Be happy with what you do have

  • Opinion
  • Sunday, 07 Jul 2013

It is when we fail to recognise our immediate blessings that life becomes a misery.

WE tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognising and appreciating what we do have.

These words are attributed to Friedrich Gottlob Koenig who was a German inventor best known for his high-speed printing press.

In this fast-paced world, when you are constantly bombarded to buy, buy, buy, it is not easy to stay contented.

Even if you did so, the people around you will keep on reminding you about what you are supposedly missing out on.

For example, if you finally change your 15-year-old TV set into a flatscreen, full HD 32-inch model, you will be told umpteen times that you should have got the 42-inch model, or the 3D version instead. If you had gone 42-inch, you would be told there are already 90-inch models in the market.

My handphone, for example, is definitely not a smart one. In fact, it is so prehistoric that in the few times I have misplaced it, I always got it back.

From my perspective, as long as it functions as a phone, with the added SMS facility, that is enough. I am happy not to have to worry about carrying an expensive gadget with me.

But I am probably what you might call a statistical aberration – meaning that it is unusual for someone my age, with my position, and in a certain earning bracket, not to own the latest model of the latest smartphone.

The smartphone, however, is no longer a rich man’s luxury.

I take public transport often and I am always amazed that the majority of people who use public transport have smartphones.

On the LRT or the bus, they are quite occupied with their devices and a person reading a book is pretty rare.

But real happiness is not about owning material things, which essentially divides us into the haves and the have-nots.

Rather it comes from appreciating what we have – for example, the gift of our five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.

As a cancer survivor, I am often asked whether I have recovered my sense of taste, which disappeared for some months after radiotherapy.

I am most thankful that I have. But for some fellow sojourners, the sense of taste never returned.

For others, disease or treatment took away their sight and their hearing.

There are those whose limbs have been amputated, and they can no longer embrace a loved one.

The power of the human touch can be fully appreciated when, in the quiet of a hospital room, you hold someone’s hand and lend him a pair of listening ears.

Yes, we all have much to recognise and appreciate.

Now that the haze has cleared, are we thankful for what we have always had – a country blessed with sunshine and blue skies?

And what about our dear friends and loved ones? Is there a thanksgiving to declare or forgiveness to seek?

Being mindful of our blessings brings many bonuses along the way. Such as enjoying a football game with your son when you get home from work early enough.

Or sitting down to coffee and half-boiled eggs with your spouse before she sends you off with a hug and kiss to your busy day.

Now, surely these are good reasons to be happy.

> Soo Ewe Jin ( is reminded that we should give thanks in all circumstances, even the tough ones.

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Opinion , sunday starters , soo ewe jin


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