The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell (Part 3)

Affection. The feeling that you are loved helps to promote zest. A man could consider himself dreadful and that no one would love him. Or he just might be someone who nobody loves. A man could act friendly or kind in order to win friends. However, others might see through his motives. A man could seek revenge on the world if he is unloved. Such occurrences are rare as men would usually sink into timid despair. The fearless man will find life’s obstacles easier to navigate. Self-confidence is also closely linked to affection. This habit of mind is a source of zest. The affection you receive is the thing that provides a sense of security in life. A child who does not receive parental affection is likely to become timid. Not all affection encourages adventurousness. However, the care that parents give needs to support child growth and courage too. There is no need to be unduly possessive. Some men like timid women, because they can protect them. Affection and security are closed linked. If you are unable to enjoy sex love, it might deprive you of the joys that life has to offer. Men love women for their appearance, while women love men for their character. One can give two types of affection, one is a zest for life, the other is an expression of fear. You can give better love to others if you feel safe. There is also a form of insecure love. Insecure love means you tend to love someone for their services rendered, not for their intrinsic qualities. This is never wise to be in a one-way relationship. These are selfish people who tend to be very ambitious. Ambition which excludes affection does not lead to true happiness. Some people are scared to love for fear they might be made use of or hurt.

Those who face life with a feeling of security are much happier than those who face it with a feeling of insecurity, at any rate so long as their sense of security does not lead them to disaster. – Betrand Russell

Many people when they fall in love look for a little haven of refuge from the world, where they can be sure of being admired when they are not admirable, and praised when they are not praiseworthy. – Betrand Russell

To be unable to inspire sex love is a grave misfortune to any man or woman, since it deprives him or her of the greatest joys that life has to offer. – Betrand Russell

The best type of affection is reciprocally life-giving; each receives affection with joy and gives it without effort, and each finds the whole world more interesting in consequence of the existence of this reciprocal happiness. – Betrand Russell

Another form of affection is in which one person sucks the vitality of the other, one receives what the other gives, but gives almost nothing in return. – Betrand Russell

A too powerful ego is a prison from which a man must escape if he is to enjoy the world to the full. A capacity for genuine affection is one of the marks of the man who has escaped from this prison of self. – Betrand Russell

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness. – Betrand Russell

The Family. The family is very disorganized. Interactions between parents and children tend to lead to unhappiness. Causes of family unhappiness are very diverse in nature. Women are now more career driven and there has been a decay of domestic service. In the past, it was frowned upon to be a spinster. Now, a spinster can live comfortably if she has a good education. There is a conflict between a good career and having kids. Some women hesitate on having kids as she might have to take a backseat in her career. The quality of domestic help may not be good too. Sometimes, it is not wise to entrust maids to take care of young children. There is a greater urban population in England now as compared to the rural population. Those who live in the city have to be content with a smaller house. If you raise a family, a small house is no good. If a man lives in the countryside, he will have to travel up and down to the city, which is tiring. In the past, even if the slaves hated their masters, the masters were still relatively happy. Parenthood becomes a lot more timid in modern society. If not done properly, the children’s affections can be over or under-stimulated. It is no wonder that birth rates have declined. The divines believed in having a lot of children. Very few people want to have children because they see it as a public duty. Parenthood is certainly capable of providing the greatest and most enduring happiness that life has to offer. I have found parenthood to be very rewarding and it has been able to provide one of the best forms of happiness. For those without kids, death ends all. With kids, you can have a legacy. We feel very safe when our parents love us. The parent should be pure at heart and should never desire power or control over a child. A parent must always respect a child’s personality. A parent’s respect for a child is absolutely crucial. If a woman feels she is not capable to take care of her children, she should outsource it to a domestic helper.

The change in the relation between parent and children is a particular example of the general spread of democracy. Parents are no longer sure of their rights as against their children; children no longer feel that they owe respect to their parents. – Betrand Russell

The most civilized are the most sterile; the least civilized are the most fertile; and between the two there is a continual gradation. – Betrand Russell

It is clear that a civilization which has this characteristic (of declining birth rates) is unstable; unless it can be induced to reproduce its numbers, it must sooner or later die out and give place to some other civilization in which the urge towards parenthood has retained enough strength to prevent the population from declining. – Betrand Russell

It is clear that the urge for the professional woman to have children must be very powerful, for otherwise none of them would make the sacrifices required in order to satisfy it. – Betrand Russell

To be happy in this world, especially when youth is past, it is necessary to feel oneself not merely an isolated individual whose day will soon be over, but part of the stream of life flowing on from the first germ to the remote and unknown future. – Betrand Russell

A man who is capable of some great and remarkable achievement which sets its stamp upon future ages may gratify this feeling through his work, but for men and women who have no exceptional gifts, the only way to do so is through children. – Betrand Russell

The broad fact remains that parental affection is a special kind of feeling which the normal human being experiences towards his or her own children, but not towards any other human being. – Betrand Russell

The value of parental affection to children lies largely in the fact that it is more reliable than any other affection. One’s friends like one for one’s merits, one’s lovers for one’s charms; if the merits or the charms diminish, friends and lovers may vanish. – Betrand Russell

In all human relations it is fairly easy to secure happiness for one party, but much more difficult to secure it for both. – Betrand Russell

But universal as is the need for this kind of gentleness, the respect for a child’s personality is needed most of all where children are concerned, because of their helplessness, and because their small size and feeble strength cause vulgar souls to despise them. – Betrand Russell

A woman who has acquired any kind of professional skill ought, both for her own sake and for that of the community, to be free to continue to exercise this skill in spite of motherhood. – Betrand Russell

The mother who is conventionally called self-sacrificing is, in a great majority of cases, exceptionally selfish towards her children, for, important as parenthood is as an element in life, it is not satisfying if it treated as the whole of life. – Betrand Russell

Work. Work can be irksome and painful. Whether you enjoy work, it depends on the nature of the work and the abilities of the worker. Very few people know how to use their time. People are okay with obeying, provided the orders are not too unpleasant. One could travel, but youth is past, it is harder to enjoy as much. Work helps to prevent boredom. Work makes holiday more delicious when they come. Thus, the working man is likely to find more zest in his free time. Work also gives Man a chance for success and opportunities for ambition. Higher income can also provide more security in future. People can tolerate some degree of hardships through their work. Thus, a housewife is a disadvantage because she does not work and her husband might not appreciate what she is doing at home. In general, people who work are happier than those who don’t. It is even better if a man is able to find interesting work. There are two elements to what makes work interesting: 1) the exercise of skill; 2) construction. People enjoy acquiring skill until they can no longer improve themselves. Surgeons enjoy performing surgeries on others. For politicians, they tend to get better with age. The creation of something also is important, although it may not be physical. There are both works of destruction and construction. However, construction brings more joy whereas destruction of the enemies brings less. Man can certainly be proud is his achievements at work, however small it may be. However, some artists who had produced great works can be unhappy too. Men of science tend to less unhappy than men of art. Those with literary skills often find themselves with limited opportunities to express their talents. A man needs to respect his work and see value in it. Some men have no direction in life and get blown from side to side. These men are unlikely to be able to find long term happiness.

I think, however, that, provided work is not excessive in amount, even the dullest work is to most people less painful than idleness. – Betrand Russell

To begin with, work fills a good many hours of the day without the need of deciding what one shall do. Most people, when they are left free to fill their own time according to their own choice, are at a loss to think of anything sufficiently pleasant to be worth doing. – Betrand Russell

Work, therefore, is desirable, first and foremost, as a preventive of boredom, for the boredom that a man feels when he is doing necessary though uninteresting work is as nothing in comparison with the boredom that he feels when he has nothing to do with his days. – Betrand Russell

Continuity of purpose is one of the most essential ingredients of happiness in the long run, and for most men this comes chiefly through their work. – Betrand Russell

All skilled work can be pleasurable, provided the skill required is either variable or capable of indefinite improvement. If these conditions are absent, it will cease to be interesting when a man has acquired his maximum skill. – Betrand Russell

Without self-respect, genuine happiness is scarcely possible. And the man who is ashamed of his work can hardly achieve self-respect. – Betrand Russell

Consistent purpose is not enough to make life happy, but it is an almost indispensable condition of a happy life. And consistent purpose embodies itself mainly in work. – Betrand Russell

Impersonal Interests. This chapter is about people’s hobbies. When you read something not connected to your work, you read less critically and more disinterestedly. This chapter is precisely about activities outside man’s main line of work. External interests do not have a strong call for any action. The actions you take are voluntary. External hobbies also help to prevent someone from worrying about it too much. However, a man should not pick up hobbies like gambling or those hobbies which can produce emotional fatigue. For women, most of them do not seem absorbed in any wholly irresponsible interest. Relaxation helps to give a man a sense of proportion. Sometimes, we get unduly excited or impressed over something. Understand that what we do does not matter much in the long term. Modern education does not provide much enlargement of the heart and mind. Our life on this planet is temporal. Hobbies can greatly help to boost happiness. This is because it is outside your realm of work and causes you to be less stressed. When you are anxious but realize you can do nothing about it, engage in your hobby. Man should seek distraction when he experiences sorrow. One should turn thought into new channels. We should not pin all hopes on our loved ones as they will pass on someday eventually.

One of the sources of unhappiness, fatigue, and nervous strain is inability to be interested in anything that is not of practical importance in one’s own life. – Betrand Russell

And it is very much easier to forget work at the times when it ought to be forgotten if a man has many interests other than his work than it is if he has not. – Betrand Russell

A man who has once perceived, however temporarily and however briefly, what makes greatness of soul, can no longer be happy if he allows himself to be petty, self-seeking, troubled by trivial misfortunes, dreading what fate may have in store for him. – Betrand Russell

Effort and Resignation. There is a need to find a balance between effort and resignation. Happiness requires work, which is why it is the Conquest of Happiness. Men must learn to cope with the challenges of life. If you are lucky, you may live a blissful life. However, for most people, happiness is an achievement rather than a given. We all have to work for a living and this requires effort. Resignation definitely might not lead to happiness. In modern society, income has become the measure of success. Effort is required for happiness, but resignation does have its part to play too. It is unwise to spend time and emotions on things if they interfere with the pursuit of something more important. It is not wise to be overly obsessive over anything. To resign by being defeated by unconquerable hope is alright. Some people are upset by the smallest things in life and cannot see the big picture. These people tend to sweat the small things. Worry over such trivial matters do not make sense. Learn to believe in the future of mankind and those who will carry on your trade after you’re gone.

Happiness is not something that drops into the mouth, like a ripe fruit, by the mere operation of fortunate circumstances. – Betrand Russell

The man of science who desires to make great discoveries himself may fail to do so, or may have to abandon his work owing to a blow on the head, but if he desires profoundly the progress of science and not merely his personal contribution to this object, he will not feel the same despair as would be felt by a man whose research had purely egoistic motives. – Betrand Russell

The Happy Man. Happiness is certainly possible without having a religion. One should avoid fear, envy, the sense of sin, self-pity and self-admiration. Self-centred passions afford little variety in life. Affection cannot be calculated and it would be foolish to try and do so. Admit painful truths to yourself every day. Only act on your genuine interests and do not force yourself to do things. There might be a slight conflict between this book and what traditional moralists think.

Certain things are indispensable to the happiness of most men, but these are simple things: food and shelter, health, love, successful work and the respect of one’s own herd. To some people parenthood also is essential. – Betrand Russell

Where outward circumstances are not definitely unfortunate, a man should be able to achieve happiness, provided that his passions and interests are directed outward, not inward. – Betrand Russell

The happy man is the man who lives objectively, who has free affections and wide interests, who secures his happiness through these interests and affections and through the fact that they, in turn, make him an object of interest and affection to many others. – Betrand Russell

To be the recipient of affection is a potent cause of happiness, but the man who demands affection is not the man upon whom it is bestowed. The man who receives affection is, speaking broadly, the man who gives it. – Betrand Russell

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Simplicity of Life by Ivy Tan

Be an Influential Magnet For Positive Change and Abundance in Life

Introduction. Singapore is resilient and was able to navigate the Asian economic crisis in 1997 and the sub-prime crisis in 2008 successfully. Many were worried over their livelihood. Ying was mistreated as a child as her parents favored boys. Ying was not treated well by her parents. Her parents divorced but no one wanted custody of Ying. It was her grandpa that took care of her. The court ruled that the mother would have custody of Ying but later, also had difficulty in raising her. Her mum treated her harshly. This lasted for a total of 8 years as Ying completed her primary school. Grandpa was the only one who cared for her. Ying’s mother was addicted to gambling. Ying did well in Primary 8 and could go on to secondary school. However, despite this, Ying’s mother was not proud of her achievements and hit her. Ying tried to cut herself unsuccessfully and finally decided to go home. She tried to kill herself again, but was yet unsuccessful. She was warded in hospital and Grandpa visited her. Once, she witnessed a guy who swallowed many panadols to kill himself. She reached out and requested for others to help him. Due to Ying’s help, the guy managed to live. Ying was amazed that she could save someone else’s life even though she was in trouble herself. She drew strength from her own journey to help others. This was the turning point in her life. Now, she is an inspirational speaker and an international professional facilitator.

Part 1: You

Discovering life. Everyone is a gift to this world. What’s holding you back from achieving your goals and self-actualization? We all have to go through the different phases of life, including ageing. We all have to be brave and face death head on. On your death bed, looking back at your life, would you have been satisfied with your achievements? What legacy have you left behind in your life? How would you spend your time? The bulk of time would have been used for your loved ones, sleep and work. This leaves you little time for self-actualization.

Part 2: You Can. This chapter is about the 3Ps, Passion, Purpose and Potential. These are integral parts of your life that mustn’t be neglected. Having a purpose will help sustain your drive along a difficult journey. This could be like wanting to find a stable job etc. However, purpose doesn’t suddenly appear from nowhere. It usually comes from your curiosity and desire for knowledge. Working with others who are passionate will also motivate you to work harder. Remember that it is important to have a purpose as it will shut the naysayers up. Having passion can help support or nourish your Purpose. Some leaders apply operant conditioning, which is similar to the ‘carrot and stick’ model. An example of classical conditioning is when one is forced to provide frequent updates. There are 5 levels to Maslows’ Hierarchy of Needs: Physiological, Safety, Belonging, Esteem and Self-Actualization. Passionate is not in-born and has to be cultivated. With purpose and passion, can you achieve your potential? Your attitude and behavior will have a great impact over your learning and development.

Part 3: You Can Do. Everyone experiences their feelings differently. For humans, our emotions affect our attitudes and behaviors. The words of others can trigger an emotion in you, leading you to take a course of action. One should not aim to change your emotions, because that wouldn’t be your authentic self. It is much easier to control your choices as compared to your thoughts/ emotions. Do not enter self-denial and let your choices affect the subsequent tone of voice/ choice of words. One should take a breather and think about their choices logically. We tend to only tell the truth towards those whom we can trust. It is hence important to stay logical and tell the truth. Always remember that you have the power to choose. The first C in Choice is Consider. Resist jumping into conclusions. Try to approach life with less expectations as that would lead to less disappointments. One event in a day is completely unrelated to another in a day and you should not link the two. The second letter is H, which is for Hold. This refers to choosing a proactive attitude instead of a reactive one. This also means exploring options and choices. The third letter is O, which is for Observe. Make Sense with SENSES (Seek, Examine, Note, Study, Evaluate, Steer). Learn to observe the pattern and practice a logical questioning technique to get to the root of the issue.

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U-Live Health Talk on Mental Illness

  1. Get at least eight hours of sleep a day

You are more alert and less prone to stress after a good night’s rest. Getting enough sleep can also improve your memory.

  1. Eat a healthy diet. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, cut the risk of dementia and mental decline

Good nutrition is a natural defence against stress. Begin your day with a nutritious breakfast, preferably of wholegrain cereals and fruits, and take balanced meals throughout the day.

  1. Keep yourself active. At least 30 minutes of exercise, three times a week, is ideal

Exercising keeps you physically strong, and reduces or prevents stress. Go for a walk or unwind with yoga. It is better to do moderate exercise regularly than to have a heavy workout occasionally.

  1. Interact with others. Talk to another person for at least 10 minutes daily

Talking to people stimulates the brain. A study in the US found that talking to another person for just 10 minutes a day improves memory scores. Also, the more you interact with others, the faster your brain will work.

  1. Pick up a new skill or hobby

Learning to play a musical instrument, acquiring computer skills, starting a new hobby or learning to cook a new dish can help keep your brain active and healthy.

  1. Get a mental workout. Scrabble or Mahjong anyone?

Engaging in mind-boggling games involves a combination of memory, decision-making and strategizing, which keeps the brain active and prevents dementia. In addition, playing in a group will boost interaction.

  1. Do something for others. This is the best remedy when you’re feeling down

Helping a friend or family member, or doing community work helps you to take the focus away from yourself. In turn, you will feel more positive and less helpless.

  1. Learn to manage stress. Shift your mindset and make a list

Make a list of goals and check them off when they are completed. This will help you tackle things one at a time. Seeing problems as opportunities or focusing on the positive can also help to reduce stress. Stress cannot be avoided, but you can learn to manage stress.

  1. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. They are not the solutions to problems

If you have emotional problems, seek support from family and friends, or get professional help. Alcohol, cigarettes and drugs provide only temporary relief from stress and unhappiness.

  1. Laughter is the best medicine.

Laugh yourself silly and have fun whenever you can. Laughing can help to keep the doctor away because humo​ur activates the brain’s reward and pleasure centres, generating emotions and relaxing the mind.

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