Dr. Rajesh K. Pillania
Professor of Strategy, MDI, Gurgaon
Life is precious. It is a beautiful gift. However, the way we live may not be the right way. There is something fundamentally, not right. Something is missing in our lives. It is time we stop for at least a few minutes and rethink and relook at our lives.
Look at the level of stress. It has reached an alarming level. A simple google search will give us alarming data on different aspects of stress damaging our lives. It is among one of the biggest medical problems of our society today. Look at so many unhappy faces and people all around us. Look at the suicide rates. We know about it, we might be making some efforts in bits and pieces about it, but we don’t do much in a systematic and comprehensive manner about it.
A simple google search on happiness gives 1,05,00,00,000 results (Feb 20, 2021 at 11.09am). The same search for stress gives 1,24,00,00,000 results (Feb 20, 2021 at 11.10am). We cannot continue living the same way. There is a need for a major course correction.
We need to reduce our stresses and add more happiness to our lives. Though happiness is one of the main goals of life, unfortunately, there is not much education on how to be happy. It is time we add happiness education at all levels of education and have a happiness strategy in our education and our lives.
In my class last week, I asked students when they will be happy? And the answers were the usual suspect of achieving some target or goal in life and then be happy. This is the wrong way to look at happiness. We are in search of happiness since time immoral. However, our fundamental assumption about happiness is incorrect, i.e. to be happy after reaching some goal or target. This is because there is no formal education on happiness. If there is at least one course in different levels of our education system on happiness strategy, we will not be making this mistake.
A comprehensive and holistic course on happiness strategy should clear the basic fundamentals and should be focused on the practice and application of happiness strategy in students’ life. A focus on application and practice is a must otherwise, it will not serve its purpose. We know very well how many courses are just theory but never practised, and though both students and teachers feel good about completing the course, it adds little or no value to anyone.
There is a lot of research on happiness. Many great philosophers have talked about happiness. Many poets and story writers have written about it. In the last two decades, there is a lot of scientific research on happiness. Researchers from different streams such as economics, psychology, neurology and others are studying different aspects of happiness. There is a good amount of research on what, why and how of happiness. There is a lot of research articles, books, seminars and conferences on different aspects of happiness. The point is there is no dearth of research and material on happiness, and many aspects of it, such as what, why and how, etc., are well documented. What is lacking is a more systematic, comprehensive and holistic application of these findings at a more fundamental level of our lives and in our education system.
A good happiness strategy course or a happiness strategy for life should focus on five elements, namely work and related aspects; relationships including friends and family; health including mental and physical; philanthropy and concern for society; and spirituality or religion (Pillania, 2019). All these appear to be so obvious and common sense, but we don’t practice it (Pillania, 2021).
Similar to the way we make an investment portfolio, we need to create a portfolio of these five aspects where we invest our time, efforts, energy and other resources such as money. Many of us make the mistake of focusing too much on work and related aspects in this rat race of life. Many times this results in broken relationships and lost health. And tragically, then we spend that hard-earned money to get back the health or start new relations.
The key message or takeaway is to have a happiness strategy for our lives and a happiness strategy course at different levels of our education system to practice the art of happiness regularly. This will help in reducing stress levels. This will help medical and allied health services. This will help in leaving a much better, beautiful, and more fulfilling life.
And no time is better than today to start it. Start it from today, from now onwards, and stay on the course. As we have food every day, we need to reach a level where we feel happiness daily. And we can see the wonders the daily practice of happiness brings to different aspects of our life and life itself.
Pillania, R. K. (2019). Happiness Strategy: Happiness and Strategy for Everyone. Invincible Publishers: New Delhi.
Pillania, R. K. (2021). Happiness Diary: My Experiments with Happiness. Invincible Publishers: New Delhi.
The author is a Professor of Strategy at Management Development Institute, Gurgaon. He is ranked jointly #1 in average research productivity in India and awarded top strategy professor in India. His expertise is in making strategy, innovation, and happiness as simple, humorous, and applicable.