off the cuff

The happiness quotient

As the New Year begins, all of us who are “pleasingly plump” are being encouraged to be more positive about our body image

Cheryl Rao,Special to Gulf News
16:38 January 5, 2018

It’s a new year and I’m happy.

Why, you may ask. What do I have to be happy about?

Well, the more knowledgeable than me say that I have several reasons to be happy and here they are:

According to studies reported in the news, the level of happiness goes up as we enter late middle-age and grow older. Given that I have spent a good number of years in late middle-age (because I do not allow myself to cross the threshold and tumble into senior citizenship), that is check one.

Then, studies say that married people are happier — and if one considers one’s partner “a best friend”, “someone to talk to”, then the happiness quotient goes even higher. That makes it check two.

Married for three-and-a-half decades to someone I talk to all the time, what more could I want? Don’t I get a patient hearing to all I have to say? On occasion, maybe once or twice a year, I even get a verbal response and not just a snort from behind the newspaper. And sometimes, when my life partner is hiding in full view in front of the computer or his cell phone, he even throws a glance in my direction as I speak. That could be because he would like to press the “mute” button on me ... but, come on, why should I quibble? I’m getting to express myself to a live audience, not just the walls and that counts, doesn’t it?

And, if those two “qualifications” are not enough, according to recent research, overweight people are more likely to be happier than others. Check three!

I knew all those “layers of insulation”, those “extra shock absorbers”, the “advantage” I have over others by being “quite an armful” and “a cuddlesome cushion” would eventually work in my favour. And therefore, those extra servings of ice-cream and chocolate that had me grow more and more “horizontally challenged” with each passing year can just keep on coming, can’t they?

So, that makes it three out of three on the happiness index! When did I last score full marks in any test? If that doesn’t make me happy, nothing will!

What’s more, as the New Year begins, all of us who are “pleasingly plump” are being encouraged to be more positive about our body image, to work on endurance and fitness and not worry too much about the extra weight we lug around.

Therefore, I can set about my daily exercise routine and coast along on my regular morning walk at my own pace, smiling at the puppies, the peacocks and the people who pass by. With nary a care in the world, I can swing my arms, roll my hips, and trundle down the road — and cast away the images of a steamroller that come to mind. “This is the way I am, pal! Overweight and lovin’ it!” I can say to myself with conviction — because I’m happier than all those slim and trim and hour-glassed shaped figures I encounter, aren’t I?

No longer do I have to shy away from admitting that I have been a regular at Pilates class for several years, but I have still to discover my core muscles, buried deep down under some 16 layers of dermis and epidermis and double that of clingy, never-to-be-melted, good old-fashioned lard. And despite all those “hundreds”, “saws”, “planks”, and “Pilates trees”, nothing, absolutely nothing, has got “into shape” — unless we are talking fruit salad here and picture a nice round juicy apple or melon ...

Best of all, at last I know why I trip along happily for those Pilates classes while my friends (who are incidentally half my size) do not.

I’m happier than they are. And happiness gives me wings.

Cheryl Rao is a journalist based in India.