If someone asked you “Are you happy?”, what would you say?
Is it easy or difficult to answer if you are happy?
Happiness in Fiji
If you lived in Fiji, there is an almost nine-times-out-of-ten chance that you would say ‘yes!’. According to WIN-Gallup, 92% of Fijians report they are happy, making Fiji one of the happiest countries in the world. The 2017 survey was conducted in 55 countries with a total sample of 53,769 people. Respondents were asked: “In general, do you personally feel (1)very happy, (2) happy, (3) neither happy nor unhappy, (4) unhappy or (5) very unhappy about your life?”
94 percent of Fijians said they were happy or very happy, 2 per cent were unhappy or very unhappy and 4 per cent were neither happy nor unhappy. When the percentage of those who are unhappy is subtracted from the percentage of those who are happy, Fiji polled a happiness index of 92 percent which was the highest of all countries surveyed in 2017.
So, when I ask ‘Are you happy?’ how many of you can instantly answer that ‘I’m happy’? Most people will think about themselves first and what they want to change or make better in their lives.
- So what makes us happy?
- How can we be happier?
- What is the key of happiness?
Equipped with these questions in my mind, I went to Fiji through a Japanese scholarship program to research about community happiness and find out how people create happiness in their day-to-day life.
Culture of sharing
In Fiji, I visited a village in Vatulele island to know more about real Fijian life style and how people connect to each other and find happiness in life. There are four villages on Vatulele island, and I stayed in a village which has only 19 families. What I observed there: they live like one big family.
They have a wonderful custom called KereKere (pronounced kerry-kerry). KereKere means that a relative or a neighbour (even a stranger) can request something that is needed for him or her, and it must be willingly given with no expectation of repayment. For instance, if you run out of some ingredients for preparing your dinner, you just go to your neighbours and say KereKere, and they will give you what you need. They will invite you for dinner without you asking for it!
Who gets the last cookie?
Normally when we are hungry and have 2 cookies left, we would think that if I give one to someone, I will have only one left, so I would not want to give it away. However, people who live in a village in Fiji, they learn to share whenever and whatever if someone needs it. The reason is simple: they believe that we are all like one big family and we can’t live alone. Sharing with others bring more happiness to yourself.
Moreover, this way people learn how important it is to love and care for each other. It is nothing extraordinary for them to trust, help and rely on each other. It is a simple truth: if you help your neighbour, they will help you when you need help, because it is normal to help and depend on each other. Through sharing they make others happy, and it makes themselves happy too.
Begin with a smile
At the end of my 4-month stay in Fiji, I came to a simple conclusion: the happiest people on earth are those who appreciate every single thing that happens in their life. Happiness is not a specific thing or a person. Happiness is simple. Happiness is love, contentment and appreciation for everything we have in life. In fact, people in Fiji made me realize that what creates happiness is already in our hands, it is inside us and all around us. We only need to realize it. Then, it becomes a choice that we make everyday.
You may wonder, how can we take an action for living a happy life? A simple answer is: we can start sharing to others from today. Sharing can be anything, even as simple as a smile. You could even set a goal to be the reason for someone’s smile today. Mother Teresa said: “Peace begins with a smile.” Smile, and you will share your peace to others. This will lead us to more kindness to others which will not cost anything to you. You will never need to regret being kind to someone.
We can be happier once we became happy and share it to others!