On the Path of Winners
By Bayo Ogunmupe
How to gain happiness
PEOPLE say they want to be happy, yet real happiness seems an impossible dream. Everyone reaches for it so desperately but for many, it never seems to come any closer. What are we doing wrong? Is it the times we live in?
Well, it isn’t as bad as it seems. There are many people having a wonderful time with their lives. They are living to the maximum and love every minute of it. But they don’t talk much of it, they are busy enjoying themselves. They don’t usually write articles about their state of well-being. Not many people have that zest for daily living. Too few people have mastered the art of being happy!
But do you think happiness can be learned like dancing or pottery? I don’t think so. I think you are either happy or you are not. You can’t decide to be happy. You can go after the things you hope will make you happy. You expect happiness to happen to you. Firstly, you have to realize you have probably been looking for happiness in he wrong place.
The source of happiness is not outside of you, it is within. Most of us have not begun to tap our potential. And we will continue to sell ourselves short as long as we are looking for someone to give us the key to the kingdom of happiness.
We must realize that the kingdom is already in us, we have the key already. We are accountable only to ourselves for what happens to us in our lives. You must realize that you have a choice, you are responsible for your own good time. It is as if we can push a magic switch and turn on happiness. But there is no magic switch. Only there is an attitude. To take responsibility for our lives means making a profound change in the way we approach everything. We even talk about our own feelings as if they were visitors from outer space. We say, “this feeling came over me,” as if we were helpless creatures overwhelmed by mysterious forces, instead of simply saying, “I feel that way.” We speak as if our feelings change from sunny to stormy like the weather, over which we have no control. This meteorological view of reality is very useful. It takes us off the hook for the way we feel. We diminish ourselves just in order to push away the chance of choice.
Indeed, you have to make the decision to lift yourself up or put yourself down. People worry about pollution. But the harm we do to ourselves is a lot more dangerous than the damage we do to the environment. We don’t need television to pollute our minds, we do a much more efficient job of it ourselves.
Of course, there are many people who see nothing but their bright spots. But they don’t really believe it. But how great are those who are working that hard to convince themselves and others that they are perfect? They do so because they think their choice is between being perfect and being the worst thing that ever lived. However, you must see the ways you are pulling yourself down and decide that isn’t what you want to do. Then you can start doing the things that give you pride and pleasure in living.
Those things that give us the pleasure of living includes being aware of our own achievements. When you do something you are proud of, dwell on it a little, praise yourself for it, relish the experience. We are not used to doing that. When things go wrong, they call our attention. When things run well, we must actively bring them to our attention. Don’t wait for notice to come from others. When you compliment yourself, the glow stays with you permanently. These are the factors of happiness.
Our champion for today is Octavio Paz, the Mexican poet, writer, diplomat and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature for 1990. Born in Mexico City in March 1914, he died in April 1998. Paz’s family was financially ruined by the Mexican civil war, thus he grew up in straitened circumstances.
Paz published his first book, Forest Moon in 1933. In 1937, he visited Spain where he identified with the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War. His experience of those events: Beneath Your Clear Shadow and Other Poems, was published in Spain in 1937. The book revealed him as a writer of promise.
In Mexico, Paz founded and edited several literary reviews including ‘Workshop’ from 1938 to 1941 and ‘The Prodigal Son’ – which he co-founded in 1943. His major poetic publications included, They shall not pass; Freedom Under Parole, (1951); Eagle or Sun, (1957); The Sun Stone. In the same period he produced prose volumes of essays and literary criticism including “The Labyrinths of Solitude (1950) an influential essay in which he analyses the character, history and culture of Mexico and the Bow and the Lyre (1956); The Pears of the Elm (1957).
Then, Paz entered Mexico’s diplomatic service in 1945. Serving in a variety of assignments, he was Mexico’s ambassador to India from 1962 to 1968. In the latter year, Paz resigned in protest over Mexico’s treatment of student radicals. In his later years from the 1970s, Paz edited Plural magazine, a review of literature and politics, Paz’s later works are suffused with his understanding of Indian-American myths and discussions of world’s cultural attitudes. He wrote books on international politics with emphasis on the relationships between the United States and Latin America.
Paz was influenced by Marxism, Surrealism, Existentialism and Buddhism. In the poetry of his maturity, he used a rich flow of surrealistic imagery in dealing with metaphysical questions. As one critic said he explores the zones of modern culture outside the market place and his most prominent theme was the human ability to overcome existential solitude through erotic love and artistic creativity. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Paz received the Cervantes Prize – the most prestigious Spanish language accolade. His Complete Works were published in 1994.