When I was 9 years old all I wanted was to be happy. I failed, then decided to hate people instead. I hated many people for many years until I flipped open a book called, ‘How to love’, written by a monk.
I was 15 and hadn’t spoken to my parents, siblings or friends like a human being for years. I flipped open that book and there it was: ‘Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.’
So I tried to love my sister that day. I sat next to her watching a yellow sponge move around with his starfish friend. The cartoon was stupid but I thought that if I loved my sister I would watch it anyway.
‘You scared the hell out of me!’ Lu See would tell me years later.
I didn’t mean to scare her. But I guess having your abusive older sister completely stop being mean to you is kinda scary.
I came back to life again after that. I became human again.
So I began a search
I searched for ten years to find out why some people were happy without a lot of the things I thought might make a person happy and why others were not, even when they had more things than most people.
This is what I discovered.
1. People can be happy with or without money. But no one can be happy without meaning.
2. People are happier when they have friends who accept them for who they are.
3. People who have spent time traveling are generally happier than those who have not.
4. People who are more fulfilled with their lives spend less time complaining about people.
5. Happier people are generally less judgemental than unhappy people.
6. Happier people are generally more willing to be vulnerable.
7. People who always played safe with their lives are generally less happy than people who have taken ‘risks’.
8. People who are more accepting of themselves (regardless of their degree of deviation from social norms on beauty, wealth and intelligence) are generally happier.
9. People can be happy whether they have achieved a lot or a little. But they are generally unhappy if they don’t know what their ultimate goal is.
10. Different people find happiness in different things.
Searching for clues to what makes people happy has given me new hope. I remember having this conversation with a friend who was from a well-to-do family but decided to quit his job to travel the world.
“I think I’m happier this way,” he told me, “I don’t remember being this happy in my life.”
I believed him. He was so broke but so happy.
It was then I knew that he had found something that money cannot buy. He will die happy, even if he got hit by a car today.