Farmer welfare: In an ever-changing world, choose happiness!

“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy.”– Ralph Marston

Keeping up with innovation can be challenging, especially when we are met with daily difficulties such as broken implements and poor lambing seasons that use up our energy. The constant chaos of our daily lives may steal our happiness, leaving us tired and emotionally drained at the end of each day. In the middle of all this chaos, you have to make time to stay abreast of the most recent COVID-19 updates, and be on the lookout for the latest production innovations in order to keep the farm working as it should. This can be enough to discourage even the most resilient of farmers. In such times, it’s more important than ever to stay positive. Chin up!

Does success equal happiness?

In an ever-changing world, staying positive and happy might not be as easy as it sounds. We tend to measure our success by how much we accomplish in our day-to-day tasks and life, and in today’s world, very often, success equals happiness. Unfortunately, this is a very imperfect view of success and happiness, as it forces our brains to always move on to the next task and never stop to celebrate the small victories.

As a farmer, the to-do list is endless, and this can cause mounting inner frustration. Ignoring this feeling of frustration will only make you angry and unhappy, and the effects are not only local, but will be carried over to the people around you. How do we change our attitude towards change to help us find happiness? We can start off by understanding that work does not and will not make you happy.

To be clear, work can bring joy and fulfilment, but according to the Harvard Study of Adult Development, that is not the whole story. This 75-year study is the longest-running study of human development. The aim was to investigate what early-life psychological and biological variables can predict health and well-being later in life. After 75 years, surprisingly, the findings are not related to wealth or fame or working harder. Rather, the clear message is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier in the long run. Period.

Treasure the moment

Today, I would like to encourage you to stay positive. Being happy is a choice and by choosing to be happy, you help yourself and the people around you. Get up, smile, and grab the day’s challenges with both hands. Choose to celebrate the small things, like cleaning the water trough and helping the latest batch of newborns to survive. Be grateful for the new life that just arrived on the farm and for the help available to sort out the problems that you are met with. This will not only make you happy, but flow over to the people around you, creating a micro- environment where change is met with open arms and not resisted. Treasure the people around you and work on your personal and professional relationships, because shared joy is multiplied exponentially.

Let us do this!

As we move closer to the end of our year, I look forward to working among farmers who have a positive attitude, where we celebrate life in a time when nature gives back to us. Let us move into the next season with optimism and happiness!

Download the full article in PDF format here, as published in Volume 9, Issue 5 of Wolboer/Wool Farmer.

Anri Strauss is a scientific adviser in the ruminant team at Chemuniqué, holding a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Pretoria. She grew up on a farm and still lives in the Free State, where she and her husband also farm with Boer goats.

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