C’mon, Get Happy

Sac State alum endows chair for study of happiness

By Jessica Laskey
December 2021

Singh began his career in information technology, earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur. He wanted to start a business, so he moved to California to obtain a graduate degree at Sac State.

He completed leadership programs at UC Berkeley and Harvard Business School, and founded R Systems, a publicly traded global technology and analytics services company that has enjoyed enormous success. His faith called him to do more.
“The Sikh Holy Book talks about Anand, which means joys, and Bismad, which means awe,” Singh says. “Positive psychology and the science of happiness are just that.”

Singh decided the best way to spread these values was to build educational programs and institutions dedicated to the science of happiness. He founded the Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness at IIT Kharagpur in 2017. Two years later, he funded the first endowed professorship at Sac State, the Rekhi Singh Endowed Professor in Happiness, housed in the Department of Psychology.

“I looked back at my life and I figured out that my schools where I had studied had played a big role,” Singh says. “I was grateful and that’s my way of giving back.”

The study of happiness at Sac State includes coursework, academic research, lectures and workshops built around the concept of incorporating happiness and wellbeing into daily life.

In announcing the endowment, Singh said, “Learning about happiness can help students not only cope with stress, but also to succeed at Sacramento State and throughout their lives.” He emphasized a focus on “practicing gratitude, mindfulness, forgiveness, self-compassion and more.”

Singh sponsored three more centers similar to the one at Kharagpur. He plans to open a total of 10 by next year under the Rekhi Foundation for Happiness, a nonprofit trust founded with his wife, Harpreet Rekhi, in 2016. Goals include working for the betterment of women and girls.

Though he’s not in it for accolades, Singh has received significant recognition. In May, he was appointed international adviser of the Gross National Happiness Centre for the Kingdom of Bhutan. He advises the organization on collaborations to further happiness and wellbeing.

“Bhutan is the birthplace of gross national happiness, an alternative to the gross domestic product,” Singh said when his appointment was announced. “The world still has a lot to learn from this small kingdom.”

In August, he was awarded the 2021 President’s Medal for Distinguished Service at Sac State in recognition of his positive impact on the local community and beyond. The award brought his journey full circle.

“Sac State’s business program gave me an insight into how to help businesses recover from a loss position,” Singh says. “That is what I did in my first job. After that, I was able to start my own business, which is prospering. I could not have done that if I had not been exposed to the business program at Sac State.”

He’s happy to help fellow Sacramento residents reach their full potential.

For more information, visit csus.edu, rekhifoundation.com and rsystems.com.

Jessica Laskey can be reached at jessrlaskey@gmail.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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