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Happiness depends upon ourselves. “Happiness is an expression of the soul in considered activities.” (Aristotle)
Happiness is a choice we make. If it stems from within, it has purity and sustainability. If it is induced by external factors, it shall not only be bound by confines of time, but shall also remain enslaved and hostage to the factor. External conditions change with rapidity. As such, happiness is not likely to reside inside you with permanence, but it shall change and alter to suit externality.
Happiness must not be nurtured by the surrounding environment. Instead, it must emerge from the deepest corners of the heart or inner-being; only then it shall have the quality of permanence and joy.
Happiness is never alone. None can remain in denial that unhappiness is always in pursuit of happiness to achieve dominance over it. Unhappiness is never afar, it is always close to the heels, like a Siamese twin.
To achieve, how does one feed the state of happiness for longevity? The foremost thing is to allow oneself the magnanimity of acceptance that not all things in life are equal. Nature maintains balance but does not offer equality. Some have more of everything and some have less of everything. The ‘more’ and the ‘less’ can be both the material and the non-material. The material world would include visible endowments of economic assets, while the non-material would comprise abilities, faculties, inherent skills, innate talent and other mostly non-quantifiable traits, that make a persona.
We come across some people who are naturally and without any identifiable or quantifiable reason to be cheerful and gregarious all the time. It is this class of people who are blessed with this amazing trait to find an island of happiness in the vast ocean of unhappiness.
We just need to recognize elements that give us boost of happiness. We need to put to regular use ‘actions’ that beget happiness to us. An act of ‘giving’ too many is a fountain of joy and happiness. And by doing so repeatedly, you only improve the quality of your happiness.
Read More: When Life gives you Lemons Make Lemonade
Dan Buettner, a bestselling author who in his quest to know how people get to be happy, in his fourth book in the series, “The Blue Zones of Happiness,” asks a question: “who is the happiest person?” He, then, goes to answer himself: “It may be Alejandro Zuniga, a healthy, middle-aged father who socializes at least six hours a day and has a few good friends he can count on. He sleeps at least seven hours most nights, walks to work and eats six servings of fruits and vegetables most days. He works no more than 40 hours a week at job, he loves working with co-workers he enjoys. He spends a few hours every week volunteering: on the weekends, he worships God and indulges his passion for soccer … he lives with like-minded people in Costa Rica.
In psychology, happiness is classified as a mental emotional state of feeling enriched which means it gives, amongst others, a positive and pleasant feeling or emotion, leading from intense joy to absolute contentment. This happens only when there is no expectation of an equal response, from those to whom you are good and pleasant; you do so, because the act makes you happy. Compassion and kindness must neither be taken nor given to obtain an equal reaction from the recipient. In achieving happiness, there is no trade-off. Happiness can change to sorrow, fear, apprehension and anxiety. An unstable level of happiness will without doubt impact upon the quality of relationship we maintain with the world outside ours.
Happiness can be made a habit with incessant practice. It is only possible if you commit to develop a trait that allows you to view everything positively, regardless of the aspect of life it relates to; this attitude must be coupled with the resolve to obscure from your attention, everything that is negative.
For seeking happiness, it is the innate human nature to see the presence of bounties that are of either high quantum or high value. This actually leads to envy and unhappiness. To remain happy, instead we just need to look around and conclude to our own self of how more blessed each one of us is than others, in every single aspect of life. It is the presence of small things to which we fail to give high value and, therefore, banish happiness from our lives. This leads us to hug and embrace unhappiness.
On the shop of life, happiness is not a commodity sitting on the shelf for us to gaze at; we can’t purchase it, but we can attempt to get closer to it, by morals and standards. We can, through belief and action, convert happiness to being a distant enemy of sorrow, instead of it appearing as a close cousin.
Happiness has an inbuilt quality of spirituality; the more you spread it, the more it grows in the hands of those who, freely and willingly, are always ready to give. Descartes had said, “Illusory joy is often worth more than genuine sorrow.”
Happiness is an indisputable right of every single human being. The understanding of happiness is limited by our ability and the inability to redress situations. It is up to us to prevent, happiness to become a mistress who visits occasionally, but never resides permanently. Thomas Jefferson in a letter to an acquaintance wrote, “It is neither wealth nor splendour, but tranquility, which gives happiness.”
Remembering happiness as an event of yesteryears is a patented sickness of those who live in the present to mourn the past. It is a poor heart that does not rejoice. Such people are not forward looking. Happiness is not about gain in pleasure but a rest and refuge from pain. It is all about avoidance of accidents and misfortune. “Happiness, that grand mistress of the ceremonies in the dance of life, impels us through all its mazes and meanderings, but leads none of us by the same route.” (Charles Coulton). “You ask yourself are you happy and you just ceased to be,” said John Stuart Mill. Therefore, remain happy at all times, it drives you and others crazy.
Happiness can range from pleasure to virtue, it is a state achieved by well-trained and cultivated minds, with a very strong sense of character that is embedded as a foundation, and who have only a moderate possession of external and material goods. They rely on internally generated happiness, which is of lasting nature.
If in Singapore, success and happiness are inter-linked with five Cs: Car, Condominium, Cash, Credit Card and Club membership; in Denmark it is “The state provides me with everything I need,” said a working woman alongside a comment “My children are happy. I have a great husband. And I love my job. I know nothing too bad can happen to me.” Happiness is different in different cultures.
A colleague asked me, “How did you spend the seven-hour flight, did you read that presentation I gave you to review?” I said, “No, I wrote something on “happiness.” He then defined happiness for me, “When your net cash flows are positive, that is a state of happiness… all other things follow”. That’s one way of looking at life and happiness.
I am happy because I think I am happy.