Mastering the Art of Happiness

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Mastering the Art of Happiness

Muhammad Asim Jasra

World Happiness Index

The United Nations Development Solutions
Network’s Happiness Report 2023 ranked 137 countries based on the following six factors:
1. Social Support
2. Healthy life expectancy
3. Freedom
4. Corruption-free public service systems
5. Generosity
6. GPD per capita
The recent rankings are as under:
1. Finland – the happiest country in the world
2. Denmark
3. Iceland
4. Israel
5. Netherlands
6. Sweden
7. Norway
8. Switzerland
9. Luxembourg
10. New Zealand
While among the least happy countries, Sierra Leone stands at 135, Lebanon at 136 and Afghanistan at 137.
Pakistan is at 108th position.
This report suggests that the government systems have a great role to play in the happiness and overall well-being of the people.
It was in 2012 when the first World Happiness Report was published. Ten years back, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/281, proclaiming 20 March to be observed annually as International Day of Happiness.

If you are asked to list important things in your life, it is more probable that happiness would be at the top of the list. No wonder, it is the goal of almost every person. In this article, I would try to touch on different aspects of this concept in a comprehensive way.
Defining happiness
Happiness can, generally, be defined as a positive state of emotional well-being that focuses on cultivating positive emotions, adopting healthy habits and developing a positive mindset.
In her 2007 book titled ‘The How of Happiness’, positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky defined happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment or positive well-being combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile.”
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, happiness is a state of emotional well-being that a person experiences either in a narrow sense, when good things happen in a specific moment, or more broadly, as a positive evaluation of one’s life and accomplishments overall—that is, subjective well-being.
Ingredients of happiness
The following are the ingredients of happiness:
1. Positive emotions: are caused by positive thoughts. Examples of positive emotions include:
§ Amusement § Love § Joy § Pride § Pleasure § Contentment
2. Contentment with one’s life: The feeling of contentment and satisfaction that arises when a person looks back at his life, contributes to happiness.
3. Gratitude: People who stay grateful lead happy lives. Gratefulness creates positive energy that causes happiness. Paying gratitude to Allah Almighty attracts His blessings. Count the blessings of the Almighty; it will make you grateful to Him.
4. Sense of purpose, direction and meaning in one’s life: When your lifestyle is aligned with the purpose of life set by yourself, it leads to living an enriching and happy life.
5. Having positive relations with family, friends and other members of society creates an emotional support base that sets the foundation for a happy life. Strong social relationships have a positive correlation with happiness. Close friends add to the quality of life.
6. Engaging in activities that absorb you leads to success. It happens when time passes so quickly.
7. Personal growth, learning and development: Efforts for achieving personal growth, learning new skills and grooming your personality bring joy and happiness. Never stop learning. Focus on the development in all spheres of your personality and health which are:
§ Physical § Mental/Intellectual § Emotional § Spiritual § Social
8. Maintaining good physical, mental and social health is also a prerequisite for happiness. Health ensures the quality of life that contributes to happiness. Both health and happiness have a cause-and-effect relationship.
9. Exercise and sports: Exercise and sports cause the release of dopamine from your body. This hormone is responsible for creating feelings of happiness.
10. Staying connected with the Creator: Allah Almighty has control over all the treasures of the worlds. Ask for His Fazl (blessings) which is such a comprehensive term that includes happiness, His blessings and livelihood. Remember Allah Almighty always. Belief in the oneness of Allah Almighty would make you more confident, more independent and a happier person.
11. Happiness is a state of mind that can be created. Understand yourself and your environment. No struggle is required to keep yourself happy. But once you succeed in keeping yourself happy, happiness itself will make you active in your life. Try to be happy for no reason.
12. Try to get up early. Join 5 am club. Spend at least 15-20 minutes early in focused thinking that revolves around the following questions:
Where am I heading?
What is the purpose of my life?
What makes me happy?
Am I really happy?
How can I make my life more productive?
How can I make this day more productive, joyful and meaningful?
Another advantage of getting up early is that it makes your life disciplined and organized. Getting up early involves the following great habits:
You go to bed early.
You stop wasting time in unnecessary activities.
Once you get up early, you find time to have focused thinking, organize your day, do exercise and play sports.
You feel appetite for breakfast, and can never skip breakfast.
It provides you an opportunity to avail the peak performance hours making you more productive in your work.
13. Forgive quickly. It will release your negative energy and set you free. It will make you lighter.
14. Forget all the unpleasant events in your life. Carry only the lessons learned with you. Ignore the negative thoughts and memories.
Metacognition
This is a tip for you. Metacognition is the capability of human beings by which they can monitor their thought process. It is the awareness of one’s own feelings. It is for this capability that we can manage our thoughts and emotions.
Using this capacity, you may decide to be grateful. You may ignore negative thoughts and emotions. You may reinforce your positive thoughts and emotions. You may create the world of your mind as you design.
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” ― John Milton, Paradise Lost
Some fundamentals of happiness as reflected in research
1. Happy people spread happiness around themselves. If you want to be happy, surround yourself with happy people.
2. Happiness is something that is under your control. The art of happiness can be mastered with conscious efforts and certain lifestyle changes.
3. Happiness is all about experiencing positive emotions often, and negative emotions rarely.
4. Wealth and money alone are not strongly correlated with happiness.
5. Happiness is a mindset; it’s a lifestyle. It’s how you think and how you ignore negative and depressing thoughts.
6. Religious people are happier than non-religious people.
7. It is very interesting to note that external factors play a little role in happiness. However, internal factors play a great role in creating joy and happiness.
8. Extrovert, outgoing and sociable individuals are happier than introvert and lonely ones.
9. The persons who see the silver lining in every situation and are optimistic are happier than the pessimistic ones.
10. Findings of a vast body of research suggest that happiness brings positive outcomes which, in turn, contribute to overall well-being. Happy people are more cooperative and healthier, and earn more money.
11. Happy people live longer and healthier lives as compared to unhappy people.
12. Happiness model as suggested by Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Harvard University, is as under:
Happiness = All the things you have ÷ all the things you want
So, by this equation, you can increase happiness either by increasing the possessions or by decreasing the denominator.
13. Practice mindfulness. Live the moment. Live in the present. Most people spend most of their time either in their past or in the future without caring for the present. Thus, they lose their present. Present is much bigger reality where you can actually feel happiness. Missing the present moments is like missing life. Free yourself from the guilt of the past and fears of the future.
14. Greed is a major enemy of happiness. Kill it!
15. Make others happy. Give more. Keep in mind that you cannot benefit yourself without benefitting others. A bee cannot make honey without benefiting the plant from where it extracts nectar. It benefits the plant as it helps in the process of cross-pollination.
Key Takeaway
There is good news for all of you. Happiness is a learned behaviour; it’s an attitude that can be adopted. Incorporate healthy lifestyle changes. Think positive. Live a simple life. Try to make others’ lives easier. Forgive quickly. Stay grateful. Smile more. Do not over think. Do not get jealous at all. Be action-oriented. You will always be a happy person. If staying happy all the time is a challenge for you, it is a challenge worth taking up. Live slowly. Stay calm. Be connected with Allah Almighty. Stay happy always.
Best of Luck for a happy, healthy and prosperous life!

The writer is a civil servant, belonging to the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP). He can be reached at: asimjasraa@gmail.com

Muhammad Ali Asghar

This is the Admin of this website

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