Happiness is Not a Competition

sunanda satwah
5 min readApr 3, 2020


If you truly desire happiness in life, it has to be an everyday conscious effort, like exercising, dieting, meditating, resting and working. Long lasting happiness doesn’t just happen; it has to be practiced like any other activity you want to be better at. It takes work but it is worth the effort to foster our happiness quotient (HQ), breed positivity and weed away any negativity that may be lurking in the dark corners of the mind- by shining a light on it.

Darkness truly hates light, and color.

Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

I am on a diet of limited social-media. But every now and then I will stray to indulge in the juicy nuggets that it offers and oh yes! the spice, which more often than not results in heart burn.

Recently I saw a friend’s facebook page regaling her travel experience to an exotic location. The account was peppered with the usual but undeniably breath-taking photographs of picture-perfect sunrises and sunsets across sandy beaches and palm fronds. I confess I am a desktop traveller, so I quiet enjoy these virtual visits and with time I have learnt to focus on the backdrops more than the people in the forefront. There is after all, a reason why people click pictures in front of interesting landscapes. After emerging from the refreshing dip in the virtual sea, I scrolled down to read some of the comments. I noticed that the friend who’d posted the pictures had positively drooled about her experience. No surprise there. It is no secret that most people use social media to show-off their ‘oh-so-perfect’ lives. What caught my attention was a comment by another friend that replied with her own delightful experience of the same destination a year earlier!


A weed had been planted.

It got me thinking.

Friend One (F1), posted the pictures to let her other ‘friends’ know, how blessed and illustrious her life was, to be able to jet set off to such an exotic destination. Boohoo! all you losers, working 9 to 5, with your nose stuck to your desks.

Friend Two (F2), responded by sharing her own experience, to establish that not only does she belong to the crème de la crème and has had a similar experience (boohoo! all you losers, times two) but also managed to subtly thumb her nose on Friend One. I was there first!

The rest of the comments were lukewarm or gushing with fake enthusiasm.

However, the communication between F1 & F2 got me thinking about how easily beautiful sunrises can be ruined and the sun sets on what could have possibly been a beautiful friendship borne out of familiarity.

Photo by Dominic Sansotta on Unsplash

It made me think about the frailty of our egos and the harm careless words can cause.

Having oodles of money, travel to exclusive destinations, good food, celebrations galore are life’s blessings, richly deserved and ought to be shared. However, display of wealth becomes vulgar if expressed in ways designed to hurt or demean. Al Koran’s words from ‘Bring out the Magic in Your Mind’, conveys the concept of abundance beautifully,

‘When you send your money out, remember always to bless it. Ask it to bless everybody that it touches, and command it to go out and feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and command it to come back to you a millionfold.’

We can either share what we have to bring joy or inflict hurt.

‘The hand that gives is the hand that gathers.’

Says Robin Sharma (Who Will Cry When You Die?)

If your actions are borne from a source of happiness, you will be ever mindful of the other’s feelings.

A very dear friend, whenever she travels to far-off destinations, sends me a picture or sometimes a postcard that reads, ‘Wish you were here!’ I know she means it. She would like for me to see the places she visits, knowing I would savor the experience.

‘Never be too busy to be kind’. (Old Adage)

I am happy, because I have people in my life who genuinely care for me, uplift me, and make the effort to make me feel special. In return I know I owe it to them and to the Universe, to repay the kindness.

Paulo Coelho, in The Zahir, mentions a similar concept, a lot better than I ever could. He calls it the Favor Bank.

‘The Favor Bank. It’s the most powerful bank in the world, and you’ll find it in every sphere of life… I start making deposits in your account — not cash deposits, you understand, but contacts. I introduce you to such and such a person, I arrange certain deals, as long as they’re legal. You know that you owe me something, but I never ask you for anything.

‘And then one day… one day, I’ll ask you for a favor. You do what I ask, I continue to help you, and other people see that you’re a decent, loyal sort of person and so they too make deposits in your account — always in the form of contacts, because this world is made up of contacts and nothing else. They too will one day ask you for a favor, and you will respect and help the people who have helped you. You’ll know everyone you need to know and your influence will keep on growing.’

Written wisdom across the years convinces us of one thing, that as much as happiness can be found within, it is truly found amongst people we help and uplift. Like the wind beneath our wings, good action and compassion lifts us and others to a higher level, adds strength to our flight and gives us immense joy and peace.

Happiness is inclusive, and it emerges from supporting each other.

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash



sunanda satwah

Architect, Educator, Writer, Artist, Dreamer…