▼Two African Girls. Two Unforgettable Lessons.▼
Lessons That Continue to Sustain Me
MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS | 2012 EDITION | VOLUME 3
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There's only one kind of happiness I concern myself with. I learned it in West Africa. And it's the kind that comes from doing right by everyone, surrendering the ego, and having a conscience so clear one is happy and/or content even when they have no reason to be.
It has nothing to do with riches, yachts, a million friends sought after for validation, expensive pursuits and such. Indeed the happiest people I know are the ones whose pleasures are simplistic, shamelessly cheap, unostentatious and unpretentious. My best Chinese friend comes to mind. And many more, including Chinese “strangers” I'm notorious for freaking out, with humor, when out with friends.
There are those who will never be genuinely happy because thinking and being positive is not important to them, and that's a waste of human potential as far as I'm concerned. But then, there're also those way out on the fringes.
In Nazi Germany, Hitler's happiness came from believing in the false postulate of the elimination of a race. And that mindset not only led to his downfall but created a culture of accusation, false accusations, tell-tales, and distrust. I've never been this kind of person. But I have counseled a lot of victims over the years. And one thing you find is while it's true victims have a long memory, it's also true that a lot of the time perpetrators are silently suffering too.
That's why I want to tell you about two African girls who left an indelible mark on me because they did something different.
Back in preparatory school one bright sunny morning, I was summoned to the teacher's desk. Apparently, two girls had reported to the teacher that they weren't on speaking terms with terms with me. They wanted our teacher to intervene because they could see I was happy and couldn't understand why or how come I was getting along with others just fine.
To this day, I try to remember their names. But the only memory I have of the incident is the surprised smirk I wore upon being told the impasse had lasted two years.
Vindication is overrated, and needless to say, I promptly made peace with the two girls. But I never forgot the lessons I learned both about life and myself thereafter.
① They decided they hated me and started a 'cold war' but I continued to thrive, for Love, having perfect stamina, saved the day.
There's power in doing the right thing by everyone no matter how unpopular. And that power is life-transforming and self-sustaining. Not just a bunch of “empty big words” if you're committed to doing right, and that proclivity is verifiable many times over. And guess what I found when I went to check the spelling of double faced using Google: “You don't have to go back on your values to accommodate a culture.” I might add, the biblical story of Joseph (and his brothers) and Daniel (in the lion's den) offer ample proof. This is the selfsame recurring theme you'll see in the upcoming Breakthrough Ideas for August 2012 vis-à-vis the life of a prominent Harvard professor.
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② I will always hold my two former classmates in high esteem because having imprisoned themselves by making an enemy out of a boy who never started a war with them, they wisely extricated themselves by a simple act of humility (see my next blog).
They surrendered their ego and opted for peace. And happiness (as in positive psychology and all its benefits) was the victor, for the entire community.
Whether one is talking about U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney's well-publicized woes, some of which I recently featured, or people who sought to destroy me, my name, reputation or patronize the value of any good I seek to do only to end up suffocating, I've learned that the moment you seek in any way, to dehumanize others by starting any kind of war or animosity, you've taken a huge chunk out of your own happiness index and propensity.
In order to have lasting happiness, you have to teach yourself to be genuinely happy for others; to want others to realize their full potential; to not stand in the way of human progress, and importantly, to never lie to oneself about how “good” one is while busily working against those who won't conform to one's image and likeness. Or those they can't possess. I have relatives like that. They lost the moral high ground by insisting on negative psychology for years. Today, most of them have lost their ability to communicate with us because their conscience (and in some cases, ego) won't let them.
Online, you see some people suffocating under similar circumstances.
It always begins with an egotistical and perversely narcissistic form of self-deception that oppresses, otherizes and dehumanizes others while seeking validation from an outside source or clique. In fact, it is a tell-tale sign of insecurity.
Let genuine humility and verifiable accountability be the only true friend you need. And I promise you, you'll always have the last laugh. If that's at all necessary. Otherwise, simply do good for goodness' sake. Treat all people with genuinely felt respect and care. Not one based on bias. And your happiness will last longer and your human relations, more meaningful, genuinely diverse and solid.
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A Safari of the 'Human Connection'
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