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Happiness is yours for the asking

Bliss is for everyone, at all times and is just a few constructive steps away, says Dr Jitendra Nagpal

education Updated: May 19, 2010 09:24 IST
Dr Jitendra Nagpal

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is this fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” - Albert Einstein

Happiness is often so difficult to describe that some people think that it is illusory. However, it is in its absence – while experiencing distress or grief – that we realise its importance.

Happiness is best described as a state of well-being, or a state in which our physical, psychological, social and spiritual selves are in balance. It can also be described as a state in which our mind’s habitual agitation is calmed.

Desire and fear both agitate our minds and obscure the vision of happiness that always exists within us. When a desire is fulfilled, or the cause of a fear is removed, our mind’s agitation subsides and in that temporary calm our mind connects to the innate state of happiness.

While desire and fear are bound to come and go, we can employ certain strategies to be happier more often. Some are very tangible, like exercising more, eating better and talking with friends.

However, the truth is that no preconditions are necessary for happiness and there is no better time to be happy than now. Whenever you see yourself losing sight of happiness or find yourself putting conditions to your happiness, ask yourself: if not now, then when? Accept the fact that your life will always be full of challenges and you have to decide to be happy despite it all. To help you on that journey, take a few simple initiatives:

Focus on personal goals: Cultivating your spiritual self can help uncover what’s most meaningful in your life. By discovering what’s important to you, you can eliminate stress by focusing less on the unimportant things that can act as a drain on your happiness.

Stay connected to the world: The more you feel you have a purpose in the world, the less lonely you will feel, even when you’re alone. This can help you find inner peace during difficult times. When you feel part of something bigger than yourself, you realise that you couldn’t possibly be responsible for everything that happens in life. This will also help you share the burden of tough times as well as life’s blessings with those around you.

Expand your support network: Whether you find peace in a church, mosque, synagogue, with your family, or on nature walks with a friend, this shared spiritual expression helps cement relationships. These relationships help us feel supported through stressful times and help us return to our natural ‘happy state’.
Lead a healthier life: People who cultivate a sense of spiritual consciousness are often better able to heal from illnesses or addictions.

Realistic and positive thinking: Realistic thinking involves reasoning with ourselves, which in turn helps us adjust to certain realities. Such thinking also involves understanding and accepting our strengths and weaknesses. Positive thinking can put us, and keep us, on the right path, transform our personality, and turn us into useful citizens.

Look inwards, create fond memories: Keep a journal to help you express your feelings and record your progress. Seek out a trusted adviser or friend, preferably someone who has had similar life experiences, who can help you discover what’s important to you. Sometimes, others may have insights about you that you haven’t been able to see.

Nurture positive relationships: Develop effective listening and communication skills. Make relationships with friends and family a priority, and stay in touch. Share your spiritual journey with loved ones, and let them know what’s important to you.

Work through tough times: Halt your thinking about things that bother you. Realise that sadness or anxiety is a thought and a thought can be changed. Think instead about things you enjoy. Appreciate yourself and your achievements. This helps lift one’s self esteem and releases stress.

Make these simple strategies part of you and happiness is yours to keep.
“The mind is in its own place. It can make a heaven or hell out of itself”
- John Milton

The author is a senior consultant psychiatrist with Moolchand Medcity and Vimhans, New Delhi. Send him an email at hthorizons@hindustantimes.com, marked ‘Dr Nagpal’