Wednesday, October 5, 2016

In Search of Happiness. Have you heard of Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index?

Dr Abe V Rotor

Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index has recently gained a place in measuring the level of development of a country by inputing an elusive parameter which is happiness.  GNH Index can be downsized for local application, individually or by group or community that is closely knit.
  Relationship is the Number One source of happiness
However, the standard development index remains: Gross National Product (GNP) Index, the annual total value of goods and services generated by a country within and outside its shores, as differentiated from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is the total value generated within the country only.

This was modified to include Human Development (HD) Index, in order to determine how a country's wealth and earnings are used for the  welfare of its citizens in terms of health, education, housing, and the like.

Parameters of Happiness of GNH Index:

1. Psychological Well-Being
2. Health
3. Time Use
4. Education
5. Cultural Diversity
6. Good Governance
7. Community Vitality
8. Ecological Diversity and Resilience
9. Living Standards
10. Family
11. Spirituality
12. Sense of Achievement

 Preserving native language and culture

Upon reading Time's feature story on The Pursuit of Happiness (October 22, 2012 issue), what came to my mind was to rank the nine parameters, and add three to the list, namely, Family, Spirituality and Sense of Accomplishment or Achievement.  

Individual perception of course, varies, so that it is suggested that a kind of self-evaluation be conducted using the Likert Scale: 1 Very Poor, 2 Poor, 3 Fair, 4 Good, and 5 Very Good. 

Compute the average by adding the values of all the parameter, and divide it sum with 12.  This is the general perception of happiness of the person concerned. What is equally - if not more important - is in being able to find out the main source of happiness, at the same time, the least. This exercise therefore, is aimed at re-affirming our sense of values in the pursuit of happiness. So does a community or country.
Family outing to Patapat, I Norte  
We say we are happy, or a little happy. Or unhappy. Or sad. But how can we quantify happiness like in a grading system?

Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) found a good reference. It came from the works of the founding father of happiness research, Dr Happiness himself - Dr Edward Diener of the University of Illinois.* He calls this technique The Satisfaction with Life Scale.

In the radio program Ka Melly and I used this technique to impart a lesson about Happiness. We find that Dr Diener's test can be used in the classroom, in meetings and conferences, or just for the sake of bonding with friends and associates.  Reference: The New Science of Happiness, Claudia Wallis, Time February 28, 2005

Get a piece of paper and rate yourself in each of the following items. Use a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is not true at all, 4 is moderately true and 7 absolutely true. The scale allows you to approximate closer to your self-judgment.

Here are the criteria:

1. In most ways my life is close to my ideal.
2. The conditions of my life are excellent.
3. I am satisfied with my life.
4. So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.
5. If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.

Compute for the total score by adding all values from the five questions.

·         Here is the interpretation of your score.
·         If you got 31 to 35, you are extremely satisfied with your life. Kudos!
·         If you got 26 to 30, you are very satisfied with your life. My co-host Melly Tenorio got 28; I got 27. Three program participants got Very Satisfied scores, too.
·         If you scored 21 to 25, you are slightly satisfied. Two participants got scores on this level.

Those who scored 15 to 19 (slightly dissatisfied) will have to perk up and unload some reasons. Get to the neutral point which is 20, and thence move up the happiness ladder.

It's not hopeless if you got low. The idea of this exercise is to create awareness that there are avenues of happiness, and that there are basic levels of happiness that one can cling to, and say, "Oh well, that's life." And still manage to laugh. And the world laughs with you.

Here is Wilcox's masterpiece which projected her to world fame as author and poetess.

                                 The Way of the World

Laugh, and the world laughs with you,
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the brave old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.

Sing and the hills will answer,
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes rebound to a joyful sound
And shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you,
Grieve, and they turn to go;
They want full measure of your pleasure,
But they do not want your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many,
Be sad, and you lose them all;
There is none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded,
Fast, and the world goes by.
Forget and forgive – it helps you to live,
But no man can help you to die;

There’s room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one, we must all march on
Through the narrow isle of pain.


Psalm of Life is the perhaps the most important poem written by America's darling poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The poem is among the world's most quoted and recited pieces of literature; in fact, it is a prayer by and in itself. It speaks of universal values, feelings and compassion, of valor and sacrifice, and of victory over ones own battle.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Longfellow himself, a victim of a family tragedy, rose to further fame and dignity. After the death of his wife in an accidental fire he went on raising his young children, and teaching in the university, experimenting with new forms and styles of poetry, producing Hiawatha and Evangeline that revolutionized poetry.

I found a very old publication, Longfellow's Evangeline (copyright 1883)with the author's biographical sketch. In describing Longfellow's trial in life, allow me to quote, "More than a score of years remained with the poet, and he had the love of his children and the comfort of his work, but the grief was so deep and lasting that he could not trust himself to speak the beloved name of his wife."

From sorrow rises a great triumph, and this is the testimony to greatness - to share not how the world should end, but how it must begin again. Not how one closes himself in, but opens himself to others. Not to "Go Gentle into the Night", but stand sentry to the "Light of Dawn".

Psalm of Life is dedicated to victims of calamities - force majeure and man-induced, circumstances beyond control, and all those who find life difficult to bear. May they find comfort, hope, and new meaning of life in Psalm of Life. ~

Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us further than today.

Art is long, and time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle,
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no future, how'ver pleasant!
Let the dead past bury its dead!
Act - act in the living present!
Heart within, and Good o'erhead.

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait. ~


                             “Yes, I have a successful married life.”

 - On getting married and your friends are around, and you tell to the whole world, “Here is the person I will always love.”

- On having your first child and see the image of both of you and your spouse? (“Look he got my eyes, and chin of his dad.”)

- On having a third child and the economy has not recovered? (“I haven’t any increase in pay since last year.”)
Author and wife visit a museum
- On driving the kids to school, then attend to chores you say, “It’s like a storm had left all the things out of their places.”

- On having your in-laws around and other relatives coming for weekends, then you realize you have an extended family.

- On having a home of your own, and say, “What I paid for rent, I now pay for amortization.” And it is investment.

- On having family disagreements now and then and you say, “Well, if everything is yes, you are sure only one is thinking.”

- On leaving your present job (or his) and start anew, even when you start again at square one, and say, “Tighten your belts.” Even so, you think you are happier now, so with my family.

- On winning an award, and say, “I owe this thing to all of you, especially to my family.”

- On going to other places and call up, “I’ll be home on Christmas.” It is only spring though.

- On experiencing a tragedy in the family, and find a strong shoulder to cry on, “He was meant to be with us only for sometime. He is our angel now.”

- On discovering a life threatening illness and you realize how each day passes with greater meaning and resolve. (“Each day is a bonus - my life is not mine anymore.”)

- On surviving and your hair is now gray, and the children have learned to adapt to life, the way you wish them to be.

- On receiving an award your children earned, and this time a sweet voice says, “This is you.” A drop of tear rolls on your wrinkled face. Words are not enough.

- On being alone; the children had left home and your spouse (bless his soul) had left something for you to live the rest of your life.

- On having grandchildren. “You naughty one you got my nose, and your chin is your grandfather’s.”

Success in married life - yes, it is the greatest success a man or woman can achieve. It is success that makes the world go round. It is the very foundation of a family and therefore of human society.

- It is a kind of success no one is denied to aspire for, irrespective of race, creed, education, or culture. Yet it is one many people failed to achieve in spite of their wealth and power.

- Success in family life is primordial. Between career and family, many people have chosen the latter, and say with a sigh, “Well, you cannot have the best of two worlds.” And they chose family.

- Success is not always equated with money or power. But it is always associated with happiness. A philosopher once said, “Happiness is the only commodity, which if you divide it, will multiply.” Try this formula, and it will tell us, “A happy family is successful.”

- Family life to be successful does not depend on one formula though. It thrives on new frontiers. There are always new things to discover. It is the discovery itself that is important, that makes it original and unique. And it must be always mutual. Joy to one is joy to the other.

- Success cannot be kept in a treasure box and locked. They say, “You cannot rest on your laurels.” Trophies are symbols; they are not an end. In Greek mythology Jason, after his adventure with Hercules in search of the Golden Fleece, spent the rest of his life beside his ship, the Argon, which fell into pieces with age killing the great warrior.

- Success in married life is neither abstract, nor merely spiritual. It is real. It is to be shared. It must be contagious. Let it be expressed with the children. It must be felt and celebrated in one way or the other minus the pomposity of the Romans. It must be exemplified. It must strive to be a model.  It should be able to pass as a paradigm of not only what life really is – but what it should be. “Life,” according to Reader’s Digest, “is the most difficult art, yet it is the finest.”

- Asked what the great British Prime Minister and hero, Winston Churchill wanted if he were born again. He said with twinkle in his eyes looking at Mrs. Churchill. “I’d like to be Mrs. Churchill’s next husband.” Success in married life has an imprimatur. It leaves a mark. That mark even glows on the dead man’s face, and on the shine of his epitaph, and flowers that grace it.

- Trials are not enough to weather success. Yes, to a courageous person, who when asked, “Were you not afraid?” He simply said, “I was afraid, but I did the brave thing.” He picked up the pieces together and his family is once more solid and whole.

When I was invited to talk on this topic before faculty members and students, I said to myself. “Gush, I should know I am successful in my married life.” For whatever I have done so far – through thick and thin - I know my family has always been with me – on the stage, on camping trips, painting exhibits, on visitation of the tombs of our departed, in the church, on my sickbed, lectures, at the mall, workshop, at the farm, on rosary hour. Seldom do I encounter the four “Ws” and one “H” – the very things that make our life complex and uncertain – without my family helping me answer these questions. Life is truly worth living for.

As we switch on the vigil light and retire in the night, we are one happy family looking forward for the next day. For indeed, success must be lived with day after day, season after season, year after year.
At the end, we come to submit our credentials to the One who made us all, who gave us that star that guides our life, who welcomes us at His throne when we shall then have reached it. ~

“The greatest gift that we can give to our children and children’s children is Happiness. Happiness is one commodity, which when you divide it, will multiply.” AVR   

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