Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tips on Happiness

My cousin Madhavan, who lives in Bangalore, India, recently forwarded an email by a very well known Indian journalist and writer called Khushwant Singh. At the age of ninty-six he is still active writing books and giving interviews. When I was in Bombay (1987-1989), I used to read his columns in the local daily and enjoyed his humorous pieces. Here he has provided eight tips for being happy in life. It is both simple and full of common sense. Hope you enjoy them:


Having lived a reasonably contented life, I was musing over what a person should strive for to achieve happiness. I drew up a list of a few essentials, which I put forward for the readers' appraisal.

First and foremost is

GOOD HEALTH: If you do not enjoy good health, you can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct from your happiness.

Second, HEALTHY BANK BALANCE. It need not run into crores but should be enough to provide for creature comforts and something to spare for recreation, like eating out, going to the pictures, travelling or going on holidays on the hills or by the sea. Shortage of money can be only demoralizing. Living on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one in one's own eyes.

Third, A HOME OF YOUR OWN. Rented premises can never give you the snug feeling of a nest, which is yours for keeps that a home provides: if it has a garden space, all the better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them grow and blossom, cultivate a sense of kinship with them.

Fourth, AN UNDERSTANDING COMPANION, be it your spouse or a friend. If there are too many misunderstandings, they will rob you of your peace of mind. It is better to be divorced than to bicker all the time.

Fifth, LACK OF ENVY towards those who have done better than you in life; risen higher, made more money, or earned more fame. Envy can be very corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others.

Sixth, DO NOT ALLOW OTHER PEOPLE to descend on you for gup-shup (Indian term for petty gossip). By the time you get rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their gossip mongering.

Seventh, CULTIVATE SOME HOBBIES which can bring you a sense of fulfillment, such as gardening, reading, writing, painting, playing or listening to music. Going to clubs or parties to get free drinks or to meet celebrities is criminal waste of time.

Eighth, every morning and evening, devotes 15 minutes to INTROSPECTION. In the morning, 10 minutes should be spent on stilling the mind and then five in listing things you have to do that day. In the evening, five minutes to still the mind again, and ten to go over what you had undertaken to do.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Two Talks on Happiness

Now, I confess that this site is not about creativity, but happiness. I cannot help but revert back to TED to seek out advice and reconfirm on the most essential ingredients of happiness. Nigel Marsh's conclusion is very much the theme of this blog. And Neil Pasricha's three As: Attitude, Awareness and Authenticity again emphasize the most simple things of life (and beautiful pictures on the slides)!

Nigel Marsh:

Neil Pasricha:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Dad's Proud Moment

It doesn't take much to make me happy. I was thrilled to watch Keshav, my son, perform his first piece in front of a small audience at our local Jackson Symphony Orchestra:

I am sure it will put a smile on your face!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Top Ten Ways to be Happy at Work

An Article from About.Com that is worth reading. The one that I related to the most was #6, which states that you should only "make commitments that you can keep." I completely agree with this. It requires both good organization and being assertive, which is hard to do. Hope you like the article:

Click here to read about Top Ten Ways to be Happy at Work.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Myth and Management

There can be a sense of joy in serendipitously finding something new and interesting. But there is a greater sense of joy when you make new discoveries on a subject that is all too familiar to you. To me, this came about through finding Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik and his talk on TED.

He calls himself a mythologist, and is very well-versed on all the mythological stories from India, Greece, Rome and other ancient civilizations. His command on the subject is spell-binding and his explanations are astoundingly simple, yet very profound. Growing up in India, I have spent several evenings listening to stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata, and listened to various experts discuss the finer points in these stories, but no one has impressed me like Dr. Pattanaik. His goal is analyze the stories and cull out the important management lessons that are applicable to the modern world. And he makes a strong case for the fact that Indian culture is intrinsically different compared to the Western world, and therefore, the so-called "best practices" cannot be simply adopted from the West, but instead, need to be adapted to the Indian context.

I have spent several hours listening to his talks in You Tube and reading his articles on his website: . I would strongly recommend this to anyone who is familiar with Indian mythology. It is amazing how much more we can learn from a subject with which we are familiar, if only we pause to reflect and ask the right questions. Hope you like his works as much as I do.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Work and Happiness

I have started to observe a trend lately. It could be because I am always looking for something to write about in this blog, but I do believe that the trend is much more than just some weird coincidence. It is to do with the subject of happiness and work.

In more prosperous times, when work (and income) was more secure, people just patiently put up with the drudgery of work. However, nowadays work tends to be very demanding and stressful. People are forced to do more with less, and due to the global nature of our work, the email Inbox almost always has more than what we can possibly handle. Employees are struggling to keep up and almost never happy about the quantity of work that they have to handle.

For a while large corporations used overload and pressure as a necessary price to be paid for being gainfully employed. But lately, as the economy is starting to turn around, a lot of the employees have little patience for such relentless drudgery. They are seeking ways to rebel against these corporations and leaving the workplace in droves. And now, suddenly there are a lot of books about work and happiness in the marketplace. Increasing happiness amongst employees, something that was unthinkable just a few years back, has become a strategy for management to retail talent. There are two books on this topic that I would strongly recommend. The first one is about the technique and strategy for an individual to develop to attain happiness and the second one is for the large company to retain its employees in the workforce.

Happiness at Work by Srikumar S. Rao

In this book the author talks about some very basic shift in ones thinking to gain happiness at work.

  • Do not "label" anything as inherently "good" or "bad" but accept it as is.
  • Focus on the process and not the outcome.
  • Attach yourself to a larger purpose and do not be obsessed with power, money or other "me-centered" metrics of success.
  • Take a detached view on your own life, and do not get emotionally entwined with what is happening to you.
Much of the thinking comes from the Indian philosophy (Bhagavad Gita) and it is worth incorporating some of it for our 21st century living. You can also learn more about his TED talk and other interviews in his website : Are you Ready to Succeed?

The other interesting book is titled "Delivering Happinnes"

This book talks about a company that tries to increase happiness amongst its employees as a way to retain and develop talent. Tony Hseigh also (like Srikumar Rao) mentions that it is important to think and attach oneself to something that is bigger than self or the company to derive happiness.

The three core areas of focus for his company named Zappos are: Brand (or customer happiness), Culture (workplace as a place of fun for employees) and Pipeline (career and personal happiness).

I would strongly recommend that you read these two books if you get the chance.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Let Me Watch That Movie Again!

Raghavan, my uncle who lives in Sydney, Australia, has what I would call a strange pastime: watching Tamil and Hindi movies from the past! And these are not movies that were recent blockbuster hits, but movies in black and white that have just one hilarious scene, or a song that he particularly likes.

On Sunday afternoons after lunch, he will go through his library of over 200+ movies and pull out the one that catches his fancy and watch it, all by himself! He does not fast forward to the part that he likes, nor does he rewind a favorite scene to watch it again, but will let the movie run its course as though he were seeing it for the first time.

In this fast-paced world where we are used to flashing images and are bombarded with a smorgasbord of senseless things, there must be some pleasure in slowing it down to go back in time and enjoy things at our own pace.

I have a Netflix membership and love to watch movies at home, but seldom do I entertain the idea of picking out something from the "watch it again" category, which has a list of my five-star movies. If I were to indulge in such an exercise, these are perhaps the top five movies that I will pick out for a "retro movie festival" at home:

1. The English Patient
2. Monsoon Wedding (Hindi)
3. The Bridge on the River Kwai
4. Il Postino (Italian)
5. Pulp Fiction

Now do you think you will like a retro movie week at home? If so, which movies would it be?