How to be happy?

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Do you want to be happy? And what makes you grateful? This inspiring TED talk of Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, gave me a lot to think about.

Above all, in times when streams of refugees flow to Germany and to the rest of Europe, and where these people are not welcomed everywhere, we should ask ourselves if we are happy.

Hate springs from people who are unhappy, which means that being happy is indispensable for living peacefully with each other. David Steidl-Rast has a simple and pointed answer to that.

Happiness comes from gratefulness and not the other way round

David Steidl-Rast explains this principle so wonderfully simply and clear, that it becomes totally obvious and easy to understand for everyone. Or do I just imagine this?

To be happy is indispensable for living peacefully with each other Klick um zu Tweeten

I do not see myself as a spiritual kind of person, when spirituality means clergy or religiousness. In my family there have been so many world religions, that my parents could simply not decide in which religion they should raise me. My mother was Catholic, my grandmother Protestant, my father Muslim. They have permitted me to choose for myself, and for me, Buddhism is the religion which attracts me most, because it’s a religion of acting and not just talking or preaching.

I also feel attracted to atheism because of the feeling that nobody is ruling things “from above”. Atheism gives us back our responsibility. We are responsible and it is our doing that causes goodness. That is something I want to live and deal with.

Spirituality in the sense of consciousness is something I do live, and this is the reason that provokes me to blog. I’m not a blogger out of pure self presentation, as some people might think, but I am convinced I really can change something. And I like to give people something to think about.

Multiculti is a good base for a value system

I grew up in my wonderful multicultural family, a family that gave me a proper value system. Thinking about it, I can’t even say where this value system comes from, or who has had the most formative influence on me. Perhaps, however, it has been precisely the need for continuous reflection which formed my value system. The kindergarten and school have socialised me in Germany,  my surroundings apart from my family were more or less “normally German”. In my family there did not exist any pressure to be “normal”, and that has been good. My grandmother belonged to the displaced persons from Silesia, which means, during the war she had left her homeland with five children and had to build up everything anew. She has been working very hard to do so and made sure her children would have a future.

This means my mother was “German of the first generation”, my father is Syrian who, in the era of  the large movements of migrant workers to Germany, moved here for the sake of my mother. And even if I grew up in Germany, we still spent – as a typical migrant family – always the complete summer holidays in Syria. This also makes me very grateful. We can only experience the culture, the life, the nature of people if we immerse into their world, live with them, and not only next to them or at their side. I plunged for at least six weeks, year after year, in the Syrian family life. I learned the language of my family and enjoyed the warm-heartedness, how they are down-to-earth, family friendly, persistent and yes, grand.

Today I miss not being able to just go and see them. At least I can find them over Facebook, which makes me feel as if I where with them, and I experience what they think -the part which is half official anyway- and what moves them. For this possibility I feel grateful towards Facebook. What makes me happy is that I get chances to help them and other people in Syria, whenever there is a possibility.

If I ask Syrian people how they are, they answer “fine”. And they are serious. They feel grateful, when they have food, electricity, the family. And when last night no bombs have fallen near them. We can hardly imagine this. It is so far away from us. If we go closer, this means we can also understand them and be grateful with them. This proximity benefits (or do I still have to say would benefit?) every one of us a lot.

Values as a treasure

It is a fact that I grew up with values, and I am very conscious of these values. Today they are my biggest treasure -not only in private life – for example, when I think about the education of my children or how I treat my friends and neighbours- but also as an entrepreneur and the boss of employees. My acting is fundamentally directed by values. When I was rewarded with an economic prize, “Career of the Year” from the magazine Capital, exactly for my way of working, I was rather surprised  – and grateful.

Because this prize does not reward pure economic growth or greedy targets, but it rewards my way of considering values important. If it is possible for an employer to always sow gratefulness is another theme which occupies me currently. I will surely write more about that.

But back to the origins. Are we – every single person, but also we as a community- happy? Are we grateful?

What to be grateful for

The Benedictine monk provides us with the answer. We are grateful for things that are being given to us. The things we work for, everything we buy or expect do not matter, only the things that are given to us make us happy.

It is about the chances we get. These chances need to be valuable for us personally. Not in a capitalist way, but in a very personal way. The question now is how to recognise these chances and discover gratitude?

A Guidance to discover gratitude

The guidance of David Steindl-Rast is completely simple: stop – look – go.

We miss opportunities, because we do not stop and stand still. The Buddhists ring a bell to practise the moments of mindfulness. This practise has also helped me to become aware of the things that are. Now. In this moment. To bless the moment and not dwell in yesterday or tomorrow. And be grateful for the moment, for the chance we get. And when I say “to have” I do not mean having money or other graspable things, which we appear to be striving for. These things do not matter. The chances do matter. The possibility to seize them, to see them and to change something positively. We shouldn’t run all the time rushing from one moment to the next one. We should seize every moment, stop and look. Be grateful. As soon you manage this, a lot can be dealt with once more. But you will enjoy it.

Gratitude as peacemaker

A grateful person will not be fearful, says the Benedictine monk. And a person who is not filled with fear will not be violent. On the contrary, this person will be ready to share and enjoy the differences between human beings. Full of respect. Grateful people are people full of joy. If they connect in small groups and interact, they can change the world. This is as true as it is powerful.

This is where our internet, our digital world is perfectly fit for, isn’t it?

Gratefulness, happiness, refugees. Peace Klick um zu Tweeten

Let’s change the world

There can not be more beautiful news in times of xenophobia. Let’s be grateful and happy and change the world with that. I meet a lot of people who think the same and who are very happy with it. If we carry this simple mission into the world and steadily work with it, we should be able to start  a revolution towards happiness out of gratitude.

We should take along with this happiness all these people who are just grateful for the opportunities they have. If we look at the refugees, this might seem little, contemplating the situation from outside. But they are very grateful and happy, when they find with us in Germany a peaceful, new home. Every single one should help and support them with all possible means.

These days we see a lot of examples of this support. And I am sure, every helping hand is grateful because of the opportunity  to help.

Be grateful, and be happy. To be happy is not too difficult

Every one of us should be happy for the security we have, for all the chances and benefits we and our children get in this country. The list of our opportunities is very long. Our complaints are a luxury. If every single one of us is grateful for all the evident things, we should be able to move towards a more happy Germany. We should be able to reduce hate. The many refugees would come to enrich our happiness with a lot of gratitude and some wonderful multiculti. Do start now. Stop, look and go. For yourself, your family, friends and human beings in need for your help. Start being happy.

And in case you want to do something good immediately, you can support the fundraising  campaign #BloggerFuerFluechtlinge. Thanks 🙂

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