Today the internet seems to be flooded with happiness, thanks to the fact that many bloggers have chosen the word Happiness for the letter ‘H’ on  Day 8 of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.

I am merely continuing my happiness project reports that I started in January. I missed writing one for March, so I’m combining the two months today.

my happiness project

I didn’t actually launch a blog (that was Gretchen’s plan). Instead I took a hard look at this blog and re-evaluated what was working and what was not. I tweaked a lot things to make sure there was an improvement in loading time and Alexa ranking. And yes, I did reach out and ask for help when I needed it.  But the best thing I did in March was to ‘enjoy now’.  Our week long holiday at Mahabaleshwar consisted of sleeping, eating and reading and taking short trips around that beautiful place. The perfect recipe for happiness – add to that my choice of ‘disconnecting’ from blogging and social media and it was blissful.

Then the madness of preparing for the  A to Z challenge took over and before I knew it we were in April.

myhappinessproject_april2014

Now this is a tough one. As you know I’m not a parent to begin with. But I can think of a few things I can certainly do – starting with, parenting myself. I need to focus a little lot more on my health and spend more time offline. If I were to take the A-Z as a project, then I’m doing that – but I don’t have the joy I had when we did it last year.  I definitely need more time for introspection and writing.

I am also struck by this ‘acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings’. Often, I think I know exactly how another person feels – I guess and respond based on that. Not a very good thing to do at all. I can see some amount of self-protection rearing its head in my interactions with others and this not ‘me’. I need to get back to being the way I was with people – more spontaneous, more open – but minus the naivete of my past.

Whoever said that happiness was easy, huh? Seems to be a lot of hard work! You’ll find an interesting perspective on the ‘skills of happiness’ in a book I recently reviewed – Happiness: The Art of Living With Peace Joy And Confidence. Vidya Sury says that Happiness is a habit. I agree.

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It seems like I’m in heaven –   I get  free books and blog about them. Another cause for happiness, no?

Today I’m doing a review of a book based on my belief that nothing brings happiness like having a good belly laugh. This one I received from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

So here is Laugh Your Way to Happiness: The Science of Laughter for Total Well-Being by Leslie Lyle.

Synopsis – Lesley Lyle presents the surprising scientific evidence that reveals the importance of laughter for our mental and physical health, our prosperity, our relationships, our careers – in fact, every aspect of our lives. Drawing inspiration from Laughter Yoga, a movement founded in India by Dr Madan Kataria that uses laughter and breathing exercises to bring about changes in the health and well-being of thousands of individuals, Lesley reveals:

The scientific evidence of laughter’s beneficial effects on our health, including lowering blood pressure and improving concentration

The emotional aspects of laughter and how it can alleviate anxiety, stress and depression

The spiritual aspects of laughter and how it can help provide a sense of connection and wholeness

My views – While I’m all for laughter and fun, I take issue to laughing for the sake of laughing – especially the type that is doled out by the Laughter Yoga Movement of Dr Kataria. I’ve attended a couple of sessions of this at Jindals and just couldn’t get myself to laugh when I’m told to. Anyone who knows me, will tell you that I’ll laugh till I’m red in the face at the silliest of things – however, something in me just refuses to do these exercises!

So as nice as this book might be, I don’t buy the concept. What made it worse for me was Lesley including emails from Dr Kataria, that ended with “Ha ha ho ho ha ha”. I think that was carrying the joke too far! 😉

I’ll be honest and tell you I skimmed through this book. Don’t get me wrong the whole concept might appeal to someone else and the writing and presentation of the of book are fine. Only I was the wrong person to read it.

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To completely contradict what I said about happiness being hard work (I was not serious about that), let me remind you that happiness is all about the simple pleasures – enjoying and learning to draw happiness and contentment from them.

wisdom from a flower

A Zen roshi is dying. All of the monks gather-and eagerness restrained-around the deathbed, hoping to be chosen as the next teacher. The roshi asks slowly, Where is the gardener?”
“The gardener,” the monks wonder aloud. “He is just a simple man who tends the plants, and he is not even ordained.”
“Yes,” the roshi replies. “But he is the only one awake.
He will be the next teacher.”

Happiness is learning to ‘stay awake’ – to be aware of all that’s wonderful around and within us. Life is good, and happiness can be simple!

What does happiness mean to you?

This post is written for the letter ‘H’ for the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014. Jose and I are doing the challenge on our From 7Eight too.

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