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THE HAPPINESS PARADOX

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If there is one thing that I would have liked to have known when I was 18 or 19 years old, it is this, amazing piece of wisdom “the Goal of Life, is not to be successful…. it is to be happy”

Every one of us wants to be happy.  But the Paradox of Happiness is that, the harder you “try” to be happy, the less happy you seem to be”.  You are either happy or you are not.  You cannot fake it till you make it.   

Most people confuse happiness with success, thinking they are one and the same thing.  I was no different.  Having qualified as a Chartered Accountant, I was consumed with a burning desire to reach the Pinnacle of my Profession.   At a relatively young age of 40, I achieved that Pinnacle, when I was admitted to the Partnership of “Ernst & Young” one of the top 4 leading accounting firms in the World. Of course, to get there, I had to step on a few toes, knock out the competition and cut a few corners on the “moral-ethical” compass, but then that’s just the way it is right? Right?   

Four years after reaching the “TOP” I quit.  I had everything. The power of the Boardrooms, the glamour of 7 star hotels, “business class” flights and wealth beyond my wildest dreams. Yet, I felt miserable and …Disillusioned. As a friend of mine at EY said, “Nyaz, even if you succeed in the rat rat-race, you are still a rat”. The harder I chased success, the less happy I was. Because I believed that success was happiness.

I am not an enlightened person or a happiness Guru.  I don’t claim to have discovered the recipe to resolve the Happiness Paradox. But there are 4 essential ingredients in that recipe that have I have learnt the hard way. Thought I would share those with you.  Those 4 essential ingredients are Forgiveness, Acceptance, Gratitude and Experiences, which I call the FAGE principle.

Forgiveness: Holding and carrying grudges is a burden that weighs us down. When we let go of that burden by forgiving those who we think has wronged us, we remove one of the obstacles to happiness.

Acceptance: There are things in our lives and in other people that we can neither control nor influence.  Bad things and bad people happen in everyone’s lives. We have a choice. We can moan and groan, wallow in self-pity.  Or we can simply “be” and accept what happens as a part of life.  When we do that, we remove another obstacle to happiness.

Gratitude: Much has been written and said about the power of gratitude.  All of it is true. I started maintaining a “Gratitude Journal” jotting down things I felt were a privilege I dint do anything to deserve.  Try it. It works wonders in removing the obstacles to happiness.

Experience:  Invest your time and your wealth in creating new experiences, not in acquiring things. Even the most expensive and precious object you own will never give you as much happiness as, say, taking a vacation with your family.  The experiences you acquire and the memories they create are a true source of your happiness. Objects are actually an obstacle to happiness.

Practicing the FAGE principles is not easy. The lures and trappings of “success” will always be more compelling and attractive. But then as I said, in the beginning, the goal of life is not to be successful but to be happy.  Give happiness a chance. 

All the best.

DISTRICT 105

Where Leaders Are Made