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The Three Keys to Happiness

Thanyapura's Definition of a Meaningful Life

By Philipp Graf von Hardenberg, Executive Chairman & President

Regardless of nationality, race, culture or religion, every human being wishes to be happy! I have never been challenged with this statement, and I have lived in Germany, Switzerland, England, America, Australia, and Thailand in the past. Since December of last year I am living in China, and are making the same experience here.

Influenced by social media, by ongoing ideas of other people, seduced by smart advertising and marketing, being inundated by unrealistic role models who are always beautiful, young and successful, we got totally confused what is really important to us.   

Through all of the above, we have lower and lower sensitivity about the real ingredients of our personal happiness and higher and higher desires for economic wealth. Oscar Wilde said that there are only two tragedies in life: ‘One is not getting what you want, the other one is getting what you want’. Desire is hard to fill, and if fulfilled, trigger new and higher desires – an ongoing hunt for more and better and definitely not the door to your genuine happiness.

I learned a lot about the real meaning of happiness, when I went three weeks after the devastating Tsunami to Thailand in January 2005, where I volunteered and helped the people in the destroyed villages. Then and there I decided to establish an orphanage, a kindergarten and a school for the children of the poorest of the poor.

Sometimes on weekends I went to Phuket, and while spending my time with the poor people in the county side and the very rich in their huge villas or on their magnificent boats, I realized what happiness is all about: The wealthy people were always busy and stressed taking care of all their houses, the maintenance of their boats, with all the social life dinner parties and jetting around the world. They were not really enjoying what they have, always desiring bigger houses or faster boats.

The poor people often struggled to have enough food on the table or could not manage to bring their children to the next school not having enough money for the gasoline for the motorbike or they couldn’t afford the school uniform, these people were happier: They smiled more often, cared for each other, they were content and thankful with what they had.

That’s when I realized that materialistic belongings and money are not equal to happiness, they are only one part of it but not even the most important. Having spent a lot of time with very wise people, with people in all different life situations, together with my friends and colleagues at Thanyapura, we came to the conclusion, that ‘Happiness’ has three main domains: A Healthy Body – A Balanced Mind – A Good Heart

A Healthy Body

The Chinese government is focusing more and more about health and well-being. In March 2021, President Xi said during a visit to the Shaxian General Hospital in Shaxian District: “Health is the primary indicator of people’s happiness”.

A healthy body means a balanced nutrition and regular exercise. Our for-fathers didn’t need to really focus on that too much. They ate dominantly plant-based food and their exercise was producing this food for themselves and their farm animals on their fields. They went hunting or walked from village to village to sell their merchandise – daily hard work and exercise without machines and cars. Today, many of us eat meat three times a day as it is often cheaper then vegetables, consume mostly pre-prepared food loaded with preservatives and chemicals. We drink sweet soft drinks and artificial juices or alcoholic beverages. We sit in cars, on motorbikes or in busses, our work is often sitting again in front of computers for nine hours a day. And if we don’t feel well, we ask doctors to give us medication instead of thinking to change our lifestyle.

A Balanced Mind

Huang Yueqin, Director of the Division of Social Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Peking University’s Institute of Mental Health published a study which was funded by China’s National Health Commission and the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2019 which noted: “Rapid social change is likely to bring about a general increase in psychological pressure and stress.” 

With all the pressure having to manage our daily lives, with millions of sensations hitting our brains, being all the time on our computers and mobile phones, being bombarded with negative and troubling information from all over the world, we are stressed and pressured, the fasted way to be un-balanced. All stress would be ok, if we would know how to balance the mind, how to take a time-out and focus on what is really important for us, on strengthening our self-confidence and self-recognition, decrease fears and anxieties, challenge our addictions, balance moods. Most people don’t know how to do balance themselves; they turn around like a ‘Hamster in the Wheel’.

A Good Heart

A ‘Good Heart’ expresses, how we treat ourselves, other people and the world around us. My personal finding is, that we first of all must like ourselves. If we look into the mirror, do we like who we see? Because, if we don’t, we will have difficulty to get along with others and in consequence they with us. Do we treat other people with a positive attitude and respect? Do we care about the well-being of animals, preserve nature and avoid using too much plastic and chemicals. These and many other points make us a special human being, and this is a feeling which makes us happy.  

Thanyapura’s Purpose is: “We Optimize Your Life”. And what we mean by that is that we will help our guests and member to find their happiness, to focus on a healthier lifestyle, to take a time-out. Studies show, that more than 50% of the world population has at least one chronical disease, and 75% of all people who need medical attention do so because of self-inflicted reasons, all the result of an un-healthy lifestyle. Staying with us will help to re-focus, re-priorities and re-energize body, mind and soul.