Saturday, November 10, 2001
M A I L  B O X

Finding lasting happiness

THROUGH the write-up "Finding lasting happiness" (October 27) Sai R.Vaidyanathan prescribes contentment as one of the ingredients of happiness. Contentment has aptly been called the true philosopher’s stone as it converts all our misfortunes and losses into happiness. A contented mind desires nothing that it does not possess, and feels perfect satisfaction in what it has.

Socrates has rightly said: "Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty". A man enjoying the gifts of fortune cannot be happy if there is the slightest want in any of his accustomed luxuries.

No man of pleasure is ever perfectly happy. But a contented man living within his means has the peace and happiness that are denied even to a king. Says Ford: "Contentment gives a crown where fortune has denied it."

People generally use the word contentment in a wrong sense. They take it in the sense of idleness which is entirely wrong. A contented must be extremely active, as to remain satisfied and pleased with whatever he gets after doing his best.

What Mackintosh says is indeed wise:"It is right to be contented with what we have, never with what we are." If certain things do not come our way we need not grumble about it. The Bhagavadgita preaches that a man is free to do whatever he may like to do, but is not free to get a fruit that he may desire.

Thus contentment does not mean that we should accept life as we find it. Incessant efforts must be made to better the state of things, to improve what is base, to reform what is effective in us.



Notwithstanding acute differences of opinion regarding its constituents and the means by which to come by it, happiness has always been the chief goal of human existence. Everyone expends his energy and ingenuity on devising ways and means to be happy. In practical life, we generally find that relative contentment and a high degree of involvement are major constituents of happiness.

Real contentment consists in the consciousness of freedom. It is purer and deeper than happiness derived from sensual pleasures and material goods. It is not vulnerable to accidents of time and circumstances to which happiness is exposed.



Simple living and high thinking is no longer the motto which guides our lifestyles. All of us are trapped by countless desires and needs. We are becoming more and more ambitious and engaged in materialistic pursuits.

We should prioritise our desires and maintain a balance. We must strive for contentment in life.

New Delhi


Apropos of Reeta Sharma’s "A fight against racism" (October 27). Discrimination, at any level and for whatever reason, pinches. Racism has been more manifest in European countries than elsewhere. It must be condemned and rooted out of the civilised world where all human beings should be judged by their intellectual capabilities and intrinsic values rather than the colour of their skin or the country/region of their birth. But the reality is that man has not risen above caste and religious considerations. At heart everyone is casteist and communal.

It is this seed of discrimination that gradually grows into fanaticism and racism, which cannot be curbed with any amount of legislation. It is up to our socio-moral system and education to inculcate in human society a firm conviction of the equality of man irrespective of his caste, religion, language or the place of his birth and upbringing. But this is easily said than done.

If man sincerely wishes to attain equality, he must overcome discrimination at the caste and language level. Otherwise the curse of racism will lead to isolation of human communities across the world and encourage criminalisation of human society, notwithstanding our educational, intellectual and material attainments.