Cover Jared Rice/Unsplash (Happiness Program)

The global pandemic has given us time for self-reflection and to think of ways to stay positive and pursue happiness. From gifting chocolates to sharing your stories of isolation online, here are some ways to spread joy to those around you

1. Happiness Programme by Art of Living Foundation

The link between meditation and happiness is well-documented. Daily meditation enables practitioners to adopt a more optimistic and levelheaded approach towards life. To achieve this natural state of happiness, the Art of Living Foundation, an international non-governmental organisation that helms global initiatives in trauma relief and youth empowerment, is offering a three-day Happiness Program. Its trainers employ the Sudarshan Kris yoga technique, a controlled breathing practice that provides relief for depression and decreases cortisol levels, a major stress hormone in the human body. Designed in four two-hour sessions, the programme is now available online.

2. Audio platform

When the world was brought to a standstill in recent months, media personality Anita Kapoor was spurred to think of ways to connect with people during the lockdown, while tuning out from information overload and virtual fatigue. “All of our lives have been impacted in one way or another. [The month of] May felt like the right time to begin and understand what that feeling of isolation and longing to connect the world past the barriers of lockdown was like for everyone,” shares Kapoor. This led her to launch audio platform in June featuring voice recordings from people all over the world describing their current living conditions. By doing so, it leverages the acts of listening and sharing to bring humanity closer. Kapoor says, “The site is a neutral and safe platform for the world to raise awareness about one another’s existence, give space to movements, and to store cycles and waves in the timeline of this world.” 


3. Award-winning chocolate

Chocolate is well-known to have mood-enhancing properties. A 2019 study by the University College London showed that individuals who consumed dark chocolate in two 24-hour periods were 70 per cent less likely to report symptoms related to depression, as compared to those who did not consume any at all. If you're looking to brighten someone's day, consider surprising them with a selection of eight award-winning chocolate products, including the Barre Infernale Pistache: a decadent praline stuffed with whole pistachios from French chocolatier, Pralus Chocolate. The hamper also comes in a reusable bamboo basket, topped with a customised message for that personalised touch. 

(Related:  5 Foods To Eat For A More Positive Outlook)

4. Participate in the Happiness Initiative

The key to happiness lies in science—positive psychology to be exact, which looks at what makes life worth living. “Such a science holds two promises—the prevention of mental health conditions and the cultivation of a more fulfilling life,” says Simon Leow (pictured below right), co-founder of the Happiness Initiative. It was this need to help people discover the choices they can make to improve their happiness and well-being that encouraged the former junior college vice-principal, who has a masters in applied positive psychology, and former commodities trader Sherman Ho (left) to set up the social enterprise, which is behind the Happiness Film Festival and Conference. Starting this month, the Happiness Initiative will run a series of webinars that explores the drivers of wellbeing from two perspectives: self and others, covering themes of purpose, passion, altruism and happiness. Leow explains the science of happiness and well-being.

What is happiness to you?

Happiness is the ability to transcend our self‑centred consciousness in service of others. It seems paradoxical that happiness is a subjective experience and that it gets better when we stop focusing on the subject, that is ourselves. This is our happiness equation: Happiness = Service to Others. When we transcend the focus beyond ourselves, we become happier. And when we shift our focus beyond our own selfish benefits, we become even happier.

(Related: Jeong Kwan On Good Food And The Pursuit Of Happiness)

How is the Happiness Initiative helping people discover the key to sustainable happiness?

Our work revolves around helping people understand the happiness equation. We have identified five broad non exhaustive themes—mindset, passion, purpose, relationship and altruism. Each of these may encompass a number of activities spanning different contexts.


Can you share some ways to be happier?

Learn about the science of happiness and find activities that reduces focus on the self and increases focus on others. Some of these include reframing our thoughts, mindfulness practice, being in nature, engaging in activities that we get “lost” in, volunteering, and being part of something bigger than ourselves. Each of us need to experiment with the ways that may suit us better.

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