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1. The Art of Happiness-Introduction
This tutorial aims to enlighten the learners about the secrets of attaining happiness in life. It is based on the studies done by researchers and scholars at ISB and has been part of course-wares.
The tutorial will prove useful for all those people who want to seek happiness in life, without harboring any prejudice.
It is for all those who have resoled to be happy in life, irrespective of age, educational status and financial stature.
There are no prerequisites for this tutorial. The learner must only be ready to pursue happiness and shed all kinds of prejudices. However, there is no barrier of language or ethnicity for this tutorial.
Importance of Happiness for a Nation
Being happy is one of the most fundamental requirements of living being. Since the beginning of the human civilization, man has also been trying to develop new technologies, make new tools and improve his lifestyle for the sole purpose of attaining happiness. However, in its race of scientific endeavor and pursuit of money and luxuries, man is hardly aware of what exactly constitutes happiness.
Happiness is defined at the state in which living expresses pleasure and contentment. It is the state in which negative stress level are at lowest, even if not zero and positive stress boost the person’s positive emotions. Happiness is the purpose behind the functioning of nations and societies at large. Happy individuals are found to be more successful in their job and tend to pass on positive vibes to the people around them.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was used to measure the development status of nations. However, these days Happiness Index is catching up as the preferred parameter for judging the success of a nation. On this scale of Happiness Index, many nations which ranked higher in GDP, scored on Happiness Index. This shows that all institutions of mankind are driven by the purpose of achieving happiness in life; schools impart education for us to be literate and get a job, mediation centers promise happiness through meditation and hospitals make people happy through successful treatments and so on.
2. The Art of Happiness-Definition
Happiness is generally defined as the state of mind in which a living being feels pleasure and contentment.
However, there is no specific definition for happiness. Happiness is a subjective concept and hence, its definition changes from individuals too individual. For some, happiness is all about money. For others, it may be just listening to Beethoven’s sonata. For you, it may be reading this tutorial. Hence, everyone has a difficult definition of happiness. However, the state of the feeling that one experience is the same. And hence, the ways to achieve it are more or less common.
What happiness is not
Before learning what happiness is, it is required to know what it is not. Happiness is certainly not the following things-
– Materialistic Pleasure
It is always good to cry sitting inside a BMW car, rather than on a cheap bicycle. However, money cannot always buy you happiness. Although money is an elixir for survival in today’s modern world, yet it can buy things but no emotions. What matters is what individual does with the wealth he/she has. The pursuit of money leaves an individual with little time to enjoy the material pleasures.
– Feeling Good all the Time
Happy people do not always feel good. It is a misconception that being happy is an eternal state of mind. Stress, tensions and setbacks are part pf life. However, what define happiness is how the individual responds to such situations. The capacity to absorb the setbacks, work on them and improve the condition is what determines happiness levels in the long-term.
– One-stop Solution
Psychologist and counselor’s advice keeping a diary to boost happiness. Cultivating a hobby wherein, you enter your experience of each day into your diary or, giving for trips or spending quality time with close ones are some of the recommend steps to lead a healthy and happy life. However, most of these habits fade away over time. It is necessary for an individual to keep adapting to life and keep looking for new ways to be happy.
How to Define Happiness
The definition of happiness depends on the individual. However, all kinds of happiness stem from the feeling of satisfaction. In the wake of dissatisfaction, an individual is possessed by the thoughts of the discontent and is occupied by anxiety. Hence, happiness is the state of mind that sets people to have a feeling of positive well-being.
– Five ways of Happiness
1) Sensory Pleasure: – People define happiness as moments of sensory pleasure. Going to parties or watching movies or having a night in the arms of one’s love, going on vacations or having a good food are all included in this category.
2) Hubristic Pride: – Hubristic Pride is the emotion that one feels when one has a feeling of being superior to someone else. For example, winning a contest or a race, winning over an argument, or being promoted in office are examples of hubristic pride.
3) Authentic Pride: – Authentic Pride is the one that we feel when we find we are at a better position that before. Happiness equals progressing towards mastery of something. We compare to how we were earlier and how we are now.
4) Love or Connection: – It’s the emotion felt when we feel in love with something. This ‘something’ can be a person or a pet or even an activity or scenery.
5) Abundance: – The last one is the state when a person feels that he/she is happy with what life is like. Abundance is felt when we find life as interesting and not threatening.
The best definitions are the ones which have elements of authentic pride, love or abundance. Hubristic Pride does not last longer and is also not a good quality to possess. Sensory pleasure is also distracting and transient.
The best definitions of happiness is the one which is based on abundance. The reason being that abundance is found to last longer than all others. Happiness can be believed as joy. Happiness can be believed as joy. Happiness can be also defined as a feeling of interest or curiosity. Another way to see
happiness is to see it as a feeling of amusements or laughter.
3. The Seven Impediments
The happiness of each individual depends on many extraneous factors. The factors could be the attitude of other people towards them, the incidents taking place in the surroundings and many such things. However, this is what most believe is true.
What if you were told that real obstruction to happiness comes from within? What if you knew that they are seven obstacles to happiness, and you can control all of them? In the chapter, we will discuss the seven main obstructions to happiness.
Impediment 1: Devaluation of Happiness: – Most people devalue happiness a lot. Happiness become their second priority while acquisition of materialistic things takes precedence. People many a time sacrifice happiness for other materialistic things and end up being sad.
Impediment 2: Pursuit of Superiority: – Most people believe that being superior will provide happiness. This is a flawed logic and being superior actually kills happiness. The race for being most attractive, richest etc. leads to unhappiness.
Impediment 3: Craving for Love and Attention: – Greed is perhaps one of the hallmarks of human civilization. However, this attribute of humans takes them away from happiness. The unhealthy ways of expressing one’s need lead to reduction in happiness levels.
Impediment 4: Authoritative Nature: – Being authoritative apparently gives the feeling of being higher than the others. However, an authoritative nature is disliked by everyone around and is observed to fuel animosities between people. This leads to damage in relationships, which leads to unhappiness. One must not be looking for ways to control others.
Impediment 5: Distrust: – The loss or lack of trust is another factor why human feel unhappy. Fostering trust is a must for fostering happiness.
Impediment 6: Distrusting Life: – Losing trust on life and blaming one’s fate for every bad incident lead to a lot of unhappiness for oneself and for others around us. We need to focus on the positive aspects of life.
Impediment 7: Ignoring the Source within: – Each and every person has a capacity to create happiness within. This is called ‘mindfulness’. Mindfulness helps to be happy even during unpleasant incidents. Mindfulness is believed to be the most important determinant of happiness.
4. The Art of Happiness- Devaluation
Devaluation of Happiness is the first impediment to happiness. We tend to sacrifice happiness for the sake of other things. We don’t look into the fact that in the pursuit of materialistic things, we tend to sacrifice happiness, the thing for which we are incorrectly pursuing the materialistic things. A survey shows that happiness is the most important goal for most individuals.
People routinely sacrifice their happiness for other things. Imagine a genie stands in front of you to grant you three wishes. Just close your eyes and think for a while, what all you will ask for?
If you have asked for happiness in any of the three things, then it’s fine. But what are the other two things that you have asked for. If you have asked for money, fame or relationships, there are high chances that you will face the impediment of devaluing happiness. These are the things for which people sacrifice happiness. The items include money, fame, relationships etc.
Happiness- The Happiness Paradox
The Fundamental Happiness Paradox is another term for devaluation of happiness. The observation that
people want happiness and recommend others to choose the path that lead to happiness, yet they themselves end up choosing the path for themselves which gives them higher material reward. This is known as “The Fundamental Happiness Paradox”.
People don’t easily admit that they will go behind money, fame or power at the cost of happiness. Yet, a lot of them do so. On one hand, we know that happiness is one important requirement for us. Yet, on the other hand, we devalue it a lot. So, what is the main reason behind this?
The reason is that humans have negative belief about happiness. The first negative belief is that happiness will make us lazier. However, it is untrue. Research has proved that happier salesman sells more and earn more. Happier employees have been found to be more productive. Moreover, happier CEOs are found to be
more motivating and inspiring than other and also receive higher ratings by agencies for themselves and their companies.
5. The Art of Happiness- Pursuing
The ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ may have been a quite famous movie, but in real life, the pursuit of happiness does not help. Thinking too explicitly about happiness may prove to be counterproductive. The individuals involved in a mad one conscious race for happiness may end up not being happy at all. One study found that people who listened to good music experienced far more happiness than those people who were deliberately asked to feel happy after listening to the same music. Goals are achieved by prioritizing them. Similarly, if happiness is one’s goal, it should be achieved by assigning it a priority.
Happiness can be associated to sensory pleasure, which is felt during parties or night-outs or camping. Some people also see happiness as a feeling that gives them a feeling of being superior to someone else in their life. The feeling of abundance is also equated to happiness by many people. It is a condition when life feels perfect with all its imperfections. It’s important to define happiness. A person who aims to be happier must not be obsessed with happiness.
6. Craving for Love & Attention
Here comes the third impediment on the road of happiness. The impediment is the need to be loved by people. Another counterpart of this impediment is the need to be alone. These needs make us unhappy. Humans are the most social animal. Humans have a deep seated need to be loved and to be desired by others. We from bonds with others just for the sake of being liked by others whom we know.
Harry Harlow conducted an experiment with monkeys. His experiments showed that monkeys were drawn to warmth and love. Since monkeys are quite similar to humans, it could be very well conducted that humans also have the desire to be loved and need of warmth. This need starts from the time we are born to the time we die. The need for social connections is one of the fundamental necessities of human beings for survival in the society.
When we find people have testes similar to ours; they love doing things like us: it becomes an enriching experience for us too. Suppose a person love a walk in the park, but his finance does not enjoy so. Therefore, the happiness level of the former lower down because of the latter’s reaction. However, if the finance enjoys the walk equally, the experience becomes enjoyable. This shows the need of getting a reaction from other similar to our reaction.
7. Authoritative Nature
The fourth impediment in the way of happiness is the authoritative nature that we tend to possess. This leads to be a big obstacle in the path to happiness. Authoritative nature refers to the tendency to have control over the things around you. As parents, we tend to control our kid’s behavior. As employees, we tend to control our subordinates. And in life, we tend to control our closed ones.
Why the love for authority?
The main reason behind the tendency to be authoritative behavior is that we tend to feel superior when we can control things. These temporary feelings of superiority make us happy for some time. The sense of freedom and autonomy makes us happy for short-term. The emotional health and longevity of an average person depends a lot on the sense of autonomy.The people who have more control over the things around them are found to live longer. This is the reason why humans have an inherent desire to control everything around them. However, there is a certain limit to what all we can control. Being overly controlling makes us unhappy as well. The excessive authoritative behavior can prove to be deleterious to our happiness levels.
8. Feeling of Distrust
The firth impediment on the way to happiness is the feeling of distrust. Lack of trust in any relationship can lead to estrangement and loss of vigor and hence, unhappiness. Hence, distrust constitutes to be the fifth impediment to happiness.
Disturbing others is a big problem. A lot of people in the world distrust a lot people until the people prove themselves trustworthy. At times, it is necessary to distrust others to protect one from being cheated. We need to maximize our benefits from trusting others and at the same time we need to protect ourselves from being hurt.
Trust levels and happiness
The correlation between trust and happiness is strong. The more the confidence amongst the people, the better is the functioning of the economy. If you cannot trust your friend, then it will lead to distrust between your friends and you can lose your friends as well due to misunderstandings. This leads to damage in relationships.
9. Distrusting Life
Not trusting others can lead to unhappiness. However, distrusting life is also an impediment to happiness in life. We need to have resilience in life. It is important to stand up in life whenever something negative happens.
Life is unpredictable and hence it is full of surprises. It never stays constant. If something negative happens today, tomorrow can be happier one. Conversely, if something good happens today, it may not stay forever. Negative and positive events in life are entwined.
Life circumstances don’t affect us to much as do our perceptions about life and the way we react to it. May times what seems to be negative incident in life may even turn out to be a harbinger of positive outcomes. Your flight may get missed which may feel sad incident. But it may turn out later than the flight crashed in the hills or in a jungle and all passengers have died. Then, it seems to be positive event for you to miss flight.
Hence, it is important to not link your entire life with one incident in life. Tomorrow is always a new day. Yesterday ended last night. It is vital to delink happiness with life’s outcomes. What we must link happiness in life is meaningful experience