Madhya Pradesh has become the first state in India to get a Happiness Department (Anand Vibhaag in Hindi) within the state government apparatus, according to a report in the Times of India. The objective of the department is to measure prosperity by gauging citizens happiness quotient and not the gross domestic product.
Mr Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the chief minister of the state, has penned his thoughts by way of a blog on this occasion. He says, I often wonder why despite unprecedented growth in material prosperity and means of comfort, happiness continues to elude and what explains the ever growing intolerance, violence despair and depression.
The concept of happiness that the government aspires to pursue in Madhya Pradesh, as per the Chief Minister, will primarily be based on time tested India wisdom.
He realizes that the government apparatus has its own strength and limitations. And, rightly goes on to say, using it for spreading joy in society has its own challenges.
The initiative to bring cheers to the life of common man is welcome and deserves kudos. Madhya Pradesh can now claim to be in the same league as Bhutan, Venezuela and the UAE.
As the outline of the department of happiness is being formulated, I have a few humble points to make.
Yoga and Meditation, no doubt, are vital pillars of happiness and peace. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Psychologist, in his well-known classic work on happiness, Flow, agrees, The similarities between Yoga and flow are extremely strong; in fact it makes sense to think of Yoga as a very thoroughly planned flow activity. Both try to achieve a joyous, self-forgetful involvement through concentration, which in turn is made possible by a discipline of the body.
A gargantuan work has been done in the field of Happiness and Well-Being after Martin Seligman, in 1998, as president of the American Psychological Association, urged psychology to supplement its venerable goal with a new goal: exploring what makes life worth living and building the enabling conditions of a life worth living.
Positive Psychology should be a strong pillar of any modern day happiness programme anywhere in the world.
Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.
Likewise, positive education and positive health merit mention.
Positive education is defined as education for both traditional skills and for happiness. The high prevalence worldwide of depression among young people, the small rise in life satisfaction, and the synergy between learning and positive emotion all argue that the skills for happiness should be taught in school. There is substantial evidence from well controlled studies that skills that increase resilience, positive emotion, engagement and meaning can be taught to school children.
The field of medicine has long focused on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of disease. But health is more than the mere absence of disease. The emerging concept of Positive Health takes an innovative approach to health and well-being that focuses on promoting peoples positive health assets, which might include biological factors, such as high heart rate variability; subjective factors, such as optimism; and functional factors, such as a stable marriagestrengths that can contribute to a healthier, longer life.
Last, but not the least, Laughter Yoga, one of the most effective tools for creating instant joy, should be an integral part of any happiness curriculum.
Laughter Yoga is a combination of laughter exercises and yogic breathing that strengthens our immune system and generates feel good hormones in the body. Laughter is triggered with the help of exercises which soon turns into real and contagious laughter with eye contact and childlike playfulness. It is a simple yet profound method of busting physical, mental and emotional stress in one go.
I am citizen of this state and offer myself, with all humility, as a volunteer consultant, happiness and well-being. Shall be happy to offer my services to the state without any expectation and reward.
Wishing the Happiness Department in Madhya Pradesh all the happiness and a grand success!
Jagat Singh Bisht
(The blogger is a Happiness Coach & Laughter Yoga Master Trainer based in indore, India with a background of Behavioural Science, Positive Psychology, Yoga, Meditation and Laughter Yoga. He is the founder of LifeSkills The Pathway To Authentic Happiness, Well-Being & A Fulfilling Life! He may be reached at email: email@example.com and phone: +91 7389938255)