I’ve often thought about what it is that makes
people happy—what one has to do in order to
First and foremost is good health. If you do not
enjoy good health, you can never be happy. Any
ailment, however trivial, will deduct something
from your happiness.
Second, a healthy bank balance. It need not run
into crores, but it should be enough to provide
for comforts, and there should be something to
spare for recreation—eating out, going to the
parks, travel and holidays in the hills or by the
sea. Shortage of money can be demoralising. Living
on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one
in one’s own eyes.
Third, your own home. Rented places can never give
you the comfort or security of a home that is
yours for keeps. If it has garden space, all the
better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them
grow and blossom, and cultivate a sense of kinship
Fourth, an understanding companion, be it your
spouse or a friend. If you have too many
misunderstandings, it robs you of your peace of
mind. It is better to be divorced than to be
quarrelling all the time.
Fifth, stop envying those who have done better
than you in life—risen higher, made more money, or
earned more fame. Envy can be corroding; avoid
comparing yourself with others.
Sixth, do not allow people to descend on you for
gup-shup. By the time you get rid of them, you
will feel exhausted and poisoned by their
Seventh, cultivate a hobby or two that will
fulfill you—gardening, reading, writing, painting,
or playing. Going to clubs or
parties to get free drinks, or to meet
celebrities, is a criminal waste of time. It’s
important to concentrate on something that keeps
you occupied meaningfully.
Eighth, every morning and evening devote 15
minutes to introspection. In the mornings, 10
minutes should be spent in keeping the mind
absolutely still, and five listing the things you
have to do that day. In the evenings, five minutes
should be set aside to keep the mind still and 10
to go over the tasks you had intended to do.
Ninth, don’t lose your temper. Try not to be
short-tempered, or vengeful. Even when a friend
has been rude, just move on.
Above all, when the time comes to go, one should
go like a man without any regret or grievance
against anyone. Iqbal said it beautifully in a
couplet in Persian: “You ask me about the signs of
a man of faith? When death comes to him, he has a
smile on his lips.”
What I dread is the day I go
blind or am incapacitated because of old
age—that’s what I fear—I’d rather die than live in
that condition. I’m a burden enough on my daughter
Mala and don’t want to be an extra burden on her.
All that I hope for is that when death comes to
me, it comes swiftly, without much pain, like
fading away in sound slumber. Till then I’ll keep
working and living each day as it comes.
- Khushwant Singh (96) in 2011
#happiness #DailyTenMinutes #wisdom