The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, June 22, 2003

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Happiness is an acquired trait
Randeep Wadehra

The Secret of Happiness
by Jas Mand. Fusion Books, New Delhi. Pages 220. Rs 195.

The Secret of HappinessWE all want to be happy, but do not know how to attain the state of happiness, probably because we do not know precisely what happiness is. The author points out that one often confuses happiness with pleasure. Only, pleasure is derived by the gratification of carnal desires, and therefore, is deemed a lower form of indulgence. However, the exalted feeling of ‘bliss’ too is different from happiness; it relates to the soul. Happiness, on the contrary, is a feeling peculiar to human beings as it is more a quality of one’s character. Animals derive pleasure through an indulgence of the senses. Human beings attain happiness by adopting a certain attitude — consciously or otherwise. Bliss is the supreme form of satisfaction that only a rare enlightened soul experiences.

Mand focuses on happiness. He says that happiness is not your destiny but a consciously made choice. One has to first of all accept certain inevitable, like suffering and death, and tackle the vagaries of life with a positive attitude. He avers that worry or anxiety is inimical to happiness. One must drive all anxiety out of one’s mind; a person can do this because he is himself responsible for placing anxiety in the mind. Spirituality helps in getting rid of anxiety. No religion offers a perfect recipe for happiness. Similarly, age, health, marital status, love, friendship etc may be able to provide temporary respite from unhappiness, but do not guarantee a panacea for this state of mind.


Happiness comes from one’s attitude towards the outside world as well as the various experiences in life. Indeed, one can be happy in penury and unhappy even when bestowed with all the worldly goods. Similarly, a sick person can achieve happiness by cultivating a positive attitude while a person enjoying robust health may be unhappy because he suffers from pessimism. Thus, happiness is a cultivated trait.

Mand has attempted to unfold the secret of happiness. One may find this book interesting, especially the chapters like How is an Attitude Made; Cultivating Happiness and How to Perpetuate Happiness? However, proofreading leaves quite a bit to be desired. For example, on page 100, the chapter title has the word ‘Polititive’ instead of ‘Positive’.

MBA: The Right Foot Forward
by DishaM. Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi. Rs 150.

MBA: The Right Foot ForwardProfessional courses attract candidates in droves, and no wonder. We are living in a highly competitive world where material progress has put into shade all other forms of human accomplishments and values. The Master of Business Administration course is one of the most sought after as it promises a rise up the socio-economic pecking order.

The wannabe management high-flyers often fall victims to confusion vis-`E0-vis the right way to prepare for the MBA entrance exams. Some go to the mushrooming coaching institutes while others hire private tutors. Again, identifying and acquiring the right literature to prepare for the exam becomes a problem. But the biggest problem of all is: What business schools are genuine ones? How to get admission into these B-schools? And, what are the placement prospects after graduating from a particular B-school?

The volume under review attempts to answer these questions succinctly and clearly.

by Biswaroop Roy Chowdhury. Fusion Books, New Delhi. Pages 183. Rs 150.

Impossible...PossibleHere is another theory on attitude. Our brain categorises experiences into pain and pleasure. This categorisation is the result of our beliefs or attitude towards events in life. Such generalisation, says the author, acts as a limiting factor on our growth as individuals. Despair resulting from failure makes a person look upon himself as an incompetent person. Often these negative thoughts prevent him from performing to his full potential and thus become self-fulfilling prophecies. The only way to avert these is to turn failures into lessons for future achievements. After Edison’s 10,000 experiments to invent the light bulb failed he was asked how he felt. He reportedly replied that he learnt of 10,000 ways of not inventing a light bulb!

Certain achievements come easy to a person, while some others are difficult and still others impossible. However, there are persons for whom nothing is possible and then again there are others who feel that nothing is impossible to achieve. Between these two extremes there are varying degrees of attitude towards attainable goals. Why does this happen? Is it because some people are more capable than others are, or is it a matter of luck?

Chowdhury feels that the answer lies in the brain. Some people tap their full potential to become successful while others may not even be aware of the possibilities that one’s intellect promises. One needs to break barriers in the mind and turn the impossible into possible, thus transforming one’s life for the better. After all, there was a time when it was considered impossible to run a mile under four minutes. Undaunted by such a universal mindset Roger Bannister ran the distance in 3.59 minutes! Positive thoughts can achieve a lot indeed.

This volume is an addition to the proliferating self-improvement literature.