In a recent “Times of India” article under the speaking tree section, there was an interesting article “Five Gems That Are Parameters of Happiness” by Damodar Pandita Dasa. I read the article and was trying to relate to my favorite movie of all times ‘ Pursuit of Happyness“. Coinciding with this reflection was also a podcast where I witnessed Naval Ravikant explaining his point of view on happiness. It was a Saturday that gave me a chance, an opportunity to delve into this trite subject and the question which keeps getting asked, ” What is happiness?”
In the article, Dasa tries to extend the question by asking, “Can it be encapsulated in a formula? He then goes on to cite the historic meeting between Alexander the great and the scantly clad Greek philosopher, Diogenes. Happiness for Alexander was all about relishing the best of food, clothing, wealth, and ever-increasing power. Diogenes on the other hand believed that happiness is attained by leading a life of simplicity free from the constant struggle for wealth and power. Alexander was in search of happiness and was later heard saying, ” If I were not Alexander, I would be happy to be Diogenes!“.
Let us now take a look at this scene from Pursuit of Happyness. One of my all-time favorite movie scenes from ” Pursuit of Happyness”. This scene is so imprinted in my mind. Chris asks the guy who is getting out of the car two Questions: What you do? How you do it? The voice-over of Chris in that scene after seeing all the people coming out of the stock trade building says, ” They all looked damn happy to me, Why couldn’t I look like that? Chris was going through the nadir of his life and he was not happy at all in his life. His wife had left, he had to take care of his son, the money was just enough for both of them to meet their ends. His sales career was also plummeting. As they say, we need a goal to improve our lives. The next part of the movie of course covers his perseverance and how he made it to become a stockbroker. Now when somebody is going through this tough phase of life it is certain that he or she will wish to improve the conditions and starts to look at all the worldly desires. I am so much in agreement here with Chris as he found a goal in that red car and Red tie even though these are materialistic possessions that will bring happiness to him.
Meet Naval Ravikant who has influenced me a lot to figure out what does it mean to become happy and fulfilled.
I came to know of Naval’s work through his tweets which appeared in the Economic Times. I was very fascinated with his view of the world. I have seen him quoted by podcasters like Tom Bilyeu in his impact quotes. While I was reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris, I came across his Naval rules which encapsulated very nicely some of his philosophies of the world. The best Quote which appeared there was this one about Desire above which caught my attention as desired.
Recently I stumbled on his podcast with Joe Rogan. While I was watching that alone in my room, my wife joined me and told me that she was hearing it from the other room and was very fascinated with his theories. So let me share some of his insights we have culled together from that podcast in particular which I was able to relate closely. He used the word ” Happy as a clam” and said that he found happiness before he became rich. He goes on to say that he went from an unhappy to a happy place through practice, effort-based approaches, and realizations. He says, ” Happiness is an extremely loaded term and means different things to different people”. I instantly concurred with him on this idea. I started thinking, ” What makes me happy?” I found the answer in Naval’s definition.
Happiness Formula = Health + Wealth + Good Relationships
Never before have we considered Health as we do today. Last week in all my calls with my colleagues the first few questions I asked were, How are you? How is your health and your family’s? This is an important time where we are being tested and let us all wish everyone good health. Wealth to me is leverage. If I am ambitious, money should facilitate it. In it itself money is inert but when it is traded it brings value. I love to buy books, take online classes, and spend money on personal development workshops and money has been great leverage. My circle of friends with whom I am in touch on an ongoing basis gives me that tribe vibe, security, and care when I think of relationships.
My introspection after seeing Alexander who compares with Diogenes, Chris Gardner who compared with the outside happy faces is that they were seeking external happiness. It was also life-affirming when Naval quotes Confucius, “A happy person wants ten thousand things, a sick person wants only one thing.” It is said that Unlimited desires cloud your happiness. Don’t focus on more than one desire at a time. He went on to say that it took him eight years to make that shift to happiness. In every moment and everything that happens, you can look at the bright side of something. He used to do it forcibly, trained it until it became second nature. Happy thoughts go out of our heads automatically, negative thoughts linger. Some of the hacks are to be in sunlight, learn to smile more, spend more time in nature, hug ( not in these times) and always train for seeing the brighter side of life. These are doses of serotonin and feedback loops to be happy.
Here’s where Naval brings his wisdom that leveled me up. Life is a single-player game, it’s all going on in your head. Happiness is a skill and so practice it daily.