My Take on Increasing Life Expectancy and Happiness
During a recent leadership workshop, ideas and conversations somehow diverted to discussions on happiness at work and on quality of life and their determinants. While a lot of factors influence one’s take on these topics, I feel elements like cultural aspects, mindsets, conscience and expectations play a crucial role in determining the shape of one’s quality of life. How we manoeuvre these ingredients decide the life we live and the success that we achieve.
Life is full of challenges and failures and the way an individual deals with these situations ascertain the opportunities and successes that come one’s way. Unlike what many think, most of the successful people too experience numerous failures but what sets them apart is not just how they handle their success but also how they celebrate their failures. Personally, I feel not everyone is born with the resilience and strength to smoothly surface out of miserable times. But one thing I always advocate for is that we can train ourselves for it. We can train ourselves to neither dread the failures nor treat them as unforgettable events.
My journey towards understanding failures and the learnings that I could extract from them, started years back on a usual Sunday. As a young boy, I was always excited for Sundays, especially for the scrumptious food that the family relished together. However, this Sunday was a bit different and my father too sensed that I was not in the best of spirits. When everyone else in the family resumed their post lunch Sunday routine, he decided to indulge in a conversation with me. During the course, I expressed that despite putting in my best efforts, few things in my life were not yielding favorable results. As things were not working out as per my plans, I felt that I was failing at life. These failures were leaving me with a feeling of hopelessness and were pulling me down emotionally. What my father told me after this chat, has stayed with me till today and I am never reluctant to pass that on to my daughters and now through this blog with all of you reading this piece.
My father, very simply put that as we go on with our lives, our goals and ambitions keep shifting. Success and failures are hence an inherent and constant part of these shifts. We are adept at celebrating success and ride the wave of joy that it brings, but somehow failures tend to bring our morale down to the extent of self-doubt and the feeling of helplessness. His advice was simple - “learn to celebrate your failures by telling yourself that it cannot get worse than this. Then smile as it instantly makes you feel better and helps you find a new enthusiasm and energy for your goal. This way success will be more meaningful and valuable to you as you learn to move forward by embracing failures.”
This is very powerful and more so in today’s day and age. People are more expressive with social media, sometimes using it as a venting forum. Friends and acquaintances also tend to sympathize with the problems that one shares. But seldom do we realize that this sympathy tucks an individual into a comfort soft zone, one from where he or she rarely feels the need to get out, probably pushing them deeper into a spiral of unhappiness and disappointment. Failure is failure, harsh but it can be won, any kind of sympathy justifying the failure has no relevance. The best that you can do for someone is to tell them that it is okay to fail and it will only get better all they need to do now is to bounce back and keep trying; maybe with a different approach.
Our happiness is also associated with our professions. Often it is linked to our ability and our desire to perform our routine jobs. One may feel deeply dissatisfied if he/she doesn’t like the kind of work they do. It may not always be possible to get the kind of work that you have always wanted to do. You may even have to spend more time on the allocated work than perhaps you want to devote; there will always be a difference. How you deal with these differences will make your journey rich and vivid. The sequence of meeting challenges and failures is never stopping until you are willing to stop and so is your meeting with the successes. It’s only your attitude towards taking the bulls by horns and converting challenges or failures into successes, what makes you what you are in life.
When we learn to master our professions or make it a challenge, it not only drives us forward but more importantly keeps us happy and content. It is a popular belief that a content and stress free life increases the life longevity, but my personal experiences have made me believe that when I am happy with the environment that I have created for myself but there are no challenges, it is a notch below, another and the worst situation is when I am challenged as well as surrounded by unhappiness; but the phase when I am challenged and happy together, I have always been able to create the happiest moments of life and I am sure that it is the best boost to someone’s life expectancy. Can we look at building this attitude for leading a good happy, long and healthy life? This is not easy, but if you can train yourself to improve your mental strength and align it with your inner sense, it will surely bear the fruits. It will equally help you to set your own benchmarks and help in conquering the challenges. The impact you want to make on your work or on people around you is a sheer reflection of your inner well-being. There are always some preferences and ideal circumstances that one feels comfortable with, but making the best out of your reality and being truly happy doing it, success or failure aside - will sow the seeds for you to realize your dreams.
Life is not an aim or a state of nirvana, it’s here, it’s today and it’s every day. Do what you do with passion and conviction, take pride in what you do, the results will follow, the happiness will follow and so will the best quality of life!