What happiness really is
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2019 - 12:00am

“The chief end of life is to be happy.” I have someone post this on my Facebook page when I was talking about the importance of hustle and grind when it comes to achieving success in life.

I did mention that one cannot be happy unless he or she is productive. Moreover, this often-time quoted cliché coming from this young lady commented about the futility of life when all we care about is working hard and not being happy at all. Her comment disturbs me as intently as it made me think.

Something I read about many years ago said, “If you ask parents from the western hemisphere of the world what they would like to see in their kids when they grow up most of them would say that they want to see their children grow up happy.” And when you ask the same question to Asian parents a vast majority of them would most likely say, “I want to see my children grow up successful.” These two perspectives are as far apart as the East is from the West.

Many young people in our country are more acquainted with Western philosophy and culture. We speak English well, we pick up every nuance of their language, and this would influence the way we think.

To many, happiness means “Feeling good about something.” Perhaps a feeling of exhilaration; a certain “high,” endorphins working and generally making a person felicitous. But if you would carefully observe the “happiness,” she is alluding to a sentiment, an emotion or a feeling. And would this not be a dangerous pursuit if one seeks to obtain this feeling through different means and ways?

And then, author Mark Hanson in a best-selling book of his (minus all the expletive) said: “Happiness comes from solving problems.” and this got me intrigued. I have never heard anyone say this, and neither have I read articles on this, but Hanson explains (I took out all the expletives): “Problems are a constant in life. When you solve your health problem by buying a gym membership, you create new problems, like having to get up early to get to the gym on time, sweating like a meth-head for thirty minutes on an elliptical, and then getting showered and changed for work, so you don’t stink up the whole office....Problems never stop; they merely get exchanged and upgraded. Happiness comes from solving problems. The keyword here is “solving.” If you’re avoiding your problems or feel like you don’t have any problems, then you’re going to make yourself miserable. If you feel like you have problems that you can’t solve, you will likewise make yourself miserable. The secret sauce is in the solving of the problems, not in not having problems in the first place. To be happy we need something to solve.”

These words got me thinking. Hanson has a point. He says that happiness is a form of action; an activity and is not something that is passively bestowed upon you, “not something that you magically discover in a top-10 article on the Huffington Post or from any specific guru or teacher. It doesn’t magically appear when you finally make enough money to add on that extra room to the house. You don’t find it waiting for you in a place, an idea, a job—or even a book, for that matter. Happiness is a constant work-in-progress because solving problems is a continuous work-in-progress—the solutions to today’s problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow’s issues, and so on. True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving.”

Hanson’s book is full of expletives. I would cringe as I read it, but apart from it, his thoughts make sense.

I understand this very well. Problems come in many forms. It may be as simple as finding the right food to eat, installing the new software and trying out its functions, to more complicated things like presenting a report to Mancom, speaking in a town hall meeting, etc. Other problems are complicated especially those that involve family relationships or friendships. These issues challenge us, but it stretches us if we wrack our brains, come up with solutions and deal with it head-on.

Most of the problems we can solve while some are addressed by others and in some instances, the issues disappear as it is resolved by its own. However, think back when these happened; we experienced happiness and a sense of fulfillment. Happiness, therefore, is a by-product of solving problems, the process of being stretched and experiencing growth and this is why many successful, wealthy and influential business leaders I know still keep on grinding and hustling. What keeps them going? They’ve built an empire whose fortune could last them four generations or more. Perhaps they want to experience more happiness?

I know this from experience. The happy moments I had was when a problem was solved and tired and exhausted as I was, I put my head on my pillow and would even say, “Today is a wonderful day.”

Many successful people I know do not seek happiness for happiness’ sake alone. They work hard, they grind, they hustle, and the results make them happy. One thing more, I am thoroughly convinced that happiness is also a by-product of living a godly life. Experiencing fullness of joy and making one’s self a blessing to others. So if we do not solve problems and are not a blessing to others but a nuisance to many, then that makes us the problem, doesn’t it? And nobody’s happy.

(Connect with Francis Kong on www.facebook.com/franciskong2 or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 dzFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.)

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