How can I be happy?

A very happy interracial couple smiling for the camera

How many of your of hours are filled with real happiness? For most people, the answers to such questions would indicate an unsatisfactory level of happiness."

So then is happiness a realistic possibility now? Strange as it may seem in this troubled world, the answer to these questions is, yes.

A measure of genuine happiness is possible even now, but it is hedged on how we choose to live and what we make of our life. Here are some ideas that can help you:

1. Learn Contentment


If your happiness is always based on owning things, you will never be happy. There will always be something new that you want.

You need to learn to be happy with what you have. Of course, from time to time, it might still bother you that you do not have what you want.

But think about this, do you have to be a billionaire to have what you want and find happiness?

One billionaire had a series of unhappy marriages in his life. When asked what gave him the most happiness, in view of his great wealth, he thought a while and answered:

A walk along a good beach, listen to the ocean waves and then a swim.”

That is something even the poorest man on earth can do very often, free of charge! So do not pity yourself for having too little. It could be a blessing in disguise.

You may be having more time to do things that will really contribute to your general happiness.


2. Live in peace with others


Psychologist Richard Gardner says:

It is important to remember that money—and the things that money can buy—are not the most important things in life. It’s things like the kind of person you are and how you treat other people that will determine how happy you are going to be in life." 

The key to developing and keeping good relationships with others is to have a wholesome, positive outlook towards them.

What can hurt relationships is a person not being willing to work at being compatible with others. This does not mean that you always have to agree with others regardless of what they say.

But there are so many things that are not life or death’ matters; different views can be allowed. Do not become unreasonably or unyielding when it does not really matter.

This will only deprive you of your happiness and tranquility.

3. Find a hobby


Canadian doctor Sir William Osler claimed: “No man is really happy or safe without a hobby,” 

Taking time to take up one or more hobbies can add zest to living. It could be photography or learning to play some musical instrument or learning some foreign language.

Or you might find interest in growing plants or music and dancing. Other hobbies could be projects in sewing, knitting, cooking, and leather work involving braiding and embossing, and many others.

Window shopping is an activity that makes strong men tremble, but many women and girls relish it anyway.

Whatever the case, do what love, but do it in the right moderation to avoid exhaustion or antagonizing others.

If it is possible consider turning it into a career. Most successful and satisfying careers have been built around hobbies.

4. Have a Healthy lifestyle


Why wait until you are sick before you give thought to your health? We all know how unhappy we are when we are sick, our faces all gloomy, anxious for a quick relief.

An ancient Chinese sage observes:

To administer medicines to diseases which have developed is comparable to the behavior of those persons who begin to dig a well after they are thirsty.” 

True, no one is immuned from disease, but research shows that most diseases are a product of our lifestyle.

Take an example, Lung cancer, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes account for up to 70 to 80 percent of all deaths in industrialized nations.

These ailments are often linked to the unhealthy habits of smoking, unwise diet, and lack of exercise.

Without a doubt, the choices you make about the way you live will have a major impact on your health and happiness.

5. Enjoy your work


When we feel that our work is useful, then it can be easy to feel happy and contented. Work can then become a more of a blessing than a curse.

However, the work you do may seem uninteresting or unimportant. But ask yourself, does it not make a contribution to your existence—helping to pay your bills?

Then it is important to you. And it is also important to society in general, for if all the seemingly routine or dull jobs were eliminated, how long would society continue to function?

Hence, dwelling on the positive aspects of your job and it will help you enhance your job experience and satisfaction. Work will then cease to be burden you have to do, just to get by, but an essential part of your life.

6. Find your purpose in life


George Bernard Shaw the famous Irish playwright had this to say about finding happiness in one’s purpose in life:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

How disappointing and frustrating it would be to find that you had wasted precious years in the pursuit of goals that proved fruitless.

So find your purpose in life before it is too late. There are, after all, definitely limits as to just how many fields a person can explore in the years of his adult life.

7. Remain optimistic about life


Learn to be positive despite setbacks that happen in your life.

Take an example of Helen Keller despite being rendered deaf and blind at 19 months by scarlet fever, she able to overcome these obstacles to be able to learn to read and write (in several languages), eventually speaking and graduated with honors from Radcliffe College.

In her autobiography The Story of My Life she tells us of the many struggles she had to endure. What made her to remain optimistic about life? She offers this advice:

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

So when we are more optimistic about life, then we are able to see new opportunities even in the face of daring challenges.

 Later, you will reflect back with gladness on your fits of achievements and be amazed.

8. Simplify your life


A person who constantly pushes himself to the limit physically and emotionally is a prime candidate for burnout and unhappiness.

Take responsibility for your schedule and find ways of simplifying your life to make more time for things that can enrich your life, like spending more time with loved ones.

In fact, on this matter the revered Mother Teresa makes this interesting comparison:

In the West we have a tendency to be profit-oriented, where everything is measured according to the results and we get caught up in being more and more active to generate results. In the East -- especially in India -- I find that people are more content to just be, to just sit around under a banyan tree for half a day chatting to each other. We Westerners would probably call that wasting time. But there is value to it. Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of results, teaches us about love. The success of love is in the loving -- it is not in the result of loving.”

9. Unselfish interest in others.


Striving to cultivate an unselfish and continuing interest in the welfare of others can result in indeed a richer and happier life.

For one thing, using one’s abilities, assets and time to help others has a good effect upon the individual’s own outlook. You record of generosity will put you in good stead in time of your need.

People will be more inclined to repay your kindness in full measure. But more important as you see individuals made happy by your unselfish giving, your own happiness will increase dramatically.

However, when the right motivation is lacking giving in itself does not bring happiness. It will be eventually become apparent to others leading to more displeasure in your giving than not giving.

Read more…

How to deal with racial discrimination?

A black lady complains about racism to a white guy

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination defines racism as:

any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life."

Although, some gains have been made towards addressing the problem, it is still rife in many societies fanned by competing political, economic and social interests.

It's victims have had to endure all manner of humiliating abuses, discrimination and forced evictions, sadly some have even lost their lives.

When confronted by such challenges what can one do?

Here are some recommendations:

1. Avoid vengeance


Why is vengeance not an effective response to racial prejudice?

In order to get a more objective answer to this question, we can borrow from the vast experience and wisdom of the esteemed Gandhi.

He lived in a time period when there was unrest in all spheres of the Indian society i.e. political (between the colonial government and pro-independence forces), social (between the various castes), and religious (between Hindus and Muslims).

Having witnessed countless attacks and counter attack between this various groups Gandhi rightfully concluded that:

 Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary."

Yes, it is ‘momentary’ because it only stirs hate and hate will stir further contentions, thus entrenching the vicious cycle of hostilities and acrimony.

A better approach would be to break this evil jinx by not seeking revenge; it would be like removing firewood from the fire, undeniably this will cause the fire to be extinguished.

2. Avoid generalization


Although certain members of a community may have racist tendencies, it would be unfair to conclude that all members of that community are inherently racist. If you do so, you could be transforming yourself from a victim to a perpetrator of prejudice.

Therefore, do not be quick to judge individuals just from their racial profile as other factors could be at play.

For example, your boss could just be having a bad mood swing and may be race is not really the issue.

Thus, before you make any conclusions, it would be advisable to be familiar with the backgrounds and circumstances affecting other people’s lives.

3. Take precautionary measures


Even with the best of intentions of trying to be impartial and trying to get along with people of all races, there are those who will still harbor resentment against you.

Hence, the need to take precautionary measures to avoid putting yourself in direct confrontation with them.

Sometimes you may be aware of people, places or events that are historically known to trigger racial tensions at the slightest provocation.

This foresight can help you make wise choices about, who to limit your interactions with, where not to visit and where to be, to avoid putting yourself in harm’s way.

Moreover, it will help in reducing the unpleasant encounters, which will only contribute to reinforcing the patterns of prejudice against you.

4. Seek legal redress


Where it is possible; it may be also prudent to seek legal protection to stem the trend of racial discrimination.

Although the legal systems are not perfect, they have help to correct some of the social ill's in the society and upheld civil liberties.

A good example is the 1954 landmark United States Supreme Court ruling, which declared that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional.

This paved way for the integration of the white and black schools.

The plaintiff in this landmark case was just a welder called Oliver brown, whose daughter had to travel by bus 1.6 kilometers to her black school, while a white school was just seven blocks away from her home.

This clearly demonstrates the superiority of legal reparation versus violence; it removes the element of direct confrontation, while achieving the desired outcome in a more binding manner to future generations.

5. Do not be sidetracked


After enduring harsh racist comments and ridicule, you might be a little apprehensive about your worth and relevance to the social order.

However, remember that racism thrives of out of ignorance and those opinions do not accurately portray who you really are.

They are a manifestations of biased views from people who have been unfortunately been exposed to negative ideologies through their upbringing, social interactions or just purely racist propaganda.

Therefore instead of been unduly worried, devote your efforts to achieving your goals in life without being sidetracked by their opinions.

Time will indeed establish if those views were of any substance or not.

Why make mountains out of molehills?

A cartoon picture of a woman pointing to a molehill

Why Make Mountains out of Molehills?

Have you ever seen that mouse like creature, the mole?

Perhaps not, for he spends most of his life underground.

A small burrowing mammal, the mole in many places averages only some six inches in length.

Because of his burrowing and insect-eating habits and his fur he is held to be quite a valuable animal.

By reason of his burrowing habits the mole often mars lawns and gardens.

However, his hills can be considered as little more than nuisances, since they average but two to four inches in height.

A figurative molehill, therefore, is something that might be a nuisance but certainly would present no serious problem over which to get greatly disturbed.

To an ant a molehill does look like a mountain, and to those who dwell on petty things any trifling thoughtlessness or injudicious word or act becomes a crime.

Then, why do people at times find themselves making mountains out of racial molehills?

Religious, racial, national or family clannishness or prejudice often causes persons to make mountains out of molehills.

Any nuisance or faux pas committed by their own group is overlooked but when made by one of another race or religion it is exaggerated and made an excuse for unloving, unreasonable words and actions.

Then again, there are those who make mountains out of molehills because they are on the defensive, being sensitive in a certain respect.

If a person is sensitive about his color or his race, he will be quick to take offense at any oversight or slight remark that touches this tender spot, and so makes a mountain out of a molehill.

Still others make mountains out of molehills because of bearing a grudge or cherishing resentment against another.

They have been hurt by that one and so seek to retaliate.

Because of this wrong heart condition anything and everything that the other person may do that is the least bit irregular or that may be annoying becomes an excuse for expressing annoyance, displeasure or indignation, although it would be overlooked if anyone else did it.

But making mountains out of molehills is unwise?

Why?

It is unwise because it makes no one happy but only adds to the miseries of life.

So guard against making mountains out of molehills by guarding your heart and thoughts.

Read more…

Why you should question what you really know?

A woman asking questions.

Do you really know?

The more a wise person learns, the more he or she realizes how much more there is to know.

One appreciates how limited their knowledge really is, and that in a lifetime of seventy or eighty years one can only scratch the surface of the things there are to learn.

They also realizes that many things people accept as fact today may be corrected with an increase of knowledge tomorrow.

This keeps one from being dogmatic and from manifesting that irritating “know-it-all” attitude.

Generally it is the person that has only a smattering of knowledge that develops this attitude.

It is particularly a characteristic of many youths today.

They learn a little, and then think they know it all.

Their newfound knowledge puffs them up, causing them to consider their parents and other older folks to be “old-fashioned.”

Unfortunately many persons carry this “know-it-all” attitude over into adult life.

Such persons will go to great ends to give the appearance of knowing.

Have you ever had the occasion to ask for directions, and, instead of the person simply saying he did not know, he directed you on a wild goose chase?

Certainly it is annoying when individuals give misleading information simply to give the appearance of being well informed.

But it can be more than annoying; it can at times cause great suffering and heartache.

Not long ago attractive eight-year-old died after being under the care of a chiropractor who claimed he could cure her cancerous eye with medicines and manipulation.

“I can cure your child without surgery,” he said.

He collected his consultation fees; but the girl suffered terribly and died about a month later.

Regardless of whether he was sincere or not, the chiropractor did not really know; he had no real evidence to support his claim.

So in an unprecedented ruling, he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to imprisonment.

Certainly it is unloving and can even be criminal to propagate information you are unsure of.

A person should therefore think before speaking: “Do I really know this is true?

What evidence do I have that it is?

Could it be only hearsay?

How much better it would be to admit you do not know for sure than to make dogmatic assertions simply because you feel something to be true!

You may even have a basis for your contention, but that does not necessarily mean it is correct.

Due to inadequate methods of observation, faulty experiments or insufficient knowledge, humans sometimes reach different conclusions.

These are printed in reputable books and magazines, and conflicting ideas are thus presented.

So, can you truthfully say you really know for sure, even when you have a reputable source for your information?

A wise person will take into consideration that the conclusions of people are at times incorrect.

One will therefore not be dogmatic.

One will be reasonable, and will recognize that there may be more to the subject than just what he or she has heard or read.

For instance, one person may have learned from authoritative sources that the queen honeybee mates with only one drone bee on her mating flight.

Yet another person may have read the Scientific American, which says that she mates “successively with several drones (on the wing).”

There are endless similar examples of where observations and studies made by learned humans yield different conclusions.

Another thing to consider is that many persons in this world are interested in furthering their own ends, and so endeavor to keep up the appearance of knowing it all when they really do not.

In certain parts of the world, for instance, whole communities have been misinformed, and often exploited, by those who only pretend to know.

In some of such places the literate person is considered practically infallible.

Everything he says is believed without questions, because, as it is said, ‘He reads the book.’

This is true particularly in certain African countries; but, surprisingly, quite similar conditions exist in places where nearly everyone is literate.

In the Western world the pronouncements of men of science are likewise viewed as almost infallible.

When a scientist makes an announcement, observed Anthony Standen in his book Science Is a Sacred Cow:

he may not be understood, but at least he is certain to be believed. No one ever doubts what is said by a scientist.”

Just as many Africans gullibly accept the word of the person who ‘reads the book,’ so the general public parrots the sayings of scientists as though they were gospel truth.

You can therefore appreciate that, when you hear or read something, it is necessary to weigh the evidence.

Always keep in mind that human authorities and people are subject to error, and that sometimes they are even dishonest.

Read more…