04 July, 2009

What makes a Man happy.....

What is happiness? It means different things to different people; conditions, circumstances and times, all play a big role in making a person happy or not. But generally, it is a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy or it can be described too, as a state of mind or feeling such as contentment, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy. And now there is the definition of happiness given by the Happy Planet Index (HPI); the index measures well-being in terms of long, happy and meaningful lives.

The HPI reflects the average years of happy life produced by a given society, nation or group of nations, per unit of planetary resources consumed. Put another way, it represents the efficiency with which countries convert the earth’s finite resources into well-being experienced by their citizens. In HPI's latest report, incredibly, but to me - understandably, the wealthiest and most developed of nations, ranked low and were the most unhappy. Small, quiet countries mostly in Latin America - lead by Costa Rica, did best. As can be seen here, most Arab countries - lead by Egypt and Saudi Arabia - didn't do that badly. Yemen, as can be expected, due to poverty and its many problems, scored poorly; and so have Lebanon and Iraq. And understandably, due to its consumerist, artificial and synthetic form - the UAE ranked lowest; together with Kuwait.

As for Costa Rica, it deserves the highest score; who can not be happy in such a country: a country that has such strict conservation laws that it protects a quarter of its land, has no standing army, enjoys continuing stability after a century of almost uninterrupted democratic government; and has the most stunningly beautiful of rivers, streams, waterfalls, valleys, mountains, greenery, jungles, beaches, coastlines and sea. Costa Rica too, internatinally, ranks 5th in the Environmental Performace Index and 50th in the United Nation's Human Development Index; and it ranks very high in most other international rankings.

On the HPI site, there is a 'calculator' for checking how 'happy', overall, one is; I decided to check mine. As I took time and was very honest and sincere in all my answers, I found the results very surprising: according to the Index, I am a very happy man. I scored a high 71.5 while the average score of all online responses to the survey was 53.1; I thought I would do poorly.

But, the HPI aside, what really makes a man happy? Personally, I believe, if a man is healthy, two things matter most. For those unmarried and still studying, being close to the family and enjoying or liking school or college matter most; and then having good friends and being physically active helps. As for those married and working: well, happy is the man who is happy with his marriage - the happier the marriage the happier the man will be. And: happy is the man who likes and enjoys his job - the more a man likes and enjoys his job, the more happy will the man be. Happiest of all men are those who have happy, contented marriages and enjoy their work. Being physically and mentally active, make it even better.

Personally, I believe, urban places, due to their artificiality and with all the crowds, concrete slabs, glass and steel - very rarely can make one happy. Most probably, that's why those living on islands and rural areas are happier and more contended. But conditions too matter; nothing can be as saddening as poverty and disease; and being in a war zone. Character too matters; one's character is, most of the time, a person's main driving force and conditioner of how one feels. Character is fate.

Contentment plays a big role in influencing a person's happiness - the wisest said: "Riches does not mean, having a great amount of property, but riches is self-contentment." - Bukhari,Volume 8, Book 76, Number 453. There are some who are never contented; either in what they possess or the condition they are in. In life, one should try to change one's situation or condition if one can; and if one can not, then he should completely accept it. And then there is the spiritual side. I believe, the more spiritually conscious, enlightened and involved one is, the happier a person would be.

As for women: what makes a woman happy? I don't know and I don't think I will ever know.