Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.
— Dalai Lama
Researchers from the Harvard Business School conducted a study of professionals who attained great success and found that such people structured their activities around four major needs. One of them was pursuing activities that produced pleasure and satisfaction leading to HAPPINESS!
But how do we pursue happiness effectively?
It involves “prioritising positivity”: deliberately organising your day-to-day life so that it contains situations that naturally give rise to positive emotions. This way of pursuing happiness involves carving out time in your daily routine to do things that you genuinely love.
About two decades back, Vishwanathan Jayaraman, an IIT graduate, government servant and a true Gandhian, stumbled upon running to get over his habit of smoking. From struggling to run 100 metres to running 30+ km every day, this fragile, bespectacled, bare-chested khadi-shorts clad man runs for leisure and running is his daily dose of enjoyment.
During his two decades of running (and counting), he ran a 100 km race and ran six days from Dandi to Sabarmati Ashram covering 330 km reminiscing about the historic march.
Vishwanathan says, “I experience great joy in running, to an extent that it is an addiction. Running has helped me to approach other areas of my life with a sense of detachment and clarity. I become one with nature while running; it takes my mind off the stressors and drowning in the surroundings. Running is spiritual to me. When I run, I am able to connect with myself and to things most personal to me. Listen to the birds, the wind in the trees, all the sweet sounds of nature and pet the dogs and cows, smile at the curious onlookers and high five the enthusiastic kids. You are able to tap into any part of nature, because it is inherently in you.”
Mature runners are secure in their running. Their habit runs deeper and they know that bodies heal with rest, and as long as the heart beats, the runner returns to the road, come what may. Our bodies will take us where we decide in our hearts we want to go. It’s such a beautiful thing.
“We all choose to move and run for a number of different reasons, but there is nothing like stepping out of doors, running for the pure love of running, and bringing you one step closer to being able to push yourself further than you ever imagined. There is something magical about running. As a marathon runner, you start to question your sanity some mornings at 4 am when you are headed out for a long run, and then within a few miles, the solitude hits. You find peace. Your perception of the boundaries between yourself and all else evaporate. You become one with the universe. A reassuring sense of harmony and connection with the world infuses your consciousness,” says Vishwanathan.
Having run several marathons for over a decade, he has given up participation in races and now routinely does his daily meditative 30 km runs — barefoot.
As runners, many of us wax poetic about our love of running. Sure, our lives, health and fitness are improved due to daily runs, but the runner (or maybe just this runner) is often left wanting something more. Vishwanathan is a believer in simple living and knows the importance of great body and mind, and attaining personal happiness.
As Jeff Edmonds said in his blog, The Magic of Long Distance — We need almost nothing at all to find our happiness. Only a few hours, a stretch of road, perhaps a friend, or even better a competitor. We hide in our spindled chests an unusually large and heaving heart, and in our heads a warbled tune, a song, as we move on down the road. Do you know the feeling I know? When your legs have disappeared, and there is only your heart, your lungs, and your eyes skimming disembodied through the air? We are Aristotle’s featherless bipeds, we runners. Though we have no wings, we have taught ourselves to fly.
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