Is Happiness Elusive?

“Happiness is a matter of temperament rather than circumstances”, rightfully says Ruskin Bond the author and thinker who has penned over 500 short stories and over 50 books.

Where would you stand on the Cantril Ladder? According to a worldwide happiness survey done by the Gallup World Poll, people were asked to imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. “The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst. On which step of the ladder do you feel you are on?” This ladder is known as the Cantril Ladder.

There is a huge gap between the average results across nations as per the World Happiness Report 2019.

  • Nordic countries top the ranking: Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Iceland have the highest scores (all with averages above 7).
  • In the same year, the lowest national scores correspond to Central African Republic, South Sudan, Tanzania all with average scores below 3.5.
  • The United States scoring an average above 6.88
  • Canada, Australia score 7.18 mark.
  • The United Kingdom competing well and staying above the mark of 7.
  • Japan and China scoring above 5
  • India stands at barely 3.82.

So, How Happy Are You? Take the test.

What makes people happy and what depletes the quality of life?

From a personal standpoint can we not say that the countries closer to nature and those that have been least corrupted are making it to the top while the ones with disconnected, disturbed democracy and economy are hugely suffering?

I am sure that the pandemic has affected the current happiness index even more with many suffering from mental health issues, stress and anxiety. Many countries are making it to the news with a political upsurge and that indeed lowers the overall happiness score.

Individually I feel that economically challenged countries often cannot separate success from happiness. The pay-checks, status quo and designations are directly proportional to their sense of wellbeing.

Haven’t you noticed that like academic success doesn’t ensure success in one’s career, the achievements at work do not equal fulfilment in life?

Happiness is elusive to all who are depending on illusory and fake determinants. It seems like the “joy” is here now and then it disappears without as much as a warning which drowns you even deeper in your sorrows.

Is it possible to always be in the state of happiness or is it acceptable to embrace occasional downers? The sadness makes us value the moments of joie de vivre even more.

What is true happiness I wonder? Is it just a pipe dream for us or more? Are we mistaking the mirage for the shimmering lake which will quench our thirst?

What Is Happiness For You?

While the chase for joy won’t get us anywhere, few factors truly contribute to our personal happiness.

After losing a big chunk of happiness quotient to factors seemingly beyond our control like genes, other people’s behaviour, circumstances, sociological, political and economical wellbeing, health and environment we are left with some choices which indeed are in our court.

  1. Balancing the wheel of life– Paying attention and taking necessary actions to enhance the social, interpersonal, spiritual, educational, professional, vocational, financial, personal aspects of life.
  2. Assessing and aligning your values with the choices you make in life.
  3. Belongingness rather than dependence is important to thrive in life. The toxic and addictive relationships are detrimental to your happiness reserves. Stats say that regular contact with friends, hours of socialising without ulterior motive or agendas can uplift your vibrational frequency to higher levels. Technology here is somewhat supporting this factor, people with internet and phones are noted to be happier but warding off cyber bullying or online envy is important. It is also common to fall in the compare and despair mode or in the FOMO trap (fear of missing out) so do not tip the scales and over do. Good feelings really do rub off, so keep your friends close, and your sunny friends even closer.
  4. Self-Reliance, Self-efficacy and Independence along with a healthy relationship with money ensures you are not living in the consciousness of lack.
  5. Gratitude for little things contribute greatly to our happiness scores.
  6. Paying attention to our emotional health. Emotional Intelligence is a combination of personal and social competence and helps in making ourselves more grounded and improves our relationship with self and others. Self-love is regarded as the key to happiness. Keeping away from toxic relationships is important for our mental and emotional health.
  7. Finding the purpose and meaning of your life. Making time for your gifts and interests. No wonder why ikigai got so popular.
  8. Staying close to nature creates a state of happiness and releases endorphins- the happy hormone.
  9. Simplifying life,Minimal living, decluttering, practising forgiveness ,letting go, shedding the extra weight also helps us to keep lighter and happier.
  10. Moments of just being rather than doing. Mindfulness and staying in the now lets us be at ease.
  11. Physical fitness, good sleep, nourishing diet and healthy sanitary regime are important factors too.
  12. Interpersonal behaviour and appreciation.The number of positive interactions happy couples have for every negative one determines the happiness in the relationship. Researchers found that the ones who were in happy relationships had a 5:1 ratio of good exchanges to bad; people who ultimately divorced had just 0.8 happy encounters for every one negative interaction. Having sex once a week makes people 44% more likely to have positive feelings according to a University of Colorado Boulder study.
  13. Contributing positively to the lives of others and making a difference creates enormous reserves of gratification.
  14. Expressing yourself freely.
  15. Moments of transcendence, meditation, affirmations or prayer. Faith keeps one supported and hopeful. Hope is a positive emotion to cultivate for happiness.

According to NLP, when the six basic needs of human beings are satiated, a state of fulfilment is arrived at and creates ultimate euphoria.

The seven happiness sins according to Professor Raj Ragunathan’s book, If you’re smart, why aren’t you happy?, are :

  1. Devaluing Happiness
  2. Chasing Superiority
  3. Being needy or its opposite, being avoidant
  4. Being overly control-seeking
  5. Distrusting others
  6. Distrusting life
  7. Ignoring the source within

The list clearly states that our attitude, choices, beliefs and perceptions are the only perils in the path to finding happiness. We need to work at balancing our life and creating exuberance within and around us. Regardless of the circumstances we can find lasting bliss.


Wishing you all a life of happiness and more!

Categories Inspiration, Life, Mental Health, PsychotherapyTags , ,

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