Today we have put a mammoth task on our hands, which is to define happiness.
Our belief is that if this is done correctly and one connects genuinely with this phenomenon, they might put themselves on a path of equanimity. I challenge you dear reader to try this and thank this columnist later. This is done on the premise that a person’s definition of happiness becomes their GPS to their level of happiness. It is their definition and understanding of happiness they punch into that life GPS, and it takes them there. If their understanding of it is skewed or distorted, they will go to skewed and distorted land and believe that is all there is to happiness.
We are psychosomatic beings and our happiness or lack of it, hinges on that scientific truth. Anyone who wants to experience true, sustainable and lasting happiness should understand this, embrace it and begin to seek to know about practices to assist them to enter that ‘promised land’ flowing with happiness, and for our purposes in the workplace, flowing with happiness and productivity.
This column, for the past weeks, has been campaigning and lobbying for happiness to be taken seriously in the workplace and we feel now that we would have robbed the process if we leave it at that and do not proceed to define happiness, at least for those who have the knack for science and the scientificity of things. In this article we attempt to define happiness to put our issue into perspective. Let me hasten to apologise to those who believe that happiness is an opinion and a subjective issue that depends on who you are and what you like. I am also sorry to those who believe that it is a religious matter and depends on whether one went to church today and paid their tithes.
There are those who need to go on a holiday to be happy, well, good luck to them and may they come back to work to live happily ever after.
In our case, for those who really want to get the crux of the matter, let us start by understanding what the statement, ‘we are psychosomatic beings…’ means. We will then go on to show what its implications are on the important issue of happiness. Jagadish Vasudev, an Indian mystic, popularly known as Sadguru has this to say in his book; Karma; A Yogi’s Guide to Crafting your Destiny; Now, if you simply think about something that excites you, you can actually feel certain sensations in your body.
This can be empirically verified. We now know that the human being is a psychosomatic organism—that whatever happens in the mind immediately imprints itself on the body as a chemical process.
If you think of mountains, for instance, your chemistry will react in one way; if you think of tigers, it reacts in another. So, for every minute mental fluctuation, there is a certain type of chemical reaction and sensation. You may not even be aware of it unless the sensations become acute. All these sensations register and over time become the blueprint of your unconscious mind. You are, therefore, a living repository of karmic memory on levels you are not aware of.
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Phew! This can be scary and overwhelming if you come to think of it and many have stopped listening because of the seemingly scary scientific truth associated with this.
They feel like it’s akin to watching a horror movie happening inside them and they have no control over it. Some, on the other hand, get excited about this and want to know more especially if explained in such a manner that it does not come as a school subject in science but as a life skill and truth that every human being can understand and use for their own good.
If, for example, it can be explained to a granny in the village and she gets excited enough to want to understand it. It would, of course be wise for whoever is sharing with granny to demystify it enough by using familiar examples that she can relate it.
It would seem thoughts are at the centre of this we are ‘psychosomatic organisms’ phenomenon.
Behind the thoughts, it would seem our senses also play a big role in the whole formation that happens in us.
We later come across the word transformation without considering the initial formation that happens to us and in us unconsciously and determines whether we are happy or not.
Considering how messy the whole world is, what with all the wars, the terror, the floods, the violence and all the wrong that is out there, one would be forgiven to think that it is impossible for anyone to be happy and at peace without making a conscious effort informed by scientific truth.
Almost all the institutions we hope to make us happy, that is if any institution is capable of making anyone happy, are in a mess. We get the worst out of them. We are thinking here of such seemingly good ones as the family, the love institution, the school, the church and the workplace. How else then do we want to leave happiness to chance?
There seem to be two levels of living, the original formation that is unconscious and happens to us without our conscious participation and the conscious living that happens when we decide to take over from the unconscious and begin to redirect our lives thereby gaining the most important benefits of consciousness, which are peace, happiness, joy, equanimity and most of all, for our purposes, performance and prductivity.
One has got to understand the role played by thoughts in all this and how, if they are to be happy, they need to understand the mechanics of their mind and take over from their sad story called the ego, to use their mind for their own happiness.
The crux of the matter here is that the mind is playing havoc with our living, as Eckhart Tolle puts it, To stay present in everyday life, it helps to be deeply rooted in yourself; otherwise, the mind, which has incredible momentum, will drag you along like a wild river. Total disaster, right? The mind sits at the centre of happiness and if not understood and used with understanding, it does its own thing and causes unhappiness.
Happiness then, in our own words means conscious living with balance in thought, emotion, body and energy at the centre of which is the mind.
Emotions are just a product of thoughts, announcing on the body what we are thinking and if the emotions stamp negativity on the body based on the thought, this affects the body negatively and the person is unhappy. Bio-chemically, a lot happens with hormones of stress being secreted that delete happiness.
Happiness comes in a similar manner; someone, for instance, thinks of something and emotions announce that on the body leading to certain happy hormones being secreted. We go even deeper next week. This is exciting.
- Bhekilizwe Bernard Ndlovu’s training is in human resources training, development and transformation, behavioural change, applied drama, personal mastery and mental fitness. He works for a Zimbabwean company as human capital executive, while also doing a PhD with Wits University where he looks at violent strikes in the South African workplace as a researcher. Ndlovu worked as a human resources manager for several blue-chip companies in Zimbabwe and still takes keen interest in the affairs of people and performance management. He can be contacted on [email protected]