By Silas Nyanchwani via Facebook
Gathoni Mathenge yesterday told me that in this life, you have to guard to your happiness ruthlessly. That if you give or let people be the keys of your happiness, some have a habit of changing the padlock and the keys and any time they see you happy, they change the padlock and key to ensure you remain miserable. In short, put yourself first.
I felt that at a spiritual level and quite humorous.
But it got me thinking. There are two schools of thought presently when it comes to happiness.
There are those who say that happiness is a personal responsibility. I agree with that. Depending on another person, in this case, a lover, spouse etc, can bring tears, because empathy is a diminishing quality increasingly.
Also, each person, the older you grow, the more personal baggage you carry to truly give out happiness.
And then there is the other school of thought that believes happiness is derived from helping others, sharing with others. Giving a piece of ourselves to others.
Think of a functional family. Think of those Sundays a mother cooks those greasy chapatis that people eat like they are dying. There is a perverse satisfaction that brings to the face of the mother. And then there is the father. When he fulfills his responsibilities, say, paying school fees on time, helping that niece get a job, and he is being useful, it makes him and those he helps happy.
In this case happiness is not entirely transactional. But the action of giving, money, time, food, job, directly impacts someone’s life. And that timely impact gives a two way satisfaction.
Think about the old days. If older and you grew in a village, think about sharing chores like farming, cracking jokes while digging a grave, or a family dinner, if your family got along. Because there were families that were too dramatic and everyone did their thing.
That interconnectedness, that allows us to eat nyama choma, strike a deal, share a drink, brings us happiness. But lately, we are closer and happier with strangers than we are with our family.
Your wife has a closer bond with her ex or office boyfriend than you who she shares a bed with. Your husband spends more money with his drinking buddies and has never even bought you a bar of chocolate, for old time sake. Or he has a lover who knows his heart inside out. A lover who will mourn him more than you will when he will die.
Similarly, even sibling love is slowly dying. I know many brothers and sisters who meet once in a blue moon and have nothing in common kabisa. This is strange because the most precious gift in life is to share a womb. But that no longer matters. Family remains the source of worst pain to most people.
So, where do we go from here? Should we give up on family and relying on others for happiness? Should we rely on ourselves entirely for happiness? Which one works for you? Does your spouse make you happy? Or his or her approaching footsteps feel with anxiety, pain and stress?
Either way, put yourself first, in the meantime as you figure out who is worth your time.