Friday, January 8, 2010

In Search of Happiness – My Travel to Utopian Lands

If there is even one amongst you who is not looking for ‘happiness’ then straightaway head for the Himalaya and ascend the stairway to heaven; for you deserve it. I know where the stairway starts and sooner than later I would be heading that way. We all look for happiness, we all want to be happy, we all want to be where happiness is and remains. Point is; how, where and most importantly can we reach there! Ask any Godmen or men of Gods then the obvious answer to this would be that happiness resides deep within the very heart of your soul, just dig deep enough and you will find. Once a South African miner who had worked in the Savuka Mines (at around 3700 m depth, currently the second deepest mine in the world), upon whom I had tumbled by the bays of Cape Town, had told me that despite reaching the deepest human dig in the world he could not fathom happiness and presently preferred to dive into bottles of excellent Western Cape wines. If he found happiness there I did not dare to elucidate. He might have found a genie though… those wines are absolutely heavenly. So while there is much happiness to be sought at the bottom of a bottle or at the apex of the world, or in the halcyon waves of Santorino or perhaps in the burning storms of Sahara; the subject of ‘happiness’ seems distinctly subjective. It depends upon the perceiver’s perception (what else) and state of mind. But then do we really have Utopian Lands on Earth! Places where everyone is happy and content and merry; did Sir Thomas More take us all for a jolly good ride when he wrote his eponymous book in 1516, or was he merely conjecturing and hoping like hell that one day we would create such a republic if it wasn’t already there.

As you all know by now that I travel simply to travel and to discover how much more there is to travel. On my travels while my eyes are always fixed at the highest spots my mind is constantly seeking the obvious and latent. I tarry wherever I feel like and I talk to everyone and smile and learn. Without specifically making it my objective, I look for and I search for… whatever; wherever I go and travel through. This is the primary reason why I experience things that perhaps others miss out on. I do not expect to experience anything but hope that I will experience everything. Therefore, along with vertical heights I also do glean into the happiness index of places through its people, geography and natural splendors. It helps perhaps since I am an acutely addicted happy person. It is nearly impossible to make me unhappy. No amount of physical pain, misery or discomfort makes me unhappy neither does the parting of any near and dear ones. Loss of any material object is actually welcome. Missing out on a summit is only a promise of a journey to be continued. Having no possession is actually like having everything. So perhaps when I look at ‘happiness’ index at places I am not looking to be happy myself, since I already am, but I can view it with total objectivity. So come with me and discover the Utopian Lands on Earth rated against perception (how these places are generally viewed in terms of happiness of the people) and reality (my personal views).

I believe our world as on date has between 180 – 190 countries. I have only been to 130 or so, and hence I will restrict myself to these that I have personally experienced. The real Utopia could exist amongst the other 60 odd, so if you know then do let me know. For the sake of a post, and neutrality to my friends from across the globe, and I have friends from almost every country, I am going to evaluate only those countries that are generally perceived to be high on happiness index or in characteristics as a nation that construe happiness. Else I would rank Kenya and Congo among the happiest nations. Now before we shoulder our backpack and roll off, first let’s refer to the dictionary to understand what is happiness all about? As always I turn to the top two English lexicon resources: The Oxford which describes happiness: feeling or showing pleasure or contentment; the Webster: state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. In both the word ‘contentment’ scores high and now if we look up ‘contentment’ then: Oxford: a state of happiness or satisfaction; Webster: happiness with one's situation in life. In both these the word ‘happiness’ scores high, now this is really convenient. Happiness and contentment as it appears are synonymous so you can use one to describe the other without really explaining any one.

This reminds me of a befuddled man asking for road direction from a village bumpkin; the man: can you tell me where the red house is, the bumpkin: in front of the big banyan tree, the man: and my friend can you tell me where the banyan tree is, the bumpkin: in front of the red house, the man (now fuming): where are they both, the bumpkin: why of course in front of each other. I have no idea what happened thereafter, either to the man or the bumpkin or to the red house and to the banyan tree. But our quest for happiness, even if it proves futile and subjective at the end of this narrative, would at least take you to some distant and diverse worlds. So read on. What I did not reveal earlier is that in the Oxford they insert an interesting fallout for ‘contentment’ which I really like: acceptance (of life, of anything) as adequate despite wanting something more or better. Now this is close to oriental philosophy. We may not find or want everything in life but whatever we have can be adequate and it does lead to happiness. Keep this theme uppermost in your mind; I will get back to it. Please hop on to Satya Airlines now as we take off. We don’t have seatbelts, no pretty airhostesses, no video and no food, but we promise plenty of thrills. Bon Voyage and May God Save you and the King in that order.

Denmark: This has to be our first destination though we nearly crash land on the concrete tarmac of Københavns Lufthavn (Copenhagen Airport). In almost every survey and research papers on happiness, Denmark emerges as the undisputed winner. Don’t ask me why, since I really don’t know and don’t ask a Danish either, even they don’t know. I have asked each and every Danish friends of mine (and I have quite a few) and most of them have reacted like: you can’t be serious; really, I didn’t know that; oh it’s a tourism gimmick; don’t believe what they say; hmm may be they did the research in the US, etc. etc. Geographically it’s a neat and small country with incredibly clear air and a level of tolerance comparable only to heavenly angels. Being washed by the waves of Baltic and Northern Sea could also be a reason. People are amazingly healthy and sprightly. Danish are out to save the world for sure, if only we will let them. The tiny mermaid beckons from the shores of the capital city enticing all into its charms. Then there’s the ‘free city’ for society derelicts. Where every street is paved as it were centuries ago and where people still have right over mechanized vehicles happiness can’t really be far. If not the country the capital can certainly be viewed as under a spell of perpetual festivity. I doubt if there is a day in the year when Danish people do not celebrate something. If you are a bicycle aficionado then you have to visit Denmark before you die. Did you mention the word ‘crime’, well it must be the least looked up word in Danish dictionaries. Then for the voyeuristic pleasures (I won’t specify further since my blog is for all age groups) Copenhagen is second to none. Now won’t everyone love to be there, but surprisingly there is an increasing number of Danes opting to migrate to other more chaotic countries. If happiness were indeed looking for a residence, Denmark definitely has the elements. In my personal happiness score card I would give Denmark a healthy 8 out of 10. If you google ‘highest peak or point or spot in Denmark’ then you will realize where I cut those two points.

Japan: Narita International welcomes us profusely, bending from the waist till the forehead almost touches ground. Well that’s Japanese hospitality for you. Not an overtly happy nation why I decided to fly you all to Japan after Denmark is not only to give you a different flavor but also if ‘contentment’ is to be considered then Japs are content, or so they seem, I mean their inscrutable expression through slit eyes and body bending techniques and calisthenics could construe anything but seems contented. Watch carefully a very agitated Japanese and you won’t find anything more than few twitches under his eyes now if that is not contentment then what is! Compare this to a raging American or German or heaven forbid, Russian. Japanese are painfully hospitable, courteous, punctual, meticulous, stickler for everything, planning and gifting. People live long and they grow healthier with age. On any trip to Japan must carry two things, one empty trolley-bag (to fill up with all the gifts you get) and 1000 name cards (business/visiting/ whatever card you have). And do practice your yogic postures as well. If you are grumpy sorts then do practice your smile as well, since most often you will only be smiling and bending. The land of rising sun, sushi and Toyota and everything in between, Nippon is an unbelievable country with unbelievable people in a society that is as autocratic as plutocratic. Bursting at all its seams and literally spilling off into the surrounding seas, the greatest high for a Tokyo commuter could be the entry into the tube rail without losing a button of his coat. People are honest, workaholic and perfect. They worship tree, wind, sky, nature and give everyone else on earth a reason to stay on the edge. I love Japan and Japanese, Kanji and Sumo notwithstanding. If you wish to be pampered like royalty then simply make a Jap friend and visit him in Japan when the cherry blossoms are in bloom and you will realize why Japan is a happy nation of contented people. My score 7 out of 10.

Switzerland: I prefer the cow at the arrival lounge so let’s land at Geneva International and get swept not only by the sprout but by the chocolates, cheese, watches and the hyper-precised population. Come to think this has to be the happiest nation on Earth. I mean all the UN headquarters are here, it doesn’t have any organized armed forces (the Swiss Guards protect the Pope, for heaven’s sake) so to speak, it wages no war—within or without, everything works and better than the intended parameters, everyone seems to be enjoying life (who the hell is working here), you won’t find poverty even if you tore the nation apart and looked under the microscope. Blue water lakes, swans and yachts zipping across the waves, high Alpine meadows covered with snow dust, air reeking of unheralded bloom, and the tourist-friendly locals. In the eventuality of the next world war and complete annihilation I believe many of the world leader’s will be granted refuge in Switzerland from where they can direct their missiles of destruction since no nation is permitted to wage war on Switzerland. Funny, isn’t it, imagine US and Chinese President breakfasting together and joking about the weather, while authorizing nuclear strikes into each other’s territories. What more can you ask? They actually tell you all sorts of methods on saving money and it is the only country that voted in favor to increase taxes. While in Switzerland you cannot miss out the public transport and Swiss rail neither the Fondue nor sunbathing by the lake of Lausanne and you must absolutely ride the red colored Jungfraubahn train to Jungfraujoch. Gorge on Swiss chocolates without caring about your middle, it’s not every day that we land in heaven and live to tell the tale. By the way Switzerland also has the most beautiful township (outside of mountains) on Earth (according to me), which I had discovered accidentally during one of my trips. With one of the world’s highest per capita incomes are the Swiss happy? You will be surprised that most Swiss people can’t really explain the word. A common verdict, to enjoy life in Switzerland you must be rich and by that standard most Swiss are not. That is the long and short of it, to find happiness in Switzerland you got to be rich, though the land is full of discounts galore for the tourist. It also has the only system of moving dolls in the world. Though I am blatantly poor, Switzerland has everything to keep me happy for eternity and beyond. On my happiness scale, 8 out of 10 goes to the home of Red Cross.

Iceland: Even before we land at Keflavík International airport, you must have gleaned from your windows, especially those on the right side of the aisle, the reason why Iceland must figure among my list. It is the land of ultimate ice. I love its isolation, ice caps, geysers, neat little streets, townships, laid back people, midnight suns and white winters and I have fallen in love with at least one Icelandic girl on my each visit, though none of them fell in love with me is another story altogether. Why does it feel like home away from home! Well it is; I have an incredibly number of warm hearted friends in this land of perpetual cold. If happiness is measured by the fishing and power industry of a nation then Iceland is the winner, it’s a winner in terms of near-zero crime rate and war free zone. Hard to imagine that present day Iceland was founded by the bloody Vikings. Icelandic Sagas are full of genocide and butchering of innocents. It is a land of fairytales, goblins and elves. They have pagan gods and rituals dating back several centuries. Icelanders also love to swim in their geothermal pools and they love to work. They love to ride horses and love to love life. Iceland has every shade of nature in the tiny island nation. It has excellent public education and healthcare system. More than 70% of its land is pristine nature without permanent human habitation. It could very well be renamed Niceland. Icelanders are unusually intelligent (must be all the fish) and hospitable when you know them. They are proud of their tiny land and take good care of it. Iceland top soil is among the most fragile on earth and almost all its vegetable and ground grown crops have to be imported. People are happy, mostly, and despite it being among the top three most expensive European countries, they seem to get by. Even during the recent great depression and economic meltdown I did not see any palpable signs of bereavement from any Icelander. Did I tell you that they love their drinks too! Easily 8 out of 10 on my score card.

New Zealand: Let’s now head down under and set sail for Christchurch International Airport where we glimpse the Pegasus Bay before dipping down. If I ever exercise my wish to migrate out of India, NZ will be my first destination. It is an amazingly diverse and beautiful land with an equally diverse populace. What it lacks in terms of history and art and culture that the medieval Europe boasts of, it more than covers up in natural splendor. It is the outdoor enthusiast’s ultimate paradise. I can’t think of any outdoor sports or adventures that NZ doesn’t offer (barring a camel ride). Personally I have always preferred the southern isles over the northern part of NZ. I can spend a life time simply wandering and clambering through the Southern Alps. People are extremely cherubic and friendly. It is by far cheaper than any European destination. The country is caught up in a perpetual atmosphere of adrenalin pumping activities. Everyone is outdoors doing something to keep themselves young at heart and in body. The locals enjoy their daily lives as much as an outsider. They are not bored of daily dose of fun. The only down side being that it is so far from anywhere, except if you are an Aussie. So NZ, which is not the originator of kiwifruits, scores 8 out of 10 in my happiness scale.

Italy & Greece: Athens or Roma, take your pick, we are equally equipped to land at either. Though a present day Greek and an Italian may severely disagree to be grouped together I have done so solely on the basis of their grand and opulent past. The other commonality between them being the coasts of Mediterranean, Ionian and the Adriatic (only mildly) Seas. There’s an ancient Greek saying that claims that there’s no mortal ailment, which doesn’t have a cure in the sparkling waters of the Ionian Sea. If the ancient Greek said it then it must be true. And only a cursory trip to the Greek Ionian islands of Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, et al would convert anyone to Greek wisdom. These two civilizations symbolized plentitude and over indulgence in all matters of materialistic and monastic pursuits. Ideally speaking perhaps these are what really constitute happiness. As an ancient world they were immensely powerful, feudal, brilliant in science and philosophy, medicine and literature. Even today when Italy has all but fallen from Grace and Greek has dwindled into a parody they do retain their proud heritage and misguided or disproportioned views about their own wellbeing and happiness. As nations they are magnificent and grand and incomprehensible. It’s little wonder that Italy continues to remain at the top of the world’s favorite tourist destinations and almost every tycoon worth his billions cavorts through the Greek isles looking for happiness. Italians squabble and fret for everything, and I mean everything, not a moment in awakening when an Italian does not shrug, mutter, gives the middle finger, guts out expletives but ask them if they are happy; of course they are, how dare you ask such a naïve question and the muttering would renew afresh. While a Greek though not so vociferous in his ire, knows that he must be happy since that’s what Greek tourism wants him to be. And if you ask him where to find it, then he might, in a moment of introspection admit; I am still looking for it you nitwit, will let you know when I find it. To know the Greeks you must understand and behave like a Greek. Legacy of grandeur is an extremely heavy burden to shoulder and being the two top corrupt western nations in the world doesn’t help the case either. Do visit Rome if you must and if ‘on-the-face’ faith doesn’t kill you then the sheer boredom of megalithic architecture surely will. For the Dan Brown Fans, don’t look for the symbols since they are not there and even if you find one it will be nowhere near your expectations. Though I must say that Italian ice creams and pizzas are really worth dying for. On my scale a modest 6 out of 10 would suffice and more for the past than for the present if I may say so.

Hawaii: I know, I know, it is not a nation per se but honestly tell me, how many times do you think of US when you think of Hawaii? The 50th state of USA is ‘as the crow flies’ a little over 2500 miles from the mainland nation. How many Hawaiians think themselves as Americans I wonder! It is said that Hawaiians are the only people on Earth who doesn’t wish to be anywhere else since they already are where they wish to be. This definitely counts heavily in our happiness scale. My only trip to this island state happened as nothing short of a miracle and while I ascended its highest spot, the snow covered (yes, right in the tropical heart) peak of Mauna Kea I knew that I had indeed landed at a tropical paradise where beautiful nymphets danced all day long enticing the weary sailor with smiles and other endearments of mind and body. Don’t get me wrong, Hawaii is as happy as happiness can possibly be and no one can escape its vibrant charm even if one wished to but then it is like a gigantic larger than life tourism billboard that works all year round. There is misery and sadness here too where people shed tears from laughing eyes but the sun kisses the cheeks in a way as to take them away into glistens of joy and laughter. Out here everyone is laughing, smiling, talking, drinking, dancing, snorkeling, sailing, beach-loafing, in short having the time of their lives. Man loves diversity and that’s where Hawaii scores really low. Boredom sets in soon if you manage to remain sober and sensible. There is no escape from this paradise. Everything and every place is far from here in any direction. I would give it 7 out of 10 in my scale.

Bhutan: Don’t double-take, Bhutan it is. Many believe and certainly any Bhutanese would affirm that this tiny Himalayan nation is not only the happiest nation on Earth but it is also the place where happiness is mass produced and distributed by the King. Till recently a monarchy, Bhutan adopted sovereignty under the king as recently as 2008. It is a kind of democracy that is based on the foundation of faith as with anything else that Bhutan symbolizes. Even the constitution acknowledges the divine presence of the guardian deities with the ultimate aim to ensure and enhance happiness and well being of the people for eternity. Tell me how many nations’ constitution preambles have the word ‘happiness’ included? And as we all know, faith can and do move mountains. Nowhere on earth is this more amply evident than here. As we fly at caressing distance to the Himalayan summits and land at Paro, the cool air and the high altitude literally takes our breath away. Bhutanese King doesn’t like road signals and he gives more importance to gross national happiness than GDP. No one is sad here; even the sorriest and the foggiest individual accepts his situation as a preordained fate decided by acts (karma) of previous life and hence doubles his effort at being happy and good in this one for a better life in the next. Abundant and resplendent in natural glory it is among the poorest nations in the world though you wouldn’t think so. Tourism is the primary source of income and they have strict codes of conduct for everyone. Bhutanese people are gentle, loving and smiling but make no mistake they are also strict, calculating and intelligent. They believe in gods and demons and also acknowledge the wonders of science. Their temples, pagodas and monasteries are exotic as they are regimental. Beneath the soft exterior there resides a soul hardened by centuries of hardships and courting vagaries of nature. It is their faith and trust in the king that glues them into one happy bundle of joy. I cannot help but grant Bhutan 9 out of 10 in my scale.

Brazil: If I did not include even a single country from my most favorite continent I would do a great personal injustice. This is a prejudice I fully agree since in any happiness survey I am yet to come across the inclusion of a Latin American nation. In my list it must; so I have taken the path of popular notion. When we think of Latin America, nearly 90% of us first think of Rio Carnival, samba and scantily clad girls on Brazilian beaches and only after that may be the Andes and Amazon. Some of the old timers would actually dream of ‘Blame it on Rio’ and salivate. So where does happiness reside in Brazil? Going by the public opinion, GDP, etc the whole of Latin America does not reek of happiness from any angle. Despite that people have fun all the time. And nowhere else than Brazil is it so overtly displayed or worn out on one’s shirt sleeves. Fun does not necessarily mean happiness since contentment is missing here and so is the acceptance of the limited being adequate, but fun is going on full throttle and this is what attracts people from all over the world into the magical by-lanes of Brazil and its merry making beaches. Rio Carnival is unforgettable for sure. The people are among the most laid back and fun-loving and friendly as well. Tourism is huge and you don’t necessarily need to know Portuguese to survive. If you google ‘Brazil’ the first link it throws up is for ‘Brazilian Girls’. The same did not happen with any of the other 100 countries I googled, just to find out. For India, it gave Indian Railways and for Argentina it gave Argentina Football. I have many Brazilian friends, including girls, so no further comment on that. As a complete portal for happiness out to have fun Brazil gets 8 out of 10. This might actually offend a Danish but what the hell, this is my scale and I love both the countries equally in different ways.

Now that we have already covered five of the humanly inhabited continents should we go ahead and pick up one nation from the sixth one as well; I mean Africa of course. Hmm, most of you would go I guess; happiness in the Dark Continent! But then let’s view this continent from the other inhabitant’s point of view. Despite being the unopposed rulers of this planet we are not the only inhabitants here. Animals by far outnumber us and outweigh as well only if they realized it. For animal’s happiness is synonymous with freedom, period. They are born free and live free and die free, unless otherwise interfered by us the human animals. Left to their own designs and destiny as concocted by nature animals in general are the happiest inhabitants on Earth and where else but in Africa is it most evident. Despite human intervention and to a large extent due to human interaction at preservation efforts, a massive chunk of Africa remains the happiest piece of land on Earth. Leaping deers and galloping giraffes, grazing buffalos and loitering hippos, raunchy elephants and hungry lions, laughing hyenas and hissing reptiles, gliding eagles and sweeping cranes are to be seen in their own world to realize what happiness is all about. Happiness doesn’t come by burning forests and building megapolices or by killing senselessly. Obviously Africa scores a perfect 10 out of 10.

With all six continents and the pre-determined ten places covered now I would not name any more nations though I know there are many vying for a memorable mention. My one billion plus countrymen can vilify me for keeping India out of the list, though I must confess that if acceptance of the scarce being adequate to construe happiness is to be taken seriously then India is second to none and if our lackadaisical national attitude to accept everything as ‘all is well, don’t worry, it will be ok, will happen when God’s will wish, etc’ is to be considered then definitely India is where paradise not only resides but is woven into its very fabric of time and space. No wonder that so many of you from the west come to us looking for your soul, happiness, nirvana, cheap drugs, yoga, holy cows and guru not necessarily in that order.

Going back to what I had said in the beginning, the above is not my personal list of Utopian Lands; it is rather a mix of common belief and my experience. I might write a book someday on my personal merry-lands of happiness. Honorable mention must be made of Polynesian Isles, Mongolia, Mali, Luxembourg, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Though many of my American friends are among the happiest people on Earth, America finds no mention at all proving merrily that big cars, big houses, ranches and big buildings and big burgers do not necessarily provide happiness.

Then what does happiness really constitute of? If we are to find the answer in materialism then we in India and other oriental nations would say, that your purpose is self-defeating since materialism in any form, either in abundance or scarcity cannot give you happiness that is long lasting and should ideally become a way of life. What it can provide you though would be momentary elations and joyful exuberance lasting from all of a minute to few years at the most. Temporary contentment even and it would be extremely difficult to accept materialism as adequate even when you desire something more or something better.

One of our sages said that you find what you do not look for, so should we stop looking for happiness to find it, or for it to find us since it is also said that the teacher comes along when you are ready to learn. When will we be ready to learn, ready to be happy for it to find us? Must we all discard our worldly possessions and head for the jungles or Himalayan wilderness? Contentment without containment will never lead to happiness. We already have enough for our needs but our grief arises since we will never have enough for our greed. Materialistic search for happiness is already a lost battle. Fancy gourmet at fancy places or a ride in a fancy car, neither dating a fancy person nor sporting a fancy watch can make you intrinsically and perennially happy. Materialism has expiry date. It doesn’t last forever, not even the span of one human life. Nothing wrong in seeking material well-being but when we start attaching our happiness scale to our growing or diminishing belongings it is then that we begin to get mislaid. No matter what we eat or where we live or what we earn or who we become if we can always remember that we can’t fill up our stomachs with gold and diamond or money or fall in love with our mansion nor can we quench our thirst with beautiful bodies then it would be alright… I hope.

If not materialistically (where more is better) then let’s see happiness from the portals of social well being. A happy society would be one where the government is fair, better if it need not be governed by anyone (but then this might be asking for too much), where everyone is equal (and not more equal than others), where there is no fear, no crime, where everybody has the dignity and freedom to do what they wish to (this could lead to severe anarchy), where no one falls sick, no one is bereaved and none dies and everyone stays eternally youthful (how boring that would be). Would such a society ever work and can humans exist without some amount of effort? I wonder and you must ponder.

Our sages were indeed right. Happiness is right there inside you, just dig deep enough and you will find it. You will find it anywhere, any time that you find yourself. The journey is one of within and not without. No wonder our world is a sphere, everything goes around and returns to the same place, notwithstanding astronomical aberrations. I love my country and these days we market ourselves as ‘Incredible India’, which it indeed is so if you do wish to embark on your journey in order to boldly go where no man has ever gone before (aka Startrek) then India is indeed a fine place to begin from.

I belong to the Boney M generation and their song ‘somewhere in the world’ has always been one of my favorites. The second line is the actual reason though:

“Time, changer of seasons, time will see another flower growing.
Climb over the mountains, there you'll find warm winds blowing.

Somewhere in the world there is peace of mind.
Somewhere in the world that's what I must find.
Somewhere in the world there's a place for me in this world.”

It is said that today we live in a Google world so let me conclude with some Google wisdoms with you on happiness. When I googled ‘happiness poems’ and followed the first link this is what emerged; a poem by someone called Sam Byron, (the bracketed comments are mine):

happiness is bliss (he can’t be serious)

happiness, is when you get a new puppy (may be his mother has to look after it)
happiness, is when you get married (is he married?)
happiness, is when you go on you first date (was he dating a woman?)
happiness, is making your own decisions (dictated by his mother / wife of course)
happiness, is graduating (from which college)
happiness, is getting you first job (thank god he did not live to see the depression)
happiness, is falling in love (falling, yeah I like it)
happiness is being proud of who you are (who are you?)

happiness is bliss (we know that by now)

happiness, is glowing (glowworms are the happiest creatures on earth)
happiness, is fun (stamping on a roach is also fun)
happiness, is an amazing feeling (define amazing)
happiness, is when you smile all day (if you did that my friend they would lock you up in a mental home)
happiness, is giving someone a hug just because you can (try it with my neighbor’s wife)
happiness, is that light in your eyes (yeah right, go ahead shine the torch)
happiness, is what makes the world go around (gravity makes the world go around you fool)

happiness, is bliss (what can I say, you are the guru)

When I googled ‘happiness’ the first link that came out was ‘happiness quotes’ and again following it I reached a page that had many definitions of happiness, amongst them all, let me quote one from one of my top favorite authors, Albert Camus: But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads? And one from Anne Frank (on the same page): The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.

When I googled ‘happiness’ for images the one accompanying this post emerged.

When I googled ‘world’s happiest places’ (I did it after writing this post) the first link gave me the top ten in descending order from Forbes survey: Denmark, Finland , Netherlands , Sweden, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, Norway, Belgium. Predictably all the Scandinavian countries find mention and USA doesn’t. Out of these ten three are in my list too. Interestingly, among many factors on which people from around 140 countries were quizzed upon during the Forbes survey the top two factors that were considered for the ranking were GDP per capita income and unemployment rate. Is it any wonder that the list is what it is!

So the conclusion and the verdict is what it is and happiness is where it is. Go find it.


  1. Firstly, you in search of happiness, come on satya, you are happiness personified!!!

    Secondly, i <3 the fact that you figured Bhutan on your list and rated it 9 out of 10... i dream of visiting it once more, very soon...

    Thirdly, I enjoyed the post, thx :-D