“clap along if you know what happiness means to you”. -Pharrell Williams
About two weeks ago, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was trending in the media based on the news of the creation of a new minister responsible for ensuring the Emiratis are kept happy. The Prime Minister of the UAE who is also the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the decision of the creation of the two novel ministers of state for happiness and tolerance in the UAE.
The mandate of the minister of happiness is to ensure the policies to create social good are pursued purposefully.
This flabbergasted almost the whole world except a few like me. It didn’t surprise me because if you understand the leadership style of the emirate, you will realize its motivation has always been for the priority and happiness of its people above any other thing.
I read a copy of Flashes of Thought, a book written by the ruler of Dubai in 2013 and I blogged about 64 sayings I found motivating on this blog. You can read it here again. 3 of those 64 were all about these new positions. The effort to ensure happiness by the leaders have since been there, just not in an overt fashion as expressed now.
Sheikh Maktoum mentioned in the book, “the job of the government is to achieve happiness for (its) people.” Every now and then, the UAE has been keeping the interest of its citizens at the core front of whatever they do. In the attempts to become a developed country, Dubai rose in a very short time, out of the hot dry desert in the Middle East in to a global economic hub. Then, it was nothing but another place in the Middle East. With ambitions of being prosperous, both as a country and as a people, Dubai unbelievably transformed itself into a treasure island. Today, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are boldly on the world map.
“Our citizens are the first, second and third priority” Sheikh Maktoum wrote in his book. This has been evidently made true with the creation of the minister for happiness (Venezuela had one 3 years ago). Drawing comparison lines to what used (is still) to go on in many quarters of Nigeria, you will know the citizens are not the first nor the second nor the third priority. The first priority is for the leaders to enrich themselves. The second is for them to enrich their immediate family and the third is for them to reserve for the children of their children. Unbelievable as it seems, people using public funds to enrich their personal accounts.
It’s not only the money aspect. The policies, choices of sectors to invest, areas to develop (the first priority is for the politician to develop his hometown because they said charity begins at home, I suppose.), delay the development till the year before the election so that their hearts can be won again etc. When all these is going on, you will reaffirm to yourself that you are not the priority of the government. The fastest way to instill happiness is by instilling happiness in the hearts of others, mentioned the prime minister in his book. We hope and pray that making Nigerians happy will be the working principle of our leaders very soon.
What makes people generally happy is a bone of contention. According to the latest World Happiness Report of 2015, some of the things that make a people of a country happy are the more liberty many people enjoy to life choices, having longer life expectancy, lower perceptions of corruption, a higher gross domestic product per capita and possessing more social support.
While these factors definitely will define the general welfare and well-being of the people, it might not make someone to be happy. What is happy or happiness? Being happy means experiencing the effect of favourable fortune or having the feeling arising from the consciousness of well-being. Another meaning given is being satisfied or contented. While happiness means the emotion of being happy. With the first definition given, it can be said that the World Happiness Report is accurate to some extent. However, the definition of being contented or satisfied is something relative. One can have all the riches of life and still not be contented. A lot of these countries ranking high on the Happiness Report have high attendances in meditation classes, support groups or such. Many of such groups are experiencing higher attendance rates, to show you they are still looking for something else.
What makes us happy is different to each other. Many people or Nigerians may not have all the enjoyments or assurances of a good and long life, but I assure you, they live and sleep happily every day of their lives.
I am curious to know what makes you happy. What exudes happiness in you? Are you contented or not with all the riches in your life. Will we see a significant increase in the happiness and satisfaction of Emiratis in the near future?