Mantra for Life

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The Happiness Quotient by Rekha Shetty, book reviewHappiness has suddenly become an important factor in the welfare of countries. As far back as 1972, the King of Bhutan introduced a system for measuring Gross National Happiness in his country, rather than the conventional GDP mapping. This was followed by Thailand a while later, and UK and Australia, too are considering introducing a happiness measure related to economics.

Treatises have been written on how to achieve happiness and face life positively. In India, Dr Rekha Shetty says, ‘positive, radiant happiness is our birthright’ and the book outlines a programme on how to achieve it. She has the requisite experience to lay out the programme, since she is the creator of the Mindspower brand and the MD of Farstar Distribution Network limited, a consultancy that works on issues like work-life balance and innovation initiatives.

The book’s message unfolds through the persona of Aravind who escapes from his stressful work life and his problems with his wife Rakhi to a hut in the mountains, through a mysterious invitation. One that comes to him through a guru in track pants called Sadhu Mama who makes him look at his life in a different light. Not that Sadhu Mama is a particular person – instead, he appears to be a combination of several philosophies amalgamated in a positive whole. Though the emphasis is on Hindu philosophy, Shetty’s suggestions can be applied to various faiths, since happiness itself is a kind of force that people believe in.

According to Dr Shetty there are seven areas that have to be taken care of – physical wellness, emotional wellness, personal wellness, family bonding, nurturing the workplace, social bonding and dharmic living. Life she says is not easy, but by providing tried and tested moments of happiness every day, a person can manage to get through difficult situations in perfect tranquility.

“Dr. Shetty’s suggestion for achieving happiness is to focus on it, rather than concentrating on stress.”

On the face of it, nothing that she suggests is really new. It is possible she says, to look at each new day as an opportunity to succeed, to do a little better, at work to set personal goals for oneself instead of competing or trying to catch up with one’s neighbours or colleagues. The workplace too should be a happy place instead of being a jostle of politics and pink slips, simply because happy employees work better and contribute more to the company and ultimately to the nation. According to her the days of Henry Ford who offered people freedom of choice, provided it was what he chose, are over.

Her suggestion for achieving happiness is to focus on it, rather than concentrating on stress. ‘Practice Swayambhu—a word that describes happiness welling out of you, like an underground stream in the mountains’ she suggests. She is also a great advocate for avoiding ‘toxic’ people and situations, saying that everyone has a choice.

The book has various questions to be answered so that people can measure where they are on the happiness scale and it has positive affirmations for them to make. At one level all this seems rather simplistic, but presumably if one invested time in trying to take in what Dr Shetty said and combining it with yoga and breathing exercises as she herself recommends, one might expect to find a change.

The Happiness Quotient by Dr. Rekha Shetty
Published by Westland Tranquebar in India, April 2011


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The Happiness Quotient
by Rekha Shetty

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Written by Anjana Basu
Anjana Basu

Anjana Basu works as an advertising consultant in Calcutta. In 2003, Harper Collins India brought out her novel Curses In Ivory. In 2004, she was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in Scotland where she worked on her second novel, Black Tongue, published by Roli in 2007. In February 2010. her children's novel Chinku and the Wolfboy was brought out by Roli. She writes features for travel magazines and reviews for Indian newspapers.

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