Thursday, May 12, 2016

A way for happiness

Acclaimed psychological researcher Raj Raghunathan, in his book If You’re So smart Why Aren’t you Happy?, speaks about bringing happiness in your life. Sapna Sarfare finds out how… 

Raj Raghunathan
It is not always that success and happiness mean the same thing. Behind every successful person, there might be a unhappy person waiting for something to bring a smile to his existence. Many ask question regarding what can make a happy & fulfilling life and what are its true determinants.
Here’s where acclaimed psychological researcher Raj Raghunathan comes in the picture with his new book on finding answers for happiness for all. The well-researched book, If You’re So smart Why Aren’t you Happy?, reveals the path to finding true success of love, importance and control which will bring in lasting happiness. The book is published by publishing giant Penguin Random House UK.
A popular blogger for Psychology Today, Raj Raghunathan happens to be an Associate Professor at the University of Texas McCombs Scholl of Business. He received the Best MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) 2015 for his free online course – A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment.

How would you really define this book? Is it a self-help book or there is something more to the book?
It’s a scientifically-based book that addresses one of life’s big questions: What are the determinants of a happy and fulfilling life? In doing so, it arrives at a set of recommendations that are relatively easy to implement, but eventually lead to a set of deep-rooted changes. If you want to call that a self-help book, I (Raj Raghunathan) am totally fine with it. But it’s important to note that this book is based entirely on scientific findings - and is not faith-based.

Your book is the outcome of your interactions with successful; friends who were unhappy. What were the specific pointers that made you think a book is a good way to help others with similar problems?
I wouldn’t really say that the book is the outcome of my interactions with friends who are successful and still unhappy. I would say that observing the unhappiness of smart-and-successful people (me included) motivated me to explore the topic further. 
The book emerged organically from this exploration. I first started teaching a course on the topic, and then started blogging about some of the course content on Psychology Today. I then taught an online course on the topic - a course that was rated the Best MOOC of 2015. I finally took all of the content and experience and synthesized it in the book.

How are the book’s contents aid the readers in realising issues and getting a solution by themselves?
The book is written in a “user friendly” way. That is, despite being based on science, it does not use jargon. I also weave in many personal anecdotes & stories to help the reader better relate to the material. Finally, I have many exercises that I recommend to the reader. The reader can do these exercises on my website ( Doing these exercises will help the reader assimilate the concepts in the book better and see for him or her that it’s possible to put in place a recipe that leads to happiness and fulfillment. 

Is the book really for anybody who wants to find the true meaning of happiness?
It’s a book for anybody who is a “serious seeker” – someone who is deeply interested in figuring out the answer to the question, “what are the determinants of a happy and fulfilling life?” I feel that almost everyone – even if some does not realize it - is interested in the question. Some believe that they already know what it takes to lead such a life. Even these people will find the book interesting (because it covers a lot of science that they may not be aware of) – providing they are open-minded. 

How do you balance teaching marketing and helping people seek happiness? They are so different topics from each other from my point of view.
Ultimately, the aim of any business is (or should be) to improve the welfare of the customers. (Even if a firm wants to make a profit, it can only do so by improving the welfare of customers.) What better way to do this than by understanding what makes the happy and trying to improve their emotional well-being? After all, isn’t that what we all ultimately seek? 
So, I really don’t see any conflict between teaching marketing and teaching happiness. I would say they are complementary topics, even if this doesn’t seem apparent at first. 

How have the readers responded as yet? Any interesting stories to share
It's early days yet, but I have already had a few readers write back to me. They find the fact that I have so many resources available: the online course, my website, and the book (which, by the way, is available in e-book and audio versions as well), to be very helpful. A few of them are doing all three at once! 

Lastly, do share one tip for happiness whether successful or not.
Ultimately, you can’t really sustain a state of happiness unless you feel a sense of abundance – that is, that you have everything you need in life and more. Of course, it’s difficult for those living in conditions of scarcity (e.g., war or poverty struck zones) to feel this sense of abundance, but the rest of us can feel this way. And all of the exercises in the book are, in one way or another, aimed at nurturing this sense of abundance. 
One simple (but powerful) exercise is to maintain a gratitude journal. Just make a note of three good things that happened to you each day. They needn’t be anything big. Even little things like, ‘a stranger smiled at me’ or ‘I found a rupee on the road’ will do. You’d be surprised at how big an effect this has on your happiness if you do it for even just 2 weeks. 


AUTHOR: Raj Raghunathan
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House UK
GENRE: Self-help, Personal Development & Psychology
LANGUAGE: English 
PRICE: Rs 499
PAGES: 352 

Photo Credit for Raj Raghunathan's Photo:


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Rekha Shukla said...

Ultimately, you can’t really sustain a state of happiness unless you feel a sense of abundance – that is, that you have everything you need in life and more.
Happiness is within :)

Rekha Shukla said...

Congratulations !!