How this 24-year-old happiness coach from Mumbai is changing thousands of lives
India is one of the world’s least happy countries. Aiming to change this for the better, Mumbai-based happiness coach Anshula Verma launched HappyFitYou, which works on various aspects of mental health.
In the 2019 World Happiness Report which focused on how IT, governance and social norms influence communities, India was ranked 140 out of the 156 countries surveyed. In 2017, the World Health Organisation recorded just 25,317 mental health professionals for a population of over 1.3 billion Indians.
A simple look at these statistics makes it quite evident that the country has miles to go when it comes to mental well-being.
Aiming to bring happiness and hope into people's lives, happiness coach Anshula Verma founded HappyFitYou, a Mumbai-based 'happiness well-being education brand.' It works on the emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and environmental well-being of people across colleges, corporates, and communities through a mix of fitness and mindfulness workshops.
She currently works with companies like DBS, Cox & Kings, Wipro, and Reliance, colleges like IIT Kharagpur and SPJIMR, and communities like Rotaract and Lajja.
According to Anshula, a happiness coach is not a therapist or a counsellor, but someone who helps people find meaning in their lives and get on the path towards joy and success, both in their personal and professional lives.
The 24-year-old is also one of the youngest happiness coaches in the country. She has completed her courses in Life Coaching from the International Coaching Community (ICC) and Happiness Coaching from the Happiness Studies Academy (HSA).
Don’t worry, be happy: happiness coach Janki Ravani shows us different ways to embrace joy in l...
The road to entrepreneurship
Growing up, Anshula had to get used to seeing her parents only every once in a while, because her father was posted in the Army, and her mother worked long hours. She constantly shuffled between the care of her grandparents, and often felt left out, even transferring school nine times.
"There was a void. I used to see all my friends go out with their parents, whereas I only got to meet my friends, or one parent," she says.
To cope with the loneliness, Anshula took up sports. She took up swimming, squash, gymnastics, and dance. Soon, she graduated from college with a degree in arts, and started doing internships and full-time jobs. However, she wasn't happy, and decided to become a certified Zumba trainer. In early 2018, she began conducting fitness workshops at corporate organisations.
Soon, these simple fitness workshops were transformed into HappyFitYou.
"After one of my workshops ended, a lady walked up to me and told me that I had made her smile, although she was going through depression and personal struggles with a relationship. This was when I realised I should combine fitness and inner well-being."
Later that year, she launched HappyFitYou, and has been making a positive impact in the lives of thousands ever since.
Anshula says the thought of becoming an entrepreneur never crossed her mind as a child, and that she always hoped to follow in her mother’s footsteps and work in the retail industry. However, with the launch of her company in 2018, things changed.
While starting up, Anshula says she faced two major challenges – the absence of a steady income and being discouraged by the people around her.
She had to work very long hours and put in extra effort to make sure her company stayed on its feet, and was often pulled down, even by people who were close to her. However, through these experiences, Anshula says she learned how to keep herself positive and stay motivated, because according to her, “if you don’t believe in your dreams, no one else will.”
Since the inception of HappyFitYou, Anshula has met over 12,500 people through her workshops, and left many of them with a positive message to take home.
She banks on specific self-reminders that kept her going even when things got tough, and hopes these will help anyone going through rough patches while starting up, as well.
“Always have a vision or a goal, so that you channelise your energy in the right direction. Analyse your positives and shortcomings, accept your flaws, and strive to break barriers. Add value to others’ lives by being compassionate, kind, and non-judgmental. Live in the moment and seize every opportunity.”
'Happiness lies in learning something new every day ’ – Tejaswini Gopalaswamy, traveller, entre...
Improving mental health in India
Anshula believes there is no clarity on why India is such an unhappy country. She believes the happiness level in any country depends on the quality of life, and the role of the government in strengthening the trust of its citizens. In order to steer the country towards happiness, she says we need to eliminate social and economic inequality, ensure social security, and strike a balance between economic and social development.
On how we can overcome the stigma attached to mental health, Anshula adds,
"We can start with creating awareness about these topics, and establishing safe environments for them to talk about what they are going through. We can also help them create a goal or vision for themselves, so that they stay focused and constructive. The most important way though, is by just being there for them while they are going through struggles."
The way forward
In the next few years, Anshula aims to establish HappyFitYou in at least five different countries. She also plans to make a positive impact in the lives of 10 lakh people, over the next three years.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)
Digital media, menstruation, and mental health: how 27-year-old Kanika Agarwal is scaling heigh...