Advertising slogans can’t resist the 'happy' word so that jingles begin with Happiness is ………, If you want to be happy just ……., happiness is rewarding yourself with ……. be happy and don’t forget to ………. It seems happiness must be our natural state of mind as we are encouraged to tough out life’s trials and tribulations by grinning and bearing it – smile please! - after all life wasn’t meant to be easy!!
Children’s smiling faces remind us they are happy but inevitably once they realize they can't always have what they want you may have a unhappy child, or even tantrums.
Learning how to deal with our inevitable disappointments is probably one of the best life skills we can acquire.
Health also plays a pivotal role as our first pains will certanly not be our last. Chronic pain can make even the most robust unhappy.
Social researchers have concluded our happiness or otherwise is influenced heavily by by our individual and societal expectations. Continued rapid changes create a pressure cooker environment conducive to many people feeling powerless to achieve their basic needs or accomplish predetermined goals which can lead to widespread unhappiness.Adding to these frustrations are the societal expectations about continued assured growth and expected satisfaction which can be unrealistic. This is not to say goals and aspirations are unhealthy or to blame but rather our expectations need to be tempered by the realization the journey will not always turn out as we intended or hoped. How we handle these disappointments might be more important than anything else.
When I recently visited Malawi it was interesting to observe the happiness of its people in the various communities both in the city and the outlying village areas. According to those who have spent many years in the field this was not surprising since their country is known deservedly as the warm heart of Africa.Considering the country is one of the poorest in the world with an annual average per capita income of only $250 combined with a low life expectancy I think it demonstrates the nexus been material wealth and happiness is erroneous.I didn’t encounter a single rude Malawian and the outpouring of joy over simple events was extraordinary.
It seems too me this is an example of ‘being in the present ‘so that the worries of the future are transcended. Whilst there, I continually listened the stories of the locals. One such inspirational story was of a grandmother who was cement contractor delivering cement to one of the catholic schools.
Her story was typical of many about their community life, grandchildren and so forth but it wasn’t until later on I learnt her husband had died the previous year from HIV AIDS. She was also infected, yet was able to continue in her joyful (whilst acknowledging her past sorrow) life’s existence.It seems to me she has traversed the physical for the spiritual and so doing transcended past sorrow for the present joy. Whilst we may feel some anger at her plight and of the very many,including a large number of orphans, who through no fault of their own have to carry such a heavy burden, it also is true it is testament of how the spirit of some can never be broken.
Happiness is the warm heart of Africa.