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mardi 14 septembre 2010

A note on Happiness...

We all want to be Happy.. is it a sensation of feeling High? a sense of contendment? the rush of acquiring material goods? Are Rich people happier than the Poor? if that were the case, there would have been a whole heap of unhappy people in this world.. which is not the case.. as travelers around the world can attest.
there are no one single social factor that would increase or decrease your happiness.. Neither Americans nor the French are well noted for great overall happiness.. americans have poor health care system and the french the best, so it is important that we look into a conglomeration of factors and also individualize them.. The oppressed, marginalized, indigenous people, poor as they are living surrounded by their rich compatriots in USA Canada Australia New Zealand are some of the happiest people I have encountered in my travels. Poverty we dont mind, said an Native elder, but it is the misery we dont like..
ah well there is a wealth of research into happiness.. multiple lists of happy countries, many of which are in Europe and the Caribbean.. Japan as you guessed is not on that list...cities which are happy.. Portland, Oregon in the USA makes the grade, so does Munich, Copenhagen.. you will understand why Singapour didnt make the list...
Having lived or visited some of the happiest countries on earth, I am going to give you Dr Yehuda's three rules. Please if you find the same rules somewhere else, please dont sue me for forgery or plagiary or whatever.. Happiness is not a trademark, posessed by a select few...
(1) Be Happy with what you have, dont be unhappy with what you dont have. I should put a reference here to my note about my friend Pierre Merrick, an UmonHon Indian who taught me this very long time ago. ( I will add the link to my blog on Pierre Merrick here later.
(2) Swami Sivananda sends out a daily message and this past week his messages have all been on Education, meaningful education.
While the globalized world, from Myanmar to Mozambique, is after MBAs, jobs with higher salaries, even if it means tucking beds in Dubai, stressful relationships because of lack of time, with your knowledge gotten from twitter or Fox News or CNN and not from analysis... these are sure paths to unhappiness.. Let not the number of letters behind your name, give you a false sense of security, my feeling is that you are trying to hide behind those letters... MD MBA PHD DBA FRACP and what not... if you need to put degrees behind you, just put ONE...
Instead of the above, go after accumulating LIFE EXPERIENCES than a bank account. Like the Green Book of Travel during the Segregation days, the new segregated travelers look for off the path experiences and cultural learning journeys, but they want to do it cheap and the fastest fashion. In Cochin, I heard a pale tourist very loudly enquire: can I do the Backwaters tour this morning and this afternoon I would like an Ayurvedic Massage and then i want to take the night bus to save money.. ah well, that is just like collecting stamps.. to say you have them..
Try to lead a Qualitative life and not a Quantitative life..
Not How much? How many? but how was that? How many friends did you spend time with? Give the Gift of time to your friends and loved ones, you will receive good quality time as a gift as well..
The Greatest Gift Givers are those give that which they can barely afford to give. The greatest among them is my best friend in Asia who is chinese, living in KL. Serendipitously we met in Siem Reap and since then we have developed a very close friendship. I have travelled to KL at least ten times to see her, the recent one being just after her arrival from three months in Yoga/India.. I want to make sure that she would have no difficulty of being detribalized from her contemporaries hell bent on their accounting manifestos and other materialistic accoutrements...and that she can fit into her own world there, she can do it by herself, but what is wrong with a little bit of help. why did i do that? did i not have anything else to do in Paris or Havana? I will tell you, each and every time I have visited KL in the last two years, more than about ten times, she has taken time off from work (she ran a finance section for a prominent media company), so that in 2009, her entire annual leave was devoted to making sure that my stays in Asia were comfortable...She is a genuine giver, who gives of herself to an extreme extent and soon her circle would encompass the world with very good people all over the world attracted to it... I am just so happy to be one of them..
She laughs loud, she gives, she takes care of others and she is happy.
(3)In Singapour a group of MBA students (dont expect young asians to be studying Anthropology! in Asia, especially the chinese dominated Singapour).. after my lecture asked me: can you tell us how to be happy?
American Indians, these oppressed, some of the last of the colonized peoplein the world, have been so generous to me in my years of associaton with them. Much of my knowledge about how to enjoy what is offered to you in this world comes from them.
They said: dont try to be a good doctor, try to be a good human being, then you would become a good doctor. Pursue Meaning in your life. not that materialistic ideals nor nebulous concepts such as Happiness, which comes from within like a fountain, with no necessity to search..
Not what am I? A doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, an anthropologist
but who am I? a friend, a husband,a lover, a father.
Here for me, a Jew, the connection to the history of my people, the connection to the land of Israel and the undeniable connection to the nationhood of my people come in. that influences very much the answer to the question Who are you?
As that master of laughter, Dalai lama woud say: "Spirituality, in my view, consists of transforming the mind. The best way to transform it is to get it used to thinking in a more altruistic way. So ethics is the basis for a secular spirtuality for every one, one that is not limited to a group of believers in one religion or another" (from his Memoir, My Spiritual Journey, October 2010).
Regarding living ethically, may I kindl suggest you read my previous post: i am not responsible.
American Indians living close to their culture, despite being surrounded by outsiders to their culture who do not respect them, lead a meaningful life despite the reality of suffering, discrimination and poverty.
I was feeling particularly that morning, this sunday past, as I left Miami to go to the reservation of the UmonHon Indians..
good quality news,one after another had arrived in the past weeks from France, from USA, from Cayman Island, from KL... all qualitative..
The news that truly lifted my spirits out of my body to a "high" was the news of self realization of a friend of mine, ML who wrote to me after a retreat in YogYakarta...
Be a part of some one else's self realization
As Lizbeth S, my close friend during my Melbourne days used to say:
Your role is to try and bring your friends closer to their dreams....