Introduction: The Happiness Quotient

The King of Bhutan coined the term Gross National Happiness in
1972. He believed that the wellbeing of a country does not depend on
the figures of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Thailand publishes
monthly GNP figures. Australia, Canada and China are on the same
path. France, and most recently, David Cameron of England have
commissioned studies on national wellbeing. Surprisingly more
education, youth or income, does not translate into happiness.
Happiness is a gift, not a commodity. Even the poor have the
ability to cultivate and share happiness. There is joy to be found in
the small things we take for granted—a smile, a helping hand, a
kiss, a wave, a pat on the back, a glass of cool water, a promise kept.
Each new day holds out a chance to create a whole new beginning,
a sparkling new field of possibilities. At dawn, sweep out the toxic
waste of hatred, anger and petty disappointments from your life.
Sprinkle the pure waters of prayer on your soul and prepare afresh for
a brand-new day. Go peacefully amidst the noise and the haste. Enjoy
the sweetness of every day things. Practice Swayambhu—a word that
describes happiness welling out of you, like an underground stream
in the mountains. Very rarely will an event or a person crash-land to
disturb your life.
We all have a choice to make every moment, through our senses,
our thoughts and our actions. We can choose what we want to
see, hear, touch, taste and smell, think, feel and do. Most of the
time, we are responsible for our decisions—for our happiness and
unhappiness. We can decide how we want to feel even in the worst
possible situations. To a jealous mind, an innocent smile is proof of
adultery; a prisoner can choose to keep the flame of freedom alive
and maintain a cheerful disposition Events or people around us are
not under our control. But our reactions, our responses to them are.
Respond with love and peace. The ecology and geography of your
inner mindspace is in your hands. Study how to deal with each of
your five senses to be happy.
Focus on happiness, not the lack of it. I believe the focus on stress
and unhappiness should be turned upside down. Instead of attracting
unhappiness, we should plant a garden of happiness, by welcoming
the positive emotions into our lives—love, compassion, wonder,
courage, laughter and peace. Focusing on our unhappiness only
helps to accrue more power and attention to the negative person,
event or object that causes it.
Focus on cultivating happy people and avoid toxic people. Build
protective walls against toxic events that threaten your tranquillity.
Too much television is tele-visham—tele-poison. Too much
stimulation, a mindspace crowded by fantasy, people and events
distracts you from working on your own home and backyard to
create a healthy self. Some days we seem to live a fantasy life
dominated by day-dreams while reality tugs at our heartstrings for
attention, like a neglected child. There is not focusing on Aishwarya
Bacchan’s beauty while neglecting to do the most basic things to
maintain yours. This is the only body, mind and soul you will be
given. Take care of what is yours and enjoy it.
When the garden is clean, blooming and full of life, the snakes
of anger have no place to hide; the thorns of greed get cleared away.
When the clutter of old hatreds is replaced by order, the flowers of
friendship bloom. The scorpions of revenge and jealousy scuttle away
and the butterflies of laughter return to celebrate the flowers.
Let the cells of your body be gently bathed in happiness, positive
thoughts and healing energies. The Vedas speak of the self as a
beautiful lotus growing in the muddy waters of life. With its roots in
the muck the lotus rises above it, in perfect beauty and bliss.