DR JOEL Yang’s article (“The happiness formula”; Mind Your Body, last Thursday) effectively summarised the three most important essentials to happiness, namely, finding something kind to do, something purposeful to live for and something hopeful to look forward to.
It is indeed a paradox of life that the way to lose happiness is to seek it as a primary goal in life. Those who chase after happiness will not catch it, but those who seek the good of others will find happiness running after them. Happiness is always a by-product and not something we can produce within ourselves.
As poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge said: “The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions – the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heart-felt compliment and the countless infinitesimals of pleasurable and genial feeling.”
It is in giving that we receive. Happiness is much like a perfume you use on others – you cannot dab it on your loved ones without getting yourself perfumed.
That is why kindness should be a way of life. In being other-centred, thoughtful and considerate, generous and helpful, we will increase our subjective state of happiness. These positive actions generate in our body and mind a hugely positive opinion of the world around us, and that enhances our sense of well-being.
Recent studies by psychologists have confirmed that kind thoughts and acts increase the oxytocin and serotonin levels in our system, and these neurotransmitters increase our sense of positive well-being.
Happiness is within the reach of all of us. If you have not often experienced the simple joy of just doing the kind thing, you have neglected the simplest path to personal happiness.
Dr William Wan
Singapore Kindness Movement
First published in Straits Times Online – September 24, 2013