Right to happiness

Today, we have all kinds of rights: right to information, right to be heard, right to education, rightto work...

The list is endless. Yet, the right to happiness remains only a choice. When life seems a struggle, we often choose to respond by being miserable. Instead, when difficulties arise we can still decide to be happy.

This is what renowned author Dr Lloyd John Ogilvie emphasises when he says, “Happiness is no option, it is a responsibility. We all have a duty to God, ourselves and others to overcome our moods and to remain happy.” R L Stevenson, the great English poet and writer, for example, is said to have suffered poor health from childhood until he died at an early age of 44 years. Yet, he never allowed illness to conquer his spirit. He felt that being happy was a duty and he faithfully embraced happiness as his way of life. Abraham Lincoln summed it up nicely when he said, “Most people are just as happy as they choose to be.” The key ingredient for a happy life is therefore to make up our minds to be happy. This can be done in several ways, one of which is to find pleasure in simple things, in the here and now.

From there on, making the best of the current circumstances will help in trying to remain happy. A young man, known for his cheerful temperament once advised his discouraged friend, “Look on the bright side.” “But there is no bright side,” replied his friend, sadly. “Very well, then polish up the dark one,” he rightly instructed at once.

Everyone has some sorrow mixed in with the gladness of life. The trick is to make laughter outweigh tears. Having a positive disposition, never permitting criticism to worry us and letting go of grudges, all add up, in the quest to be happy. Finding new interests and doing something for the less fortunate will also contribute to a permanent supply of happiness. Giving produces happiness that hoarding never can.

There is permanent joy in sharing with others what God has given us. It may even be something as simple as sending a card, making a phone call or giving ourselves in friendship. Researchers confirm this by saying, “Helping people be a little happier can jump-start a process that will lead to stronger relationships, renewed hope and general upward spiralling of happiness!”

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