We have, most of us, been exposed with a load of literature on the concept of happiness.

LOVANIA PERTAB

Merci Social Media and the Internet for that. We often reflect on this concept and try to integrate the tips we receive in our daily lives. There is a country, Bhutan, which uses the Gross Happiness Index as a guideline to the collective wellbeing of its population. The concept of Happiness is even included in its constitution.

There is a saying that we have to count our blessings. Ok, let us count our blessings: we live in a peaceful country (there is no war), our weather is gentle (no harsh winter), our people is diverse and tolerant, people are not dying of hunger… and the list may be very long.

So, we are blessed. But then, why are we not happy as countrymen (and women) and as individuals ? We just have to talk to people we meet to realise that most Mauritians are not happy, and this is an understatement.

When you listen to radio programs, you realise that Mauritians are very unhappy about the inconveniences they face in their everyday life.

Of course, how can we be happy when we are stranded in traffic jams everyday? This situation has grown worse through the years and no government has come up with an inclusive plan to deal with this situation. We have no idea how traffic jams are impacting on our health (physical and mental), productivity, number of deaths on our roads. From time to time, we encounter people consumed with road rage. Indeed, how can we be happy when we have to spend so much time coming to work and going back home everyday…

People voice out a lot of frustration about the provision of services all through the country. People regularly complain about how they have difficulty in their requests, complaints, applications etc… It is incredible how it is becoming more and more difficult to ease any request you make to public services. We witness some departments in public service which offer very good services. You just have to go to the Passport Office, the Registrar General or the Registrar of Companies. So why is the norm of good service not possible in all other services, specially parastatal bodies? You certainly cannot be happy when you have to battle to have good service in your everyday life…

People in private complain a lot about their workplace. It is difficult to measure how far there is any truth in all the complaints but we do hear how workers and other employees feel they have to work too much, facing moral and sexual harassment, being overexposed to corporate pressure. It is certainly not conducive to productivity that such situations exist. It is of note that women employees may have to face more problems in the work place: disparity in pay packets, working too long hours, maternity leaves that do not cater well for mothers who are breastfeeding… So, how can you be happy when you are not loving your workplace and everyday life becomes a nightmare.

People in Mauritius have a lot of health issues. To the extent that we do not have a health system focused on prevention rather than provision of health care, health of Mauritians is a tricky subject. So many of us are suffering from cancer, vascular problems, diabetes. We often wonder why we all have health issues. We do not have the answers and therefore we speculate: maybe it is the level of pesticides in our food, maybe it is our level of stress. Indeed, how can we be happy when we are so sick as individuals…

Mauritians also feel so frustrated with lack of meritocracy in all spheres. Cronyism (appointment of friends to certain positions) is rife and we have more and more examples with each government coming to power. This situation is not reserved to the public sector. Just have a look at the names of Board Members and/or Management of certain companies and you will get a revealing answer. Those in power whether in the public and private sector do not realise the harm they are doing to our country as they sabotage the hope of people for a better life, the hope that social mobility brings. So, how can you be happy when you cannot fulfil legitimate ambitions to progress professionally.

Joseph Addison, English poet and politician used to say: three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for. So, let us make 3 vows: that all adults of our country have access to work they deserve and all children have access to good education, that all of us have loving families and family life is not subject to scourges such as abuse of alcohol, domestic violence, drug consumption and we all have something to hope for. Do we have hope? Maybe it is time that we took things in our hands and create hope…