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Absolute Happiness

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Absolute Happiness

Ask anyone with a new born baby- if they had one wish for their child, what would it be? I bet along with ‘health’ and ‘wealth’ , the word ‘happiness’ may also appear too! In fact, ask anyone what is the one thing they want deep down, the bottom line is ‘happiness’.

So if happiness is that important, why are we not taught how to be ‘happy’’? We are at crisis point in this country with children as well as adults suffering mental health issues. The most recent NHS figures state that 1 in 8 under the age of 19 had a diagnosed disorder in 2017. Most alarming is that these figures include pre-school children! This is a global problem too, with Japanese children having the highest suicide rate…

Back to us here in the UK though- how many adults will experience mental health issues in their lifetime? And if children aren’t taught how to deal with these issues, high chance it will escalate into adulthood too! One reassuring thing I once read said ‘“people with mental illness can and do recover”.

I will at this point explain my understanding of ‘happiness’…

In Buddhism there is a concept called ‘2 kinds of happiness’- ‘relative’ and ‘absolute’. ‘Relative’ happiness is temporary/ not long lasting. For example, you may enjoy a good meal. It gives you happiness at the time, but what happens once it has gone? Will it leave you filled up with eternal happiness?

This ‘relative’ happiness can apply to how we may feel about anything new e.g. a new phone, car, home etc. Those initial feelings of euphoria, excitement and joy will fade away as the novelty wears off and the item gets older, worn or broken. ( This can apply to anything we become attached to that will not last forever).

‘Absolute’ happiness on the other hand goes deeper than ‘relative’ happiness. It is internal – feelings of being fulfilled, where all our qualities, talents, skills are used to the max… when we are ‘ in the zone’ ‘in our flow’, ‘in rhythm with the universe’ …

The American Psychologist Abraham Maslow ( 1908-1970) researched ‘Self Actualisation’ . He described this as ‘what man can be, man must be’. ( Ok, he uses the word ‘man’, but he was writing in the 1950’s). This means reaching one’s fullest potential in life. Everyone has the potential to ‘self-actualise’ – it doesn’t mean you have to be a famous Olympic athlete- you could be the best mother or road sweeper etc. you could possibly be.

While I was researching self actualisers for my Masters degree in the late 90’s, I realised that self-actualisation was only 1/2 of the picture… You could be the best bank robber in the world, but you’re not exactly serving society! What is needed is both Self AND Social Actualisation: being the best we can be for ourselves and others as part of a fully functioning society. In my research I also found that self actualisers all have the same qualities in common…( look out for this in the future- I will write more about it)…

So given that qualities aren’t fixed from birth ( for example if we want to be more generous we can be), why aren’t the qualities of self-social actualisers being explicitly taught in schools? If we want children to be the best they can be, surely we should be teaching these qualities to them.

I have a solution to all this which I will share in my forthcoming columns. Keep watching this space…To be continued …

9 Comments

  1. Tan 13:53, Apr 25, 2019

    Excellent article! Looking forward to reading more.

  2. Kevin B Murray 16:39, Apr 25, 2019

    Well done Edwina.

  3. Vani 17:14, Apr 25, 2019

    Very well written.Relevant to everyone.Thank you.

  4. Lau 17:24, Apr 25, 2019

    Thanks for sharing this bite-sized nugget of insight. Like Tan, I too am looking forward to the next instalments

  5. Robyn 18:48, Apr 25, 2019

    Interesting article. I’m interested to see how it develops. The face of education is changing out of necessity. It’s becoming increasingly important that childhood education concentrates on learning dispositions and key competencies. Teaching children how to learn goes hand in hand with teaching children how to be, understand and truly experience happiness.

  6. Nok 22:21, Apr 25, 2019

    Great article ❤️
    And so true that learning about how to be absolute happiness and self mastery is important.

  7. AliCat 12:31, Apr 26, 2019

    A fantastic read, I’d love to see more!

  8. Mennah 09:47, Apr 27, 2019

    Really insightful, very much appreciated. Thank you

  9. Anonymous 11:38, May 03, 2019

    Beautifully to the point. Keep going and share more – the world needs you xxx

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