Published: 21st March 2017
Unhappy India: Meet the country's happiness experts, learn where to study happiness as India plumbs depths in UN Happiness Index
As Indians were ranked among the unhappiest people the world over in the UN Happiness Index, yet again, we take a look at the people for whom happiness is a full time business, Like, literally!
The latest UN report on the World Happiness Index has ranked India 122 — placing us even lower than neighbouring countries like Pakistan, (80) Bangladesh (110) and Sri Lanka (120). What is more unfortunate is that India already held a miserable 118th position in the last Happiness Index Report, so this is, well, just that much more depressing.
So why are Indians unhappy? It's because we are never satisfied with what we have and are madly in love with the blame game, "happiness" experts say.
Hold on. Happiness experts?
Yes, "happiness expert" is a real thing. We've reached an era where the world needs happiness experts and it doesn't stop there, we also have "happiness" courses and these are not conducted at some random institutes — an educational organisation as big as the Indian School of Business has its very own course called A life of Happiness and Fulfillment headed by Dr Rajagopal Raghunath, who has also authored the book If you're so smart, why aren't you happy?
So essentially, we live in a world where "happiness clinics" and "institutes" exist and doctors charge you plenty to listen to you crib, 'cure' you send you back a happier person, no matter what problems you go to them with.
Incidentally, IIT Kharagpur also has its own Centre of Happiness! The courses, to be offered at both undergraduate and post graduate levels teaches science of happiness, stress management, coping with loss and positive psychology
'Indians love the blame game'
It's a happy, happy practice though. Some people who work with happiness have been around for ages. "People get therapy for 18-20 years but they come to my institute and they go back feeling happy after just a few sessions. I have 16,000 patients coming to see me and we started only with a handful of people," said Just Win Singh, who founded the Institute of Happiness, Vadodara in 2000.
Happy Singh: Just Win Singh is a legend in the happiness business | Twitter
Singh is of the opinion that India is 'so sad' because we are forever playing the blame game, "I can tell you the one and only reason why India is unhappy is because we never take responsibility for our actions and we like to throw the blame on someone else be it our neighbours or the markets or the government. Once we become self-sufficient, we'll stop being so sad," he explained.
(For Indians) It's a cultural thing, we care too much about what others have to say
Just Win Singh, Happiness Expert
Besides the blame game, most of these "happiness" experts are of the opinion that we are not satisfied because we always want more. Indians just don't seem to be getting their heads around the fact that money truly doesn't buy happiness and in spite of getting that big house, that perfect house, the latest gadget and the five star hotel vacations, we, as a race, are still supremely unhappy. "It is a cultural thing, we've been brought up to care about what people will say. So we always keep wanting more and it is never enough," said Dr U Gauthamadas, a neuro-psychiatrist who runs a Happiness Clinic in Chennai.
Is being ambitious the cause of unhappiness then?
Yes and no. This one is a bit of a double-edged sword. "If you're ambitious then you strive to achieve your goal and you achieve it and you're happy but you still maybe want to achieve more. But you're aiming for unhappiness when you achieve your goal and are still unhappy and continue to want more," Gautham said.
So do we have no hope for the future? Will we continue to be miserable?
Not at all. It'll change soon in the next couple of years, says Haho Sirippananda Sampath whose positivity is so infectious, it can catch you even if it's just a conversation over the phone!
In case you're wondering what he does, Sampath makes people laugh for a living, No he's not a comedian — for him laughter is an exercise. Sampath goes to various schools, colleges and work organisations just to make them laugh.
"LOL, but literally"
Hang on. Isn't making people laugh en masse really, really tough? "Sure, it's fake in the beginning but people genuinely start to laugh by the end of it and then people come up and tell me they feel like they've found a part of themselves that they lost a long time ago. It's the pressing need of the hour to make people laugh. Even college and school students seem to be happy from the outside but they're so depressed, even for them laughing aloud comes as a big stress reliever," he said.
Even college and school students seem to be happy from the outside but they're so depressed, even for them laughing aloud comes as a big stress reliever
Haho Sampath, Laughter Guru
Sampath explains that most sane people need to take a leaf out of the books of people considered menatally unsound, when it comes to the happiness game, "We see so many mentally affected people laughing while they sit alone. Why do you think that is? I've asked their families and they tell me it's because they never had a chance to laugh," he said, smiling.
So, don't underestimate the power of laughter, it truly is the best medicine!
Indian School of Business offers the A life of Happiness and Fulfillment headed by Dr Rajagopal Raghunath. The course is a six-week study and the syllabus includes a number of readings, videos and discussions on happiness, motivation, self- compassion, gratitude, healthy lifestyle