In pursuit of happiness
Dubai-based Dina Sabnani believes in spreading joy, and has founded the Happiness Club in the UAE to help people find that elusive streak of sunshine in their lives
COULDN’TWE all do with a little bit more happiness in our lives? While life in the UAE is certainly not arduous, our fast paced lifestyles can leave us feeling a bit empty. Alright so you have the car, the villa, the job that makes you a small (or large) fortune, but can we ever say we have enough laughter, friends and fun? The job that does make you a tidy sum often gets in the way of the finer things in life. Nine to five is out and in the Emirates work takes precedence.
How can one find the time to specifically dedicate to nourishing the soul, feeling good about life and enjoying oneself?
It is therefore with some considerable excitement that City Times can announce the inaugural meeting of The Happiness Club today at 3pm to 5pm at Zen restaurant, gate six of Zabeel Park Dubai. A phenomenon that originated in America and has swept across the world, Happiness Clubs are all the rage from Los Angeles to Lausanne.
Founded by American Lionel Ketchian, the first Happiness Club met in January 2000 in Fairfield, Connecticut as a result of a Happiness Class Lionel gave at a University in the state.
After the class graduated they wanted to keep meeting to continue to practice the new found happiness skills they learned hence the establishment of the Happiness Club. The Fairfield Club has been meeting every month since that date. They have continued to spread the word across the USA and the world via the internet, and Dubai is the 38th Happiness Club. At the moment there are five Happiness Clubs in countries outside the United States in: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Jerusalem, New Zealand and Switzerland. Dubai is set to become the sixth.
The UAE gets a Happiness Club
The woman responsible for bringing the idea to the UAE and recently appointed Happiness Club Ambassador for the Emirates by the founder, the effervescent Dina Sabnani, had a chat with City Times giving us the low-down on what goes on in the meetings and what she hopes to achieve with the club.
Dina has been living in Dubai for the last three years. “People here have such busy lives that they often forget that beyond the cars and villas that work affords you there needs to be happiness otherwise what’s the point? I’m an extremely happy person and I see others here that are not so I thought I would start up this group that meets every month.”
“It really all began with Facebook. With Facebook being as social as it is I have been networking with some interesting people across the world and one of those was a popular law of attraction coach in the US.
Through him I got an invite for International Happiness Day which is on July 10 and has its own group on Facebook. I just loved the concept of it so I went and checked it out and they were looking for ambassadors for different countries.
I asked them what I had to do to be ambassador for the UAE and they said, ‘Just ask,’ so I did.”
Dina immediately began to get going on organising ideas for happiness related events and information in line with her new role. “I first of all sent out the press release advertising International Happiness Day on July 10, trying to get the word out. It got picked up online which I was really excited about. From there I set up the UAE Facebook group for the Happiness Club which now has over 185 members. And then I decided to form an actual Happiness Club where people can meet and find happiness.
These clubs are all over the US and the world so I thought I would give it a go here. It’s my way of giving something back and fulfilling my passion for doing something for humanity, as cheesy as that sounds, I’m beginning to sound like Miss Universe! But seriously I thought you have conferences on leadership, success workshops, management and stress classes so why not happiness?
Ultimately we are all looking for it so I think these classes can give people a helping hand.”
The art of happiness
We asked Dina what actually takes place at the meetings, “As this is the first meeting we would introduce the purpose of the club and why it has come to the Emirates.
After the first one we hope to get a speaker in regularly talking about the art of happiness and we would discuss what has been said. As well as that there will be little articles to pick up on how to achieve happiness, people can take the happiness pledge which involves always making the happy decision and it is a good place to meet likeminded people and have a good time. The people we expect to see will be a mixture of already happy people and those who need a bit of happiness in their lives and don’t know how to find it.
The first one on Saturday will also be a learning curve for me to see which people actually do make it and what we can do to improve through feedback. I’msure while they are attending and afterwards in the discussion people will come up with ideas. As it is a monthly club we hope people will return and hear the different experts and what they have to say and then importantly chat about the subject.”
A positive outlook
A sense of community is very important to Dina as is having a positive outlook in every aspect of life. “It’s my idea right now but as soon as the meetings start going it will be everyone’s to share.
I’mhoping it spawns off something in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah just to get the message out there; it would be wonderful if I could facilitate that. I believe one person can make a difference and we can spread the happiness one smile at a time. A lot of people believe they have to chase happiness and it is elusive especially in Dubai where people work hard and the cost of living is high etc.
But really people can choose happiness. You can choose positive aspects in situations or negative.
I think if everyone chose to take positives the world would be a much better place.”
Asked what she hopes to achieve with the Happiness Club Dina replied, “With so much going on in the world that gets you down I just hope that the group can act as a place where people can come and enjoy themselves.
There’s a whole new movement to study positive psychology in the US which is basically the study of happiness.
We all need to be happier in our lives. A smile is universal, it does not change its meaning anywhere in the world whereas a nod or gesture can. The club is for people to feel more positive and on a personal level I wish to learn a lot from the guys that attend as I suppose it would be cool to learn what makes people happy and be some sort of guru! This group is all about paying it forward, if you give one per cent the universe will give you one hundred in return, so go out and give compliments and be nice because it really makes peoples’ day.”
‘Happiness is an inner state of wellbeing’
Lionel Ketchian, founder of the original Happiness Club had this to say on Dina’s new group, “Happiness is an inner state of well-being that enables you to profit from your highest thoughts, intelligence, wisdom, awareness, commonsense, emotions, health, and spiritual values.
This is the reason that I am delighted that Dina has made the decision to spread happiness to the wonderful people of Dubai. Happiness spreads love, and brings authentic freedom to all of creation sharing this beautiful planet. We look forward to people in Dubai sharing more happiness with one another as a result of the selfless work that Dina is doing. Happiness brings out the very best in each of us.
You can share happiness with another once you have it yourself. Dina resonates with happiness and is very well qualified to spread this happiness to all of us and is wonderful at spreading it.”
The Happiness Club looks set to be Dubai’s answer to those metropolis blues that residents of large cities tend to get. Absolutely anyone is welcome to the meeting, all you have to do is turn up in time for a start at 3pm. For more information visit the Happiness Club UAE page on Facebook, www.happinessclubs.com or email Dina at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT: Happiness Club UAE
WHEN: Today, 3pm-5pm
WHERE: Zen Restaurant, Gate 6 Zabeel Park, Dubai