I managed to borrow ‘The World Book of Happiness’ in Bishan library two weeks ago. It’s quite a big and thick book but the content was marvelous. I love this specifically one part of the books, titled Hamba Kahle, which is Zulu greeting, meaning ‘Go well!’.
In this chapter, Professor D.J.W Strumpfer, from South Africa, tried to convey some thoughts in a practical way, without letting the theory come through. Below is what he wrote:
Life is brimming with health, beauty, joy, loving relationships, and much more. These are the fountains of our strength. When we lean into them, emphasize, explore and exploit them, we begin to flourish joyously.
Some of our strengths are in our genes, influencing our mental and emotional functioning. Some grow out of experience and personal learning, some out of education. Numerous strengths flow from our relationships, from our communities, and from the places where we live. The time we live in also determines numerous specific and general strengths.
But like physical strength, one also has to work at developing psychological strengths. Developing some strengths demands arduous work, but so much also comes through actively going in search of joyous experiences.
How do we succeed?
- Allow yourself to feel. Smile! Laugh! But also cry when you feel like crying – it will bring relief.
- Keep your eyes and ears open to the beauty around you. Seek out beauty. One can gain great happiness from listening to birds singing and watching their flight, from intently seeing trees, plants and flowers, flowing water, clouds, sunrise and sunset.
- Listen to nature: water, rain, wind, thunder – but also to nature’s silences.
- Attend carefully to what you touch, taste and smell – and experience those joys.
- Listen to music.
- Sing, whether you can or not.
- Appreciate who you are and what you are.
- Believe in your own abilities. (Remember the little choo-choo train from the children’s song: ‘I think I can, I think I can…!’)
- Do your best to remain optimistic and to find satisfaction and meaning in whatever you have to do, including your daily tasks.
- Guard your health: eat, drink and exercise sensibly.
- Search for insight: through discussion, listening, reading – but then think as well! What does it all mean to you?
- Anticipate and open yourself up to support from your family, friends, strangers, your doctor, a police officer, the company, the union, your religious community – everyone around you.
- Anticipate spiritual support, too. However, this support will not always come without asking: seek it actively when you need it and continue asking until you receive it.
- Provide support to others too, wherever and however you can – strangely, it will strengthen yourself in turn.
Undeniably, life is also brimming with negatives: acute and chronic disease, disability, sorrow, death, disaster, bleak family, social, economic and political conditions – an uninterrupted flow of demands, from bearable to devastating. Sometimes we languish there. However, we are resilient beings: we are able to returning to where we were before – but also to ‘bounce forward’ – going beyond where we were at first. The very overcoming of inordinate demands is often a source of growth and of new strength for future hardships. Our strengths help up to bear up, to overcome, and eventually to flourish again.
And below are some of their meaningful quotes to share with you.
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