In my anthropology lesson in university, I remember learning about some remote people who lived in mud huts, in a far away location, but they had clothes, food, shelter and warmth. An anthropologist asked them: ‘What do you want that would make you happier?’ and they answered ‘Nothing, we are happy. We have everything.’
This reply fascinated me, as we are a society that has too much but we are never happy, and we still want more and more, thinking we will be happier after we get it.
Seeing the good in everything is easier said than done, however it doesn’t mean we should give up on it.
I always try to see the good in everything and everyone, because it makes me happier. That is why I usually avoid reading the news section and it is also why I don’t bother with politics anymore. Although I studied politics for my first degree and found it fascinating – all the machinations, plots and conspiracy theories of governments, all the while they were really telling people how actually they are just trying to ‘help us’, ‘liberate’ or ‘bring democracy’ to countries.
So, that is why after my degree was over, I stopped reading about politics, resigned to it being a dirty game forever. Some people who go into politics, go there believing they can make a change for the better, and that can be true especially at a local level. But on an international level, I don’t think anyone can really make too much change, as they are dependent on their ties and dealings with others, which leads to the dilution of their good intensions. So Obama, for example, might have wanted to change the America’s policies, but he couldn’t, because the type of people and interest groups driving America’s interests and therefore influencing Obama, haven’t changed that much for a while.
‘When you see what goes on in the government, all the corruption and bad attitudes, you just don’t want to work there anymore’ said a friend of mine who had worked briefly for the Czech government, hoping to contribute to society, but gave up after she saw the reality.
So basically my strategy is – why bother with politics, when it just stresses you out, and you can’t really influence it anyway. Or at least I can’t, because I’m not willing to get involved in it. That’s not a positive attitude, you might think, but it works for me. It stops me thinking about all the bad stuff being done by countries to other countries and citizens, and instead I focus on what is good and don’t let these negative thoughts affect me. That is why I only ever read the ‘life and style’ section in the Guardian and watch happy films.
I’m not saying people should stay ignorant of the news, I’m just saying that they shouldn’t let all the injustice in the world get to them. I don’t know why injustice happens, and why bad people are allowed to be born and do evil things, I want to change it, but I can’t dwell on it and stress about it. I know someone who recently passed away, because of all the stress that politics and the bad situation in his country caused him. That’s why I bury my head into the sand at times.
I want to influence others only by bringing out the positive side of everything. I try to see the good in people, and that’s why I am against gossiping. Gossiping is not only a horrible thing to do, but it can also prejudice others against someone they haven’t even met yet. As the old saying goes, ‘if you can’t say something good, don’t say anything.’ That’s not to say I never gossip, I do, but I always feel bad afterwards and wish I hadn’t.
I admit, I do sometimes also complain, when I shouldn’t. But I must always remind myself of all the things that I do have, which bring me joy in my life, rather than focusing on what I don’t have or haven’t achieved. By listing all the bad and good things in your life, you most often actually realise how lucky you are and that things could be much worse.
Having goals is great, and working towards them and achieving them makes us happy, but we should be happy all the time and not just after we have everything we want, because when we do have everything we want, we’ll want even more.
This week’s Stylist magazine had a feature on happiness – and although I threw it out already, I do remember it listed believing in something higher then yourself, owning a home, having goals and having loving relationships, especially marriages as main factors for happiness. So there you go, that’s something to start working on for now.
And to end with a paragraph from Oliver Burkeman’s article which rang true: ‘Remember to be grateful. Spend your money on experiences, not objects. Volunteer. Nurture your relationships. Spend time in nature. Make sure you encounter new people and places. And never assume that you know what will make you happy’
Wishing you peace, love and happiness wherever you are.