On a late morning of a lazy Sunday, I am reading one of the columns of the Straits Times, about the hardship of being happy. Incidentally it is at page 46, Nov 18, in the “Think” section. How appropriate!
The article wittingly written by John Lui is a light review of the book “The Antidote”, by Oliver Burkeman. The book is about the vanity of material gratifications in the First World’s recipe on the pursuit of happiness. In essence the article is hinting that according to the author of the book, happiness is directly linked to the quality of your thoughts rather then the power of your hard achievements.
I have not read the book and I am now quite attracted to the idea of getting a copy. What makes it quite attractive is that the book seems to be relatively thin compared to the heavy tomes written by other super-achievers. I cannot resist however to draw a parallel between the comments in the article with my experience about the importance of breeding healthy thoughts. Obviously these will be my own opinions, and hope that the wise Burkeman won’t be too upset with me, should he happen to read these lines.
During my long hours of solitary walking along St. James walk, I learned how to become familiar with more universal needs, through the increasing awareness of the mass of human beings involved at once all together on their arduous life journeys. Each individual journey shares the very basic needs with the other fellow pilgrims, and your own misery is often the same misery of others. So what’s the point of being irritated by the behaviors of others? Or by the selfish desire of complaining about a perceived violation of a personal right, or by the inadequate delivery of an expected service?
I told to myself: ” Do concentrate on your shortcomings, offer sincere apologies to whomever you may have hurt, and move on with a clear mind. Likewise do not focus on the wrongdoings of others, and be prepared to forgive”
I came to realize slowly how the shift of my attention from the commiseration of my personal shortcomings to the awareness to the voice and the stories of the other walkers, was positively affecting the quality of my thoughts and my inner happiness as a consequence.
Once sedated the roaring of my inner grievances, I could enjoy like a child the beauty and the calmness of the surrounding nature and the positive appreciation of true happiness hidden in being the first to offer a smile, or a greeting, or the simple sharing of some food.
It is a well known theory on how the hosting of positive, serene and healthy thoughts can help to achieve your personal and also professional targets. Now I believe that the soft agent of success is eventually the happiness that comes from living in harmony with simplicity. So, in a process where happiness is the root cause, positive achievements are natural consequences.