It starts with myself……
I know happiness will always elude one because life is a roller coaster ride. We, humans, being emotional creatures will be thrown into turmoil if we allow it.
When I was younger, I was a worrywart. When something happy happens, I knew that the next event is going to be sad. I almost try not to be too happy. But life is going to be like that, up and down. I had wondered how I could walk a constant happy road.
As I grew older, I realized that you will get to the top of that boulder and feel elated, and then what? You still need to scale the next boulder. It’s our nature to want to become happier.
Then, I decided that the pursuit of happiness is an internal journey and has nothing to do with outside circumstances.
What are my Strategies to be happy as far as possible?
My first strategy is about knowing myself – reflecting on my strengths and my weaknesses.
If I do something well, I am fulfilled and happy. I would analyze my strengths to apply them to my other goals so that they are likely to be successful.
I have identified my strengths as curiosity, persistence, and a willingness to work hard.
I applied persistence and hard work to the Toastmasters training program and it has helped me built my self-confidence and presentation skills.
If I do not do something well, it is because I lacked the required skills, traits, and knowledge and it behooves me to equip myself then. I can’t blame anything else.
I try to build discipline which is not easy but possible.
I also look for mentors who are willing to teach me.
Here, we must understand that the obstructions to becoming better and hence happier are stubbornness, laziness, and pride.
I know that there is a lot to learn and I am all ears if my mentors are willing.
I will make time to be there.
I am open to constructive criticisms even some scolding. I have developed a thick hide. It has worked for me so far learning from others and I always go away with my bag of gems.
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My second strategy is to work on my attitude
In my work, I see it as a calling.
It is to relieve patients’ pain and discomfort, restoring esthetics, well-being and function. Each one of us could see our roles as contributing to the family, the clients, the company, and the economy as a whole. This attitude will make our work nobler.
If we see it as a job and related to money-making, it can be mundane. Because making money is never enough when it is a yardstick.
If you see it as a career, it can be disappointing if you do not scale the ladder or receive the promotion or raise even when you doing a good job.
If we see it as a calling to do good for ourselves, colleagues, customers, and company, we will feel good every day and money-making certainly becomes incidental and more fulfilling. The desire to excel becomes natural and we are rewarded accordingly.
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My third strategy is to pursue happiness by living a balanced life. To tie one’s identity to our vocation is a lost cause as when you retire, you will feel that you have lost status and money. I do observe people who lost their vigor when their status and fame were lost but there is much more in life.
A recent incident surprised me. A friend of mine has passed on suddenly but in the chat group, the conversation turned to why she was known as ‘madam’ and not a ‘doctor’.
I wondered why that mattered. Rather, whether she did something remarkable for herself or others was more relevant.
People may be bound to their title and status and this can be a source of unhappiness if they lose them.
I try to seek a balanced life through dabbling in other pursuits. They include travel, sports, or hobbies, Toastmasters’ activities, and anything other than work.
This will give us more grounding than our jobs.
It also makes us realize life has so much more interesting stuff to offer.
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The fourth strategy is to control my mental state
I refer specifically to the emotions of anger, jealousy, fear, and greed.
In short, I try to avoid an agitated mind. I try to think in terms of solutions instead of problems and this has helped a lot. Negative emotions do not make the situation better, they only complicate the matter and cause us to be impulsive in our decision-making.
If a situation is beyond one’s control, you could accept it, do something positive and try to see the good in it. As an example, to pacify someone who is angry, stay calm. Two fires make a bonfire and everyone burns. At this juncture, listening out may be more useful and a solution always surfaces.
I must say it is not easy as the temptation to lash back and defend oneself is instinctive.
Being grateful for everything that’s going well can give one joy. In this respect, Singaporeans have a lot to be thankful for comparatively to many countries in the world. We are a chosen, blessed country. Our problems are minuscule.
Retreating into solitude and enjoying your own company is a great balm for the hurried soul. I reckon that if one can overcome loneliness with independence, activity, and purpose in life, one should be having a lovely life journey. It is not easy to be a loner and I found that out during my solo trips.
Fear always seems real in a new environment but the faster you try to integrate into a new place by making cautious contact with others, fear diminishes and you will find that there are good and like-minded people out there.
Overcoming fear calms the mind. Not to mention the possible beginning of some beautiful friendships.
Finally, to attain a stable mental state, I find preparing project speeches for Toastmasters helps. Because this requires reflection. It gives clarity and concentration to my busy mind. Every project done is an endorphin booster, the happy hormone that our brain releases.
In conclusion, my strategy for happiness includes knowing myself, working on my attitude, seeking a balanced life, and maintaining a calm mental state.
The road to happiness is truly a personal journey. It will always be bumpy but it is a meaningful way to my goals.