Monthly Archives: February 2007

The Measure of Happiness

Martijn raised an interesting question the other day. How do you measure happiness? At first glance it seems like an easy question. You think of simple answers that people tend to give; family work friends…but the answer is not that simple. At least for me. There have been times where each of these things has made me definitely ‘not happy’ so how can they be a measure of my intrinsic happiness?

 It has to be something more than external factors, something less tangible. Take family for example:  if family is a determinant of happiness then what about the person who has no family? Does that automatically make them unhappy?  I can say my work makes me happy, but if I lose my job does that mean I am unhappy? I may be stressed, frustrated and not happy but will I become an unhappy person?

Happiness is different than being dissatisfied. We are all dissatisfied with different areas of our lives but that doesn’t automatically equal being unhappy. Being dissatisfied does have connotations of activity to me. Being dissatisfied with something in your life should lead you to change it. Or if you can’t, to accept it as a part of your life that is unsatisfactory but not happiness defining. We all have some aspects of our lives that we are seeking to change – some we will be successful in changing and others we won’t be. But to allow that to define your happiness level is a mistake … a never ending battle. (I guess that’s why plastic surgeons and romance novelists are so popular)


So how does one define happiness then? I’m not satisfied with defining it as an emotion – I guess that comes from wanting to be able to quantify it in research terms. How do you measure an emotion?  And how do you measure one persons emotion against another’s?

I’ve spoken to a few people about this and we have has some really interesting conversations about life and expectations and happiness. Thinking about it the only way I can really define it for myself is to think of happiness as a state of being, that permits you to maintain emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual balance.

I think the notion of balance is key. It allows you to accept that there are negative or unhappy moments in everyone’s life but that they should not override the positive – they should not negate the good in your life.  As a Muslim balance is something I’ve been taught to strive for as well, so I guess it makes sense for me to see happiness as being a balanced state of existence.

My brother made a comment that “a person can be happy in a prison just as another can be unhappy in a mansion”. It’s true I guess. I’ve never been in a prison or a mansion so I can’t speak from experience. But if you imagine a person in prison who has achieved a balanced state of being then why shouldn’t they experience happiness? As well if you imagine one who lives in a mansion yet has not achieved this state it isn’t difficult to imagine them being unhappy.


When I first started thinking about how to measure happiness I started listing all the things that made me ‘happy’ – I went over my day and started counting all the things that brought a smile to my face. And I realized that despite the small dissatisfactions in my life I am happy. Which had the effect of making me even happier.

So thank you Martijn for posing the question. Maybe friends are a part of the measure of happiness after all 🙂


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“——” Monologues!

Plays Contraversial Title Leads to Complaints, Change 

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. — A modified marquee in Atlantic Beach has been drawing some attention. “Hoohaa” replaced a word in the title of a play after a driver complained about finding the previous wording offensive. The marquis for Atlantic Theaters advertises a number of plays including, the Masquerade Ball, Band Jam, and now The Hoohaa Monologues. Some said hoohaa is a strange word and that its definition depends on its context, while others said it sounds like a country band. However, it’s not a band at all. In fact, most people know hoohah by a different name — vagina.  “We got a complaint about this play The Vagina Monologues,” said Bryce Pfanenstiel, of the Atlantic Theater.  The Hoohah Monologues is a replacement title for The Vagina Monologues — a well-known play about that part of the female body.  “We decided we would just use child slang for it. That’s how we decided on Hoohah Monologues,” Pfanenstiel said.  They did this after a driver who saw it complained to the theater, saying she was upset that her niece saw it. “I’m on the phone and asked ‘What did you tell her?’ She’s like, ‘I’m offended I had to answer the question,'” Pfanenstiel said.   Some parents said they applaud the title change.  The theater said they’re trying not to offend anyone, but the publicity doesn’t hurt.  “We hope people understand we’re trying to do the right thing. But as far as doing it for attention, we’re a comedy club, we do all kinds of shenanigans,” Pfanenstiel said. The play is being brought to the theater by a group of law school students and all of the proceeds are going to various charity organizations.  The director of the play said she was going ask the theater and comedy club to return the title back to its original name.


 I cannot believe this…This woman has to be aware that vagina is not a bad word – I mean it’s the actual name for your coochie, poochie, hoohah, vajayjay, private area, down there…

She was offended she had to answer her niece’s question …?- Let’s hope the poor girl doesn’t ask her where baby’s come from – her head might pop off.

I’m not saying the play isn’t a leetle over the top and a tad crude, and maybeeee in some ways might make you fall off your chair and clap your hands over your ears as you turn purple and wish you hadn’t invited your Mother to watch it with you….but that’s not the point.  The point is vagina the last time I checked was not a curse word. 

What it’s all about:

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Muslim Fashion Week?


Marie Claire Advertising Some Muslim Fashions…and not a pleated skirt in sight thank God!

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Attack on Wiesel

160_ap_wiesel_070209.jpg  Nobel Peace prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel listens to a question from the media during a press conference, March 17, 2005, in
Washington. (AP Photo / Haraz Ghanbari)

Holocaust scholar Elie Wiesel attacked in hotelUpdated Fri. Feb. 9 2007 11:03 PM ETAssociated PressSAN FRANCISCO — Nobel Peace laureate and Holocaust scholar Elie Wiesel was dragged from an elevator and roughed up, possibly by a Holocaust denier, during a peace conference at a San Francisco hotel last week, police said Friday. According to San Francisco Police Sgt. Neville Gittens, a man approached Wiesel, the author of “Night,” a memoir chronicling his time in a concentration camp, in an elevator and requested an interview with the author on the evening of Feb. 1 at the Argent Hotel. When Wiesel consented to talk in the hotel’s lobby, the man insisted it be done in a hotel room and dragged the 78-year-old off the elevator on the sixth floor, Gittens said. The assailant fled after Wiesel began to scream, and Wiesel went to the lobby and called police. Gittens said police are investigating the incident as a crime. Wiesel could not be immediately reached for comment at Boston University, where he teaches, or through his institute in New York. A posting on a virulent anti-Semitic website Tuesday by a person identifying himself as Eric Hunt claimed responsibility. “I had planned to bring Wiesel to my hotel room, where he would truthfully answer my questions regarding the fact that his non-fiction Holocaust memoir, ‘Night,’ is almost entirely fictitious,” Hunt wrote on the site. The poster also said “I had been trailing Wiesel for weeks” and had hoped to get “Wiesel into my custody, with a cornered Wiesel finally forced to state the truth on videotape.” Gittens said investigators were aware of the posting and declined to comment further on the investigation.

The anti-Semitic website was disabled late Friday. It is registered to Andrew Winkler in North Sydney, Australia.  ——————————————–I read his book Night last year.  I had never heard of him before I came across his book in Chapters.   I was flipping through it and was enthralled by his manner of writing.  It was mesmerising to me.   I couldn’t put the book down, so I bought it and read it late into the night.   I have recommended it to many people as a compelling look at one person’s experience with hell on earth.  In the book Wiesel writes about losing his faith  as the horror of the Jewish Holocaust grew around him – it really struck me…

There is still so much hate in the world – it never ceases to amaze me …this capacity of ours to hate each other so unreasonably.


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The Last King of Scotland

We went to see Last King of Scotland  the other night. It was a brilliant portrayal of Idi Amin I must say.  Forest Whitaker did such a good job bringing him to life and attempting to capture the complexity of the man.

Deka was annoyed at the fact that certain historical events were glossed over, like the role of the British in Ugandan politics and the expulsion of the Indians from Uganda. It’s true a more detailed look at Ugandan politics could have been done but I don’t think that is what the movie was supposed to be about. I think her main concern was that Amin would be seen by (white) people as a caricature of an African despot, nothing more, but I think she may need to give people more credit. (I hope). We also need to stop being so hypersensitive to negative portrayals of Black people. Idi Amin was not a good man by any stretch of the imagination. Despite some positive things he may have done, he did many, many  horrible things. We cannot be apologists for people like him, he created his own legacy.

On the same hand we need to remember that African politics are very complex and layered. The people of Uganda hailed the removal of Milton Obote for a reason –

One question that I think is valid to ask is why a movie like this was made…?  Was it strictly because of the story?  An interesting look at a dictator’s personality?  Or was it perhaps trying to capture something else – something more along the lines of the essential humanity of even the maddest of us.

I don’t know how I feel about these types of movies.  They are interesting,  but then I am so removed from the whole story.  I don’t know anyone from Uganda, I certainly never lost anyone to Idi Amin’s quest for power.  A movie like Hotel Rwanda can serve to be a reminder to people of the cost of hatred, but does a movie like this have the same effect?   Be interesting to try and find some opinions from the people of Uganda….

Anyways, I don’t know if portrayal of Amin as a 3 dimensional person will actually make a difference but I do know that demonizing someone doesn’t solve the problem either. When we do that we remove the humanity from the situation and effectively remove any hope for understanding how such people are created.

Similarly another Hitler will never be prevented if we cannot look at what led to his creation in the first place.  I some ways it is the people who surround men like this that are the interesting players.  Without being backed by people a dictator’s power is limited.   I fully understand why survivor’s of the holocaust may not give a damn about Hitler’s humanity, but at some point in time we are going to have to examine it and ours in relation to it if we are to change anything in this world.  Ignoring them certainly hasn’t seemed to stop them from springing up all over the place.

We cannot caricaturize people who do horrible things. At the same time we cannot glamourize them. We should always be seeking to learn from the past, not just acknowledging it and then moving on.  After the Jewish Holocaust the refrain heard around the world was “never again”.  But Holocausts have happended again – perhaps not on such grand proportions, but it has happend.  Bosnia and Rwanda are just two that spring to mind.  So what did we learn from WWII if we are still seeing things like this happening?   

Sometimes I see clearly that it is we who create these individuals – they are born out of our deepest darkest desires, our most twisted fantasies. At some point there were individuals who sat back and let atrocities occur – watched them being perpetrated and did absolutely nothing to stop it.  If this is the case then looking at ourselves in the mirror first is the first step to stopping such horror from existing again.

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Newest Addition to the Family


Here are a couple of pics of little Yakub.  My brother keeps changing the spelling of this kid’s name so it could change again…He is the cutest little thing.  Very well behaved – he only cries when he is hungry.  He handled his first family get together very well too – he charmed everyone, ate and then went to sleep for the rest of the evening.

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