Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1322, (1 - 7 December 2016)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1322, (1 - 7 December 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Like what you have

As the days dwindle down at year’s end, some of us feel a sense of sadness and sorrow.  We ruminate at what was accomplished, what was missed, what went wrong, but seldom at what went right. 

Do we ever stop to reflect on: “What pleasures or treasures did the year endow.”  “What will the coming year bring.”  “What sacrifices will the focus of my interest be?” 

A sense of incompleteness, fear, joy, anticipation, regret all mingle together, leaving us both anxious and uneasy. We never stop to unlock vistas of accomplishment, enjoyment, fulfillment, events of the year’s highlights.

Are we ever satisfied? Ignoring this humble emotion, subtracts from any happiness we can afford ourselves.

We all seek happiness, thinking somehow it has eluded us, yet few of us, perhaps none, realise that happiness is a fleeting emotion: “Happiness is the interval between periods of unhappiness.”

This year you could hardly escape the complaints about the high prices of each and every item. Complaining gives some relief, but learning the reasons behind the higher costs gives understanding and acceptance. Do we ever exert the effort to learn, to understand? Why? If only we try to concentrate on what we have, we may not even notice what we do not have.  Bertrand Russell understood:  “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.”  For many, that is a hard pill to swallow because we have not defined happiness.

Psychologist Sonjee Lybomarsky’s theory is that 50 per cent of happiness is determined by our genes.  Ah… there’s the rub.  We are trapped. Not just yet.  She believes that 10 per cent depends on life’s circumstances.  There ----How can that help.  But here’s the best part, 40 per cent depends on us and our daily activities.  It is not life that owes us it is us who owe it to our lives.  If we are to believe Dr Lybomarsky we must get to work, to cultivate happiness.

Specialists say we can, and who knows better than specialists?  We do of course.  Perhaps we should give them a chance ---- maybe, just maybe ----- we can end up by liking ourselves, our lives and our good fortune.

One of these specialists, a research by Dr Michael McCullough, rang a bell, loud and clear… giving thanks.  We do not give thanks often enough. 

The US oldest feast was celebrated by the Pilgrim immigrants, who, together with the native inhabitants, threw a big party, a grand feast, to give thanks for their security, safety and bounty. They gathered plants and edibles, and looked forward to tasting for the first time the succulent meat of a strange fowl, which they called ‘turkey’.  It was a noble and grateful gesture and has been celebrated for the past 240 years, making it the oldest feast in the ‘New World’.  It is held on the last Thursday of November with much cheer and fanfare… and a good custom to adopt by all. 

Make it a habit to give thanks for family, friends, good food and the health to enjoy it. If you count your blessings, you will find greater satisfaction in your life, for they are many.

Relationships are a major key to happiness. Social connections on a regular basis are stimulating and rewarding.  Even more rewarding is to give up grudges.  Forgive those who have wronged you and you will breathe easier. Speaking of breathing easier we are reminded of what seems to be everyone’s advice…. exercise.  It is the miracle of the age. Apart from its physical attributes it reduces anxiety, increases self-esteem and is the most effective instant booster --- a modern pleasure, we all can possess.

“We must like what we have, when we don’t have what we like”… and even the most wicked among must have a little kindness to spare.  Neuroscientist Elisabeth Dunn discovered that an act of kindness lights up the brain areas associated with pleasure. Now, we did not know that, did we.  Should we then not practise kindness more often, for more pleasure.

Nobel-Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kaheman found that one more hour of deep sleep each night, provides more happiness than a $60,000 raise. Hard to believe ----- well, believe.  Who can argue with a Nobel Laureate.

You think money brings more happiness?  In this material world, we all do --- and we are all wrong.  After you get all that money can buy, you reach a certain plateau… and you want more, or something else or you do not know what you want.  It is something vague you desire and you drift from one to another, when all you really want is contentment.

Just drop saying: “I want, I want, I want.”  The greatest success of all is to be content or satisfied.  Do not look at life and see what is missing. Be content with what you have. That does not kill ambition.  Once you stop chasing the wrong things, the right ones catch you.    

Gratitude is a virtue, fading by the wayside.  Pick it up. It will help you see life through rose-coloured glasses. It is not exciting pleasure that you see. Pleasure is for an hour. You see a more durable, long-lasting, indefinite sense that ‘all is well.’  You get to see what you have and do not miss what you do not have.

As long as you keep on those rose-coloured glasses on, it has been a good year, and the next may be even better.

 “Happiness comes fleetingly now and then /To those who have learned to do without it /And to them only.”

Don Marquis (1878-1937)

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