Studies indicate that happy people are likely to be more productive at work. A good leader, therefore, uses ways and means to keep her people happy. A great leader, however, does not look upon her people as merely means to an end, as tools of production. Rather, she recognises her inseparable connection with them as living beings striving to be happy. Therefore, a great leader does not try to ensure happiness of her people merely to increase their productivity. Instead, she works to promote their happiness for the sake of their true well-being. To do that, she herself has to be happy. After all, how can an unhappy person create the conditions for happiness around them? The question that follows is one that has been asked by humans perhaps from the very beginning of human kind: How can we be happy?
First a caveat. I am not referring to a self-referential happiness wherein we aim to be happy without considering the welfare of others. It is a mistake to think that we can really be happy at the expense of the good of others. I am referring to a happiness that promotes the happiness of others or, at the least, does not increase their suffering. How can we find such happiness? Perhaps there are many paths that lead to it. For me, happiness is a skill that can be sharpened. The path I would like to share requires the regular training of the mind to be able to answer "Yes" to five questions.
1. Do I have an aspiration? An aspiration is not an ordinary desire. It is a desire to achieve something greater than and beyond oneself. Desires that are only for the benefit of one´s individual needs rarely bring lasting happiness. Why? Because it does not help to open up our hearts. And a heart that is closed knows no happiness.
2. Am I always diligent? Diligence is to put in one´s best, no matter what. It is walking that extra mile. It is to find joy in the journey itself rather than being too focussed on the end result. It is to do what we do with love.
3. Am I always kind? Are my words and actions motivated by considerations for the welfare of others?
4. Do I always think win-win? Are my negotiating strategies founded on a need for all parties to gain from the engagement? Or is it primarily based on a desire to win for myself, irrespective of the impact on the other parties?
5. Am I always grateful for the blessings in my life? It is difficult to imagine a life where there is not a single positive. However, due to our craving for more, some of us lose sight of the blessings in our life and spend our time focussing on what we lack. Consequently, we lose the opportunity to be happy with what we have, and remain unhappy with what we do not.
I have learned that happiness (or suffering) is a choice. It results from how we choose to use our mind. Can you train it to genuinely be able to say "Yes" to the above five questions?