Monday, January 18, 2010

Happiness. Letter from My Dad!

This past weekend, my mom and I were cleaning out some of my dad's files, that he left behind when we lost him nearly 2-1/2 years ago. In one of the files, we found this piece of paper, apparently written about 25 years ago, where he had shared some of his own lessons learned about how to be happy. Being a strong believer that we can learn so much from our elders, and finding much meaning for myself in this treasure, I wanted to share his message with you for I believe it'll help many of us. Here is what he had written, when he was in his early 50's.


After my heart surgery in 1981, my doctor recommended that I should reduce undue stress from my life. Therefore, I read several self-improvement books and luckily came across some ideas, which actually seem to work. Since then, my happiness has increased appreciably and I am able to enjoy my life much more then in the past. For your benefit, those ideas are described below. By incorporating them into one's thinking, any person should be able to feel happier even without making any major changes in his/her present circumstances.

1. Please stop thinking in terms of years: A year is a very large unit of time; I am 54 years of age and still do not find it easy to comprehend a year. Multiply years by 365 and convert them into number of days. Assuming an average person's life is 70-80 years, we can say that an average man's stay on this earth is limited to 25,000-30,000 days. This is all there is, from start to finish. When I think in-terms of days rather then years, then I get an entirely different feeling about life.

2. Realize that there is only one way to be happy on any day, that is to find happiness in whatever is available to us on that very day, (repeat THAT VERY DAY): Normally people's life changes only very gradually; most of the changes come so slowly that they can't even be felt. For example, students go to school and attend classes on various subjects. At the end of the day most of the students do not even get feeling of learning much during the day. Many of us have been away from India and in the United States for last 15-20 years; still most of us do not feel any big change in ourselves and assume that we are as Indian as when we had left India many years ago.

There are very few days in any man's life when things change drastically. Such days can be counted on the fingers. Our life consists mostly of such days when in the evening we are as rich or poor, as healthy or unhealthy, as fortunate or unfortunate, as handsome and beautiful, etc. as we were in the morning. Therefore, try to find happiness in whatever is available on any particular day.

Remember, that each and every day of our life equally counts towards that quota of 30,000 days, whether we enjoy them or not. Please do not expect too much change or improvement on a day by day basis; just try to enjoy them as they are.

3. Remember Your Childhood. We all say that children are generally more happy then the adults. The reason is that children focus their attention on their immediate surroundings, i.e. on whatever the eyes are actually able to see at any given minute, what the ears are actually listening at that very minute. Whenever, next time depression or unhappiness strikes you, please try to concentrate your thinking only to your immediate surroundings and feel the immediate improvement. After doing it few hundred times, you will begin to realize that most of the times, depression and unhappiness is being generated inside of you and that it is not coming from the outside.

Signed: Prem Kumar Agarwal, Gaithersburg, Maryland


Himanshu said...

Vinay Bhiya,

Thanks for sharing. This an an invaluable advice from beloved Phupaji.


Suneeta said...

Hi Vinay,

Wow, what a gem of a letter! I love it! Papa continues to impart his wisdom on us from above :-)

It also reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

"Happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want."