I enrolled in this six-week course, run by Indian School of Business and taught by Dr. Rajagopal Raghunathan for the simple reason : I wanted to know, what constitutes a happy and fulfilling life.
Prof Raj, seconded from the University of Texas, is such a fun professor that I thoroughly enjoyed the six-week. In the six week, we learned about the seven deadly happiness sin in depth and what are the antidotes for these sins. Prof Raj uses a combination of Philosophy and psychology to deliver his lessons, inviting various experts in the fields as guests, one of which is Dan Ariely from my Irrational Behavior Course.
He defines the objectives of the course:
- To provide an opportunity to discuss one’s life big question : What are the determinants of a happy and fulfilling life?
- To enhance your own happiness levels
- To give you a road map for continuing to lead a life or happiness and fulfillment.
Before we start the course, we were given a Happiness Test and I scored 28/35 – very happy. We were told to take the test again at the end of the course. I knew my score would be high, as practising Buddhism does contribute to my level of happiness. And true enough, one of the topic covered here is Meditation and Mindfulness. Tan Chade Meng’s book, Search Inside Yourself is one of the books recommended.
But how does being mindful help in being happy? Mindfulness is the ability to focus attention in a kind and non-judgmental way on anything that we choose to.
Being mindful makes us happy and we are mindful when we are not happy. To learn more, read Sam Harris’ book Waking Up.
In brief, Happiness means being light-hearted and joyful. It means not taking yourself so seriously that it robs you of the fun of living.
The seven deadly Happiness sins are:
- Devaluing happiness – sacrificing happiness for other things multiple times. Like money, power, position, face, ego…
- Chasing superiority – touted as the biggest killer in happiness
- Being needy or being avoident and asocial
- Being overly control-seeking
- Distrusting others
- Distrusting life – outcome/events
- Ignoring the source within – Source being the state of mindfulness
Psychology and case studies are used to explain why these are happiness sins, and these are probably the most difficult part of the course when you do the quizzes.
To counter these sins, students are given antidotes (how to look for positives in negative situation) and made to practise these in a series of weekly exercises. We were made to write gratitude letters and read to the recipients, do a happy prank on strangers etc. A good exercise we did was to look at a negative past event and find a positive outcome from it. This certainly looks hard but trust me, it gets easier with practise.
At the end of the course, we even have an additional mindfulness camp which is still going on. If you are interested, click on http://happysmarts.com/mindfulness-camp/
Just in case you are wondering, my happiness score went up a notch to 29 after the course.