“Positive connections with others will not only enhance our sense of happiness but also contribute significantly to our overall health and longevity”

MY inner resolve strained against the mounting pressure, but ultimately, I yielded to the urge to express my thoughts on an issue that does not seem to go away. It is baffling how in Malaysia, matters are often magnified for political gain.

The recent uproar over the socks issue is a testament to this phenomenon. Despite the outlet owner issuing a public apology and prominently displaying apology notices at all the outlets, the issue continues to linger and escalate, consuming valuable time and energy.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has also called for good sense to prevail, and yet it is not dying down.

One cannot help but wonder what do those perpetuating this issue hope to achieve? Is it a quest for power, a desire to maintain relevance or to perhaps derail the government’s efforts to unite Malaysians?

This incessant need to amplify matters at the expense of the country’s well-being is not just harmful but symptomatic of a deeper societal ailment.

Anyway, what do you call stranger than strange? Bizarre? And that is what politics is, and it is not for faint-hearted and straight-thinking people. Politics has the unique ability to do the impossible and the unthinkable.

Undoubtedly, the occurrence of such an incident is regrettable and should not have happened. It represents a significant oversight on the part of the chain owner. Adequate reprimands and rebukes have already been directed towards them, prompting the question: what further action should be taken?

Should we advocate for persecution, capital punishment or extreme measures, such as the death penalty?

However, dwelling excessively on such issues can drag us into a quagmire of negativity, detracting us from our pursuit of more important matters, such as happiness.

Why is happiness so crucial? The answer lies in its profound impact on our overall well-being. Simply put, a happier disposition correlates with a longer lifespan, fewer health complications and a more positive impact on ourselves and those around us.

In a landmark study initiated in 1938, researchers at Harvard University embarked on a comprehensive investigation into the key determinants of happiness in life. Over the course of 85 years, data was collected from 724 participants worldwide, with detailed inquiries conducted at two-year intervals.

Contrary to common assumptions, the findings defied conventional wisdom. It was not career success, financial wealth, physical exercise or dietary habits that emerged as the primary contributors to happiness.

Instead, the most consistent and compelling factor was the quality of our relationships. Positive connections with others will not only enhance our sense of happiness but also contribute significantly to our overall health and longevity.

The impact of relationships is not merely psychological as it extends to our physical well-being as well. Consider the surge of energy following a meaningful conversation or the toll taken by sleepless nights during periods of strained relationships.

To nurture and maintain healthy relationships, it is imperative to prioritise what can be termed “social fitness”. Contrary to the assumption that once established, relationships will naturally thrive, they require ongoing attention and effort. Much like a living organism, our social lives demand regular exercise and care to flourish.

When we dwell on negative issues, it inevitably colours our perceptions of others, impacting the relationships we share with those in our vicinity, whether acquaintances or strangers.

But, can we have relationships with people we do not know? In a sense, yes, as we coexist within communities that collectively form the nation we take pride in.

However, persistent negative thoughts can sour our interactions and breed unhappiness.

This will propagate itself as individuals mired in discontentment often seek solace by spreading their misery to others. Yet, as the adage goes: “happiness shared is doubled”. Why not strive to foster a culture of happiness within our nation?

Finland has once again claimed the title of the happiest country in the world as per The World Happiness Report. This marks the seventh consecutive year that Finland has topped the list, a remarkable feat indeed.

The ranking is determined by self-assessed life evaluations and responses to the Cantril ladder question, in which individuals rate their current lives on a scale from zero to 10.

The Well-being Research Centre at Oxford University, responsible for publishing the report, considered various factors when assessing over 130 countries. In addition to the Cantril ladder question, these factors included social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, perceptions of corruption and gross domestic product.

Finland’s top-ranking score can be attributed, in part, to its strong sense of community and connectedness.

As Finnish philosopher and psychology researcher Frank Martela suggests, Finnish people find happiness through altruistic actions, communal bonds and a clear sense of purpose.

In our country, we have politicians who tirelessly strive to maintain a state of turmoil and discontent, perpetuating a cycle in which happiness always seems out of reach.

Comments: letters@thesundaily.com