Quantifying Happiness

When I was in Engineering, I had a friend who would be upset when he doesn’t get “A” in all subjects where there was this other guy who would give a treat to the whole class if he passes them all in the first attempt.

We all have seen such people in our lives or even we might be one of these two. This led me to think what it is that triggers happiness. What is it that quantifies happiness? Or before that, is quantifying necessary?

When we think of the happiest moments in our lives, we end up thinking about the day we aced in job interviews or the day our crush accepted our proposal or the day we won that cricket world cup final against Sri Lanka.

What we forget are those small moments that make our everyday lives which were the prime reasons for our happiness. Do you remember the day when you cracked a joke and everybody kept laughing for minutes? Do you remember the day when you were able to drink that bottle of Coca Cola faster than your friend? Do you remember the day your least favorite teacher was absent and you got a free class? Or do you remember the day you held your younger sibling in your hands for the first time and he/she smiled looking at you? Or the day when your dad brought your favorite ice-cream and surprised you? Or the day when you found that ten-rupee note in your jeans pocket? If I run a poll today asking whether these moments made you happy or not- for once, it will give a 100% affirmations.

When we think about our daily lives, there are plenty of such moments that make us happy but we are unable to feel those because all our focus is on that long term goal.

There is no doubt that the focus on our goals is must in our lives, but is it really okay to ignore these “smile-worthy moments” during our routine lives?

One day, we were watching this football match between Manchester United and Manchester City and I had put this question in front of my friends. One of them pointed out something that left all of us speechless.

He was arguing that what if we started enjoying these small moments of our daily lives and we ended up being complacent? What if we just end up forgetting our goal?

While the silence was spreading across the room, Rooney scored the goal and this guy just started jumping in joy and kept on screaming till his lungs decided to not participate in this madness. After this sudden joy that he had for four to five minutes, I asked: Do you still remember what your career goal is? He didn’t say anything but I am sure he got the answer. To defend his act, scoring a goal in Manchester Derby isn’t a small thing, is it?

Now, when we are able to find happiness in the small moments, how can we compare the amount of happiness that each of these experiences is providing. One can definitely argue that comparison isn’t required as “anything above zero is always positive”.

But to understand the impact, we can think from the perspective of the time duration for which this happiness lasts. When you crack a joke and everyone laughs, you are happy for a few minutes. But if you keep laughing because of the same joke for a longer duration, it’s you who turns out to be a crack.

But if you converted the interview in your dream company, you will stay happy for long. In fact, you will be able to feel the same happiness when you share this with your loved ones and friends. Thus, the same experience has a repeating positive effect on yourself. In fact, I am sure that while reading this, you are thinking of some specific experience of your life that still brings the same goosebumps and same smile that it did years ago.

This shows us two ways of quantifying happiness. One is the duration for which the impact lasts while the other is the repeating effect of it. Though these small daily moments of your lives won’t energize you for a long time, they are available quite easily. And as any business individual would have said: “Small margins are okay if we are able to increase the quantities”.

In the case of making yourself happy, what you need to do is find these tiny happy moments that are scattered everywhere around you. Now that might be calling your school friend and talking about the day when he was kicked out of the class or it might be pulling your colleague’s leg for the day he spilt coffee over his desk.

It can also be found in sending “I love you” to your mom in the middle of the day or giving an ice cream cone to a roadside beggar. When you think of the social media and widespread of meme pages, you will realize that our whole generation is looking for all these small moments to just laugh while forgetting the numerous hurdles that we need to face 24×7.

In fact, finding a good meme and sharing the same with your colleague sitting in the same room and continuously looking at him while he opens the meme and laughs is also a good example of producing happiness.

Surely, don’t laugh for no reason but do not kill that kid inside you who was able to laugh so easily and so fluently in all the tiny things that happened around him.

Till next time, Ciao!

-Arjuna@War (Parth Shah)

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