The Path to Happiness

Sandeep Gupta (Australia)

Andre Agassi, a former tennis #1, hated tennis and suffered from depression. Michael Phelps, winner of 28 Olympic medals, went through periods of feeling low. Bruce Springsteen had bouts of depression. J.K. Rowling had depression while writing her Harry Potter novels. Robin Williams had a history of depression and committed suicide.

Okay, what are we expected to do with this information? That is them and this is us. We are not unhappy. In fact, we are leading perfectly satisfactory lives pursuing our dream of becoming wealthier and having an ever-widening circle of influence.

In this way, we reiterate the story that society has been telling us and commit the same errors that countless others have before us. A belief that accumulation leads to happiness.

Wealth may make our lives more comfortable, and enable us to meet many desires, but it does not equate to happiness.

Oh, just to clarify, wealth may not make us happy, but the absence of wealth does make us unhappy. Enter ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’ to explain this phenomenon. We need sufficient wealth to take care of our physiological and safety needs at a minimum.

Now that we have talked about the elephant in the room, can we focus on how to lead happier lives?

Well, as much as there is neuroscience data around happiness, happiness is not just a set of actions and practices that will provide a universal happy result for all.

Let us start with an obvious question – what made us happy?

We need to be attentive here, not what makes us happy (present), what will make us happy (future), but what made us happy (past). Well and truly happy. Bathroom singing, a pillow fight, dancing in the rain, a card game of bridge, painting for the heck of it?

Chances are, we experienced these in our younger years and have since pushed them to the naughty corner because of what we think is more important to us. Why not bring those moments back to life? Try them out and see how we feel. Or we could do an evidence-based ‘happiness programme’. Or we could build some of these habits that are a catalyst to happiness.

The five habits of a happy life

  1. All in the head: The good and bad news is that happiness is a state of being, something we choose. We are experts at complaining about our circumstances, how unfair life is, and the multiple problems in life. In this way we choose unhappiness.

We can also look at the bright side, what is working for us. In this way we choose happiness.

  1. Comparison: No matter how high we climb, there is always a ‘Jones’ that is ahead of us. Comparison with others is not a good thing, generally, but comparison with those we consider more fortunate creates unhappiness. Instead, we need to appreciate what we already have.

The story goes that a man with torn shoes is unhappy until he sees a man with one leg, walking on crutches. The man with one leg is unhappy until he sees a full-bodied person with paralysis on one side of the body.

Source: iCN Issue 45  (Executive Coaching); pages 28-30

About Sandeep Gupta

Sandeep Gupta is a professional certified coach, a chartered accountant, and a CPA. He is passionate about helping people live a meaningful and fulfilled life focusing on high achievers with his 8-week programme – Explore, Evolve & Emerge. Find out more here: sandeepcoach.com