Thursday, 28 November 2013

Happiness: T2 Article dated 15th Sep' 2013

Ah Sunday! The day to put our feet up and chill, the day to be happy.
Actually, what makes us happy? Or, unhappy? Most of our life revolves around yearning, seeking, working towards that which we think will make us happy. Yet often we fall short of achieving that inner feeling of happiness.
Why? An important factor affecting our ability to ' be happy' is our own belief and attitude towards it.
We say, ' One can never be happy', ' Happiness is followed by sadness', ' It's my fate to be unhappy', or even ' I don't deserve happiness'. What's needed to be happy? Expensive cars? A big house? Fancy clothes and food? Or is it possible to learn to be happy, irrespective of the situations, place and time? We believe it is. We believe that happiness is a choice. This inner feeling of contentment, well- being and harmony can be achieved with a little bit of introspection, strategising and practice. Here, we share a few steps which go a long way in conditioning our minds to stay happy.
1. Decide to be happy. If you find resonance in the beliefs mentioned above, then you need to introspect what has led you to develop them? Is it from a personal experience? Or is it a belief you imbibed from others, for instance, parents, friends, colleagues? Once you know the cause, challenge it.
Change it to ' I deserve to be happy' or ' I allow myself to be happy'. 

2. Get some me- time.
Once in a while, a bit of self- pampering can bring out the best in us — a fun film, a massage, a walk in the rain.
After all, prioritising ourselves helps bring joy and cheer to our daily activities.
3. Practise mindfulness. Be focused and fully present in the moment nonjudgementally. We get angry, sad, worried or stressed by thinking of the past or anticipating the future.
Remember Master Oogway's words: ' Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.' Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, shows that just eight weeks' practice of Mindfulness Meditation significantly improves memory and empathy, and reduces stress.
As a prelude to Mindfulness Meditation, you can start by enjoying your meals in silence without the phone or the TV. Relish the food. Be completely focused and aware of what you are eating. Savour the taste, aroma and texture of the food. If your mind wanders away, gently bring your awareness back to your meal. This may also decrease the quantity of food you consume to feel satiated.
4. Enjoy quietude. Spend some quality time alone without the phone, Internet, TV, iPad.... Connect with nature. Watch the sun rise or set. Listen to birds chirping.
Sometimes one needs to step back from the chaos of life, and reflect on the bigger picture.
5. Pick up a hobby. Something you enjoy doing or have always longed to do.
6. Appreciate yourself. Do this regularly for all that you are, instead of waiting for it to come from others.
Celebrate yourself in totality.
7. Practise gratitude. We are constantly told what we still need to have to be happy. It is more important to focus on and be grateful for all that we already have.
Create a gratitude diary for yourself.
Write five things for which you are grateful every day. It is a great way of training your mind to look for the positives in life. And when you're feeling low, you can always leaf through the pages to cheer up.
8. Exercise. Practise yoga, hit the gym, walk or pick up a physical sport. Nothing better to release the endorphins.
Lastly, commit to be happy.
Practise the above steps. And do get back to us! 

Dr Sangbarta Chattopadhyay and Dr Namita Bhuta are medical practitioners, psychotherapists and life coaches.

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