When I was an undergraduate student in the 1980s studying in England, there was this advertisement about a cigar. Today, smoking is practically forbidden in all public places, let alone advertisements about it. However, during the 1980s this particular advertisement was the rage.

The advertisement would always show someone who was in some sort of predicament, taking a pause from his problem and lighting up his cigar. He would then forget all about what was happening to him and the advertisement would finally show a short text – Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet.

No, no, no. I am not advocating that readers should reach for the nearest cigar in order to find happiness, but all I am saying is that happiness can come from anywhere.

Happiness implies a state of pleasure or pleasurable satisfaction or sense of contentment. Happiness can result from the possession or attainment of what one considers to be good, such as the happiness of visiting one’s family.

Last night, I was watching the final episode of a Malay drama series which was being shown on one of the Malaysian television channels. For the past few weeks, my wife and I had been avid followers. Last night however I was outstation and I missed watching it with my wife. It was not a happy time as I always treasure those times sitting and talking with my wife about the series, the actors, the story line and the many things we both watch. I try to make the best of it. Last night was a happy time because the ending as usual was a happy ending but my wife and I still managed to communicate across the sea about the final episode with me watching it being streamed to my laptop.

Happiness can be found anywhere. Trying to be happy is a universal thing. Everyone is in the pursuit of happiness. Some find it in their jobs, in their families and in their surroundings. But it does not mean that having attained it, one will be happy. Or that by not attaining it, one will be unhappy. It is very subjective.

Factors that affect our happiness :

For me, the most important thing is to understand that money, wealth and status are things which may not make you happy.

Lottery winners may be happy for a short while but not for a very long time unless they know how to invest their winnings and how to control their desires.

People with positions may look happy given their position and higher income. But they may have another set of problems. By all means, work hard to get a higher income and a better position but do not rely on them to provide you with happiness. They may bring you comfort but only if you are contented, then and only then will you be happy.

One must also realise too that fun does not equal happiness. Fun can come but it can go just as fast as it arrives. Happiness is something which stays with us. It can change. It can grow. It can build up. It can spread out.

Happiness is a continuous process. Choose to smile. Choose to be cheerful. Choose to do kind deeds. Choose to be positive to others. In the long run you will feel good about yourself while making others happy.

Make friends. When you interact with people who share your interests, you feel happier as you can talk to someone who can speak the same “lingo” as you.

Stay close to friends and family or better still move to where they are, so you can see them more often. We live in a mobile society, where people follow jobs around the country and sometimes around the world. We do this because we think a better salary will make us happier, but in fact it is our close relationships with our friends and family that have a far greater impact on our happiness.

Try to be more compassionate. Compassion is such an easy thing to do. You can do something kind for someone in need, or someone who is not as advantaged as yourself. Scientists studying the brain revealed that people gain as much happiness from giving to charity as they do receiving money themselves. So try to make the Bruneian community a better place by being more compassionate, thereby increasing the happiness of those surrounding you.

I read somewhere too that scientists have studied that when a person smiles, regardless of whether they are happy or not, it can elevate the mood of the person who has smiled. So if you smile, it will make you happy. If you are happy, those surrounding you will be happy and soon the whole world will smile with you.

Try to be more forgiving. It will definitely lead to less stress and to more happiness within the community.

And finally make friends. When you interact with people who share your interests, you feel happier as you can talk to someone who can speak the same “lingo” as you.

Hope that these tips can lead to a happier and better world!

This article was published in the Apr-Jun 2015 issue of Inspire Magazine. Download it here!

Rozan Yunos

Haji Rozan currently holds the post of Permanent Secretary (Media and Cabinet) at the Prime Minister’s Office. His busy schedule does not deter his writing where he has the longest running column at The Brunei Times and has written more than 250 articles. He has also published three books. He has also presented a number of papers at international and local conferences and seminars.