Volume - 1 : Issue - 1

Published : Sep. - Nov. 2001

Group : Think About It

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By A. Suresh Chopra

I am an unabashed admirer of Oliver Goldsmith whose essays formed a part of my senior Cambridge course way back in school in the late fifties. One of the stories he narrates in an essay went on to have such a profound impact on my thinking that it virtually became the bedrock of the philosophy by which I have.

Since this mindset of mine, created by Goldsmith, has paid me rich dividends down the years, and also because this story has in it the seeds of attaining all the three things that mankind has sought down the ages – health, wealth and happiness – it is only fair that I narrate it.

It goes something like this : There is this very rich man who has so much wealth that he sets about acquiring several scores of some of the fines diamonds in the world. But the problem that then faces him is : what to do with all those diamonds? So what the rich man does is to stitch all the diamonds on to his favourite robe, which he would then wear every evening and parade up and down the streets. It wasn’t long before he noticed that a beggar in tatters would follow him as he went about displaying his diamonds and keep bowing and saying, “Thank you.” One day the rich man accosted the beggar and asked him, “What do you keep thanking me for?”

“For the pleasure of viewing your diamonds, sire,” replied the beggar.

“But what is there to thank in this?”

“For taking the heavy responsibility of looking after the diamonds. After all, sire you can do no better than what I am doing. That is, to view them. But the headache of looking after them is yours and not mine. That is why I thank you.”

Therein lies the truth : If you want health, wealth and happiness all you have to do is stop wasting your time in trying to impress others.

Health will be yours if you are not burdened with stress and tension of trying to keep up with the Joneses. That is to say, doing things, buying things and conducting oneself in order to gain the approval of others. In short, it means opting out of the Big Rat Race and running your own race, on your own laid out track and on your own rules and regulations.

Wealth will be yours because of the direct correlation between the absence of my desire to impress others and one’s bank balance. Our very own Indian marriages will drive home this point. How much richer millions of families across India would be if they went ahead and simply did what marriages are supposed to do, which is to unite a man and woman into a matrimonial bond. Instead, we spend astronomical amounts of money, often landing ourselves into debt, or worse, in order to impress all and sundry of our supposed capacity to spend.

Happiness follows when one is pervaded with the deep sense of contentment and serenity that automatically flows from the knowledge that the main business in life is to enjoy it, and not to spend ones time, energy and money in impressing others.