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In pursuit of happiness

Amid pandemic & war, finding true happiness within us will be important

Varalika Mishra

“Happiness, like many things, is not dependent on a circumstance or a person or anything outside of you and your being. It cannot come from anything external. It rather is deeply rooted in your authentic being. It’s a choice that you make by accepting all that there was, and is,” says Shobha Rana, a leading Live Show host and an award-winning Holistic Wellness & Life Coach.

The Happiness Report comes amidst the ongoing Covid -19 pandemic as well as the Ukraine-Russia crisis. On March 20, the World Happiness Report 2022 ranked India 136th — tenth from the bottom of the list — while Finland topped the charts for the fifth year in a row.

Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Israel and New Zealand figure among the top 10 on the list of 146 nations. Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.

“Our relationship to ‘happiness’ is complex in the current times. How we relate to feeling joy and happiness is crucial – it may not be a perpetual smiley face & an ever-positive thought process, it may not need to be a hard expectation from ourselves, happiness need not be glorified as the “best” or “most important” emotion, rather, It could be felt in the most subtle and authentic ways in our bodies and minds. To make our own versions of happiness, witness others in their own- seems the perfect blend towards happiness,” says Nishi Joshi, who is a Registered Psychotherapist (RDMP- UK), Founder & Creative Director of The Safe Sanctuary.

“A warm smile, a hug or I miss you Ms. Zehra is everything I can ever ask for. My students are my source of happiness,” says Zehra Zaidi, an early childhood educator.

Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world. In 2015, the UN launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which seek to end povertyreduce inequality, and protect our planet – three key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness.

The General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 66/281 of 12 July 2012 proclaimed 20 March the International Day of Happiness, recognising the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives. It also recognised the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples.

The resolution was initiated by Bhutan, a country which recognised the value of national happiness over national income since the early 1970s and famously adopted the goal of Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product.

The United Nations invites each person of any age, plus every classroom, business and government to join in celebration of the International Day of Happiness.

“For me the feeling of happiness has gained new meaning over the last two years of the pandemic. As someone who enjoys going out and meeting people on a daily basis, being at home was incredibly hard and often led to sadness and gloom. Then last year, my husband and I got home a shih tzu puppy – Dapper. Having a little fur ball has filled our home and life with such joy- it’s hard to imagine life without him. He made being at home a pleasure for me. Now as things have opened up and I have resumed office, I look forward to coming home to Dapper. Weekday or weekend, being with him has given me more joy than I could have imagined,” says Divashri Mathur, a development professional, Partnership Officer at UNICEF India.

Happiness is an inside job

In this materialistic world, we have been wrongly conditioned to find happiness from external sources. We tend to forget that happiness is a subjective emotion — an internal affair then, why do we search it in the outside world? My mantra is if you choose to be happy, nothing else in the outside world has the power to make you feel otherwise. It’s high time to unlearn this myth of chasing happiness rather than seeking one which is present right inside us. Ankita Priydarshini, Mental Health professional, Psychiatrist.

“To embrace the world without borders is happiness,” says Nupur Burman Bhatnagar, Life Coach & Pranic Healer.

“When you choose happiness, you choose yourself, Happiness is a choice that leads us to acceptance of all forms and creations. Through happiness there comes a sense of purpose to live a more fulfilling life,” says Himani Gupta, Co-Founder of Self Series & Pranic Healer.

“Be internally joyful in any situation. Become love and you will automatically be joyful. That’s how life is,” says Surbhi Pandey, Actor, Assistant Director, Life Coach & Author.

When the world is witnessing a pandemic for two years, an ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, it is all the more pertinent to contribute towards world peace and happiness through stillness and mindfulness. According to Dr Daisaku Ikeda who is a Japanese Buddhist philosopher, educator, author and nuclear disarmament advocate, ‘Happiness is something we must create for ourselves. Nobody can give it to us – it is an inside job’.

This leaves us with a question to reflect – Are we truly happy?

(The author is a mental health activist and freelance writer)

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