Sunday, September 16, 2012

In the Pursuit of Happiness..

Happiness is only 50% preset by genes and the other 50% by our intentions and choices...happiness is within our control, a skill that we can choose to develop. 

I am an unhappy camper today...hit by a myriad of aches and pains...huddled under the comforter, a rasp in my throat, procrastinating on some work it today on a weekend or do it needs to get done anyway...I was surfing movies on Netflix and I reached a documentary "Happy" which seemed like the perfect antidote for my grouchy, grumpy self...

This movie was like Warm Apple Pie topped with rich whipped started in Calcutta following the life of a rickshaw puller who found happiness in abject poverty from the love of his family to a tour guide in Louisiana whose happiness was in the Bayou trawling in his boat for a glimpse of wildlife, the stillness and the sheer beauty of mother nature...following a 106 year old woman in Okinawa, a single mother in a coop in Denmark....and ending back in Calcutta.This movie was 6 years in making...not whimsical but very deep insightful and thought provoking.

 Here are 7 things that  are my key takeaway from this documentary

  1. Practice Happiness : Don't wait for happiness to come to you...find it in everything you do. As I was watching the documentary, sipping a cup of herbal tea the aches and pains slowly subsided and I had an Aha! moment
  2. Invest in yourself : Find what makes you happy - it could be as simple as a book, a yoga class, lunch with a friend, a good meal...find it and invest the time to do what makes you happy. A Sunday walk in the farmers market makes me happy and I try to take the time to go to the Farmers Market  once a week come rain or shine.
  3. Invest in Community : Whether it is your child clamoring for your attention, a ladies night out, tennis with your neighbor, a dinner with close friends or just ordering out pizza and hanging together...investing time beyond yourself helps expand your sense of well-being and makes you belong.
  4. Rethink Success : Japan is a highly successful country with the dubious title of having the most number of suicides in a developed country...ever thought of why? The movie talked about a young man in Japan who literally overworked himself to his death..."Karoshi" as the Japanese call it...he has a grieving widow in her early twenties and a 3 year old who does not yet comprehend the magnitude of her success at any cost worth it...or do we as a culture need to revisit our definition of success...
  5. Prioritize Helping Others : My mother in law is a doctor who retired 7 years back. She chose to for the past 7 years to practice at the Ramakrishna Math every day seeing between 25-30 sick people for  free...she has prioritized helping others here and I think in that she has found happiness.  
  6. Practice Gratitude : I got an email a year back from someone close (and yet not so close) saying - Thank You...I was surprised and skeptical (maybe I am not used to someone saying thanks)...however, I remember slowly feeling good as I read and re-read that was a warm ray of sunshine that is not very hard being grateful for all that life has given us...and when you really think about has given us a lot
  7. Become Self-Aware : Self knowledge and happiness are often a parallel journey. It's  pretty simple; happy people do the things that make them happy. As you become happy you connect more closely to who you truly are. Figuring out what you want and what is really important to you will improve your happiness - the key is being authentic vs. faking positivity.
How has your weekend been? We did make a trip to the Farmer's Market - I got a small winter melon, green beans, organic apples, asian pears, white egg plants, brownies, snickerdoodle cookies, 3-seed bread, brown eggs....and yes, that made me happy.

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