The Secret To Happiness

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I was watching an enthralling Ted Talk where scientists had done research on what makes people truly happy for about a hundred years. They had extensive data from a heterogeneous group from across age groups and the results were startling. While most people in the case study said what would make them happy is money, or fame, the Truth discovered in the same people when they were in their seventies or eighties was that all the people who were happy, and even healthy, were the ones who had meaningful, beautiful relationships.

Amazing, huh? Think about it yourself. Assuming you had all the money and fame in the world, but not a single person to call your own, would you be happy? And assuming you didn’t have all the money or fame, but know you come to a home filled with love, trust, and warmth – wouldn’t that still keep you feeling happy and grateful? Of course, the ideal situation would be to have it all, but it was incredible to see how much higher relationships ultimately rated in creating happiness for people, versus all other aspects.

Relationships are so integral to us. To love and be loved. To trust and be trusted. Each of these go a long way to make us happy (and the study revealed healthy) in the long run. Considering this is so important, I asked myself, what am I doing to ensure I invest enough time for it?

One immediate realization that struck me was that often the people who least expect from us are the ones who most deserve it. Often in running after relationships where we aren’t that valued, or things that seem so important, it is these relationships we most take for granted. We somehow know they will be there, and hence focus on other things.

One of the corrections I have made this year is I focus on these relationships a lot more where people do not even ask for my love or time. I realized these were the few people who love me the most and only wanted to see me grow. Investing time with these people leaves me feeling deeply fulfilled.

The second realization was that as a race we have become multi taskers. I had a friend who came home to meet me, and almost involuntarily kept checking his phone, messages, etc. He came across so restless and honestly by the end, I couldn’t wait for him to leave. It didn’t feel like he was with me, or with anyone else and it just felt like a waste of time.

This experience made me feel I should never do this to anyone. Not just for meetings or a little time out with friends, but even my immediate family – if I am with them, I will be with them. I have brought in a beautiful discipline, that when I am around my six-month-young daughter Athyasaa, whether feeding her, watching her sleep, or talking to her – it will be a completely techno free zone. Just because she may not understand, doesn’t give me the right to dilute my attention to her. I do the same with Arun, my best friend for life, and papa. When I am with them, I am with them, and this really helps me enjoy our togetherness.

And finally, one more conscious shift I have made is – if there is someone who matters to me, I ensure I stay in touch. Little messages. A sudden call. Visits. We tend to get so busy with everything that those who matter but probably not in our daily radar, are often left to chance. Love is spelt as TIME – and those we invest time in are the ones who will end up being deep, meaningful relationships for us.

Since relationships are so crucial to our physical, mental and emotional well-being I for sure don’t want to leave it to chance. I want to invest; I want to plan and I want to ensure I do justice to my relationships. You?

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