September 28, 2016

Happiness & Fulfillment #4 Waiting in lines

by Dion Damen

Everybody wants to have some control over his or her own life, right? It is very normal for people to search for some control over their own lives. People who have control over their own lives are generally happier than people who do not have control. However, some people are taking the control of their lives a little bit too far and tend to become overly control seeking. 

Luckily for me, I am quite the opposite. I do not feel the need to control everything in my life. In fact, I actually like it sometimes to not be in control and to accept the uncertainty life gives me. I do not like to have my life planned out and to be in control of what is going to happen.
Being overly control seeking really can affect your happiness because of a few reasons. The most important one is that people that are overly controlling are more frustrated when things don’t turn out as they have planned them to go. 

With my work in a bookshop/post office, I get to interact with so many different types of people in one day. Since the start of this course I have been observing every customer’s behavior and connecting that to how happy they looked from the outside. Of course this is not a scientific experiment, however, it did show me that people who are overly control seeking look less happy than people who do not care much about controlling every situation.
A perfect example, I think, is the different ways of how people are waiting in line for the register. Especially during busy hours, the people who are overly control seeking cannot control the queue, and therefore are often very agitated and in a rush when finally arriving at the register. So, this means they do not look happy, whereas people who do not feel the need to control the queue and accept that they have to wait are much more relaxed and friendly. 

Now, you can say that these people were just in a rush or slightly agitated from another incident. However, at our shop we have a lot of customers who come every week. Having worked there for about 4 years now allowed me to become quite familiarized with a lot of the customers. And I can now conclude that a lot of the customers who I have ‘labeled’ as overly control seeking, generally look less happy. 

What I would like to convince to overly controlling people, is that you simply cannot control your life. You have to accept that some things in life can’t be controlled. You have to accept the uncertainties that can happen in life, and even better, appreciate those uncertainties. Isn’t it a beautiful thing that in everyone’s life, something amazing can happen that you have not planned?

I am concluding this blog with an experiment that has been done, which I really liked. Imagine in which of the following situations you would feel the happiest on Saturday.

Situation 1: if you know beforehand that upcoming Saturday, you will receive $30.
Situation 2: next Saturday you are given $30, which you did not know beforehand.

Studies have shown that uncertain positive occasions increase happiness more than when people know about the occasion beforehand. Even if the money given to the people in the uncertain situation is lower than that of people who knew before that they were going to receive money, the ‘surprised’ group was still happier. Think about that.



September 25, 2016

Happiness & Fulfilment #3 Be loving

Looking back

Week two of the course, where Dr. Raj. talked about chasing superiority was quite interesting to me, however, I felt this did not really apply to my own life. I cannot remember to have ever tried to be better than others. I feel like this has a lot to do with the way I have been raised as a child. My parents have taught me that everybody is equal, and showed me to treat everybody the same. 

Getting love as a child

This is a personal example about a topic that Dr. Raj. also briefly talks about; the way a child is raised. Many people, and sadly many parents as well, have no idea what impact a lack of love and affection can have on a baby’s life later on. The lack of love and affection received as a child, or a very bad childhood in general, is actually a very common cause of the 3rd deadly happiness sin: the need to be loved or the need to go at it alone.

Belonging vs Independence

The fact is: everybody has a deep feeling to belong to other people. The key to success, for me, is to find a healthy way where you are independent enough to stand on your own, with the right number of people surrounding you that love and care for you. 

by Dion Damen (HvA AMSIB student)

During the lessons of this week I could do a test which showed whether you are a person that needs to be loved, or a person that wants to go at it alone. My results showed that I was a person that leaned a little bit towards wanting to go at it alone. I could find myself in this result, and I even predicted it beforehand. Even though the fact that I tend to go at it alone did not bother me in my life, I did follow Dr. Raj’s. instructions in order to improve myself.

Advice for those who are "too" independent

One of the pieces of advice he gave for the people who feel the need to go at it alone (avoidant attitude), is to show more emotions. I really had the idea that this is something I could improve on. This is because I have been told before that I do not often show my emotions, and I knew this was true. However, I did not know about the consequences that can arise from not showing emotions. 

Dr. Raj. explains that people who do not show emotions are difficult to relate to for other people. This is because other people cannot see what you are feeling at that moment. This results in less co-operation from others. 

After Dr. Raj. explained this, I realized why it is so important to show emotions. Mainly because, when showing emotions, other people can relate to you and this in turn really increases the personal contact, which is needed in order to feel connected with someone. 

My personal experience by showing more emotion is very positive. I noticed right away that it is easier to interact with other people and therefore feeling more connected. This is a positive change because I feel the interaction with others increases my happiness. 

At first I did have some problems with showing my emotions, because I am used to not showing them. In order to improve this about myself, I thought to myself logically about what emotions were and what they did. And I decided for myself that emotions were a way for humans to nonverbally communicate with each other, and that everybody had them. Realizing and accepting this made it for me a lot easier to show them today. It is amazing to see how such a small change in behavior can bring so much more benefits to your life.


September 12, 2016

Week 2 of Happiness and Fulfillment

by Dion Damen

Entering week two into the course, ‘A Life of Happiness and fulfilment,’ I was very curious about what Dr Raj. would talk about this week. The starting week was already a big eye-opener for me because, I was confronted with the fact that I, among many other people, devaluated happiness for the sake of something else. With that somewhat confronting discovery in the back of my head I started week two of the course and came to find out about the second deadly happiness sin.

Chasing superiority
Dr Raj. called the second sin ‘chasing superiority’. This second sin is a lot more straightforward to me than the first one, which made it very easy to understand. People seek for superiority because people want other people’s approval. People have always dreamed about being the best at something and to be admired by others. Look at athletes who are admired by so many people. Everybody would wish to be as skilled and as famous as them, right?

Why it doesn't work
What surprises me about the sin ‘chasing superiority’, is that many people think they need to actually achieve superiority in order to become happy. However, the opposite is often true. Since the act of chasing superiority often goes hand in hand with a few side-effects that actually lowers people’s happiness.
There are 3 reasons why chasing superiority lowers people’s happiness.
  1. People who seek superiority constantly compare themselves to other people’s looks, money, success etc. This constant comparison and observation about others is actually very pernicious as it separates the you from other people.
  2. People that seek superiority are often very materialistic. This is because out of everything you can compare between people, materialistic comparison is the easiest to compare. Materialism eventually will also lead to separation from others. 
  3. The third reason why chasing superiority lowers your happiness is because people do not like people who strive for superiority. This as well results in isolation.

The irony
What I find very fascinating about chasing superiority, is that people often do it for the fame and the feeling of being admired by others. You would think that people who reached superiority would be surrounded by people and friends. However, the opposite is true. Chasing superiority makes people very lonely and separates them from others.

I guess that is where the expression ‘it’s lonely at the top’ comes from.

September 8, 2016

How to find Happiness and Fulfillment!

by Dion Damen, 4th year student at AMSIB*

Two weeks ago I started an online course on www.coursera.org named 'A life of Happiness and Fulfillment'. The reason why I started this course is because attaining happiness is something everybody is aiming for. Even though the world is full of different nationalities, cultures, and people, in the end, (arguably) every human being on earth is aiming for a happy life. I wanted to increase my knowledge about this topic because everybody aims for happiness, yet not everybody knows the theory behind achieving it.

The course is divided over 6 weeks. In each week the teacher (Dr. Rajagopal Raghunathan) explains 1 of the 7 sins of happiness. These sins are common factors that people do that stand in the way of people's happiness without them realizing that. 

The first sin of happiness was the devaluing of happiness. This means that people tend to sacrifice happiness for the sake of other things. When I first heard about this sin I thought to myself 'people who do that are crazy!'. However, after Dr Raj. explained this sin more, I realized; I devaluated my happiness as well...
I found out I sometimes devaluate my own happiness for the sake of being right.