Hello people,
Here is something I did recently.

I pasted an affirmation in front of my bed which says, ‘I chose to be happy today.’ When I put this in front of me, I had a thought that seeing this quote first thing in the morning would give me a quick start for how my day should be. For days after reading this first thing in the morning, I struggled to remind myself about this in every unsettling situation.
‘It’s raining! That’s bad. How would I go to my Yoga class!’
‘Ummm..But I have to find something good about it! Remember, I have to be happy!’
‘Holy crap! This doesn’t work this way!’
‘I hate this rain. I can’t go anywhere. I miss seeing the sun, and I hate gloomy days!’
And then I started searching for new ways to enforce my thought. Interestingly, I came across a book ‘The Happiness Advantage‘ by Shawn Anchor. Just an overview and the book says that Happiness is a muscle which can be made stronger by practicing it. Even a tiny move towards a positive mindset can make a huge difference in the long run. While I am yet to finish this book, here is something I found- Myths about Happiness

If you are someone like me who has failed in remaining happy ‘always’, here are few things to make you feel comfortable in your place.

  • Forcing Happiness does not work:- For now the quote on my wall has changed from ‘I chose to be happy today’ to ‘Practice Happiness’. When I say ‘Practice happiness’ I am talking about the steps Shawn Anchor has mentioned in his book. As soon as finish reading it, I am going to jot down everything (and share it with you.) so that I can practice my happiness muscle. However, there is something I am  sure of, ‘Forcing Happiness does not work’.
    You can not simply sense an uncomfortable situation and ask your mind to blow the happiness bubble. Most likely, the bubble will burst very soon. Mind is smart. It sees things clearly and does not buy into that idea that everything around is magical. It needs assurance and acceptance. Therefore, you can not compel yourself into feeling happy. Also, it’s better to accept the situation as it is and process the emotions instead of hiding behind the curtain of ‘Happy person’. If you do so, it will be more easy to find a path of peace then to put efforts in practicing something unrealistic.
  • Success does not guarantee Happiness:– Let’s imagine that you AND your parents (most probably it is your parents. lol) had a dream to see you study in Harvard. You studied day and night to get into the college and you succeeded! Woohoo! You finally achieved the purpose you were born for! Kudos to your efforts! Now you are into Harvard attending lectures, and living your dream life. You should be happy everyday waking up to see your dream getting fulfilled, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In 2004 a Harvard Crimson poll found that as many as 4 in 5 Harvard students suffer from depression at least once during the school years! Shawn Anchor mentions in his book that many of his students saw Harvard as a privilege, but others quickly lost sight of that reality and focused only on workload. They felt overwhelmed by every small setback instead of energized by possibilities in front of them. Here is something you might hate listening but Success does not guarantee happiness. We have been taught that happiness is a reward we get only when we achieve something. But with each achievement, our goalpost of success keeps getting pushed further and further, and so is our happiness. The reality is that it’s always the other way round. Happiness can surely get you more success, while the opposite is a broken rule which never works!

  • More choices does not make us happier:-I wanted to buy a bag last Sunday. As soon as I entered the shopping mall, I saw a shop with a wide variety of bag’s collection! I was excited! ‘Should I go for this bag or the other? This red has five different shades, which one would look good on me? Well, should I just go ahead and explore more shops before I decide anything?’ In the confused state of mind, I ended up spending 4 hours to buy one bag! And that too with a failed outcome:( I ended up buying nothing. Can you relate to this? How many times does it happen to you that too many options excite you for a while but then confuse you? Researcher Barry Schwartz calls it ‘Choice overload‘ which can exhaust us, make us unhappy, and cause us to simply not decide. Minimalist living gives you time to invest in something which is really important instead of wasting hours in deciding what the hell should you wear tomorrow morning!
  •  Bigger social circle does not make you happier:- I always thought that a bigger social circle makes you more acceptable. It is because tons of people like you! While it might be true, the argument that ‘Just because so many people like you, you are happy’ is seriously flawed. Wider acceptance does not affect your personal choices and your happiness index. Quite the opposite, bigger circle can make you put more efforts in putting up with them, which in turn can be energy draining. Friends should bring happiness and joy. A bigger circle on the opposite can be very demanding sometimes. Also, you are not sure if everyone would turn out to be helpful when you need them! Choose your friends wisely.

Thousands of books and countless articles have been written about ‘How to be Happy’. However, there is no generalized rule to be happy. While something can make one person happy, the same thing can work completely opposite for the other.They say that ‘Giving’ brings you joy. But do you remember your childhood when you had to share your Maggie with your sibling? I swear, it never made me happy! Because the simple act of sharing the food lacked ‘Willingness’ to do so! It’s good to find out ways which bring happiness to us, instead of following something documented. ‘Happiness is a muscle’ might be true, but which exercise tones it, varies from person to person.

Love and happiness always,