By Shubhra Krishan

More than a decade ago, an American researcher called David Lykken made a rather drastic and depressing statement about happiness. He said, “Trying to be happier is as futile as trying to be taller.”

But rejoice! He quickly confessed that he had made a ‘dumb’ statement. I’m glad that he did confess, because I know for sure that happiness can be ours for the taking.

I asked some of my friends to tell me their happiness secrets because I love hearing from people how they enrich their lives. Here’s what they told me:

“I Call a Friend”

Anita Thakur, 29, website owner

Why it works: Chatting up with a pal fulfills the very human need to feel close, connected and intimate. Each time I share some good news with a friend, the joy doubles. When I’m sad, reaching out to a friend makes sure my misery is halved.

How I make it happen:  I’ve learned to say,  ”let’s meet more often,” when I actually mean it. If it means a choice between some supposedly important chore and catching up with my best friend over coffee, I nearly always choose the latter, and I’m always glad I did.

“I Try to Stay Positive”

Amita Dewan, 32, shopowner

Why it works: Well, as they say, “at the end of the journey the pessimist might well turn out to be right, but at least the optimist has a more fun ride.” Luckily for me, I’m blessed with ‘happy genes.’ So, a few years ago, when I lost my purse in the middle of a crowded market, I refused to think it wouldn’t come back. Everyone scoffed, saying, “Nobody returns a free load of money,” (and my purse contained a load.) But guess what — someone actually called and returned it!

How I make it happen:  I practice replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.  So, ‘I can’t’ and ‘it won’t’ become ‘I can’ and ‘It Will.’ Try it. Works every time!

“I Do Something”

Sylvia, 49,  homemaker

Why it works: I believe studies show that action encourages ‘the happiness hormone,’ endorphins, to flow fast and easy. I’m no researcher, but I’ve seen that this is so true. When I’m feeling low, I clean out a cupboard, or roll out some pastry, or go out for a brisk walk.

How I make it happen: I’ve learned to replace ‘mindless’ activity such as watching television or playing a video game with positive action: earlier, I used to let myself sink into the couch with a bag of chips, and that just made everything worse. Now, I can take most difficulties head on, because I make the right moves!

“I Do Nothing”

Anand Srivastava, 55, businessman

Why it works: Meditation or even just sitting in stillness for a while helps you tune out of your stresses and tune in to your pure consciousness, where there’s nothing but calm and happiness. I’ve discovered that my mind is clearer afterwards, which helps me make the right decisions, leading to more happiness.

How I make it happen: I practice Transcendental Meditation, or dhyana.

So different strokes for different folks, but one happy goal. Take their secrets and smile — because whatever the dictionary might tell you, happiness is actually a verb!

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