The Happiness Advantage

Few months back a good friend gave a book to read, titled ‘Happiness Advantage’. This book is written by Shawn Achor, a positive Psychologist. The book is in short, a revelation which completely contradicts all conventional ideas and logics taught so far about success. It has become one of the very few books that have changed the way I perceive things in life. Here’s why!

We’ve all grown up hearing the phrase: ‘one needs to be successful to lead a happy life’. We have this thought ingrained deep within us as we get ready for the rat race to become successful. In the book Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor states that this theory of ‘you need to be successful to be happy’ is fundamentally wrong. In fact he says it is the other way round.

You need to be happy, to succeed in life!

This was such a thought provoking revelation for me, it felt like a bolt from the blue. All these years, as a behavioural training specialist, I was talking, preaching, discussing, coaching people on how to be successful in their lives, and had failed to realise this simple truth about success!

I had written a blog on positive thinking few months back, and I now notice that it seamlessly transforms into the idea behind Happiness Advantage.

So if I need to be happy to become successful, the million dollar question is: “How can I be happy before I am successful?” Here are few suggestions/recommendations on how one can stay happy even during difficult times:

Overcome the OWM syndrome

We all know that life is not one bed of roses. When faced with challenges, we often mutter to ourselves, “Oh god, Why Me?!” This is known as the OWM syndrome.

The first step to stay happy is to overcome this syndrome that inflicts us.

 A few days back, I met this astonishingly talented lady, Shahina, who made beautiful paintings. What made her paintings remarkable is the fact that she used her legs to paint them. Of course, because she had no hands! She was physically challenged or rather differently-abled. This lady could have asked this same question “Oh god! Why me?” However, during my brief conversation with her she said something with a big smile on her face, which left a huge impact on me. She said: “I’m very grateful to god that I have two healthy legs so that I could make these paintings, Insha Allah!”

So here are 2 strategies to overcome the OWM syndrome:

  1. Count your Blessings and be Grateful!

From the day I met Shahina, I decided that before going to bed, I would spend 2 minutes to recount few things in my life for which I am grateful to god. When I started doing this I realised that, 2 minutes is not enough to recount all my blessings in life. So I made it a point to prioritise by blessings and think of 3 most important things in life that I’m grateful about.

  • Firstly for a loving and caring life partner who has always been a best friend first and then a husband.
  • For having two sets of loving parents: one my own and the other my in-laws, who treat me nothing less than their own daughter.
  • For having blessed me with a healthy and lovely child

By the time I think of these 3 things I could feel all my worries melt away and I go to sleep with an eternal bliss.

2. Work with the Lesser-privileged

Sometimes working with lesser privileged section of the society will help you get over the OWM syndrome. It helps you realise your true worth and makes you feel happy and proud about it.

I work occasionally with a few orphanages and with children affected by cerebral palsy.

During these days, when I come back home, I spent a lot of time with myself thinking about what transpired during the day. My husband complains often that I don’t talk much on those days, which is very unlike me. A close friend of mine once asked me, “If all this is making you feel bad, why are you doing it in the first place?” My answer is: because it helps me realise how lucky and blessed I am!

The next time when I feel like cribbing about the heavy traffic or the pile of unwashed clothes, the faces of these not-so-fortunate kids flashes across my mind, reminding me how privileged I am!

Overcoming the OWM syndrome will make a positive difference in your life. However; happiness is all about giving and taking, so here’s one more tip on how you can boost your happiness level in life.

Do not let go of any chance to appreciate others (genuinely)

Happiness is just like knowledge; the more you give it, the more you get it! Appreciation or stroking is a good way to make others happy. So never leave a chance to make others happy! (My blog on strokes would be an appropriate reference here)

I learnt this little trick or funda from my dad, and would give him the due credit.

Indeed, he would never leave a chance to honestly appreciate people around him for their good work. After dining at a wedding, reception or a party, before he leaves the venue, he would make it a point to personally go and tell the host about the delicious food and the wonderful arrangements. This instantaneously brings a warm smile, or sometimes even a hug!

So now is the time for you to spread happiness around, and reap the benefits of the Happiness Advantage!

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