The Words of Sun Jin Moon (daughter of Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han)
According to research surveying psychological studies over the last 30 years, there are no more than 2,000 case studies that have been done on the topic of happiness or satisfaction in life and as few as 400 case studies on joy, whereas over 5,000 studies have been done on “anger” and somewhere around 4000 - 5000 studies on either anxiety or depression. These data show a remarkable 21-to-1 ratio of studies of negative topics to those of positive ones. “A good analogy for this is that, out of 24 hours in a day, one spends 21 hours in the moods of anxiety and depression, and only one hour is spent in happiness. This is how widely and deeply depression and negative information have prevailed in our society,” says Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar of Harvard University.
In Japan, what symbolizes this kind of rampant negative information and depression the most is the increasing rate of cases of suicide. The suicide rate of Japan is the highest among advanced countries, and it is indeed the sixth most common cause of death. The suicide toll has been over 30,000 for the last 11 years in row, and in over 60% of suicides, the cause is said to be depression. According to a study conducted by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry of Japan, patients with depression treated at medical facilities numbered about 440,000 in the year 1999, increased to 710,000 in 2002, and went to about 920,000 in the year 2005. This means the figure more than doubled over a six-year period. It also reports that there is a drastic rise in the male population in the age group of 40 -- 60. The males in this demographic layer tend to be the breadwinners in a household, who may get worn out either through work or relationships, including those in the family; however, they are often too busy to go to the hospital for appropriate medical treatment. Under social circumstances like this, the increase in depression cases tends to be in proportion with the increase in suicides.
I assume that for many people daily life is filled with negative factors that might include sickness, obesity, sorrow, fatigue, dullness, aging, pain, abuse, anxiety, fear, stress, anguish, poverty, unemployment, indifference, unpleasantness, boredom, solitude, anger, vengefulness, jealous, failure, and so forth, which distract one from peacefulness and lead in a negative direction. Felonious crimes and serious accidents are immediately reported to the public via newspapers, TV, or the Internet; this type of anxiety-provoking information pours upon you just like a shower, and you have no choice but to bathe in it. But looking toward negative aspects only will set your mind to accept the negative as the reality, and eventually make you question, “How can I lead a happy life?” This gradually eats away at your precious life, damaging your mental and physical health, as well as putting you further away from the origin of your mind.
A newborn baby is full of energy, and everyone wishes to lead an enriched life like the baby’s. Since almost everyone is born in a healthy condition, we should focus a spotlight on the positive side of the life rather than make our eyes and mind face toward the negative side. A happy and enriched life is not a “dream” for only those who are chosen, but ought to be a “reality” to all of us. When you are in negative state of mind, you tend to look at your own weakness in order to correct your shortcomings in the struggle to be freed from pain and tension; nevertheless, your goal is usually no higher than ground-zero.
However, in a positive state of mind, when your mind is dominated with such emotions as joy, curiosity, satisfaction, pride, and love, you are able to keep expanding the range of your thoughts and actions. For example, you may be able to come up with an excellent way to resolve the situation when you have some trouble with your neighbors, or you may have an impulse to draw as soon as you look at a beautiful flower. Also you might as well be able to be generous and patient when you are confronted with hardships at work through your curiosity and inquiring mind, which may be empowered by adversity. This can even be a great potential for success. This generous mind is what is called “positive thinking” and also is an “inventory of the heart,” preserving your emotion and action.
Still some may inquire, “How on earth can we make our life turn around when it is deeply saturated with misery, frustration, and anger?” Positive psychology may be called the “card of happiness” that urges you to take an action, give yourself confidence, and be focused on hope and optimism. When you use this card, what a situation means to you may become totally different from what it was before.
For instance, you can say, “Despite the recession, I have a job, a family, and savings to feed myself and my family. I’m also grateful that I am surrounded by good friends who give me great advice.” Or “I am so grateful that I can deliver my unchanging love and gratitude to my mother, who is fighting diseases, while I closely attend her. I can feel the value and significance of life every time she and I share from the heart and care for each other. I believe that, by the grace of Heaven, her soul will dwell within my heart forever even after she is ascended. I’d like to support those who are dedicated to serving my mother and other patients. I thank God for my good health, and I look forward to my life in the future.” These are great examples of using the “card of happiness” to turn a challenging situation into totally the opposite.
Now how can you manage to stay on the positive side? Being resigned and cynical, you could go into a negative spiral, which affects emotion, thoughts, and action and eventually would lead to depression and anxiety. However, positive thinking and feeling will put you on an upward spiral where joy, interests, satisfaction, pride, and love would complement each other so as to expand your thinking -- action range. Also this extends your mental capacity to include creativity, a flexible mind, curiosity, a spirit of inquiry, environmental adaptability, and generosity, which would result in increasing the “inventory” where positive thinking, emotion, and action are preserved within you.
Thus, the first priority is to focus yourself upon positive thinking so that you can be uplifted by an upward spiral with which your emotion and actions are fostered and refined; then your good deeds, love, and joy will be enhanced. This whole process will immunize you against adversity and equip you with the ability to have a prompt recovery from the various damages you experience. Riding with this “upward spiral” will certainly increase your likelihood to achieve happiness. Growth and enhancement on the positive side will enable you to overcome obstacles in your life and propel you forward to leading the happy life that everyone wants. It is solely your own will that enables you to reach the unlimited potential of happiness, and you can generate happiness just like the way you build up a healthy and tough body. Positive thinking, emotion, and action definitely have unlimited power to turn everyone’s life into the happiest one
Written by Sun Jin Moon, chairman of Seil Travel and daughter of the Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, founders of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. Sun Jin Moon graduated from Harvard University with a bachelors in Psychology in 2008.