Upon seeing the title of this blog, you must probably be wondering how happiness is related to communication and education. Well, great communicators are usually individuals who have peace of mind with a jovial disposition. As for educators, our temperaments do play a part in our ability to facilitate a class well. And the degree of happiness does influence class dynamics to a certain degree, yes?
As happiness is such a crucial component to successful communication in both the workplace and the classroom, I am dedicating several posts to describe the process leading to happiness, with this being the first post. To understand happiness, we have to explore the beliefs (and at times misconceptions) held by some of us, at times for years. The beliefs that we have may or may not be correct. I will be presenting my perception on the inner workings of happiness. I leave it to your discretion to discern if it speaks true.
Most of us have heard the adage that “success is found in the process, and not the destination”. However, some of us still make the mistake of working towards something without enjoying the process. Similarly, with regard to happiness, some of us see happiness as the destination. Just think of all the statements that most of us make when it comes to happiness:
- I will be happy when I am married (where marriage will have its own set of marital woes that we have to deal with after tying the marital knot)
- I will be happy when I have kids (where raising children – from a financial perspective- can be quite a strain, considering their medical and educational costs over the years)
- I will be happy when I am rich (where wealth will bring its own set of issues, such as having to maintain such a luxurious lifestyle in the event of a retrenchment)
- I will be happy when I retire (where retirement often bring its own set of challenges such as having to remain engaged in activities so as to conquer mundanity and boredom)
- I will be happy when I am promoted (where a promotion will bring about its own set of challenges, such as a heavier workload, people management issues and lack of work-life balance etc)
- I will be a happy if I am given opportunities to travel overseas to see the world (where the enjoyment is often short-term, transient and ephemeral. Before we know it, we are back to the grind in the workplace. What’s left are merely memories which – while memorable – are already things of the past)
- I am happy when I am alone in my own room listening to music (of which given some time, we will be eager to find something to do, which makes us restless [an ingredient that is detrimental to being happy])
- I am happy when I am with my friends (who – over time – will get married or travel/work overseas. With everything in life in a state of flux, where does that leave us?)
I am citing the above examples not to provide a pessimistic view of life but to enable us to see life in its bleak reality. More importantly, it is to create an awareness that happiness is not a goal that we are working towards. It’s true that we can work towards any of the abovementioned goals but how long does the happiness last even after we have achieved our goals before the next set of challenges keeps us moving on? Merely listening to a music track of our fancy becomes mundane over time, not to mention our other “goals of happiness”. Therefore, happiness does not lie in the destination of our goals but is in the process of achieving our goals.
However, as all of us are aware of, life is never smooth-sailing. There are many obstacles and challenges awaiting us in our journey towards happiness, many of them which are psychological. I will be addressing them in my subsequent posts. For now, I will like to highlight the fact that happiness is not an entity that is separate from us but is within us. But we have inadvertently buried them within ourselves to the point that we are unaware of its existence. I hope that this fact will give all of us the consolation that each and every one of us is able to be happy. Happiness should not be sought as it cannot be found elsewhere other than within ourselves.
Just to provide a good example, I will like you to try something. When you are in a bad mood or are down, give up a seat to an elderly when taking public transport. Engage in volunteerism by engaging orphans and elderly in an orphanage and/or old folk’s homes respectively. Try smiling to someone to brighten his or her day. What happen? Can you do it? What is the reaction of others? And how do you feel inside after doing some all these activities? Do you feel happier?
This example illustrates one important fact about happiness and about us:
Even in the midst of unhappiness, moodiness, melancholiness, extreme duress or even depression, we can still show and provide love to someone. When we do this, we feel happy in return. Our unhappiness has absolutely no corelation with our ability to love someone. It almost seems like a paradox that to be happy, we need to love others first. But it’s true.
It took me years to realise this fact. I believe this is because when we feel down, we have the misconception that we do not have the energy, time and effort to help someone else. It’s only when we have made the effort to help someone in the midst of pondering on/lamenting about our negative predicament will we realise this. But how many of us actually go ahead and help someone when we are down? I think that’s not a large number.
While this post places the focus on the fact that we are able to love regardless of our temperaments, it does not explain the causes of our unhappiness. And of course, it will be great if we are not only able to love others, but love ourselves and be happy as well.
I will address this in my next post.