Happiness is a place to visit

The number of suicides among the youth is a deeply worrying phenomenon.
Image used for illustrative purposes only.
Image used for illustrative purposes only.

BENGALURU: In an era marked by stupendous success in space, technology and communication, the quest for well-being and happiness has taken a backseat. The pursuit of happiness is a fundamental part of being human and should be a universal endeavour. Unfortunately, the core construct is misunderstood, often deemed to be determined via other mundane, material pursuits and tangible achievements. For many, an inability to meet self or societally imposed expectations in achieving any one of them is perceived as a failure of oneself.

The number of suicides among the youth is a deeply worrying phenomenon. Would they have held on and faced life’s issues if they had self-worth and knew how important they were to themselves and their families, needs a separate space for honest introspection and deliberation.

To begin with, do we recognise the importance of well-being and being happy? Are we teaching our children the importance of being happy without external appendages and encouraging them in various ways to look within themselves for this all-important positive emotion? Try a simple exercise. Ask people what is happiness and they will count and name people, things, occasions that make them happy. It is erroneous to source and seek happiness outside of ourselves and almost all of us get waylaid in the hunt for happiness.

“One should not aim as much for happiness in life as meaning and purpose in life,” said noted counsellor and life coach, Dr Ali Khwaja. “Children can learn meaning and purpose experientially if we give them the right exposure, communication and tools to help manage their emotions. Happiness is transitory, whereas contentment, satisfaction and equilibrium are more permanent and can help them gain meaning in life,” he added.

“Happiness is a strong positive emotion. It is an offshoot of well-being and mindfulness. It is intrinsic to holistic living. Wellbeing is often disconnected with extraneous material factors. It is a combination of feeling good and functioning well. The focus on well-being should start early in life and should be made part of school curriculum,” said Professor, Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health & Sciences (NIMHANS), Dr Senthil Reddy.

“A sense of satisfaction, mental calm and self-equilibrium balances out various pressing issues. Wellbeing is an important marker of mental health and can help reduce adversities. One can develop a sense of well-being and happiness from being connected with nature, reaching out to others, exercising, being mindful, spiritual etc,” he added.

According to the World Happiness Report, India is currently positioned at 126th place out of 146 countries with a happiness score of 4.036, classifying it as one of the world’s least joyful nations. India’s rank in the happiness index is lower than its neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, and China. Our northeastern neighbour -- the small, landlocked Kingdom of Bhutan -- has a centuries-long history of viewing happiness as a core responsibility of the government.

The phrase ‘gross national happiness’ was first coined by the fourth King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in the late 1970s when he stated, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” The concept implies that “sustainable development should have a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of well-being and happiness”. The idea of Gross National Happiness (GNH) has long influenced Bhutan’s development policy. Till recently, its tourism slogan was ‘Happiness is a Place.’

The GNH framework includes nine constituent domains such as psychological well-being, health, time use and balance, education, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standard.

Happiness can be understood as a “dynamic state, which changes. It can be equated with contentment or with the feeling of pleasure”, said Dr Ravindra Munoli, associate professor, Department of Psychiatry, KMC, Manipal.

“We should understand that other intense feelings like excitement, joy, bliss, ecstasy are not equal terms for happiness as such. Happiness is expressed or experienced or both. Happiness index looks at multiple domains like psychological well-being, health, time balance, community, social support, education, arts and culture, environment, governance, material well-being and work. As a society this can be understood as the feeling of contentment with what we have, what we are, with whom we are, what we expect, what we get, what we have access to,” he added.

“Simplest skill to learn to remain content, and in turn be happy, is to “learn “acceptance,” said Munoli. “Acceptance of people and their behaviour, events as they are. The discontent comes when we start judging anything and everything, when we start to expect everything to fit in our frame of acceptance, when we start to refuse to accept people, their behaviour, society, culture, outcomes. This simple tool of ‘acceptance’ will not only bring content among students and people, but also develops a positive attitude among them about life in particular and society in general,” added the psychiatrist.


Have a positive attitude

Express gratitude

Help others

Nurture & enjoy relationships

Live in the now moment

Savour small pleasures


Sleep well

Connect with nature

Make exercise a habit

(With inputs from Firoz Rozindar from Vijayapura, Prakash Samaga from Udupi, Ramchandra Gunari from Shivamogga, Divya Cutinho from Mangaluru and Tushar Majukar from Belagavi)

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