Recently I read the book ‘Happiness Advantage’, the opening lines of the book took me by surprise.The book contends that we have the formula for success wrong: we believe that if are more successful we will be more happy, but the truth is that if we are more happy we will be more successful.This paradigm shift and reversal made me ponder: is this really true?
In my work life I have noticed clearly that when there is deadline or a crisis, very few people can stay calm and attempt to resolve the problem at hand . Staying calm is a visible and tangible asset at such times. So it’s hard to argue against positive mental frame as an asset in attaining success in life’s endeavors.
However, in my experience the pursuit of dreams and ambition has also given me happiness. Working towards a goal gives engagement, focus and at the eventual breakthrough there is a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Every ambition makes us work a little harder which also chisels our skills and personality. So regardless of how we phrase it, backwards or forwards, happiness and success tend to support and build on each other.
As I was still privately mulling it over, I entered the elevator . A beaming co-worker greeted me with ‘ I am so happy’. I asked him to teach me his secret. He remarked, ‘ I cannot as happiness comes from inside!’ Disappointed that finding the source of everyday happiness is not going to be akin to taking a quick dose of flu shot, I started observing my daily ‘Happiness Quotient’ in an attempt to determine the sources of happiness in my life.
One Saturday afternoon I was coming back from my yoga class with a feeling of elation, I turned my car into the garage and that’s when I heard a familiar sound. I had scratched the side door of the new car. I felt disappointed with myself as this was not the first time for this kind of scraping and scratching. I observed myself lecturing within, the importance of being alert and conscious at all times. It occurred to me that in life there is always a macro and micro reality. Macro reality is the big picture of one’s life and the micro relates to the trials and tribulations of every day. If we let our mistakes or wrongs done against us or our mis-fortunes i.e. our micro defeats overwhelm us with negative thinking, the joy of everyday life can be lost. The micro or everyday is where we work towards our macro life, its very important to be forgiving of oneself and others to maintain a positive outlook in face of such transitory hiccups in the grand scheme of life.
Another weekday evening my 3rd grader daughter said ‘I don’t see why we have decimals’. I asked my twin girls to represent their age in years without ignoring the months, their weight without ignoring the ounces and most importantly their mathematics test score. Each one of them was a fraction and they giggled throughout this impromptu lesson. I felt a sense of meaning when my daughter said ‘Mom, you are funny’.
Another great source of joy in my life are the lively discussions about philosophy, life or work with my mother, family, friends or colleagues. At a more basal level, I have caught myself smiling ear to ear when I break for lunch or dinner for a yummy, sumptuous meal. My love for tea is known to my family and it provides me with an instant rejuvenation.
It appears that Happiness is deeply personal. Running makes runners happy, yet I see no point in it. I have attempted to discourage many runners by saying ‘ Running is overrated’, but failed to deter them.
I believe in living with intention and for just that reason I am going to seek and pursue ‘Everyday Happiness’. It seems to be a cock-tail of work, social-connection and pleasure but ratios may vary for each so do find your own!