Yesterday I wrote a piece on the weird problems I am facing. That i’m nervous when good times approach me. And as usual, I got the typical Kenyan response, ” get over with it”. “Just enjoy being happy”. ” Move on”.
Yet had I posted that i’m undergoing grief, or I just had an abortion, or I broke my arms, or I lost a job, or i’m sick..I wouldn’t have gotten any of the above responses. In stead, I would have gotten long responses sympathising with me and some even encouraging me on how its going to be okay and maybe what I can do etc.
And then today I read Ciru Ngigi’s post on Love and hugs. Were you hugged as a kid? Were you told I love you by your parents? And most answers were no for Kenyans. Rarely did our parents tell us they love us verbally. And hugs, the ladies who responded said the mums who hug them do it the church style..where there is little physical contact and only the cheeks touch.
After that, I read Bikozulu’s article on Happiness. He wrote down thoughts I had been having yesterday. When was the last time you heard someone say that their business is good? That their month is really going on well for them? That their family is doing extremely well? How many Kenyans have you heard saying that they are happy? With no buts and ifs? No lakini?
Why do we do it? Is it a wonder we are among the unhappiest people on earth according to statistics?
Maybe you are wondering what’s the connection between Ciru Ngigi’s question and Bikozulu’s. I’ve come to realise that what you focus on -grows. Like what you invest your thoughts in and your conversations in grows. What you pay attention to blossoms.
We grew up just assuming we are loved by our parents. Going by their hardwork to feed and educate us. Did we ever have moments when we just sat down and celebrated being families? Where a parent just enjoyed your little naughty self? But these same Kenyans who were never told were loved, were spanked senseless when they wronged. Any mistake they did was punished. Any bad thing was dealt with there and then.
Who remembers being told well done every single day? Or at least as frequently as you were disciplined? Me thinks subconsciously we picked up this pattern of thought of focusing only on the bad things. You being well behaved was expected. You being bad behaved was focused on and paid attention to.
Now here we are as adults. When business is bad, we talk on and on about it. When we get jobs, we drown on and on about how we are just struggling with them. But have you ever had a one hour conversation on how good one’s life is at the moment? Like have you ever heard someone sincerely talking of how happy they are. Not with something. Just happy with life?
Do we even know how to hold those conversations? We never heard them as we grew up. We heard a lot of complaining and talk of sacrifice and hardwork. Did we hear people talking of being happy, full of joy and excited about life?
No wonder when I say i’m happy and I have no idea on how to deal with it..i’m told to move on. People don’t even know what to tell me. And they don’t know that that is indicative of how we as Kenyans deal with good times. Do they ever talk of their own happiness? Do they ever think of it? Or do we gloss over it.
And is it healthy for us? That a whole people rarely talk of any good times in their life. Or is it as Bikozulu says, we are afraid that when we wake up, when we acknowledge that we are happy, when we say it aloud, we might blink and find it gone? Aki happiness must be such an elusive thing for us( woiye).
Anyway, i’m glad life has brought me to this standpoint. Where I now have to learn how to be happy when i’m happy. Where on top of equipping me of how to deal with rough times, i’m learning to also accept good times as equally equal shareholders of my life. I sincerely wouldn’t have realized all these was I not going through these lessons practically.
Anyway, when you are happy, how do you do? Do you talk about it comfortably? Do you have a set of music you listen to ? Forget about moving on, is there anyone out here who actually just enjoys being happy in equal measure as being sad? With the same intensity? And depth?