With the recent war in Ukraine, some people asked me how Optimal Happiness can help people who are experiencing extreme distress especially if they are located in the middle of the war zone. This is not the first time I am asked a similar question, as the basis of Optimal Happiness teaching is that:
Everyone can achieve their happiest potential no matter:
- Who they are,
- Where they are from, and
- What their life circumstances are.
All you need to do is to follow a proven formula.
As such, yes happiness is still possible, even for people in Ukraine, but maybe for the other reasons that you may expect.
Safety and the Sense of Happiness
According to Maslow, one of the fundamental needs for human prosperity is a sense of safety, which is clearly being violated in Ukraine, but also in many other parts of the world. For example, in Sri Lanka, due to some bad economic decisions made by a part of the government, many people are experiencing high levels of uncertainty and distress regarding their future and their sense of safety.
Still, I ask whether:
- Were all these people happy before the war or economic crisis? And
- Are they going to be happy immediately after their sense of safety is restored?
My point here is that it takes more than just our sense of safety for us to be happy. In fact, many people who live in the developed nations of the world experience high levels of stress, depression, and anxiety on a daily basis. They are safe and have way more financial resources compared to other parts of the world. And yet, they are still unhappy? Why is that?
Joy vs Happiness During War Time
Overall, I imagine that no one is happy about this current conflict and we hope for its quick resolution. This means that there is no joy connected to the events created by the war in Ukraine. However, this does not mean that people can’t be happy, even in the middle of the war. Again, their happiness would not be connected to whatever is happening in Ukraine, but on a more global and serine level, meaning that they are happy regardless of:
- Who they are
- Where they are from; and
- What are their life circumstances.
We are talking about complete and total mental control over our emotional state of well-being. This is a superpower that only a few people cultivate in their lives, but all of us have the potential to do.
Sense of Purpose & Solidarity
Actually, again and again, studies conclude that great distress often brings the best out of human beings, such as the sense of camaraderie, solidarity, and, in the case of war in Ukraine, a sense of patriotism. These negative events help people forget about all their past problems, making them feel insignificant even after the war is over. Additionally, war puts things into perspective, making people focus on the things that really matter to them, helping many find their sense of purpose.
Nuclear War Anxiety
Interestingly, the war in Ukraine created a lot of anxiety, outside Ukraine itself, over a possibility of nuclear attack and/or a third world war.
To address this anxiety, I propose a simple exercise. We will use one powerful tool, which is absolutely imperative that we learn in order to be optimally happy. From my experience, many people heard about this tool, but few people truly understand it, and even fewer people use it. This tool is the Serenity prayer used in Alcoholics Anonymous, which states:
- God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
- The courage to change the things I can,
- And the wisdom to know the difference.
Here is an example of how you can use this tool:
- Regarding the war in Ukraine, ask yourself whether you can do something about this war (in other words, can you control the war)?
- If the answer to the above question is “yes” then by all means go do whatever you can do to help!
- If the answer to the first question is “no” (or if you already did everything you can to influence the war in Ukraine) then realize that the war in Ukraine is outside your control.
Once you realize that some events are outside your control, it is important to STOP stressing and worrying about these events as you worry and anxiety won’t change anything. If anything, it will just affect your productivity and life satisfaction, and you can be doing something else more productive meanwhile.
In other words, worrying about things we can’t control is a waste of time, energy, and life potential, so better realize the destructive potential of this unnecessary worry and just move on with our life, regardless of how uncomfortable this may be.
The real way to be happy, even in the middle of a war zone in Ukraine
Recent events in Ukraine are tragic by all accounts. However, many people forget that there are countless other situations that are creating stress, anxiety, suffering, loss of human life, etc.
For example, remember Afghanistan and the Taliban? World Population Review mentioned 20 other countries engages in the ongoing “war” conflict, including:
- Algeria – Terrorist Insurgency
- Burkina Faso – Terrorist Insurgency
- Cameroon – Terrorist Insurgency
- Chad – Terrorist Insurgency
- Colombia – Civil War/Drug War
Don’t forget COVID, already mentioned Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, racism (e.g., Black Lives Matter movement), inequality, debt, depression, etc etc.
Yes, there are more than enough reasons to be unhappy today by the state of affairs in the world. Also, by no means I am trying to diminish the suffering created in Ukraine (and Russia, towards its innocent population). Yet, I will still say that happiness is possible regardless of:
- Who they are
- Where they are from; and
- What are their life circumstances
Especially if you are living in places where you are supposed to be “safe”—the majority of the “developed” western world.
Still, if you are experiencing stress, depression, or anxiety today, know that these feelings are not permanent. You don’t have to suffer. There is a solution for all these negative emotions and you can reach your happiest potential. Please, let Optimal Happiness help you. We provide the full happiness formula in our Happiness University.
I also send my deepest and most heartfelt regards to anyone who is suffering, directly or indirectly, as a result of this terrible war in Ukraine.
Stay safe, stay happy!