What is Happiness?

We usually follow routines at work or school every day without having any problems: simply we take everything for granted and do not offer gratitude for living an ordinary life.


What about the people who fall victim to natural disasters?


So many quite unusual sizes of earthquake, tsunami, landslide, flood and others have hit Japan and other places on Earth for the past few years.  As the result, we don’t know exactly how many people who cannot spend “ordinary” life.  In Japan, at Hanshin-Awaji Great Earthquake, the number of people who evacuated was close to 240,000, whereas at Higashi-Nihon Great Earthquake, it was about 330,000.  We don’t even know how many more in total lost “ordinary” life and realized this “ordinary” life was the happiest time in the world.


A private partnership called TOMOCACHI project to support children who suffered Higashi-Nihon Great Earthquake was set up soon after the earthquake by Government of USA and American-Japanese Council.  This is a partnership to support children who lost parents, brothers and sisters.  I met one of the children joined the program sponsored by the partnership at work when I was taking a two-hour seminar by American NPO about defining “Happiness.”  She was outstanding in co-leading the seminar with an American lecturer and I felt like I could see a bright future of this Japanese young lady.  In any event, here is the list of my take-away points:


1)    Everyone has Light at heart

2)    Shine the Light that you have

3)    Smile makes you happy – scientifically proven

4)    Circumstantial Happiness vs. Synthetic Happiness

5)    Honestly show your dark side and find new connections – this will lead you to Happiness

6)    Happiness can be transmitted to others.  Try to transmit to others.

7)    Praise others’ good points


After the seminar, on the way to lunch, a friend of mine and I laughed each other and agreed this was something like Japanese definition of religion.  In Japan, when people use the word Shukyo (religion), this automatically means Cult.  When I hear the first point during the seminar, I thought “No way, you tell this at the office?!”  However, I also had a second thought that working in a profit-organization also is like believing a god.  There is a god at the top and we believe he or she is right.  The products approved by the god and senior angels are the treasures to make people happy.  When sales forces believe in the products, they sell them to consumers; and consumers become happy!


Now, I should get back to what I was saying.


I am Japanese but I sometimes feel like I don’t have the same definition of happiness as other Japanese do.  The reason, I guess, is that I learned how to find my own value when I studied at the States.   However, many around me tend to compare his/her own happiness to others.  Their happiness might mean a sense of superiority:  I am happier than that person; that person might be happier as he/she lives in a penthouse and have a high-end sports car; and so on. 


Do you sometimes question yourself if you are happy?


However, I realized one thing when I attended the above seminar that, regardless of your nationality or who you are, when people feel happiness, they smile!  For the people, who experienced the great earthquakes and lost family and a platform of the “ordinary” life, to recover smile, what has to be done?  What about the people who try to protect their lives at a battlefield or for the women who are forced to work like slaves?  They might not be able to smile at all.  What about ourselves who do not notice the happiness of “ordinary” life?  How many times do we smile a day?


There have been more and more natural disasters, indiscriminate murder, traffic accidents that will take away our “ordinary” happiness.  Whatever happens, the most important thing is to try to protect your life.  Keeping one- to two-week worth of food and water is another thing.  On top of it, it is also important to increase the number of times you smile a day.  Let’s try to smile at work, at home, at anywhere.

At the seminar, we learned that, even when you don’t feel like you can smile, “Fake it until feel it!”

I guess anybody can do this.  And when we smile, let’s transmit to others so that they could also feel happy at work: it would increase your productivity!  When we do it at home, our family becomes happy!  We should train ourselves to become happy under any circumstances as the “ordinary” life might be taken away suddenly.


PS:  I wrote this script on September 23 in Japanese.  And then, on September 27, Mt. Ontake erupted and 47 people are reported to have passed away.  Please allow me to express my deepest sympathy.

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