Defining happiness

No comment yet
Defining Happiness

When I started this project, I had an intuitive understanding of happiness. However, I have recently read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's "Flow". This researcher has been investigating happiness scientifically by interviewing thousands of people.

Here is a synopsis of his book:
a) We cannot control our external environment. We can only control our inner experiences.
b) Happiness is not about relaxing. It is about setting ambitious but realistic goals and trying our level best to achieve them. If the goals are too easy, we come bored. If they are too difficult, we become anxious.
C) By controlling the content of our consciousness, we can focus on achieving our personal goals. The only danger to our happiness is that outside events (other people's perceptions and behaviour) distracts us from our goals.

Probably one of the most subjective discussion is the distinction between social goals (i.e. goals imposed by the society, employers or the family) and personal goals. Csikszentmihaly argues that we must take into account some of these social goals but we still need to blend our own personal goals.

Lastly, Csikszentmihaly concludes that people can only be happy if they can turn life into something meaningful and this is only possible if people "dedicate themselves to a course greater than themselves."

From an Islamic perspective, this is my understanding. You will never be a happy Muslim by doing the rituals of Islam due to social pressure and / or family pressure. At the end of the day, you need to practice Islam because you make it your PERSONAL goal. You commit yourself to improving your knowledge of Islam because you are motivated by something greater than yourself - namely the worship of Allah SWT alone, without associating any partners with Him. More importantly, your understanding of Islam does not depend on the society's understanding or your family's understanding. Your understanding of Islam is based on the explanations given by the Prophet (SAW) as explained by the scholars. When there is a clash between Islam practiced in the society and Islam taught by the Prophet (SAW), the only logical thing is to follow the clear teachings of the Prophet (SAW). Do not be surprised if people around you get upset with you. Throughout history, the majority of people have always followed their nafs but following the Prophet (SAW) requires controlling our nafs.....

There is a side-point that I believe is important. We tend to think of "remembering Allah" as a passive activity to do when we are in the Masjid or at home. However, Csikszentmihaly makes it clear that happiness is about being fully engaged in doing something difficult. It is about being active. It is about being involved in the society, actively making it a better place......

Post a Comment