WHAT is happiness? Heriot-Watt University Malaysia senior deputy provost Prof Mushtak Al-Atabi said happiness was not only about positive emotions such as joy and satisfaction, but also about purpose and resilience.
“Purpose is the need to know the reason of our existence, which will get us through difficult times, while resilience is how we respond to difficult times and the non-positive emotions which we have to face,” he explained.
The university has started a project aimed at promoting well-being and happiness among students and employees.
“This project was designed together with the university’s psychology department.
“Our students are being trained to be professionals who are capable of using positive psychology to enhance motivation and satisfaction, which will be useful for their future,” said Mushtak.
He said a report by World Health Organisation (WHO) predicted that depression was set to become the biggest health burden on society by 2030.
“There is no one human being who always has positive emotions. The key is that we prepare our youths to deal with difficulties, failure and loss, which is a normal part of life.
“As a university, we hope to equip our staff and students with the necessary skills so that they can deal with stress and change in a productive way.
“This world that we are preparing our students to graduate into is full of challenges, but opportunities as well.
“The difference between seeing the same situation as opportunity or as challenge is the mindset.
“This is not something that can happen by accident, and we believe we can train people to adopt a positive mindset,” he told StarMetro in an interview.
He pointed out that the university looked at the three or four years which students spent at the campus as an opportunity to mould them from a psychological and emotional standpoint, so that they could achieve their full potential.
The ongoing initiative to instill the importance of happiness would see more activities in the pipeline, Mushtak said, including the development of the university’s own happiness index.
He said the psychology department was working with the human resource department to create a happiness survey for staff and students.
“We believe education is a process of inculcating a growth mindset in individuals.
“We used to speak of the digital divide to describe those who have access to technology and those who don’t, as the decisive factor for success.
“Now that everyone has access to technology, the real divide is the ‘motivational divide’; success is now measured by how much motivation one has to use technology to be more productive.
“We can use the Internet to grow and develop, or we can use it to waste time and engage in destructive activities. It all depends on one’s motivation,” he concluded.