Our June Lady of the Month is Prof. Sungu Armagan. I had the pleasure of meeting her in one of the classes I took last semester: Happiness at Work (by the way one of the best and most inspirational classes). One afternoon, after class we met at her office, where she shared with me her story, which is very motivating. I am glad to be able to share it with you today:
happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony
– Mahatma Ghandi
How did you decide to become a professor?
From when I was very little I knew I wanted to be a teacher. In middle school I wanted to be a middle school teacher, when I was in high school I wanted to be a high school teacher, and in college I knew I wanted to be a high school professor. Teaching has always been my dream. I would line up my dolls and had a white board and teach them.
What was the motive for teaching the class “Happiness at work”? Have you taught anything else in the past?
I was teaching evening MBA classes at the time, I remember observing my students looking exhausted, they all had something else going on. I asked myself what would be the best thing I could do in my profession so that I could look back and know it would be the right thing? I knew then that I wanted to teach happiness, so I thought to create a happiness course in the business school. My department named it “Happiness at work” and I pretty much created the course. The business school, committee, the university committee, and the state of Florida approved the course and so I started teaching the class.
What does happiness mean to you?
To me happiness is being true to myself and living an authentic life. It also means being true to the experience I am feeling, regardless of the feelings I am living in that moment.
Is there a secret to happiness? Can one become happier?
One secret to happiness is to live a life that is congruent in the way you are inside and the way you are on the outside. It’s kind of like having congruency between your internal and external world.
What motivates you and why?
What motivates me is that I know that there is a possibility to make a positive difference in the world. This motivates me because it’s like going to the desert and finding a little plant growing there, you know that out of all the challenges and sorrows in life there is still flowers growing, that there is still hope and that there are things that can make a positive difference.
How do you feel about women empowerment?
I believe in two things: first I believe in empowerment of people and second interdependence. I believe in people’s empowerment as women and men, but I believe sometimes being interdependent, working together, and even needing each other can be a happy feeling. I think that when we need each other our humanity shows. I was listening to Barbara Streisand’s song “people that need each other are happiest or luckiest” I believe that this song is life changing. Vulnerability is what makes us human. There is no true independence at life. Life can throw curves at you when you realize that you need others to help you.
How do you feel about our most recent generations and what they’ve become?
I feel that the new generations are more creative, artistic, and smart. If they would be aware of what they have, how skilled they are, and their potential. Then they could put these skills to the betterment of themselves and humanity. I think that the new generations are a key to a better world and they can leave this legacy to future generations.
What is your best advice towards finding peace and an escape from today’s chaotic world?
I have tried different things but I know that there are two things that work: the first for me is meditating, and I do my meditations as I live my life. The second thing is to make sure that your external life works. You do what you need to do so that your life functions optimally and you do your meditations to evolve process and transform yourself and your life in order to reduce the stress and anxiety.
What do you feel is your ultimate goal and life purpose?
My life purpose is to be the best I can be as well as help people be the best they can be. My ultimate goal is to be as pure of a human being as I can be.
You are a raw food eater? How did you decide to do that? Was it difficult?
I am mostly a raw food eater, I try to eat raw food 100% of the time but occasionally I may stray. I would say that close to most of everything that I eat is organic and raw. I had an important health challenge and I had to change what I ate along with the way I was living my life. As soon as I started eating raw organic food I immediately started feeling much better, a lot of my symptoms went away. I healed many of the more minor health conditions I have had since childhood. I also felt so much more energetic and vibrant. The difference was so huge that I knew I had to eat this way to regain and maintain my health.
I had to make this change fast because I was very sick. I felt so good after eating this way so it was hard to go back. At first however, I did crave a number of foods especially at social gatherings where they would serve cooked food. I went through a transition period but as I got healthier I lost my cravings for processed food.
But I am human, I occasionally crave things like coffee. I am just so happy eating this way and I would not want to go back.
What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
I love movies, I love eating at a raw food restaurant, spending time with family and friends. I also love meditating and reading especially on topics that allow me to evolve.
Do you think it is important to be living in the moment?
I think it is important to live in the moment but I also believe that it is important to heal the past and plan for the future, even if none of your plans are going to come true. I believe it is important to take care of the past, present, future in the present moment. When I meditate I try to do all of that.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I made a deal with God about two years ago that I wanted to be in the perfect place for me, wherever that place would be, that I would be open to whatever he would put in my path. Every year since I have been doing what I am doing now. I love what I do and I know it is the right thing for me because I am doing it. If there was an additional opportunity for me that would be right for me I believe that God would provide that. I love teaching, I love my students, and I am lucky to have what I have. My students are the apples of my eyes, I feel home when I am with them.
What is the best advice you would give women and younger girls?
I would say know who you are, stand by who you are, meditate or do whatever that works positively for you towards being the best human being that you can be. Also, make a positive impact in the world, however small or big it can be.
What is your favorite quote and why?
Gandhi: “happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”.
I try to live my life in a way where my internal life is congruent with my external life.
One of the most beautiful things you can do for yourself is to get to know yourself. Be conscious and transform yourself into the best human being that you can be and help transform the world so that it becomes a better place to live for everyone.