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How can we make this World a better place by "BEING HAPPY"?


I was at the beach in the South of France in June when suddenly a severe pain in the lower back got me. I was diagnosed with a case of three severe slip discs
and the immediate option was an operation to put two Titanium nails along my spine – which I refused. The next option was to be on a heavy dose of pain killers
– which I  also  refused.  The  last  option  was  diligent physiotherapy  every  day  and  meditation  to reduce the pain – which is the path I adopted.So  during 
the  past  three  months,  as  I  was grounded  in  Prague,  I  could  not  travel  with Jacqueline  and  Virat  to  Ethiopia  or  with Šimon Pánek to Afghanistan but
I had a lot of physiotherapy, meditated a lot and had lots of time to myself so I am going to share with you some of the research that I have found working
successfully in my case in the hope that some of you may find it useful too.  :-)


Research on positive psychology conducted by Shawn Achor & Dan Gilbert at Harvard, Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania and others  elsewhere, 
came  to  the  following conclusions:  

1.  Our usual thinking  is  “if  I  achieve    success,  I will be Happy” or “ if I get that promotion, I will be Happy” or “if I get to marry a particular person of my dreams,
I will be Happy.” Firstly, Happiness is a path and not a destination and the research shows that  money, success, trophy husband or wife provide momentary joy, but
do not have a  lasting  effect  on  the  level    of  Happiness  of any  individual  over  the  slightly  longer  period. Secondly, and equally importantly, the other
thing that conditional happiness does is tells us that we are not happy as we are ( which is not a  true  statement).  Research  also  showed  that we have spent a lifetime
convincing ourselves that  we  are  unhappy  and  setting  targets  of conditional  Happiness.  We  are  naturally  hard wired for Happiness and can easily link into this
Hardwired Happiness, if we decide to.

2.  Happiness  can  be  determined  by  the external  environment  of  individuals  by  no more than 10-15% and 85-90% is internal to the person. We all have
a genetic set point and we return to this set point over time irrespective of the events in our life.  Events in our life remain the same – our reaction to those events and to
what  is  happening  around  us  determines  our level of Happiness.

3. “Money can buy happiness.” - But only if used for others or philnanthropic purposes. Research showed that teams that  asked its members to spend money
on their team members became stronger  and  winning  teams  and  people  who spent  money  not  on  themselves  were  much happier than those who spent
the same money on themselves.  

4.  Leading  a  meaningful  life  with  a  higher purpose  (beyond  self)  leads  to  happiness. People  who  had  a  purpose  in  Life  were substantially
Happier than those who did not.

5. Leading an engaged life “In the flow” where we really enjoy doing whatever we do most of the time. People who really enjoyed what they did and did it passionately
were much Happier than those who were just doing something to make a living or even made a lot of money but did not really enjoy it.  As Mahatma Gandhi said:
“HAPPINESS is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in Harmony.”

The  good  news  is  that  when  we  are  Happy Productivity goes up by up to over 50% and Creativity by over 300%. It is a state which we call  “in the zone” or “in the flow”.
I can only imagine  what    happens    to  profitability  when that happens  on an ongoing basis. :-)There  is  clear  evidence  in  the  research    that instead of thinking we
will be Happy when we are successful, if we make ourselves Happy – we will most likely be successful.Now that is great research but how can we use it to make ourselves Happy.

The other good news is that Happiness is a skill that can be learnt just like football or piano or golf and so this set point for each individual can
be moved upwards with simple  practice. :-)


The research at  Harvard  lays out a recipe for everyday  Happiness  which  should  not  take
more than 30 min everyday:

1. Be grateful for 3 things in our life every day.
2. Exercise for at least 10-15 minutes.
3. Meditate for at least 2-5 minutes.
4. Write a positive message to someone (we don‘t necessarily have to know this person)
5. Start to journal our most positive experience over the past 24 hours.

The last piece of good news that comes from research is that if there is anything we do for 21  days,  it  becomes  a  temporary  habit.  If  we continue to do it for 60 days
it becomes a semi-permanent  habit  and  if  we  continue  for  180 days, it becomes a permanent habit or second nature and could even become our attitude. :-)
Now  trying  to  get  value  for  money,  I  would say 30-90 hours of our time for a lifetime of Happiness, much higher Creativity, Productivity and all the other ripple
effects that would come with it may not be such a bad deal, especially when  it is capable of increasing our longevity by 10 – 20 years and keeps us younger than our
age all through those years. :-)

Also,  when  we  look  for  gratitude  every  day,  exercise & meditate every day, look for positive messages and journal those positive messages, we  become 
much  more  compassionate people and because the Human brain is a single processor,  it  eliminates  or  takes  the  place  of negative thoughts as a habit
and makes us more at peace with ourselves - as the Dalai Lama said: “If I am more compassionate, I am the one who benefits the most with inner

And “BEING HAPPY” could become our second nature  irrespective  of  the  happenings  in  the World around us.

At a deeper level we need to:

1. Re-craft our life to use our strengths so that we are “in the flow”as much time as possible. In  other  words  we  should  do  more  of  the
things we are passionate about. :-)
2.  Use  our  strengths  for  something  bigger than ourselves – in other words “find a higher purpose  in  life”  and  accept  vulnerability
instead of pretending to be who we are not. :-)

Abraham  Lincoln  once  said:  “People  are  as HAPPY as they make up their minds to be.”

And  now  so  many  years  later  there  is  real research on positive psychology from Harvard and  other  universities  done  on  successful
outliers  that  actually  proves  that  Abraham Lincoln  knew  then  what  we  know  today  - scientifically.

Can you imagine what could happen if we all brought this to our companies and further still to  our  families,  our  children  and  even  to  our
schooling system where not just the present but the future generations would grow up happier and lead much happier lives. Research shows
that  “happier  people  are  more  responsible, more ethical and more morally sound as well as mentally & spiritually more affluent”.

So  finally,  we  as  Human  beings  have  one thing , just one thing,  TO BE  on our agenda besides all the to do lists. If the to do lists were
so  important,  we  would  probably  be  called Human doings and not Human Beings.

My back is now much better & doctors hope that, at this rate, I will recover nearly fully in the next 6-9 months – which is miraculous. :-)

But we have to start with ourselves as opinion leaders because - as the famous saying goes   “I cannot hear what you say because I see what
you do”  if we  practice it , we will be able to spread this simple message and  Hopefully one day – make this World a better place to live in
for our children and Grand children by simply BEING HAPPY. :-)

Sanjiv Suri