With Mounting Stress, Where Is Happiness?
A hot topic among netizens these days is: With mounting stress, where is happiness?
A survey of 16,000 workers in 80 countries and regions has found that seventy-five percent of mainland Chinese workers experience more stress than in the previous year –which is the highest percentage among the regions polled. Many have even become inextricably entangled with stress, leading to a perception that while stress wears you out, you'd feel dreadful without it. It occurs to many of us that if measured on a happiness scale, today's life is far less satisfying than a single agrarian lifestyle, and the culprit is no other than the failure at stress management.
Where does stress come from? It could be work-related, money-induced, compounded by the thirst to own or the burden of owning a home and a car, driven by the mission to get married and have offspring, and exacerbated by soaring consumer prices. Moreover, it could stem from an uneasiness that belies our stubborn refusal to settle for less when our goal proves unrealistic, or from the exasperation at our kids' failure to live up to expectations, or from our relentless pursuit of perfection that is taking us nowhere. As a result, we find ourselves consumed by hectic schedules day in and day out, navigating gingerly the labyrinth of office politics, executing one balancing act after another in search of elusive solutions satisfactory to all. At no time are we free from stress. Locked in a vicious circle of competition, we are in constant fear of being outpaced, out-earned, or outwitted, a fear that gives rise to chronicle fatigue, both physically and mentally, taking a toll on our health.
In addition to workplace pressures and worries in life, another source of stress is social injustice, which over 40 percent of those polled in a survey regard as a primary contributor to stress. As we all know, stress arises not only from soured relationships, poor living conditions, peer pressure, the obligation to care for aging parents, or lack of interpersonally harmony, but also from myriad dilemmas that inflict unspeakable misery on us. Injustices such as inequality in education and employment, unfair competition, unequal business opportunities, and disparities in social welfare weigh heavily on our minds. Unable to escape from its clutch, much less alter its driving forces, we endure in silence this kind of stress, which has become a gnawing pain at heart and a malady of our time.
Some say happiness is but a feeling, and nothing could be truer. In a bygone agricultural society, favorable weather and bumper harvests would bring happiness to a whole community, and a feeling of being doubly blessed would prevail if there was also a baby boom accompanied by thriving livestock populations. For a clan that valued farming and letters, all its members would be feeling on top of the world if one of them was successful in an imperial exam. However, in today's materialistic world where everyone seems to be in a hot pursuit of fame and wealth, people would be at a loss if asked "Are you happy?" Indeed, too much stress has eroded our sense of happiness. No wonder when some migrant workers were asked if they were happy in a CCTV happiness survey, their answer was "I don't know", just like that of Mo Yan, a famed writer. After all, migrant works and folks like Mo Yan are all experiencing stress, albeit in different ways.
To prevent stress from eroding our sense of happiness, the government for its part has to make constant efforts to build a fair and just social framework and a viable safety net for all, so as to enhance the ability of individuals to withstand risks and shocks, and take effective measures to narrow the gap between rich and poor, so as to prevent the emergence of collective anxiety among the general public. On the other hand, we as individuals should try to look at things from a different perspective, with less attitude and more gratitude. It pays to free ourselves from the grips of grievances, and harness the power of positive thinking, always aiming for a right balance between expectations and reality, a departure from blind materialistic pursuit towards a more fulfilling self-reinvention, and a return to reason. Only by embracing more equanimity, can we be blessed with happiness, and truly feel blissful.