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What Defines Happiness?

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On this International Day of Happiness, take a few minutes to ask yourself, what defines happiness in your life?

According to the recent World Happiness Report, while Finland is at the top, Kenya ranked 124. (See more on: http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2018/)

Undoubtedly the ever smiling person you can think of immediately is the Dalai Lama and here’s an interesting read on what he thinks about Compassion and Happiness, his blog post https://www.dalailama.com/messages/compassion-and-human-values/compassion-as-the-source-of-happiness

What is happiness to you can be different to the person sitting right next to you. Also the state of mind in changing constantly even in moments, for example you might experience joy from eating your favourite chocolate cupcake and right after feel guilty for indulging in the choice of eating a sugary item. Thus, is the state of our mind, bouncing from thought to thought, positive to negative or vice versa.

To bring yourself into a constant state of happiness, there is much work to be done. While some seek Prayer, some seek motivational talks, some seek pleasure with friends or family, you have to realize it is again a unique proposition and satisfaction index.

Here’s a definition that inspires me:

“Humor opens closed hearts. Humor can free us from the grip of our thoughts. When we smile, we feel we can accept things we previously could not. We feel we can forgive those who have wronged us. Humor is an essential part of life.”- by Haemin Sunim

Take some time periodically in your life to get in touch with your inner happiness and your quest for success will surely continue to charter its course smoothly.

 

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Posted by on March 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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The Last Minute Kenyan Culture, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 19th January 2018

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On 28th August 2017 there was a historic decision made by the Kenyan Government, where the plastic ban finally was enforced. This momentous decision was met with its own kind of protests especially from plastic bags manufacturers but as the weeks proceeded the pattern soon set it and shoppers got used to bringing their own cloth bags or buying from the till.

Before the year closed, Uasin Gishu County became the first one to ban supermarkets from charging shoppers for their bags. The assumption is that perhaps the same should apply across the rest of the country. This is a challenge because each county has slightly different consumer trends. There however can be a blanket rule for shopping malls and especially retail clothes shops not to charge their shoppers for the bags, whichever type they may be. It is very ridiculous to expect a shopper who is buying clothing items, which are on average worth KES 500 to pay for another KES 10 for a bag.

When it comes to the supermarkets, the charge should remain because this has a domino effect in the running of the household. Buying foodstuffs and other condiments is an almost weekly or monthly ritual for most shoppers. The way they run their homes and especially kitchens will depend on the use of these bags. This means planning and of course a last minute shopping situation may not be conducive. Here’s the thing, if your store room is not in order then your shopping is bound to be haywire. While the staff at the supermarket tills needs training, you must take initiative too. The days of relying on them to pack the items are over and perhaps this is the beginning of the Western type of shopping, where you do almost everything and pay too!

When the supermarkets were using plastic bags they never passed on the bill to the shopper, just imagine how cheap we were treating our environment. In the UK shops that have over 250 staff are meant to charge a minimum 5p for their plastic shopping bags. Smaller shops are meant to give them free. The cloth bags industry are cashing in and making money with this entire process but then again they have created jobs and are good for the environment. Shoppers should get used to having their shopping bags/boxes in their vehicles (Kenyans have plenty of cars and big ones too) all the time for their shopping needs. Forgetting to carry them is your problem and if you have to pay, then you should not crib about it.

The plastic bags industry was toxic and that’s why when it ended it hurt those who were killing the environment. Being a responsible human is costly, well then it is too bad, the Earth was given to you for free.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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The Blue Whale Challenge That Killed Kids, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 26th May 2017

Child Playing Video Game Courtesy Digital Spy UK

Child Playing Video Game Courtesy Digital Spy UK

A long time ago, actually a very long time ago, children played with so many games that did not include looking like zombies in front of a screen. From marbles, cricket, hop scotch, hide & seek and so many others, children ran, fell, smiled, cried, won, lost and explored new places literally physically. According to Research Company based in the US, The NPD Group, 91% of the American children aged 2017 played video games, up 13% from 2009. 85% or more of these video games contain some form of violence and while Pokémon Go looks nicer, it puts the player in a battle position.

Luckily some good news is that gaming with sports toys for kids between 2-5 has also seen a significant rise.

According to the American Psychological Association policy statement of 2015, it notes that the media has often cited the playing of violent video games as s potential contributor to acts of mass homicide. This can be seen as early as in 1999, to the most recent Sandy Hook school massacre in 2012. Unfortunately while children are playing these games, recently a young man behind the Blue Whale Challenge has pleaded guilty to creating the disgusting suicidal game. Philipp Budeikin is 21 years old and was arrested in St Petersburg for the game that has killed over 100 teenagers in Russia. This game also claimed the life of young 16-year-old Jamie Njenga in Limuru. The altar boy did not what waited for him at the end of the 50-day challenge with this game.

This sick game was designed whereby each day the player receives daily tasks and they have 50 days to complete them. On the 50th day the manipulators have you in their grasp and then instruct the child to commit suicide. Each task may involve self-harm, waking up at unusual hours, watching horror movies and do scary extreme other things. The important thing to appreciate unfortunately in this tragic situation is that, it has brought out the topic of child self-harm, depression and suicide around the world in a splash. Children at home, school and anywhere and everywhere are talking about it, asking questions and parents, caregivers and teachers are also participating in this mega serious discussion. How come, with all the Angry Birds or Peppa Pig, why are kids still in such a scary space?

This is their big cry for help. They need to be listened, helped and proven that this is a happy world and that there are good people. According to statistics by the National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment in the US:

  • Every 7 minutes a child is bullied. Adult intervention- 4%, Peer intervention- 11% and no intervention is 85%
  • Bullied students tend to grow up more socially anxious, with less self-esteem and require more mental health services throughout life
  • 1 million children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyber bullying on Facebook in 2016.
  • Suicide remains among the leading causes of death of children under 14 and in most cases, they do it by hanging.
  • When teens see others being mean or cruel on social networks, frequently 55% see other people just ignoring what is going on, 27% see others defending the victim, 20% see others telling the offender to stop, and 19% see others join in on the harassment.

Thus, this is a collective effort. Children need our help, from parents, grand parents, cousins, teachers, community leaders and almost anyone. They are the most vulnerable in the society. Also it is a bigger wake up call for the bullies. What is motivating them? Believe it or not some actually do it for entertainment purposes or because they are bored. Humanity is in a big fix, maybe only a mega intervention either divine or Armageddon will put us on a fresh start.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Communication is Always Key, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 28th April 2017

Communication Courtesy Ampsinc

Communication Courtesy Ampsinc

Ever remember the time you dialed a number round and round or waited for the operator to connect your call? As much as technology has advanced there is one thing that has been left far behind, patience. Actually two things, patience and trust. When we placed a call or dialed the number we waited nicely for the other person to receive, answer, listen, converse and then hang up. If there was no answer, there was trust that he or she must be fine, busy or out of the office or home. Nowadays, well it is totally different. we do not wait for the call to be answered, we the caller hang up more than often quickly. We then drop off emergency messages and wait impatiently for a response, if we do not get one, we get suspicious. We go overboard to seek out the person, sometimes even show up at their home or workplace. Yes, we get paranoid.

Kenyans are talking and chatting more than ever via their mobile phones. This technological revolution has opened up the channels of communication and confusion. Communication to reach out and talk or listen, catch up, share and celebrate or give bad news as quickly as possible. Confusion to create affairs, divorces, break friendships, lose clients or simply misbehave.

The number of mobile phones in Kenya went from 1 to 10 million between 2002 and 2006, the usage burst when mobile money transfer, M-PESA was introduced in 2007. This innovative way of sending and receiving money completely changed the idea of having a mobile phone. So far there have been over 6 billion transactions in 2016 and other countries worldwide are looking at how to adopt or use this similar technology that changed Kenya and its people.

According to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), at the end of the quarter, mobile penetration stood at 88.1 % with 37.8million subscribers up from 36.1million in the previous quarter. Apart from an increase in internet and data, the voice calling also went up by 18.2 %. Thus more Kenyans have resorted to talking versus texting. There are several advantages of talking over texting. When you call someone they can hear your mood and possibly feel your emotions, especially in a dating scene. When you text, mostly the messages may not carry the same weight of feeling, even though there are plenty of supporting emoticons. A phone call is more sincere and you can sound enthusiastic versus giving a thumbs up in a text and not really meaning it. The room for mistakes is less because when you say something you will get an immediate answer and if there is a misunderstanding, the conversation can be resolved better, instead of long messages that make matters worse.

A phone call still is personal and respectful, in our busy times today even if we live in the same city or neighbourhood we have lost the culture to make time and call someone and wish them a happy birthday. Even though calls are cheaper through mediums like WhatsApp, we would rather send a fancy message (copy and pasted) than give a personal touch by calling. There is after all no time to tell someone how much they mean to you. The idea of mass messaging is quite lame.

The culture of communication varies, however some things should remain paramount. Always say personal things over a phone call no matter how awkward or difficult. Better yet do it in person, never rely on a text message, the room for misunderstanding is just too large. Texting may have silly defects like misspelling or poor grammar. You may not speak the perfect language too, but imagine talking in your comfortable choice of language to whomsoever it maybe and actually getting through to each other. The fun is not there in texting.

The spreading of bad news is also easy and can be misconstrued if is shared on a text. It may look like an efficient way to do it, but it can create rumors and issues.

Every age group also have their timings to make calls and perhaps depending on professions too this can vary. The simple etiquette is to remember that you know your person and you can always be polite to keep timings decent, unless of course you both have the liberty to call whenever. This of course applies in a dating situation or for married couples.

Communication is always key, making your point, being heard and also listening to the other person and attempting to see their point of view always works out for the better if not best.

 

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Educated Leaders and Do They Matter? Point Blank with Asian Weekly 14th April 2017

Educated Leaders and Do They Matter?

Robert Mugabe Courtesy AfriclandPost

President Robert Mugabe, Courtesy AfriclandPost

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power” by Abraham Lincoln

A man, who wants his family’s survival, will do anything, his grades will not matter, his qualifications will not count and his skills will not work always.

But a man, who wants his power to grow, will do anything, his grades will not matter, his qualifications will not count and his skills will always work because he knows how to do it.

There has been a study by Timothy Besley, Jose G Montalvo and Marta Reynal-Querol that used data on more than one thousand political leaders between 1875 and 2004 to investigate whether having more educated leaders affects economic growth rates. In regards to African countries they found that ‘a transition from a graduate leader to a graduate leader has no effect while a transition from a graduate to a non-graduate has a large negative and significant effect.’

Africa has been the focus of the world for economic purposes including everything from energy, resources, human capital and the role of democracy. However Africa is struggling to keep up with Western standards and while the recent Tanzanian President John Magufuli is chartering a new way of doing things, the rest of the continent is lagging behind in western standards. Maybe Africa needs to look inwards and because of its diverse culture and traditions, it needs to set its own standards and goals. However basic education should be a must no matter what.

When the Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko shared his KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) exams results there was major uproar. Surely, a poor result in class will not result in any better score in running the County? Perhaps politics were at play because soon after the opposition’s candidate Governor Hassan Joho’s KCSE results were also under question. There is hope in Africa though, because according to an Internet poll, the world’s most educated president is none other than Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. Yes he was a teacher in the beginning of his career, has a qualification in Economics, is a lawyer, masters from University of London’s external programme’s and has a BA from Fort Hare University in South Africa.

While the basics of your education need to be covered and if not high scorer the average is quite ok too. According to the super power, United States of America, a great president needs to have a compelling vision, wherewithal to implement this vision, focus on a few major goals at a time and understand the process and implications of decision-making. These are as per Michael Siegel, who has written the book- The President as Leader.

But what about experience, surely this should count too?

According to Gautam Mukunda of the Harvard Business Review, “if you choose an insider who you know can do the job well, most of the time that person won’t perform any differently from any other top candidate with lots of experience, I call them “filtered leaders”, they might be good, but not brilliant.” He goes on to say that it is the unfiltered leaders, the outsiders without lots of experience who perform the very best.

While Senator Mike Sonko may not be highly qualified, he drew inspiration and connected immediately with the people of Nairobi and won the hearts of the Nation. A great example of an unfiltered leader is the US President Abraham Lincoln, but you have to remember says Gautam “you can choose leaders who are likely to lead you to big wins or big losses, or you can choose leaders who will definitely be good at their job but almost certainly won’t be great.”

Thus, a good leader needs qualifications but a great leader needs to be an excellent communicator and negotiator. What is the point of having a leader in a powerful position who looks at either ‘hands’ for advise, he or she should be capable of taking the decision or choice with all ears, eyes and opinion open. Life is the biggest teacher and experience adds to the wisdom, degrees and qualifications only pile up in the brain’s cupboard as trophies, rarely to be used to make any real difference, honestly.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Happiness Is Inside All of Us, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 24th March, 2017

 

Happiness Is Inside All Of Us

World-Happiness-Day-Quotes-2017

Some people chase success, some people chase money, very few people chase happiness. That is because they think it will come from success and money. While there is no denying that money buys you things you like, places you want to go to, certain experiences, happiness has no price tag. You have to earn your happiness.

The Dalai Lama says, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” That is kind, but I like how Abraham Lincoln also sums it up, by saying “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

Yes, it is up to you and you only to be happy.

The International Day of Happiness started in 2013 to recognize that happiness is an important requirement of our lives.

While this year the Smurfs (famous cartoons) rallied on their three goals to attaining happiness, which are end poverty, reduce inequality and protect our planet, there was an index to show which country fared on this rank of happiness.

There was no surprise that Norway was the happiest country in the world, especially since it has almost no poverty, great equality and excellent climate protection. The poor Americans dropped one place to 14th, they are getting sadder, but luckily for them the UK was 19th. While Syria and Yemen were at the bottom, the interesting thing were the main components used to calculate the rankings; how people rate social support, personal freedom, corruption and generosity. While the UAE was the happiest country in the Arab world, the shocking winner in East Africa was Somalia.

Somalia is ranked 5th while our very own Kenya is 13th in Africa according to the Gallup World Poll. It is interesting to note that in their calculation which they call Afrobarometer, “while poor infrastructure and lack of service delivery may contribute to lived poverty and depressed happiness, it may also undermine Africa’s democracy project. A case in point is South Africa’s relatively new democracy. The latest Afrobarometer survey conducted there suggests that 64% of South African respondents thought that democracy was preferable to any other kind of government, a similarly high percentage (62%) stated they would be ‘very willing’ or ‘willing’ to give up regular elections to live under a non-elected government capable of ensuring law and order and service delivery.”

Somalia has been a war torn country and perhaps they are rising to the top of happiness because they value the support system of happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance. With their newly elected President Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo the expectations of moving forward and creating history are high, especially since the country is finally trying to put together its first fully functioning central government in a quarter-century. By the way even Pakistan and Bangladesh ranked higher and happier than India.

Kenya is not happy because of a long list of old issues and some new ones that are manifesting to become dangerous signs to disaster.

While there is progress in investment, there is almost no progress in fighting corruption. While there is progress in community security, there is very little for law and order. Those in charge of our security need to be secure in their lives, better working conditions, remunerations and goals to achieve. Our failing national doctors and the entire clogged system is crippling the nation’s health. The ever growing pains of teachers who are meant to shape tomorrow’s leaders are busy still fixing their state of affairs. If we do not get a grip on these key issues amongst others then we are setting up a whole new generation of failure and even the oil discoveries will not float us out of the dirty crap.

The mind, the will, the heart, all need to change to be honest, compassionate and happy. There is just no other way to achieve a better ranking not for the sake of an index but for the real truth, progress and happiness.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Dancing Drought and Doctors Strike, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 17th February 2017

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Stop! Wait! Don’t! Before you drink that cup of tea or order out some food, remember that over 2 million Kenyans are facing starvation up in North Eastern Kenya. Yes it is not just some other area of the country, but a part of the Nation and you should contribute or participate in resolving the solution. If a desert like Israel can raise its crops then we have got to learn how to come up with a longer lasting solution for the sake of the future of our people.

President Uhuru Kenyatta did the right thing by calling this situation a National Emergency. However a lot more needs to be done for we all know we never had or never will have control over weather but we can create an enabling fruitful environment?

Unfortunately his dancing dab on Twitter, one of the most widely used social media channels in Kenya to spread news hijacked his headline. He was probably caught in a moment of being cool with the FBI Dancing Crew and the whole dancing dab went viral and was quickly called #DabOfShame

To amplify this craziness, Twitter is a perfect target for trolls, where several dubious accounts are created and they abuse mostly celebrities and politicians or can be the cause of blowing up a small incident into worldwide phenomenon. In a recent update, the Twitter creators have come up with 3 new tools to battle with these trolls and abusers and especially abusive tweets that can become personal attacks.

The personal attacks in the world of Doctors Strike in our country sadly are still on. The doctors have been on strike since 5th December, 2016 and several patients are lingering and of course dying at the expense of this stand off, but doctors say they have no choice but to force the Government to implement the 2013 agreement which was supposed to increase their remunerations and definitely working conditions. The #DabOfShame churned up huge emotions and is calling for the Government to provide the immediate solution to end the strike.

Does this all end up as a big PR fiasco for the President? Why has the 2013 agreement not been implemented so far, especially now that this is the Election Year and will this make any difference? Kenya has faced several severe droughts throughout its history, should there not be a better way to deal with it, like prevention is better than cure? Or are Kenyans reacting and exaggerating to a dancing President as an opportunity rather than fixing the other issues?

Union strikes, weather disasters happen in every other Nation and yes more than often a Head of State is not caught dancing, but surely we are not privy to the hard fought negotiations or rescue operations going on behind closed doors by him to resolve these issues. We are only seeing what comes our way and perhaps just maybe his PR team should be sensitive to the mood of the Nation. He was not dancing at a party, he was receiving guests and showing his hospitality. Therefore in that moment of context it was not out of order.

What is more important is just like the people of South Korea came out in large numbers to hold their President accountable for a valid allegation- corruption, we need to come out in large numbers to support the Drought rescue and Doctors strike. Thankfully there are a couple of bodies and individuals doing these efforts, but they need more support, so instead of wasting time trolling over #DabOfShame let’s push the agenda forward for no more drought and better lives for doctors so we give patients better care.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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