HAPPINESS:Why Butterflies Fly and Humans Drive


“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness.” — Henry David Thoreau

Just like any adolescent, I always treasured a complex life until I got my first job. My job excitement influenced me to buy the most expensive shoes I could afford.

As I received compliments from colleagues, my boss cautioned: “simplicity shows the magnanimity of the soul.”

I later would never forget these words as life threw punches at me. My boss was the richest educationist yet the simplest teacher ever in Uganda. This was the awakening of my simplicity consciousness.

Last night, a friend told me a story of a young American who visited one of the rural village fishing sites in Africa.

He was astonished by the lifestyle of the fishing community. The Africans used sticks and strings tied to a hook to fish.

Most of them used local boats that could barely move deeper into the lake while others remained on the shores of the lake.

They spent the whole day fishing and holding conversations by the lake side. In the evening, they enjoyed the walk back home to prepare their meal.

The young American got inspired to help. He asked his parents for money to set up a fish factory.

He bought motorboats, refrigerators and sophisticated fishing tools worth millions of shillings. He anticipated that he would sell the fish and save the Africans from wasting more time.

Unfortunately, the project failed to take off after completion. The American then consulted the village elders, why the fishing community had turned down the project.

An elder told him: “Welcome to the roots of wisdom.” It’s all about the simplicity of our life style. Your project will make our lifestyle complex. The elder continued: “Your project will make the fish extinct for our grandchildren. We don’t know how to operate the machines you have brought but even if we learnt, the fish would cost us much more than we have always paid.”

The young American responded: “But I will save you a lot of time to do other things and you will have enough fish to eat whenever you need it.”

In response, another elder said: “Look, my son, the time our children spend at the fishing sites is for dating, that’s how they identify partners. Besides, we don’t practice agriculture here. If our children get more time to do nothing, they will use it to do wrong things.” CONTINUE


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WORLD HAPPINESS REPORT: Why Uganda is Ranked Happiest in E. Africa


By Aliker David martin

“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worst than it is, and the future less resolved than it would be” –Marcel Pagnol (French Writer, producer and Film Director1895-1974)

The UN last week released the first ever World Happiness Report.

In the report, Uganda is ranked the happiest nation in East Africa. Uganda is placed at position 128 out of 156, and followed by Rwanda at 132 out of 156 countries.

Columbia University’s Earth Institute report considered factors like economic and social support, absence of corruption and degree of personal freedom.

According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) Uganda’s inflation rate slumped to 21.2 percent in March from a revised 25.7 percent in February 2012.

The Central Bank of Uganda ramped up its key lending rate to 23 percent last year after inflation soared on the back of high food and fuel prices.

Uganda’s unemployment rate is at 3.5 percent and that of the youth is at a whopping 32.2 percent while for those with degrees, it’s at 36 percent.

In 2007 Transparency International ranked Uganda 117th most corrupt country out of 178 countries in the world Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

The World Bank report (2005) estimated that Uganda loses $ 300m (510b shillings) through corruption and procurement malpractices.

Last week, the government banned a pressure group Activist for Change (A4C). A4C is campaigning for good governance and freedom in Uganda.

Having mentioned all these snapshots of happiness indicators in Uganda, the question is; with all this poor record, why are Ugandans the happiest nation in East Africa? Continue

HAPPINESS: You look fat and good!


By Aliker David Martin

If you have health, you probably will be happy, and if you have health and happiness, you have all the wealth you need, even if it is not all you want.  ~Elbert Hubbard

I have never been concerned about my diet until I came to America. To look fat is never a bad thing in Africa, instead being fat is associated with being happy and healthy. The poor, sick and unhappy are associated with being skinny. One day, as I complemented my American boss who had just returned from a holiday in America; I told her, “you look fat and good; you must have enjoyed your holiday!” All the Americans laughed as all my African colleagues nodded in recognition. My boss was deeply hurt and that’s when I learnt of the stigma of obesity in America. So how can one be fat and happy? Aware that obesity can be a gene, I will make three suggestions:

Eat to live, don’t live to eat. Too much of everything is always bad. Develop the habit to eat with a purpose. Feed the body with foods and drinks that add nutrients to your body cells. If your body cells are happy, your body organs will function in a balanced way even when you are fat. A happy body is a happy mind.

The body just like a car needs routine check up. There is a great addictive feeling moments after working out. You are less likely to see people walking for good health in Africa. America’s self-drive culture to every location is responsible for your poor health. If you cannot afford signing up at a gym, develop the habit of walking daily to the park. It’s also free to run along pedestrian walkways to improve on your blood flow and physical health. This may not make you skinny but happy with your body.

My final suggestion is to obey your body commands. If that body is responsible for making the money, then use the money to feed the body. Virgil says, “The greatest wealth is health.” Give it rest if it demands sleep. Feed it if it demands food and water it if it feels dehydrated. Lets develop a loving relationship with our body and it will make our cells and selves infinitely happier.

HAPPINESS: If you can dream it you can achieve it


By Aliker David Martin

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world”. Harriet Tubman

Fearless Dreamers

I have just finished reading a book, No More Nightmares. It’s a book by Beverly Ann Dexter, PhD. She writes on how to overcome nightmares by using planned dream interventions. It occurred to me that the most shocked people about my scholarship at University of San Diego are those who either thought getting an American scholarship by a Ugandan (African) was a broad day nightmare or I was not good enough.

When I was born, my parents named me after Dr. Aliker Martin. He is one of the pioneers to win an American scholarship in my village. He was so outstanding that village mates would stand by the roadside to receive him when he returned from studies. This is what happiness meant to me. I always dreamt of an American scholarship.

According to Ian K. Smith, a New York Times best-selling author of the book The Fat Smash Diet, dreams are the powerful creations of our imagination. They inspire us during times of difficulty and inspire us when we become too complacent. Even when I was hassling in the conflicts in Africa and struggling to find what to eat, I kept dreaming. I believe the happiest people are fearless dreamers. They use their imagination to create hope and possibilities.

I suppose, you are questioning yourself how dreaming brings you happiness. I have learnt that the act of imagining an outcome is enough to change your mood. Every day that I imagined the possibilities of success, my mood relayed a positive attitude on life. Even while I borrowed shirts in school to take pictures, it never stopped me from smiling for the camera.

Conclusively sometimes in life, you can be too close to the trees to see the forest. Mentally remove yourself from that difficult situation through imagination to get a bigger and clearer picture of the future. Believe in the power of imaginations to bring you happiness.

HAPPINESS: Be kind as you celebrate Christmas


By Aliker David Martin

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles.  It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.  ~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Aliker uses Smart Board

How do you celebrate an achievement? It could be through a hearty laughter or dancing like the football stars celebrating a touchdown. While other people celebrate Christmas season by eating and drinking, I chose an act of kindness that would bring me fulfillment.

One of my best friends invited me over for Christmas with a fully paid flight. We met in Africa while he was an intern student of Notre Dame. I felt obligated to pass on the kindness. I decided to spend time in an elementary school visiting pupils with autism before they could break off for Christmas. I was greatly inspired by the world of possibilities in the lives of these children. Indeed, disability is not inability. My greatest sensation was seeing the children use Apple installed operating system in Smart Boards. Smart Board is an interactive white board developed by Smart Technologies. Relating and listening to these children gave me a strong sense of purpose. Any effort to meet our sense of purpose brings us happiness. Besides, I also treated my self in the evening to a great dish and some drinks. If you treat your self-kindly, it will reciprocate the gesture by bringing you joy and high spirits.

Having said that, I implore you to identify a sense of purpose this festive season and be kind. In Dalai Lama’s words, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion” Give yourself a treat to find happiness this festive season. A good massage could be so rewarding to the body just like an act of kindness brings you inner joy and fulfillment.

Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year

HAPPINESS: Christmas to a childless mother


By Aliker David Martin

God, If I can’t have what I want, let me want what I have” Anonymous

My children are your children

As a child growing up in Africa, the excitement in Christmas was in new clothes, shoes and eating the occasional dish of rice and chicken. Listening to the priest’s sermon today, the statement “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus” captivated me. In my mind, I imagined, “What does Christmas mean to a childless mother? In my culture, the body of a childless mother, is passed through a broken wall for burial as a sign of bad omen while in America, it looks like a lifestyle. Childlessness causes low self esteem. Many childless mothers bear a great feeling of loss and poor health. Take a look at childlessness as talent. We all cannot have the same talent. I may not have the talent to sing just like someone may not have the ability or intention to have children. If you looked at childlessness as a sign of poor health, many people have been born with disabilities but it has not denied them achieving their life’s goals. In their minds, disability is not inability.

During one of my American fundraising trips, I met a generous childless donor. She told me she was too busy pursuing a career and when she was ready to date it was already late to have children. She says at first it made her very depressed. She later realized her passion and goal in life is to serve children in need. This has brought her a lot of joy and satisfaction.

This Christmas, the birth of Christ could mean the birth of a new passion and goal in your life. Prepare for it by opening your heart to kindness just as you prepare to receive the new-born (Jesus Christ). Olbert Schweitzer says, “The only people happy are those helping others” Therefore, your life’s mission could be different from bearing children. Childlessness should not make you unhappy but eager to find out your life’s purpose. Abraham Lincoln once said, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years. Merry Christmas