HAPPINESS: Learn to let go

By Aliker David Martin August 30th, 2011

Colossians 3:13

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you

A Happy Childhood

 Every family finds itself in a conflict in one-way or another. In our different families, we experience broken relationships through divorce, between parents and children and between the children themselves. In 1996, I actively participated in a students strike; started dating a girl in a nearby school; and developed a new friendship with a renowned soldier for his aggressiveness in war, women and alcohol. This brought a deep rift between my parents and I as I learnt to take alcohol and sleep in dangerous military detaches during the conflict. As an adolescent, I kept telling my self, “I am my own man, I don’t have to listen to them”. Every day we experience differences in our families but how do we get back our true happiness and inner peace?

John Milton an English poet once wrote, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of hell, and a hell of Heaven”. As I told my self, “I am my own man”, I was making a Heaven of the hell in my false happiness. Many times, we believe our minds without questioning whether it’s right or wrong. You don’t have to believe everything you think. There are times you have to give up the way you think to be happy again. You have to have the courage to let go the negative thoughts in your mind. The real enemy of happiness is the minds fixations and delusions. Look at the situation differently; see the truth and the suffering subside.

Africans believe enmity between relatives does not reach the bone marrow. During interpersonal family conflicts, we need to go beyond the minds and let go. Ajahn Chah a Buddhist monk once said, “If you let go a little, you will have little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely, you will have complete peace”. As I was growing up my father would flog me to be as disciplined as other family members. But this only made me wild and full of anger and hatred. I always thought I was the hated boy in the family. I was never at peace, neither was I happy until I learnt to let go. I later learnt how much he loved me, when I was told he risked his life and confronted the ruthless commander.

Just like in a kraal, the bull that is better fed wins its fights. In the mind are two bulls (thoughts), negative thoughts and positive thoughts. If you feed your mind with positive ideas, you reap joy and happiness and vice versa. In Africa, names have meaning. Those who name their children Komakech (I am unlucky), fortune elude them. Speak positively to yourself and to others and you will find joy. I learnt to tell myself how much I am loved and found happiness in this magic and I passed it on to my family.

In the words of a Greek philosopher Epictetus, “we are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts of what happens to us”. I always thought I was flogged because I was hated but I was wrong. In every situation of a conflict that you experience in your family, question your thoughts; go beyond the mind and let go; and feed your mind with positive thoughts.



Today I took an online  character test to help me understand my self.Understanding ones’ self is very helpful in the search for happiness.This does not mean I am unhappy but it means I know what to do when I am unhappy.It also guides me to know what character in me needs my focus.This is what I found out about my strengths as a character.Take time to understand yourself for a free and reliable source.CLICK  http://uat.viacharacter.org/HOME/tabid/40/language/en-US/Default.aspx

Does this online source resonate with what you always thought about me?


Your Top Character Strength

Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you.

Your Second Character Strength

Social intelligence
You are aware of the motives and feelings of other people. You know what to do to fit in to different social situations, and you know what to do to put others at ease.

Your Third Character Strength

Humor and playfulness
You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations.

Your Fourth Character Strength

Capacity to love and be loved
You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.

Your Fifth Character Strength

Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Character Strength #6

Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it. You believe that the future is something that you can control.

Character Strength #7

Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

Character Strength #8

Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Character Strength #9

Bravery and valor
You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.

Character Strength #10

Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

Character Strength #11

You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.

Character Strength #12

Kindness and generosity
You are kind and generous to others, and you are never too busy to do a favor. You enjoy doing good deeds for others, even if you do not know them well.

Character Strength #13

You excel at the tasks of leadership: encouraging a group to get things done and preserving harmony within the group by making everyone feel included. You do a good job organizing activities and seeing that they happen.

Character Strength #14

Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. For you, life is an adventure.

Character Strength #15

Industry, diligence, and perseverance
You work hard to finish what you start. No matter the project, you “get it out the door” in timely fashion. You do not get distracted when you work, and you take satisfaction in completing tasks.

Character Strength #16

Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate, you always do your share, and you work hard for the success of your group.

Character Strength #17

Perspective (wisdom)
Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your perspective on matters and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.

Character Strength #18

Self-control and self-regulation
You self-consciously regulate what you feel and what you do. You are a disciplined person. You are in control of your appetites and your emotions, not vice versa.

Character Strength #19

Caution, prudence, and discretion
You are a careful person, and your choices are consistently prudent ones. You do not say or do things that you might later regret.

Character Strength #20

Fairness, equity, and justice
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.

Character Strength #21

Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a “real” person.

Character Strength #22

Forgiveness and mercy
You forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.

Character Strength #23

Modesty and humility
You do not seek the spotlight, preferring to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You do not regard yourself as special, and others recognize and value your modesty.

Character Strength #24

Appreciation of beauty and excellence
You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

HAPPINESS: Find Joy in Simplicity

Aliker David Martin

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. -Leonardo Da Vinci

August 4th 2001, the Daily Monitor News paper reported that the new Vice President of Uganda Edward Sekandi is finding it hard to adjust to his new lifestyle. Hon. Sekandi served as a deputy Speaker and Speaker of Uganda’s parliament for the last 15 years. As speaker, he would visit his local barber and visit his local bar after office hours unhindered. He enjoyed self-drive and the company of taxi drivers; boda boda men (motor cycle taxi) who operate next to his private office.

Apparently as Vice President, he has lost this freedom and luxury of living a simple life. He has turned out to be an inconvenience to his friends and neighbors. His security detail has to visit every place he gets to before he arrives. He can’t drive self nor visit his barber or local bar any more. His security detail now thinks its risky to live his life they way he wants it anymore.

As a high school student, I still remember one of my greatest inspirations Dr. Lawrence Mukiibi’s (Principle St. Lawrence Schools and Colleges) advices to us on simplicity. He always said, “Simplicity is the magnanimity of ones soul”. While, Hon. Sekandi may not have a choice as Vice President, many of us have a choice to live a happy simple life. Just think about the digital clutter in our life. Today’s youths are always on phone or on internet that they lived without a few years ago and were happy. When is the last time we made ourselves a priority? We have the interest of others first before we can think of our selves. Every time, I am on the streets of Kampala city, every one seems in a hurry even when they could reach their destiny without a hassle. Why do we keep stressing ourselves with a deadline we could always take our times and still get it done? Why do we strive to buy the things we could do without and still make ourselves happy?

Happiness is a choice; all we have to do is choose to be happy. Over the years, I have realized society’s greatest role models are very simple people and live simple lives. Just imagine how many people would never know Wavamuno and James Mulwana if they ever met. Think of the simplicity of people like Ghandi who would just cloth themselves in sheets to resonate with his people because he believed his relationship with his people was the most important thing to him. People like Mother Theresa and Princess Diana are remembered for their simplicity among the many virtues they had. The Bible tells us those who humble themselves will be exalted and those who exalt themselves will be humbled.

In life, many times too many dark clouds can block the most beautiful sunset. Happiness can be derived in simple things like reading a good book, taking a leisure walk, watching a movie, listening to music and being kind among many other passions in your life. Edwin Way Teale says, ”reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves”.

HAPPINESS: Focus on your strengths

August 1st 2011

HAPPINESS: Focus on your strengths

By Aliker David Martin

My first attempt at dropping out of school was in 1989.I was unhappy with my school’s correctional approach. Corporal punishments were a guarantee for every pupil at least in a week. My math teacher Mr. Lajul was my worst thou I learnt to love him eventually. Math lessons were every day before morning break. Pupils who failed his exercise would not go for break, as they had to redo the work till they passed. Mr. Lajul grew his nails to pinch pupils who failed his exercise really hard and most times they developed cuts. My parents would not allow me drop out as they were the no-nonsense type and would beat sense into you for thinking of dropping out of school. My performance continued to deteriorate so I had to find a way to be happy at school and produce good results or I fell out with my parents. I focused on my strength English and performed really well.

This is the lesson we all have to learn to be happy. Focus on your strengths in life. While my parents paid more money for extra lessons and I put in more efforts to perform better in Math, I could only be a mediocre in Math. My joy came from excelling in my strengths and so will your happiness. Many times we find our selves in conflict or try to overcome adversities in our life, be it in marriage, in school grades or may be at work. If we focus on our strengths we find ourselves happy with the outcomes because we end up succeeding with minimal effort. However, to focus on our strengths we need to differentiate between talents and strengths. Talents can make us succeed through practice. We could be talented athletes or artist but our strengths will bring us happiness. Strengths are traits within us that we can learn if we don’t have them. But talents you either have it or you don’t. Our strengths could be in being patient, tolerant, kind and possibly thoughtful. Happiness is within our selves and its our traits that make us happy.

The lesson I learnt from my Math experience that I would like to share with you today is, to spend as little time as possible on your weakness and most of your time on your strengths if you want to be happy. Don’t forget that the most successful people are not the ones with the highest IQ or best grades at school but the ones who know who they are, what they are good at and work on developing and employing their strengths. Just focus on your strengths and you will be guaranteed of a happy life.