R. Anand is a senior HR Professional with 2 decades of experience and presently is, Principal consultant and advisor – HR, HCL Technologies Ltd. and Board Member – National HRD Network. SAGE is the proud publisher of his book “Happiness at Work: Mindfulness, Analysis and Well-being”. SAGE has a fast-growing list of high-quality books to help you ace. Read on to understand the science of happiness.
What sort of a life do I want to lead?
What will make me happy?
What do I see myself doing for years together before I pass away from this world?
Who could be my role models?
We sometimes pose these questions to ourselves. Don’t we?
Many of us also run away from these questions. We pretend they don’t exist. They do exist and haunt us every day. They make us feel incomplete and agitated with a nameless, formless ailment. We laugh with our friends but mostly we only pretend. We party but wonder what after this? We wonder if the uncertainty of the future that is making us unbearably anxious? Can we do something about these things?
The science of happiness says, yes, we can do something about this unsettling situation. In fact, a rational response will help us be present more when we laugh with our friends. It will help us put our best foot forward when we plan our future careers. We will work when we have to, sleep fully when we sleep and more zestfully engage with our lives. We can experience a higher sense of mastery and simultaneously, novelty and awe.
The science of happiness draws from multiple disciplines. They draw lessons from: anthropology – a study of our social and cultural selves; psychology – the study of our psyche and its make-up; neurology – our brains, spines, the chemicals that mediate their interactions all the way to our feelings; evolutionary biology – how evolution pre-disposes us to certain modes of processing the world; behavioral economics – how we make choices and sometimes irrationally; body language – how we express, come to feel and even create mental states with our bodies and of course philosophy – what is true, beautiful, right and valuable to navigate through life.
Systematic diagnostic through analysis and helpful practices can enhance our sense of well-being. My own experience in counselling several professionals have convinced me that there is a science behind happiness. That many of us can become happier. In the space of this article and keeping my readers’ in mind, I humbly offer the following thoughts for their consideration
Are we seeking affirmation or doing our own rational experimentation?
The perspective that we have many chances, and that we can experiment our way into finding what works is a useful one to have. Gandhiji who aptly titled his autobiography as “his experiments with truth” exemplified this very mindset. The renowned professor of psychology, Tal Ben Shahar alludes to this when he explains the success and happiness of Israel. The Israeli society believes that there are many chances that one has. The family always supports the Son or Daughter who wants to experiment a different way at any stage in their life. If they fail, they can start all over again. The support can just be emotional and psychological.
Contrast this with the anxiety to get accepted by peers. This desperation dissolves any sense of our individuality. It dissociates us from ourselves. “Likes” and “comments” then take over our life and torment us. If we look back, we are sadder than happier for seeking affirmation from others.
At this age, it is not surprising. Evolution made us extra-ordinarily sensitive to what others think, feel and express about us. From the teenage to early adulthood is when we got selected as mates. Many studies of brain responses in this age group have confirmed this extra-ordinary sensitivity. However, technology companies have smartly used this psychological hook of ours to keep us addicted!
The journey to discover who we truly are, what are our true preferences and thoughts is a journey to well-being. Just as when we act impulsively we can be indecent to others, when we suppress we can be indecent to ourselves. We need to surface and acknowledge our innermost thoughts and anxieties. The psychologist Carl Jung calls it individuation.
When we create a buffer zone where we will be with ourselves and away from devices and networks, we heal. When we record our night time dreams in a private diary and wonder what latent thoughts maybe hidden in them, we are fast tracking our journey to well-being
Wish you reach the next orbit of well-being in 2019!
Read the SAGE Response book Happiness at Work: Mindfulness, Analysis and Well-being by R. Anand and understand how rigorous science and psychology can be applied to remain happy at work.
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