Being Happy

 Being happy

HAPPINESS can be described as the unconditional inner state of well-being. It comes when there is harmony among self, others and the environment.

But happiness sometimes eludes us, leaving us lost and helpless. So what do we do?

How can we be happy?
Happiness can be quite subjective but there are some general guidelines. Be content. Be fulfilled. Express emotions constructively. Listen to our conscience.

Be sociable and courteous. Work to create stability in our lives, with our family, our jobs and our finances. Religion can help in the pursuit of happiness, as do charitable actions.

Why are we unhappy?
It could be due to low self-esteem, where we judge our own worth based on how others see us. And some people can be overly-critical.

We may also be unhappy when we place too much importance in accumulating material wealth, only to realise the happiness it brings does not last. This is related to an individual’s lack of spiritual growth because of the emphasis on material pursuits.

And in an increasingly individualistic society, sometimes we lose our social networks, such as our family structure, and become isolated. That is also a factor.

Can we create happiness for ourselves?
Yes, it is possible to create our own happiness because true happiness comes from your inner self regardless of external circumstances. For example, we may have a set of goals in life, which we set because we believe it will make us happy.

But then comes a time when we realise that we cannot achieve them, and that brings us down. So it may be the time to reflect - manage our expectations, change our goals and perspective on life. It is okay to change, as long as we do not compromise on our principles.

And what about the expression money does not buy happiness? It is true that money may bring happiness in the short-term but human desires are unlimited.

It is also good to be active, because it makes us feel that we have a purpose in life. And having that purpose can make us happy. Remember that we are social animals. Being connected with others is very important in ensuring our well-being.

What about happiness at work?
It is important to be happy at work, given the fact that we spend a significant amount of our time working. And happiness at work comes when we have a clear aim about why we are doing the work.

Work is more than about making money, so work with a purpose to serve. Being happy at work may also lead to increased productivity and a better chance of promotion.

In the office, maintain a good working relationship with colleagues.

Set clear boundaries so we do not overstep where we are not wanted. And make sure our professional life in the office is balanced with our personal life outside the office.

But it cannot be denied that some people are unhappy at their jobs but stay on because of the salary and other perks. In that case, we might need to reflect on our priorities and commitments before deciding if it is worth it to keep that job.

    The writer is a psychiatrist at Columbia Asia Hospital-Miri.
By Dr. Gan Chee Kuan

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