A research done sometime back in New York claimed that Kenyans are among the least happy people in the world, ranking 125th out of 158 countries sampled. I am not sure if this research have been redone to rank countries again. The variables considered are having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make choices and generosity among others. I got shocked! In another article in the nation newspaper dated 29th April 2015, the tribes living in Turkana, a place many would consider very remote and marginalized are the happiest lot of the Kenyan society. This aroused my curiosity what causes happiness? United States, world’s superpower is ranked 15th and Britain trails at 21.
Personally I feel happiness, just like success is abstract in the sense that we can only have an individualized definition of what it is and from my own experience I have realized what kills our happiness is worry. Worry to me is a killer drug! It is something I would run 1000 miles a minutes, if that is possible to get away from. Worrying so much drains us leaving us empty and sad.
Lets define what worry is first; Worry refers to thoughts, images and emotions of a negative nature in which mental attempts are made to avoid anticipated potential threats. It is expressed as anxiety or concern about real or imagined issues like finances, health etc (Wikipedia). E. Hallowell explains about a sort of worry that he terms as toxic, the one that paralyzes you. Meher-Baba explains and says that worry is caused by desires and that can be overcome through detachment. Worry is a product of feverish imagination working under the stimulus of desires.
We have at one given point experienced feelings of worry, we also have so many ways to wipe out worry but as long as we are humans, worries will be on our shoulders, it will crawl back once in a while. We can wish it away but it will re appear. My suggestion then would to develop a structured approach on dealing with it once it arises or when it shows signs of appearing.
Let me share an approach explained by S. covey in his famous book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.
Washing Away Your Worries: “The Turn of the Tide”
In “The Turn of the Tide”, Arthur Gordon recalls a time when he was overcome by negativism and worry. In the end, he went to see a physician who told him to spend the following day in the place where he had been happiest as a child. Then he gave him four prescriptions in sealed envelopes, to be opened at 9, 12, 3 and 6 o’clock the next day.
Gordon duly went back to his favorite retreat beside the sea. At 9 o’clock, he opened the first prescription. It read: “Listen carefully.” Gordon sat back and did as instructed. For the rest of the morning he tuned in to the sounds of the birds and the sea and felt a growing peace.
At noon he opened the second prescription. It read: “Try Reaching Back.” Gordon thought about the meaning of this phrase and allowed the many memories of his past to come flooding back to him. Reaching back, he recalled times of happiness, achievement and fulfillment.
When 3 o’clock came, he opened prescription number three and read: “Examine Your Motives”. Gordon thought of the work he was engaged on at present. Slowly it dawned on him that all his present endeavors were aimed at satisfying his own needs. He changed his thoughts and motives so that they were aimed at satisfying the needs of others.
Finally, at 6 o’clock, Gordon opened the last prescription and read: “Write your worries in the sand.” He did as instructed, writing the few remaining worries he had and turned homeward, knowing that the lapping waves would soon wash all his worries away.
This is a classic approach, writing your worries in the sand…this means acknowledge them and don’t allow them to explain the reality. Turn worrying thoughts inside out. Instead of thinking about the worst that could happen, think about the best that could happen or else what has happened today that you were worried about yesterday. Worry in positives.
Choose to be happy