Road to Happiness

Dwaipayan Bora
Sunday, October 23, 2016

There is a popular saying – “Dance like nobody's watching/Love like you've never been hurt/Sing like nobody's listening/Live like it's heaven on earth" - which seems to be the quintessence of all-encompassing happiness – undoubtedly the most desirable thing in life. But different people attach different meanings to happiness. For some it is “To love and be loved” while for some others it may be “To live each day to the full” or “To express oneself” or “To smile”. We are unsure how this very important desire can be fulfilled. A Japanese new technology company, Softbank goes a step further and declares that through Information Revolution in a right way they want to bring happiness to humanity. Hence the complexity attached to the meaning of happiness finds another dimension. Any psychologist or for that matter any life guru will however state that happiness is a state of mind; and rather it being external to oneself is very much an internal subject. Thus one cannot find happiness searching for it outside, as it is within you.

Harvard Medical School is conducting the Grant Study continuously for the last 75-years on 268 white male students of American nationality from the classes of 1939–1944 and continue to study them till today. The goal of this study was to identify predictors of healthy ageing. It is the only one of its kind study not just because of the long period of time, but because the subjects allowed researchers to present their lives in a three-dimensional way, filled with statistics and anecdotes about the human experience. In the 1970s, the study teamed with a similar one that was following a group of white young men from Boston since the 1940s allowing them to contrast social status and upbringings. Every two years the men were evaluated through questionnaires, information from their doctors, and by personal interviews. Information was gathered about their mental and physical health, career enjoyment, retirement experience and marital quality. It was observed that the happiest and healthiest participants in both groups were the ones who maintained close, intimate relationships. The main conclusion is that Happiness is love or “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier”. "Warmth of relationships throughout life has the greatest positive impact on 'life satisfaction'". The commercial projection of a good life – wealth, fame, career success – doesn’t bring health or happiness. It’s the work one put into maintaining connections with other human beings that does. Casual relationships however, like the ones forged on social media doesn’t.

Having understood the meaning of happiness at the individual level, it is necessary to know how the state can contribute towards making its citizens happy. Our neighbouring Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is a pioneer in the field of measuring happiness of their people and utilizing it in framing their public policies. Since 1971, it has championed a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH) based on equitable spiritual, physical, social, cultural and environmental health of its citizens and through promotion of good governance. In July 2011, the UN General Assembly took a resolution proposed by its Prime Minister, inviting member countries to measure the happiness of their people and to use this to help guide their public policies. Now happiness is increasingly considered a proper measure of social progress and a goal of public policy. An increasing number of national and local governments use happiness data and research in their search for policies that could enable people to live better lives. Five countries—Bhutan, Ecuador, Scotland, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela—now have appointed ministers of happiness charged with promoting it as a goal of public policy. The UAE through its National Agenda wants “… to be the happiest of all nations”. Launching the Dubai Plan 2021 in December 2014, its ruler said, “The first objective for the Dubai Plan 2021 is achieving people’s happiness”. This plan developed after extensive consultations involving civil society, the private and the public sectors covers six themes “that describe the vision for Dubai: a city of happy, creative and empowered people; an inclusive and cohesive society; the preferred place to live, work and visit; a smart and sustainable city; a pivotal hub in the global economy; and a pioneering and excellent government”.

The World Happiness Report prepared by Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute of Columbia University from 2012, uses six factors to measure Happiness index of nations. These are GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support (as measured by having someone to count on, in times of trouble), trust (as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business), perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity (as measured by recent donations, adjusted for differences in income). It observes that of all factors, differences in social support, incomes and healthy life expectancy are the most important. It concludes that it is not by money alone, but happiness can be achieved also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health.

All measures of well-being, including emotions and life evaluations, are strongly influenced by the quality of surrounding social norms and institutions. These include family and friendships at the individual level, the presence of trust and empathy at the neighborhood and community levels, and power and quality of the social norms that determine the quality of life. When these social factors are well-rooted and readily available, communities and nations are more resilient and hence are happier. The design of policies and their delivery remains a key national challenge. Policies should enrich the social fabric, and teach the power of empathy to current and future generations. The 2016 survey showed that three countries in particular, Ireland, Iceland and Japan, were able to maintain their happiness levels despite external shocks such as the post-2007 economic crisis and the 2011 earthquake because of social support and solidarity.

Thus the road to happiness and the milestones to measure it has been firmly laid. It is now a well-considered view that happiness is directly influenced by an individual’s family, his community and his relationships with those. As individuals and governments we need to focus on the small things that strengthen these connections. This is the learning that we have to quickly embrace to be a happy society.

Dwaipayan Bora is an engineer working in Kuwait Oil Company. As a freelance writer he contributes to various newspapers, magazines and websites.

Express your comment on this article

Posted on Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Very nice article.

Posted on Sunday, October 23, 2016

nice article. keep on writing.

Submit your comments...
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are strictly personal and does not hold any responsibility on them. We shall endeavour to upload/publish as many of the comments that are submitted as possible within a reasonable span of time, but we do not guarantee that all comments that are submitted will be uploaded/published. Messages that harass, abuse or threaten other members; have obscene, unlawful, defamatory, libellous, hateful, or otherwise objectionable content; or have spam, commercial or advertising content or links are liable to be removed by the editors. We also reserve the right to edit the comments that do get published. Please do not post any private information unless you want it to be available publicly.

India - Global host of 2018 World Environment Day

India is the global host of 2018 World Environment Day which is taking place on June 5, 2018. The t


Students should proactively indulge in co-curricular activities - Raghavi Vishwanath an alumni of FAIPS Kuwait

When youngsters reach a pinnacle it is always a pleasure to learn more about their lives and how th


A thought for Ramadan

Sunday, the 13th of May, 2018 Festival greetings, Happy Sunday greetings Mother’s Day greetings


Kuwait Cricket - A Sense of accomplishment: Herschelle Gibbs

In the recently concluded ICC World Twenty20 Asia Qualifiers ‘A’ , the Kuwait's national crick


Raindrops - Usual and Unusual Stories of love by Dr. Navniit Gandhi

Dear Readers, Dr Navniit Gandhi has penned a collection of 19 true, usual and a little unusu


Love is in air when he sings, Shahbaz Aman

What could be the appropriate adjective to describe this man; singer; composer; or an unusual embod


Don’t Want a Day… Want a Deal!

I am a Woman and like me, there are countless other women out there who do not want Days to commemo


My heart, my soul and all my sincerity is for this country – Ajiaz Ahmad Sarfaraz

“By serving this great country for more than three decades, I feel that the word ‘great’ fully appl


Teamwork Makes The Dream Work! – Nomaan Sidiq Budroo, Captain of Kuwait U-19 Cricket Team

Kuwait Cricket’s National U 19 team returned home after their best ever performance in the ICC U 19


A Walk in the Garden…

Our garden in Salmiya is an exciting learning-place… Every walk in it, teaches something every time


True sense of Indian luxury at Asha’s Restaurant

Who doesn’t like a luxurious dine out once in a while with families and friends? What if it is coup


Zafran Indian Bistro with innovative Indian Cuisines

Indian Cuisines are packed with interesting ingredients and enticing aromas that make it super deli


New Menu at Zafran Puts Contemporary Spin on the Traditional

Fans of Zafran can rejoice as the popular Indian bistro launches a new menu this week. The front


A nostalgic and delicious train journey in Kuwait at Kerala Express Restaurant

A train journey during our annual vacation in India is definitely a nostalgic experience for many o


22 Yards Cricket Academy Summer Camp For Cricket Coaching

22 Yards Cricket Academy, a professionally run Cricket coaching center having its 16th year of succ


KCWA organized ‘Play on Indoor Sports’

Kuwait Canara Welfare Association (KCWA), for the first time organized an Indoor “Play on Sports” e


Don Bosco Oratory (DBO) Beat Kuwait Independents Hockey (KIH) 1/0 in The First 2018 DBO Hockey Tourunament

Kuwait, Ahmadi – 12 May 2018, in what would one say “breathless showpiece” DBO and KIH. It was anot


Kuwait Cricket set to host ICC World Twenty20 Asia Qualifier ‘A’

Whilst this is not the first International tournament to be hosted in Kuwait, this particular editi


Himanta Biswa Sarma elected BAI President

Assam Health and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was on Tuesday unanimously elected the Badm