24. LEARN YOUR ABCs
Last year, in September, the National Literacy Trust in the UK issued a warning about the ills of poor reading skills—especially among men. Forty-three per cent live alone, compared with 30% of men with good literacy skills. Only 50% are “satisfied with life so far”, compared with 78% of men with good literacy skills. Lahar Appaiah, 30, a corporate lawyer, says reading improves his relationships, as it gives him “a greater experience of empathy and sympathy”.
To find your favourite authors, head to the Kolkata Book Fair, which is on from 28 January to 8 February. Or, visit the Pink City to attend the Jaipur Literary Fair where you can get reading tips from your favourite authors. It runs from 21-25 January.
26. BAT YOUR LASHES
“It’s like a kabaddi situation, the cat-and-mouse game itself gives you an adrenalin rush, endorphins are released, it’s very innocent and you can cross boundaries that you normally won’t in civilized conversation. And, it’s good for me,” grins Anirvan Mukherji, 33, who intends to be single and flirt “way into the foreseeable future”. But it’s more than just fun. Mukherji, an account manager with an ad agency in New Delhi, says harmless flirting with his colleagues makes him approachable, breaks the ice, makes light of uncomfortable situations and “lets people know I have a good sense of humour”.
27. RIDE THE KAMIKAZE
Throwing caution to the wind, and throwing yourself into the wind, amps up the adrenalin like few things can. Niranjan Reddy, 27, a New Delhi-based commodity trader, loves the rush of adrenalin he gets from amusement park rides. He says you can’t get this kind of high anywhere else in the world: “It’s this kick you get in the head.” Though he’s been to parks in Thailand, his favourite is the WonderLa Amusement Park in Bangalore, since it mixes water rides with dry rides. Other popular spots to head for a thrill are Entertainment City in Noida and Essel World in Mumbai.
28. BANG THE DRUM
The right raga with the right ‘taal’ (rhythm) at the right time—and whatever the problem may be, you can create a musical world of your own and get lost in it.”
Pandit Vishwanath Mishra, Veteran table player
29. GET CAMERA HAPPY
Flipping through the photo album gives people a far greater sense of happiness than chocolate, music, food or wine. A 2007 study conducted by Peter Naish, a psychologist at the Open University, UK, shows that looking at photos improves “a person’s sense of relaxation, brightness, calmness and alertness”. For a modern-day photograph album, sign up for a beautifully bound coffee-table book full of your favourite snaps, which you can design online at My Publisher (www.mypublisher.com). A book of 20 pages costs $29.80 (around Rs1,410).
30. START WORKING
It seems pretty simple but too often charity work makes it last on the to-do list. After the 2002 Gujarat riots, actor Rahul Bose made the leap from social consciousness to social activism, and it was not just some selfless move, he says: “When you are single-minded about the pursuit of happiness and something comes into your life that makes you unhappy, it only stands to logic that you try to remove that.” Bose helped with the Akshara Centre in Mumbai that helps young women find employment. “I felt so happy, not because I was making some earth-shattering difference to their lives, but it was because I felt really useful.”
After the 2004 tsunami, Bose set up The Foundation, which helps educate children from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
31. FLIP A COIN
In Why Flip a Coin? The Art and Science of Good Decision Making, mathematician H.W. Lewis sets out to systematically prove that too many people waste too much time niggling over choices. His solution? People should narrow down the options depending on their personal set of standards and then just flip a coin. Making a decision relieves the stress of uncertainty, and people are far more likely to be upset about a decision not made than to regret a decision taken.
32. SWEAT. SERIOUSLY, SWEAT
As that wise philosopher Elle Woods (of Legally Blonde fame) once said: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.” Exercising, even for just 10 minutes a day, can increase your metabolism, help relieve stress and yes, boost endorphins. Managing director of Fitness First India, Vikram Aditya Bhatia says his favourite places to run include Central Park in New York, Lombard Street in San Francisco, the waterfront at Williams Town in Melbourne, and the run around the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in Sydney.
33.DON’T BE GROUCHO MARX
The loudmouth Marx brother famously declared: “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member!” But Groucho Marx had it wrong: Clubs are worth joining, simply for the benefit of strengthening relationships—a key component in the search for happiness. Anand Krishnamoorthi, 28, a sound engineer in Chennai, can attest to that. A friend of his organizes Chennai photo walks, where strangers gather to cruise around the city and take photographs. “I made a lot of friends, as well as I met new people.”
34. DON’T MAKE A JOKE OF YOURSELF
“You have to believe in what you’re saying. You have to know the joke. When in doubt, slow it down. Don’t fly through the punch line. Never tell a joke you have to explain. Know what jokes work in what environment.”
Papa CJ, stand-up comedian
For more advice, head to ‘www.papacj.com’ and ask him how to be funny
35. LAUGH, EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO FAKE IT
In 1906, a French physician hypothesized that feeling happy can come after the smile. It took 80 years, but neuroscience finally proved Israel Waynbaum’s theory that subjective experience of emotions follows facial expressions. In 1995, Mumbai-based physician Dr Madan Kataria pushed people to laugh while engaging in yoga because the body can’t tell the difference between fake laughter and real laughter, so the physiological effect—the “happy” effect—is the same. Michelle Stockman, 31, a Columbia graduate student visiting India, took a class and said: “It wasn’t hard to force myself to laugh because the people who were doing it were so funny to watch—it’s just infectious. At first you’re laughing at them, then they are laughing at you laughing at them, then everybody is laughing.”
36. MAKE ART
According to the American Art Therapy Association, the creative process involved in art-making is healing and life enhancing. No wonder Delhi-based artist and animator Pragna Sheela Samanta, 34, gets a high from playing around with her oil paints. “It’s just joyous to take a lot of bright colours, like red, green, a calming blue, pretty pink and scatter them on paper and do whatever you want… You don’t need any drawing skills to do that,” says Samanta. Her recommended medium is oil pastels, “which have a beautiful texture and you don’t need any preparation to start drawing”. So go paint the town Pantone 1795C (or, red in layman’s terms)!
37. BUY A DOGHOUSE
Pets—dogs in particular—extend life spans, increase happiness levels and make us chipper, according to a 2008 survey conducted by PetSmart. The animal welfare organization, People for Animals has set up a weekly adoption of mixed breed Indian dogs at Select Citywalk mall, Saket, New Delhi. So far, 70 puppies have found homes. There’s a mandatory donation of Rs250. Chairperson Maneka Gandhi, who lives with 11 strays, says, “If you get an Indian stray dog, you’ll live happily ever after without having to worry” because they have solid immune systems.
38. PUSH THE RIGHT BUTTONS
Die-hard reflexologists say the foot is the pathway to every organ in the body. Detractors claim it just isn’t so. But no one denies the fact that a foot massage feels mighty good.
Try the therapies at AromaThai Foot Spa: Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mahalaxmi, and Pali Hill, Bandra, Mumbai. Prices range from around Rs690 to Rs1,290.
39. GO BACK TO SCHOOL
Advertising agency writer Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan, 26, always loved history classes in school. So when a friend recommended that Gopalakrishnan attend a free lecture on the history of Tamil Nadu once a month, he jumped at the chance. He likes it so much, he says he wants to try lecturing about the subject one day himself. Try a language course offered through most embassies in New Delhi, an art history course at the Indian International Centre, New Delhi, or, as in the case of Gopalakrishnan’s course, check out listings in Yahoo! Groups for classes in your neighbourhood.