One Simple Rule to Achieve Happiness

  • By Dr. Jasmine Siang

    Qualification : Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

    Monday June 19 2017 09:34 AM Comments 0

    Link to the Specialist profile:


    Healthy Mind Online had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Jasmine Siang for an online webinar on 13th May. In an hour-long highly interactive session, Dr. Siang talked about happiness and how to achieve happiness. She shared a secret code of achieving happiness. We are presenting the first 15 minutes of the webinar here.

    Dr. Siang emphasised the importance of living in the present. She said that we should not depend on the achievement of any future goals to be happy. Being happier is a future state which is very difficult to achieve because by the time we achieve a particular goal, there is another goal waiting for us to achieve. She stresses on differentiating between goal and direction. 

    Instead of depending on the achievement of the goal to be happy, Dr. Siang suggests enjoying the journey towards the achievement of the goal. Just like we accept the nature as is, it is important to accept everything as is and not depend on anything to change before you can be happy. 

    Loaded with amazing examples, Dr. Siang wonderfully enlightened the audience on how to be in a happier state of mind and make things manageable in the day to day life.


    The transcript of the video is below.




    When you talk about one rule to happiness I guess it's not the rule, it's a code, it's a secret code. I believe in today's society we overuse the word happiness or unhappiness. We try to relate everything to happiness or unhappiness. But what is happiness or unhappiness? When somebody says I'm unhappy and you ask them what you are unhappy about, they say everything. When you probe deeper, they say nothing. So, overall, it’s either everything or nothing. So why does everybody feel that it's so difficult to achieve happiness? It's so easy to be unhappy and so difficult to be happy. 


    What is happiness? With the same letters, we can read happiness is ‘nowhere’ or happiness is ‘now here’. So, to me, happiness is about perception and perspectives. How do we investigate our emotions? Many times, we think if we achieve something we will be happier. If I am slimmer, if I am richer...and we have the mindset of ‘if only’ or ‘if only I could’. I am not saying that setting a goal or outcome is a wrong thing but if we keep on looking at the goal or the outcome, then we are not present in the process. Thus, if we keep focusing on the goal and it looks unachievable we become unhappy. I don't have a bigger car; I don't have a bigger house or I don't even have a job. 


    We should look at Goal as a Direction. For Example - you can set a goal that I'm not happy with my current job so look for a new job, which is a better job. So we look after getting a better job as a Direction. And then in the process of achieving the goal, you work towards yourself and you focus on the present moment. When you focus on the process, you do not see the goal as unachievable. Of course, it may land you somewhere else, but at least you are living in the moment. So when we go back towards mindful living, we live in the present. We accept the position we are in, the job that we have, the relationship that we are involved. 


    Do you have the memory of a holiday, when we are confronted with a beautiful scenery in nature...a mountain, valley or forest? You are just happy by looking at it. Do you say for a moment that I would be happier if the mountain was higher, or if the sky was bluer I will be happier? Yes, we don’t do that. This is because we accept that this is nature - I cannot control nature, I cannot change it. Thus, when you try to control something or change something, you are fighting with reality, we think life is hard, and thus we feel we are unhappy. We want to play God. We want to make people happy, we want to take care of other people’s happiness, and we want to make ourselves happy. We believe we have the power to make the people around us happy. 


    Let’s go back to ten years ago, and think about something you wanted to get...a car, a watch to make you happier…so now that you probably have it, are you happier? No -  because you have something more that you want to make you happier. So, ‘happier’ is something that is always unachievable as we keep running after happier, but you must know that in order to get something to be happy, whatever you can get, you can ‘unget’ - am I right? Like you want to be healthy, you can become unhealthy, you want to be rich, you can lose all your money, you may want a job but can be out of a job. We keep on thinking that we want something to be happier and we keep running after that...right now you have a job, but you say if I get the other job I will be happier; you have a child and you say if my child is smartest in the class I will be happier; when you are fit, you say if I am fitter I will be happier. This happiness we will never achieve. We set a goal which we cannot achieve and we don’t focus on the process. In the end, we get tired, we get upset with ourselves, and we get  disappointed. When we are feeling low, we think we are unhappy and just cannot do it. 


    Imagine that if you have a child or if you have seen a child from 11 to 13 months when they learn to walk. What is the child doing actually? They set a goal that they want to walk, but they never focus on the outcome. They just stand up and then they fall. When mummy comes, they cry and then they start doing it over and over again. Now imagine that a child stands up and learns to walk, and then he falls and then he thinks “oh my god, I don’t think I can walk, this is so hard”. Then for sure they will take a longer time to walk. As time goes, by we learn how to be unhappy, because we learn to focus on the outcome, we do not look at the process. We have forgotten that the process is the best part of life’s journey. We need to go back to a beginner’s mind, like a child, to set the goal and focus on process and that is the journey that we want and we need to learn. We had learned it, we unlearn it and learn it in a different way.


    So, the code is that as long as you acknowledge that you are not unhappy, then you are in the state of being happy. The happier state actually never exists. When you keep chasing happier, you forget that you are already happy. Being happy is a process, being happier is a goal. Thus, my advice and belief is that as long as we let ourselves be happy, we are happy. Happier is truly, truly very difficult! 


    Invest in the process, not the outcome. Then we will be happy. In order to face reality, we should be an investigator of our emotions. We should break down every emotion and investigate. So when we say I am unhappy - is it due to a person, or s situation, an event or just a thing. Once you can locate the source, like the ingredients in food...calcium, vitamins, then it is easier to manage the emotion. Then you will realize that you may be worried about just one thing, and not everything is making you unhappy. Much more manageable.






    The opinions expressed in Healthy Mind Online “Specialist Opinion” are solely those of the named Specialist, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Some information have been abridged from the mentioned sources. Nothing in the content should be considered, or used as a substitute for medical advice, psychiatric advice, diagnosis or treatment. This site and its services do not constitute the practice of any medical, psychiatric nursing or other professional health care advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. We advise users to always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions regarding personal health, medical or psychiatric conditions.

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