You’re not alone if you’re feeling as though 2021 is just 2020 Part Two and that this year is an anticlimax. That’s why Happy Ali is here to lift your spirits and help bring a healthy dose of happiness, optimism, and wellbeing into your lives via a professional happiness expert.
We are delighted and honoured to feature the work of renowned author, journalist, publisher and television presenter Florian Langenscheidt. And over the course of the next few weeks, we will be publishing some of the best extracts from his inspiring Dictionary of Optimism every single day.
Florian has been researching and writing about happiness for over 40 years and has now published the definitive tome on the benefits of being happy and how to achieve that state.
“What is the point of living – if it isn’t to achieve happiness? Whether for the short term or the long term, whether seen from the point of view of the individual or from that of society, what principle should guide our actions, thoughts and judgments if not that of the summum optimum, “the greatest happiness of all”? he asks.
A man of many incarnations, Florian has been a newspaper deliverer, business angel, consultant, musician, director, environmental activist, and TEDx speaker. He is one of the co-founders of Artists United for Nature and Children for a Better World and represented the world’s artists at the first Earth Summit in Rio. He is also a member of the German Speakers Hall of Fame.
We are all striving for happiness — in these times of the global pandemic more than ever. And it is this that unites us he says. Florian pleads with everyone to see in our diversity the commonality of this search for happiness as a link between us all, as well as a gift of humanity – a gift that we should respect and for which we should always be grateful.
“Happiness transcends the question of meaning. People who are happy do not ask themselves why this is so,” Florian says.
You don’t have to reach for the stars, says the bestselling author of 1,000 Glücksmomente (1,000 Moments to Be Happy About)and Alt Genug, um Glücklich zu Sein (Old Enough to Be Happy). Enjoy the little things, learn to forgive and cherish your friendships. While many of us have preconceived notions of what will lead to long-term happiness — a better job, a bigger house, the perfect partner, the latest model car — happiness is actually more complicated, and much simpler, than a list of material desires, he says.
“Happiness is a decision.”
10 Essential “Seeds” to Cultivate Happiness
Florian explains that earthly happiness requires at least a majority of his 10 “climatic and soil conditions” in order for the seeds of happiness to flourish and blossom. They are as follows:
- You cannot lean on your own shoulder
The “every-man-for-himself” ethic of an indifferent society is inconsistent with human nature. You cannot lean on your own shoulder. And kissing yourself on a cold mirror is no substitute for the real thing.
- Laughter brings relief
If you ask couples that have been happily married for over 50 years what their secret is, they invariably mention a sense of humour. If we can’t laugh at ourselves and others, it definitely makes life harder. If we can’t see the humorous side of our failings, then we are more likely to truly fail. Even incurable illness can be endured more easily with a sense of humour.
- Friendship is indispensable
It is clear how deeply rooted friendships are in human beings and how unimaginable life is without friends. Aristotle sums it up wonderfully with: “A friend is one soul in two bodies”. That is the matrix in which this existential bond develops. Friends can talk about anything, they can be critical of each other without injuring and still accept each other as they are. Friends are there for each other. They are ready to help any place and any time, to make sacrifices. They can count on each other during good times or bad.
- A life without love? No thanks!
What might a wise father respond to his young son’s questions about his love for a certain Rebecca?
“Dear Son, what you are feeling is the most beautiful thing that can happen to us. It’s a gift from heaven that lets us forget all the hurt and trouble in life. It is like a golden halo around our life… Let me tell you, Son,
that someone who has never been in love has not lived yet. We are creatures whose fulfilment lies in love. Love like yours and Rebecca’s has given us timeless sonnets and odes to life.”
- We cannot live from love alone, alas!
Of course, we can go hungry when in love and we experience unforgettable moments of happiness when roughing it on a shoestring budget. But over the long haul, happiness without the satisfaction of the basic needs of food, drink, sleep, heat, housing and light is hard to imagine. Here again, in what combination and proportions is as individual a matter as our fingerprints.
- The most important things are health and freedom from pain
Happiness does not stand up against illness and pain, torture and violence, war and repression, accidents and disability, dependency and decline neither or the person affected nor for those close to him or her. It is a tribute to humankind when people are able, by creative or stubborn effort, to wrest moments of happiness from lives wracked by illness and pain– but this is still achieved “in spite of”. Happiness emphatically does not thrive on physical disability. The spirit, soul and body are too much a unity for that to be.
- Build me a launching pad!
Those who have not experienced love in their formative years, who did not feel wanted and liked, who didn’t feel that their well-being mattered to those about them, are handicapped on their journey towards happiness – which is like struggling through the heat of Ethiopia or carrying a heavy load. Through love and caring, parents provide the underpinnings for their children to develop the capacity to be happy. By their behaviour and their example and the way they raise their children, parents have the greatest role in training children to be happy and self-confident. But, here, as well as with the other nine conditions for happiness, the same thing applies: anything can be compensated for and transcended, we can always find a way out, some exception, some escape. Again, we have the case of “in spite of”…
- Stay alert for the little moments of happiness
In the search for Happiness with a capital “H”, many of us overlook the fact that happiness is a patchwork of little moments. Those are the instances when we smile, pause, rejoice, laugh out loud or look into someone’s eyes with delight. These moments form the fabric of anticipation and the texture of memory. They crop up in love or friendship, in a flirtation or in the family, at the dinner table or on a trip, with children or with colleagues, outdoors or at the movies… If we overlook such moments and focus only on graduations, promotions, sports championships and the Nobel Prize, we will miss out on happiness.
- Grab hold of life and create something
Few people achieve happiness by sitting passively in a corner or on a bench. We seek to shape, create, undertake and, perhaps, even leave something behind that survives us. One person may model figures in clay, another may paint still-lifes. Another may play jazz or start up a company. Someone else may give speeches, someone else run a children’s service organization. One person may found a library while another may raise eight children. But all of them want to help shape the world in which we live -and leave behind a trace. The will – and the drive – to create is also vitally important to experiencing happiness in our lives.
- Managing expectations
Happy are those who set attainable goals and rejoice over every success! Unhappy are those who set the bar unrealistically high and will accept nothing short of that. According to the Brockhaus Encyclopedia, “happiness” is a “complex experience of joy in the face of fulfilment of hopes, wishes, expectations, the occurrence of positive events; the oneness of the person with her-or himself and that which is experienced.”