5 Minutes with Happiness Expert Yogesh Pahuja

5 Minutes with Happiness Expert Yogesh Pahuja

By Arunima Rajan
Who doesn’t want to know how to achieve happiness in their daily lives? We caught up with happiness coach Yogesh Pahuja to chase some sunshine

"Happiness is reality minus expectations,” says Pahuja. An Organisational Development (OD) consultant and Human Resources (HR) practitioner with more than 20 years of experience, Pahuja notes that it is only recently that people have started identifying happiness as a key factor for the well-being of an individual.

In our survey of thousands of Indians, 28.8 percent of people felt that people who live fully are the ones who adopt a positive attitude. So here’s how to make happiness a keystone of who you are.


As the author of Are You Happy @Work, Pahuja notes that many people actively choose to hold on to the “negative stimuli” in their lives, and that they tend to keep harping over problems instead of moving on.

His advice? “Happiness is a matter of choice. Once you choose to be happy you will learn that happiness is as basic as drinking water or breathing,” he says. So start thinking of joy as a resource to be watched over and cultivated as much as your bank balance.

Quick tip: Start each morning by saying, “I choose to be happy.” And kick it off with a smile. Research has shown even a fake grin improves your mood.


So is there more to happiness than just choice? Yes! “I have found 164 factors that are responsible for your happiness or unhappiness at work and [they] are broadly divided into three categories: individual reasons, social/family reasons and reasons pertaining to the [work] organisation,” says the author. He has developed a Happiness Inventory (HI) to help you to identify these factors.

Pahuja feels that family and social support systems can help you navigate the maze that is life, so make sure you are cultivating relationships with those around you. “Factors like supporting family, your spouse, cooperation from friends, freedom for [work] and a positive home environment has a direct impact on your job performance and happiness at your work place.”


1. Have a friend at work

it always helps you to sail through and survive when you have a sounding board and a reliable buddy, philosopher, and guide at work. One survey found work friendships boost employee satisfaction by a whopping 50 percent!

2. Build pride in what you do

Every kind of work is important and significant if you believe it to be. Ask yourself what your work means to other people — even if you simply crafted a spreadsheet, it could be the spreadsheet that your boss brings into a huge annual meeting that boosts the company. Show and build respect for your work and others will too.

3. Take (and make) opportunities to do what you do the best

That’s how you get a chance to demonstrate your skills and gain recognition for your work. Say yes to opportunities or make them for yourself, even if it’s setting up a weekly after-work dining group for your work friends -it demonstrates proactivity to your boss, even if to you it’s just a happy get-together (plus, it will help with point one: have a best friend at work).

4. Don’t think about the money

As Pahuja writes, “it is interesting to note that for employees, personal financial gain comes way down the list of happiness indicators.” Opportunities for growth and work-life balance are also important, so sort those out before you go chasing a bigger pay check.

5. Acceptance

Every day brings pressures, tasks and deadlines. Accept them as part of your job and do not believe that any of these things are personal, or trying to drive you to stress. And if you fail, flip your view and accept it as something positive — think: “I haven’t failed, I’ve found a chance to learn.”


“Sometimes,” says Pahuja, “you need to sit back, relax and ask yourself: what am I running for and am I doing justice to myself and my family? One of our tools for this is the Happiness Inventory on www.choosehappiness.in.”

Nail down contentment and it just might help you climb the career ladder. Pahuja adds, “There is a positive correlation between the happiness of an employee and productivity. The earlier school of thought emphasised emotional intelligence and how it made an impact on work place productivity. Yet today we say that a happy employee is a more productive employee.”

In fact it is proven through research that happiness is a precursor to success and not the other way round, says Pahuja. As such, you can let this simple question guide you: how can I add to my joy today? Make happiness a priority, and success will follow.