Are you happy?

Today, I had lunch with Icy and Olive. Icy had earlier remarked that she had a lot of sympathy with the younger generations today, who had to face a lot more challenges than our generations did. (Of course Icy is much younger than me.) So during lunch, I asked Olive, who is from a younger generation, how she was perceiving and experiencing her life and her future.

When Olive had finished pouring out her mind, I had to agree (with Icy) that I should be thankful that I had been born much earlier.

As someone belonging to the ‘post-fifties’, like my contemporaries, I have always thought that many of those younger than me were born with a silver spoon in their month. They have never gone through the poverty-stricken childhood that I had. They should count their blessings; yet they seldom do. They should be better equipped for the tribulations of life; yet they are so fragile. I have worked very hard to achieve what I have today. And they don’t seem to have any goals in life.

Icy is right. They were born in a world that we have built for them. If we had been born at the same time they were, we would probably perceive and experience life the way they do.

And if you had the chance to listen to Olive pouring out her mind, you would have a lot more sympathy with the younger generations today, instead of simply accusing them of being ungrateful or unmotivated.

Looking back, I think the social conditions of my time have generally allowed people to lead a happy life more easily. Olive was right that generally there were more opportunities, and life was much simpler. In comparison, today’s young people were born much better-off, material-wise. Yet, it is harder for them to lead a happy life.

During the Chinese New Year, I met up with Teresa Wong, a former MA student, who is now teaching at a Band 1 secondary school. She told me that one day, out of the blue, she asked her students: How many of you are living happily? There was no response, instead all her students looked puzzled and lost, as if living a happy life was the most alien concept they had ever heard.

I joked to Teresa: If you walk into the staff room, and ask the teachers the same question, you will get the same response (that is, no response).

OK, I admit that few people, even if they’re truly happy, will confess accordingly. But I do wonder from time to time: How many teachers, how many students, and in fact, how many people in present-day society, are leading a happy life?

We may not want to live 100 years ago: general poverty, war, no flush toilets, no TV, no LV handbags, no Mercedez’s, no decent jobs for women, no iPhones, no Godiva, no vacations in Paris, no airconditioners, …… We should be 100 times happier now; yet few of us are leading a very happy life! What has gone wrong? How can we regain happiness?

Today, when you wander into a bookstore, you can easily spot ten books with a title like ‘how to live happily’. I clearly remember that when I was young (and until I turned forty perhaps), there were no such books. We just lived happily. (Or maybe some of them were not very happy; just that I was not aware of that.)

Hence, the biggest challenge for the post-eighties and the post-nineties, and those who were born after them, has now become: HOW TO FIND HAPPINESS.

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4 thoughts on “Are you happy?

  1. Anna

    I think “happiness” has something to do with what you look forward to.
    For example, you look forward to meeting your “sweetie” for having a romantic dinner on her birthday, you look forward to your first-born baby, you look forward to entering into the university (possibly the course you have long wished to take). Maybe you look forward to securing a dream job, or getting certified for a professional qualification.

    Maybe during the process, people have to sweat a lot, burn midnight oil and get a lot of frustrations, but if one is working towards the goal, and that they are still working towards the “thing” that they look forward to, such process also brings them happiness and sense of satisfaction.

    Nowadays, the teenagers lack the “thing” they look forward to. Their materialistic wants easily get “satisfied” – sometimes, without even the need to ask for it.

    Yes, some still have the goals, but it may be a parents-arranged goal.
    It seems perfectly okay if they don’t achieve it. They easily shift their “goals” because most of the time they don’t know what they actually want.

    Paul, if you ask me if I am happy, I would say yes at this moment.
    I am always grateful for what I have.
    In recent months, I have joined a dance company for some funky dance courses and those sweating dances added even more to my feeling of happiness.

    I do look forward to…………. sheding lots of pounds of body fat
    AND I look forward to a slimmer figure in summer! Haha!

  2. Having something to look forward to is one way to make us happy. When I was young, my friends and I had a lot to look forward to. What about today’s young people? Maybe they should learn your example: actively seek out things to look forward to.

    Being grateful is another way to feel happy. But today, we seldom teach or remind young people to be grateful. We just do our best to make life easier for them (from our perspective). If we think they always take things for granted, maybe we’re partly responsible.

  3. connie

    快樂
    作曲 許冠傑
    作詞 許冠傑
    快樂是陽光普照的淸晨 快樂是流水美妙的音韻 快樂其實分分鐘把等 只要識得點去 快樂是尋找天際的星辰 快樂是回憶沙灘的足印 快樂其實邊一位都有 不管是富或貧 朋友愛 父母恩 毎刻温暖在我心 豁達滿足 仁愛施恩 快樂便常共相親 快樂是離開都市的烟塵 快樂是回家往浴缸一侵 快樂是一首好歌嘴裏 一張晩報 一杯香檳 快樂是賢妻給我的精神 快樂是兒子親的一吻 快樂長伴我這一生 皆因我是快樂人

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