One day, a young friend paid a visit to the prominent British philosopher Bertrand Russell, and found him in a contemplative mood. “Why so meditative?” he enquired. “Because I’ve made an odd discovery,” replied Russell. “Every time I talk to a savant I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I’m convinced of the opposite.”
That’s a profound observation by the Nobel Prize recipient. When it comes to pursuit of happiness, the more learned we are, the more illusive it seems. If only we could sit back and relax, and resist the charm of the storylines in our heads, we would realise that life is quite simple. This is what the great Chinese philosopher pointed to when he said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Yes, we make it complicated by thinking and analysing too much. We mix up our priorities, then wonder why life is not working out for us; we live a life fabricated out of mistaken ideals, then complain about the lack of fulfilment; we chase worthless objects in the hope that they will bring happiness, then the illusion breaks apart.
But life need not be so full of complications. That’s why, on the occasion of our 9th anniversary, we decided to turn our attention to the basics—the stuff that true happiness is made of. Susan Biali, an internationally recognised medical doctor who is also a life coach, gently reminds us of the nine elementary factors of happiness and wellbeing that we tend to overlook in our busy everyday living. These “building blocks” as we like to call them, don’t come as a revelation. In fact, we miss them only because they are so obvious. And yet, mull over them calmly and you will discover that maybe you need to revisit the priorities in your life and make some much needed changes.
While explaining the need to cultivate emotional resilience, Susan highlights the importance of conscious commitment to live in a balanced, mentally healthy place. “As soon as life gets crowded, most people push sleep, good nutrition and exercise out of the way, to make room for what we think is ‘more important’. We’ve got it backwards! We should see these good health basics as the foundation of our day, the non-negotiable framework of balance in our lives, rather than considering them as disposable options,” she says.
Of the nine building blocks, you may discover that you have a few of them already in place—these are the aspects of your life that are going well. You now need to make a conscious effort to get the remaining blocks to interlock and fit with the existing ones. The changes may not happen overnight but once you are committed to the new blueprint of your life, it’s only a matter of time when the structure of your life will become sturdy and durable—with the wherewithal to resist small and big tremors that will strike from time to time.