The latest World happiness index ranked India at 122nd position out of 155 countries evaluated and interviewed. Even our neighbours Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh etc. are ahead of us when it comes to being happy. Now that’s surely comes in with a pinch of salt and to simplify the stigma and satiate my curiosity I delved deep to understand the index and the reasons of our ever increasing unhappiness surrounding our lives.
Being the largest visibly developing nation in the world, we are under constant cultural & ideological transition which is keeping us on our toes to be focussed on change and adapt quickly which does creates some stress. However this is not an excuse but we as a society have been a little reluctant, rather slow to change whenever it comes to new ideas and concepts. Besides, In India the majority population derives celebration and entertainment from Sex, Religion, Cricket and Cinema – I don’t see the 5th common element!!
Needless to talk about sex as we are on the verge of surpassing China anytime now owing to our easiest, cheapest & quickest entertainment for ages. When it comes religion, it’s the most economical mode of entertainment for the masses and the dependency is very high to achieve success and milestones in life. The richest man on earth Bill gates never worshipped the goddess of wealth Lakshmi and neither did Einstein worship the goddess of knowledge – Sarasvati and he went on to become the most intelligent man in the world. The Tagline “Work is worship” is appreciated in India but practiced in the reverse form because of which we are constantly under the expected help from the heavens. Well, when it comes to the elites in the society, religious festivities are the best time to show off – lights, camera & the action begins!! Cricket & Cinema do keep large population hooked for some hours to full day but the euphoria ends quickly post that. However what I personally feel is that the above modes of being happy are momentary – haven’t we all forgotten the depressing India Vs Pakistan cricket finals at the Champions trophy after cribbing and criticising for a few days on social media? Whoever said that money can’t buy you happiness, simply didn’t know where to go shopping. To my understanding there are few key influencers which can make up for a sustained happy mind and soul if we are able to embrace them in our lives. Obviously, we will have to set ourselves free from the mental clutter and self-imbibed guilt/reluctance passed on for generations. And mind you – Money can buy most of these !
Travelling – You probably already knew this, but it’s nice to have it confirmed. Science has approved that Travel is the definite secret behind a happy soul. As is said, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” as the money spend to create experiences is priceless. A recent study at Cornell University found that spending money on experiences is more likely to bring you lasting happiness than spending money on material objects.
Although we have started travelling quite to an extent in the recent past but the ground reality is that 86% on Indian families have never taken a trip. The first trip for 78% of Indian families has been a religious trip and thus spending on leisure travel is still a mental block for the larger group of households in India. So please go out there …explore the world …get closer to Mother Nature …create lasting experiences….and have enough real life stories for the next generation.
In person Socialising – Our brains are wired to touch and then somebody discovered touch screens to create human confinement called digital loneliness. There are researches stating that even holding hands with a loved one actually reduces the brain’s response to pain, reduces stress hormones, improves sleep, and reduces fatigue. The happiest people spend time with those they love including family, partners or friends. Scientifically, the neuro hormone Oxytocin gets released when you hug someone which fine-tunes the brains social instincts and primes you to do things that strengthens close relationships. The inner joy humans feel while spending time with their loved circle is comparable to none and as research testifies, people who socialise the old school way live 7 years longer than the ones who don’t.
We could be having 1000+ friends on our social network but the irony of our modern times is that – we would be knowing much more about their lives than ever before even without meeting them. So use technology to set up meetings, but get out there and hobnob the old-fashioned way.
Being in Love – There is a difference in being happy and just being comfortable and only love is that emotion which bridges the two situation making it memorable. In India love is limited within 4 walls and PDA is a taboo as mostly the society considers couples expressing their love in public to be naïve and irresponsible. Post marriage there is a visible decline in the display of emotions as the priorities are forced to changes in the Indian social setup. Being in love, living in love or exploring in love are all situations which has direct correlation with your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and has lasting effect on happiness. We need to constantly be in love with family, friends, animals, nature, hobbies, passions as this supreme emotions keeps us cheerful and content at all times.
Identity Crisis – Self Identity is a key factor in our personality and confidence. Any independent mind would not like to be known as somebody’s wife, brother, son, daughter, sister etc for a long period of time. Even if the identity is miniscule it will still make you feel better than being known as someone’s something. It is further difficult for people who are born with legacies as they already have the bar raised to a level and anything beyond would only be acknowledged. People like Shahrukh Khan & Sachin Tendulkar are icons not because of where they are but because of how they built their legacies all of their own .There is indeed a sense of joy and pride on having your father’s money, but when that fortune is made by you which makes your father proud the joy is lifelong as you own it.
Fitness & Exercising – Prevention is better than cure…but seems to stay only in the books as we are habituated to seek a solution only after the damage has been done. Exercising regularly releases a chemical called dopamine into your brain which is one if the key catalyst for a state of prolonged happiness. Indians usually don’t believe in regular servicing as they are happy with repairs when the damage happens. Exercising in India has been for people into highly demanding physical jobs – sports, army, military etc .Rest anybody doing exercise is usually considered as having nothing worthwhile to do. Although our generation is getting in the frame for leading a healthy lifestyle but the goal is still farfetched.
Persisting with hobbies – In India, hobbies are considered as the best alternative to pass time and thus they mostly die off the moment we pass out of college. Our society has a very cliché outlook towards pursuing hobbies to a level which could make you unique. Kids are discouraged due to the myopic social view over for the future seen through the conservative lenses of safety & social stigma. Whereas pursuing your hobbies could land you a job which you would love to do all your life. As per a latest employment report, 91% of professionals in India are unhappy with their jobs and 77% are doing something which is not out of choice.
Every child is unique and is blessed with something special, it’s all upon the parents to figure out that natured kissed uniqueness in the child and allow him/her to live it. When a born athlete is socially pressurised to do civil engineering and further adding an MBA in Finance and finally doing software coding job in an IT company, you obviously will see him/her happy only at the start of every month. Nobody tells the aggressive child that he could become the next world champion in boxing or martial arts. While the gun can be used to protect it’s also used to kill – Need to figure out the positive and stick to your passion.
Death of Privacy & Decision making– No matter how involved/busy you are, everybody requires privacy which is free from any external hindrance. It’s that peaceful time where we interact with our self and come to terms with facts, strength, possibilities and extent. It’s simply fantastic and everybody deserves it as it brings in strength and stability in all decisions we make in life. Indians predominantly have lived in groups and voluntary isolation even for 15 minutes has been considered an apocalypse. Precisely the reasons why Indians don’t have the freedom to make life choices. As a kid parents made our choices and as we grew we got habituated for consent. The decision to marry is also influenced by family and society thus leaving mutual compatibility for the toss. It gets further suffocating to be obliged for consent on your personal likes and tastes which ideally should be our prerogative. While the concept of joint family has its own merit, it is also disabling the generations to make their choices, fail, learn and become a better judge?
Experimenting with new cuisines – Satiating your taste buds is a sure shot formula for instant gratification. Unfortunately Indians don’t believe much in eating out as 76% of households never dine out. Only 1% of Indians eat out regularly (at least twice a week) with an average spending of Rs.2000 per bill. If your hard earned money can’t make your life easy what’s the point spending one third of your life working?
Self-Pampering. What’s that? – When it comes to self-pampering (barring shopping – 27%) we get into our discomfort zones. Most spending we make is evaluated from the necessity point of view. Something which is not a necessity is subject to debate within families. Nail art, tattoos, weird hairdos are some pleasure spending which are highly debatable in India and could trigger world war III within families. Self-pampering brings in self-desirability, confidence & an aura which is bound to turn heads thus keeping you happy within.
What do you think we are missing in our day to day lives to keep up to our most desired happiness? Is it really that difficult to have happiness around us consistently? What more can be done and how better can we utilise our wealth to create happiness for self and other? Will be keen to know your opinions, insights and observations on this most hyped self-imposed targets of being happy.
Note : Stats have been taken from different editions of ET, Livemint, list25 etc.