Today is the second day of another month. It is also the first working day of the second half of Year 2012. So far, I have received about 15 text messages from friends and relatives wishing me a happy new month. This gesture is quite common in my environment and I appreciate it.
As each day passes, so we increase in age. When some people look back, they feel very happy and satisfied. To others, reflecting over their past is like opening old wounds. They feel unhappy, unfulfilled, and full of regrets. They see a wasted life.
I am fond of taking stock of my actions and activities from time to time. You may want to take a quick look at some of my previous posts like As the Year Draws to a Close, Marching Forward in March, and It is April – a Quarter is Gone.
When we reflect on our past, we are able to identify what is moving well, and can make necessary amends in areas that are not so satisfactory to us.
Human beings are constantly searching for happiness. As Dalai Lama rightly put it, “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” Don’t worry, I’m not a Buddhist but I can see sense in Dalai’s assertion. Whatever we do in life, our ultimate aspiration is to be happy.
Think about it carefully. Whatever you aim to achieve – power, position, sweet vacation, education, money, good job, good health, relationship etc – all you want ultimately is happiness.
Of course, many people equate power, wealth, or material possession with happiness. But why do many wealthy people remain unhappy? Why do they continue to crave for more wealth? Why do so many successful people, most especially celebrities, go into drugs? Why do they have broken relationships? Why do they still remain unhappy despite their wealth and fame? Clearly, possession and happiness are not the same. You can be rich and still be unhappy.
It is also true that many poor people remain unhappy and frustrated. They look at the rich people with envy, and wonder why God has destined them to be poor. They are forever dejected.
Still, there are many other poor people that are very happy – much happier than many rich people. They are forever at peace with themselves. They speak and behave as if they possess the whole world. This, again, is to confirm the fact that happiness is not the same as material possession.
Please do not get me wrong. I am not saying that power, money, fame, or material possession cannot bring happiness. They actually do. But the kind of happiness one derives from any of these is temporary in nature. Money can give you some happiness but it would be for a while. That is why you will find some rich people always searching for more money until it reaches a point of greed; which is actually a point of no return – a point where they are ready to do anything for money.
True happiness is inner peace. It is calmness of the mind. It is being contented with whatever you have. Happiness is inward; it has to do with how you feel within. It is not about external stimuli like money or fame. That’s why a poor man is happy despite his poverty. And that’s also why a rich man could be so unhappy with all his wealth.
Am I in any way suggesting that all rich or famous people are unhappy? Not at all. Some are famous and happy. In fact, it is much better for you to be rich and be happy. And it is quite possible to have both.
There are basically two types of people:
- those who are happy because of what they have, and
- those who want to be happy by acquiring what they don’t have.
Any of these two groups could be rich or poor, it doesn’t matter.
The first group will however be happy because they are contented with what they already have.
Those in the second group will constantly be unhappy because of their insatiable desire for more. They will be under pressure and remain unfulfilled.
Happiness is a matter of choice. You can choose which group you wish to belong. But I Choose to Be Happy.
In most cases, we tend to overlook our internal deficiencies and blame external factors for our unhappiness. Some blame their parents; others blame their partners, employers, governments, or environment.
The truth is that love, inner peace, tolerance, respect, and self-belief are those things that actually bring sustainable happiness. That’s why it is possible for someone to rise again after a fall. That’s why a man in financial difficulties has the courage to weather the storm despite his external problems. That’s what true happiness does.
Granted that true happiness means inner contentment, peace of mind, and fulfillment; how then can one acquire it?
The key ingredient is love. And that love must start with you. For you to be happy, you must first love yourself. You must be happy with who you are, and what you have.
Loving yourself also means being your self. If you are always thinking of being like someone else, or possessing what someone else already has, I’m afraid, you can never be happy. It will be difficult for you to have inner peace.
When you love yourself the way you are, it will radiate all over you, and people will be drawn towards you. That is the magnetic power of happiness. Likes draw likes.
Loving yourself also means appreciating whatever you have been able to achieve in life – however small. This takes me to the sermon I heard in church yesterday concerning the10 lepers. The story is in the book of Luke, Chapter 17.
Out of the 10 lepers that Jesus healed, only one returned to show appreciation. He was probably the only happy man among the 10. Perhaps the other nine got healed and started searching for other things that could make them happy after the healing. They seemed not to have inner peace in spite of what Jesus had just done for them. Or, maybe they were just ungrateful. Well, unhappy people are ungrateful people.
On this first working day of another month, which also happens to be a Monday, I want you to reflect on the first half of this year. Appreciate your achievements so far and buy yourself a drink.
Recognize your shortcomings but instead of weeping over them, make a vow to do better in the second half of the year that has just started.
Let your attitude be that of self-worth as against self-blame, and you will remain happy.
I wish you a happy new month of July.