuary : A serene riverbank, lush green fields, the cosy nook in a terrace, it could be anything. It could even be a fictitious place that brings out an instant smile on your face. I retreat to such a place every day, even if it is for a couple of minutes. Some days, I wake up to it, and on some, I visit it before retiring for the day. Works like a charm.

Rest the mind : Ask a gym-goer or a yoga practitioner. Both will tell you, it is important to build in slack-off periods in an exercise routine. If the body needs a break, why won’t the mind? Yet, how often do we give our runaway thoughts a rest? Amidst the sprints and hoops the mind goes through, there is a way to hit pause. I meditate. A round-the-clock-working and tired mind drag me into a vicious circle. It can even lead to depression. Meditation helps it recoup.

A good turn : Remember the story, ‘The Good Turn’ from Enid Blyton’s Eight O’Clock Tales? That’s another tested technique for enlivening the blithe side in us. Do something for others, no matter how insignificant or irrelevant it might appear. Charity and donations are praiseworthy but anything done personally has way more impact than those. Both for the doer and the receiver. Feed a hungry stomach, clothe a bare body, befriend a lonely soul, appreciate a worthy act or work towards a cause. Do anything that can benefit one other than the self. I can hardly express the joy I get in teaching a handful of slum children in my storeroom-turned-into-classroom for them.

A Map for Happiness

A map of happiness

Life gives you pain. But now I realise, suffering from it, is my choice. In the past, I have wallowed in it. Not anymore. These strides have set me on the path to happiness. Yet, they surely cannot be the only ones out there. How do you unlock the joie de vivre?

By: Quotidian Tales

This article and the opinions expressed in it are personal opinions. It is not meant for imposing specific views or endorsing a particular way of life. Also please do ignore any errors or omissions that you might come across. We pledge to learn from them. Happy viewing.


Sreeparna Basu said…
Such a commendable job you are doing. Please keep on sharing many more precious gems with us.
Ritam Nandy said…
This is indeed a nice write up, a know how on imparting the most useful thing of life, and more so in today's world - 'happiness'. A happy soul makes a happy world and a better place to live in.
Amalish Guha said…
I admire the in depth knowledge of the writer about child psychology .
I wish to read more of such refreshing thought provoking stories.
Quotidian Tales said…
Thank you for sharing the happiness you experienced by reading our post. We look forward to increasing it manifold through nurturing the happy bond that has been forged between us.
Amalish Guha said…
I think all of us will like to know the writer of the blog .
Will you please share.
Rhea said…
These steps are actually a very nice way to calm the nerves during stressful times too!
Sanjoy said…
Nice writing. Love it.
Sujata said…
What a beautiful writing. Keep it up.
Anonymous said…
I really loved your writing+ this is something I am practicing so helps a lot
this is very true and important. thanks

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