TIME FOR A MINISTER OF HAPPINESS?
THERE is a popular Tamil song that goes Santhosham santhosham valkaiyin pathi balam; Sandosham illaiyendral manitharku yethu balam; Ullam yenbathu kavallaigal nirapum kuppaithoti illai.
Santhosham means happiness. The song tells that happiness makes up 50 per cent of “courage” and “willingness” in a person. Without happiness, people will not have strength or courage. Courage can also mean confidence.
Ullam means “the inside” — mind, heart, thought, intention, soul or conscience. The inside is not a garbage bin to be filled with unhappiness.
Build a happy nation, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam wrote. He says happiness is what we all seek in life, so why not give it priority by formulating policies and practices to improve wellbeing and quality of life? (“Build a Happy Nation” — NST, March 27).
Happiness is to be pursued because it ensures freedom, equality and worthiness. Everyone has a right to live a happy life. There is a lot of difference when a person displays happiness.
Having to live in a nation where the unhappiness index is high can be traumatic. This will impair the senses and the people’s ability to see reality.
Happiness helps to rejuvenate and energise the mind and body to promote understanding, while unhappiness leads to an attitude of indifference, an end which could be more dangerous than anger and hatred. Unhappiness makes it easy to become interpersonally exploitative. It dehumanises, causes confusion and creates social problems.
Ramon also asked, “What is the point of pursuing economic growth per se if the majority of people are not happy?”
Most people can be happy if productive economics is pursued, which is fair to all rather than a products-based consumerism economics that emphasises rent seeking and hikes up the cost of living.
People will also be happy if a nation or a company does not lose billions in capital depletion or where war disrupts local, regional and international trade.
Do we need a minister of happiness? If we look at history, nations and empires were created by soldiers.
William Shakespeare, in his poem, All the World’s a Stage, says “all men and women are merely players; they have their exits and entrances”. This refers to the dedication to a job. In the poem, he describes the job of a soldier: Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel.
From this, we can understand why there is jealousy and quarrel. It has been created on the job. We need a minister of happiness to change this, more so, at this time when it takes political will to bring about productive economics.
MENA JEYARAM Subang Jaya, Selangor