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Off the happiness checklist

If you are pushing 30 and still looking for the fountain of youth, maybe you need to change the parameters of your search. Consider what youth (especially children) have that adults don’t. It all boils down to their ability to self-produce internal happiness. Happiness is the best brand of confidence, the greatest precursor of success and an all-natural make over that glamorises everyone and anyone.

South Asians, as a society, often adhere to a set criterion that defines what it means to be happy. Your aunty next door has a list of 5 items or so, that when checked off, ought to qualify you as a gloriously happy person. If you’re a woman, your list may be even shorter; as long as you have a technical education, a doctor spouse, and a beautiful family to serve, you ought to be on cloud 9. Remember Ariel (The Little Mermaid) reaching up to the light? “But I want mooooore.” That summarises my response to that list!

So what happens when you can’t find happiness within the materialistic and mundane confines of your culture’s or society’s definition? As a modern woman walking on the eggshells of a traditional culture, you’ll find your stilettos in a mess. You’ll likely not get out without being accused of being ungrateful and impossible to satisfy with your “feminist whims”. Clearly there is no happiness to be had in this region of your heritage, and so you must change directions, or rather definitions.

Life coaching gurus will bleat out the same old “you can’t buy happiness” jargon, and since you’re running away from a superficial definition of happiness, you’ll be very inclined to believe them. But you can buy happiness. Spend your money on experiences rather than things. Travel, do things you’ve never done before with the people you’ve always loved, and throw out a few bucks in the direction of your nearest dream.

Generosity fuels internal happiness like hoarding never can. No, I’m not getting preachy; I’m stating a scientific fact. Buying someone a gift, making a charitable donation or volunteering for a worthy cause are activities that actually stimulate the brain to be happy. You don’t have to be an angel to do the work of one; our biological wiring can naturally charge the spirit. Apparently, we humans were created to be good to each other.

Keeping a ready supply of attainable goals on hand is also one of the greatest secrets to happiness. When we are working towards a goal, the motivation spurs happiness and the achievement pinnacles it. But as soon we hit the climax, the falling action starts to dissatisfy us. This is where you need to have chapter 2 ready and waiting; a long term plan.

Know that the happiness of achieving your goal will be short lived; soon enough, you’ll start looking for the high that comes with chasing another one. So while you race towards the finish line, keep looking above and beyond it. That is enough spiritual adrenaline to keep a woman happy until ripe old age.

There are a lot of things in life that suck, so happiness can’t be dependent on things or circumstances. It has to be a honed and conscious habit, one that your culture may criticise, but your brain will thank you for.

 — Summer Yasmin

‘No Sex in the City’ is inspired by the popular TV show Sex and the City, and is a voice representing Desi romance and culture in all its complexities!

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