How does one pursue happiness?

If you ask most people what they would really want to achieve in their lives, the answers will vary over a spectrum. However the most frequent answer is unlikely to be money or fame – it is equally likely to be happiness. This is not surprising if one considers the fact that earning money or acquiring any material possessions, is all done with the ultimate objective of being happy.

While the above is intuitively easy to understand, the ways and means of being happy varies widely from one individual to another. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that happiness is really the sum total of all the good experiences that a person has had in his or her life. These experiences will, of course, differ between people and the value each person puts on such experiences will also be unique. For example, an athlete will find it a supreme experience to breast the winning tape ahead of the others, an actor may feel blessed on winning a critic’s award, a mother may feel the happiest on seeing her child for the first time and a father may be ecstatic when his children achieve something great. Even though the happiness is our’s it will very often be linked to the achievements of some near and dear one.

So how does one pursue happiness – I have a very simple way to look at it. So much so, that many others have expressed grave doubts as to whether it is possible. However, it has worked for me and will probably work for all others too, if applied honestly and properly. As happiness is the end result of enriching and good experiences for the individual, the basic requirement is to engage in things that make you feel good about yourself. For example, a soldier may feel good about a fitness drill, a cricketer may feel good about net practice and an author may feel good about conjuring up a complex plot. The corollary of this is also simple – if you are not doing activities on a regular basis that make you feel good about yourself then you are unlikely to be happy. This explains why many people are not happy with their jobs – they do not feel good about doing what they do day in and day out. The best fit is of course when you have a job that lets you do what you want to anyway.

I have applied this formulation to myself and looked at experiences which make me happy and instances when I feel good about myself. This requires a fair bit of thought but each one of us will be able to arrive at their own list of things when they put their mind to it. For me the list is as follows, in the order of priority. I feel good about myself, when:-

  • My sharing knowledge with others help them achieve something.
  • My grooming of my children contribute to their academic and personal success.
  • My mentoring of colleagues have helped them become successful professionals.
  • I am able to spend quality time with my wife.
  • I am able to contribute to some deserving cause, monetarily or otherwise.
  • I get the opportunity to learn something new and useful.
  • I succeed in a complex business situation through my knowledge and initiative.
  • I travel to different parts of India and the world.
  • I am with friends in a casual atmosphere with no time deadlines.
  • I am able to read good books of all kinds, eat a variety of food, see some good cultural performances and watch all kinds of sports live or on TV.

So my happiness in life will depend on whether my time being spent is linked to experiences which have the above characteristics inherent in them. If my time is in areas completely different from the above then there is a problem.

What are the times you feel good about yourself and is your current lifestyle having a good amount of these? Only you can think about this and see why you are happy or unhappy.


10 thoughts on “How does one pursue happiness?

  1. Great post . As Sreekanth mentioned your list of favorite books please. I am going to read When Breath Becomes Air ..heard good things about this book.

    also , don’t forget to post your solution you offered to one of your reader/friend as mentioned in your previous post.


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