Macchars don’t wear sweaters

This is what it all boils down to

Posted on: September 13, 2009

Today in his weekly column, Khushwant Singh listed what according to him were the “the elements of happiness”. With his breadth of experience, and his 92 years of life, i was certainly interested. What would this man with a literary sensibility, wide reading, someone who has met people from all walks of life, had abundant love, and lived a full, long life, have to say about happiness. What he had to say was typical of Khushwant Singh. In at least my readings of Khushwant (which mostly consist of following his column in Tribune for a few months now) his style seems blunt, straightforward, understated. Theres no attempt to use the power of words to make life seem more than it is. So, his seven elements of happiness:-

1) Good health

2) A healthy bank balance

3) A life partner

4) A self owned house (with a garden preferably)

5)  Cultivate a hobby (music, reading, sports)

6) Keep away from people who descend upon you for gupshup.

7)  Curb the propensity to compare yourselves with others who were more successful in life.

Anti climatic, yet practicable. His elements fly in the face of spiritualists who talk about the “essential problem of unhappiness” or the “universality of unhappiness” and prescribe grand solutions – faith, annihilation of the self, inner awakening etc etc. Maybe it’s all self indulgent chatter in an attempt to inject grandiosness in life, which is otherwise mundane.

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8 Responses to "This is what it all boils down to"

If you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Khushwant Singh rightly addresses the first few steps.

The point is that the happiness while being a self (i.e. the garden variety happiness) is a dependent happiness, while the state of contentment or bliss that spirituality or other such paradigms promise is akin to freedom: freedom from the in-born propensity of human beings to feel lonely, depressed and their agitation while they ride the ups and downs of life.

The latter is a difficult thing, requiring work on oneself, whereas the first one requires mostly prosperity and appropriate circumstances (“garden!”).

Spirituality may or may not be a valid solution, but the problem it addresses is fundamental and valid.

Once again proves that KS is a talented and intelligent writer and few would refuse the ingredients of his recipe if offerred. So the secret of happiness is right choice of genes and parentage. I don’t know whether the man in the luttoo is being serious or funny, but he is better known for being entertaining than profound. One is ready to forgive this illustrious and jolly nonegenarian almost anything for his spicy columns to keep you pleasantly occupied on one’s toilet seat.

…..and prescribe grand solutions….Pankaj

A better prescription may be to give a copy or mail Singh’s article to everyone. Could be orally conveyed to those who can’t read. It may at least be some consolation to know what happiness consists of. Harman is correct in pointing out that the question is highly non trivial and cannot to be scoffed away.

People who see life as anything more than pure entertainment are missing the point.

– Carlin

I agree with you as well as KS! Completely! Though, his list could be expanded. But then, many would end up unhappy only fulfilling the requirements in that list! 🙂

Add to it small-small thing like a car, ‘normal’ kids whenever one has them, and one understands how difficult life actually would be.

Also, though the items on the list sound very simplistic on shallow perusal, they’re individually difficult to attain–for instance, someone to love! 🙂

Interesting read!

I mostly agree with his list 🙂 It’s the simple things in life that matter the most. And it sometimes takes us all our lives to understand that.

like his thoughts and writing…glad u put it up in a post…lovely writing btw…:)

Your post reminded me of “the Pursuit of Happyness” and a line that Happiness is something that we can only pursue. BTW Spiritualists are never against the elements delineated by khushwant Singh. If spiritualists talk about problem of unhappiness then others also believe that life is mundane.

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