Reflections on happiness

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Reflections on Happiness

I am going over the assignments at the moment for MGT4110. There is a pattern that is obvious, which I would like to share. First, many students describe a process where they become more sad / frustrated as they experience cognitive dissonance (i.e. their behaviour is out of line with their belief). I call this stage the "Leaving your comfort zone stage". Second, many students report that the extra knowledge lead to reducing their doubts and confusions about Islam, which leads them to greater happiness. I call this stage the "Learning stage". Third, that extra knowledge makes it easier to behave in a more Islamic way, which reduces their cognitive dissonance and makes them feel happier. I call this the "Empowerment stage".

A lot of this is confirmed by the theory of happiness and unhappiness that you can find in psychology textbooks. In short,

a) Many people are unhappy because society sets very high expectations that they can never reach (e.g. being the perfect Muslim)

b) They deal with that by setting personal goals that satisfies their desires but contradicts their religious beliefs

c) Coming out of the comfort zone is painful at first because you need to learn how to behave differently and challenge your past

d) Learning involves three aspects
- Learning new things about Islam
- Learning how to learn independently from other people's expectations
- Learning that meeting other people's expectations in regards of religion is
a waste of time. The only thing you can do is improve yourself, one step at a
time, without worrying about expectations from others. You are not learning new things to impress others, you are learning new things because you want to become a better person

e) Once you have learned how to learn, you become empowered - you can achieve both your personal goals and achieve your religious goals

The big difference between the Islamic perspective on happiness and the secular perspective is the role of Islamic knowledge. Only with sufficient Islamic knowledge can people figure out how to balance their lives, live in harmony with God, other people, other animals and respect this planet. What I mean by "Islamic knowledge" is not textbook knowledge but Islamic knowledge that allows to deal with real problems - such as relationships, crises, expectations, .....- in everyday life.

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