Two years ago I was given the opportunity to contribute to the English column of the Observant, and each year for the first column of the academic year I have written about happiness. This year I thought it would be nice to keep the tradition.
In the first column I was mainly insisting on the importance of knowing ourselves and being ready to understand who we would like to be, to pursue this with passion and dedication and leave the fear of trying aside. In last year’s column I was reflecting more on the relationship between happiness and the ability to look at life and the world around you like a child, that is being able to stay amazed by its beauty and simplicity, as children do, and to hold tight to this ability to avoid entering a period in life where your day starts with resignation and gloom and too much is taken for granted.
The recent Paralympic games in Rio gave me a chance to think once more about happiness. I followed some of the athletes “with a range of disabilities” (citing Wikipedia) participating through the media. I watched the success that they achieved, and listened to their stories of dedication and determination telling of how they had to work harder than most to overcome their limitations. Through this I started to realize my disabilities, and while they may not be physical, they are perhaps just as harmful. They are called laziness, fear of not doing right, and indecision. Luckily, they are not always there to stop me from pursuing my goals and dreams but certainly they are always lurking, looking for an opportunity to appear.
During the games, an Italian journalist wrote a tongue-in-cheek article about one of the Paralympic gold medallists, “complaining” and asking why he had to win a medal because now this took away the right of the journalist to complain about not being able to achieve his goals. For how can we complain about not achieving success when these athletes continuously show us that we can go beyond our limit, that our disabilities are not excuses for not trying. Happiness doesn’t happen while we are sitting on the couch, we have to work hard at, every day.
Pietro Bonizzi, Assistant Professor at Data Science and Knowledge Engineering