A Short Guide to a Happy Life

Malini gifted us with a beautiful little book “A Short Guide to a Happy Life” by Anna Quindlen – Pulitzer Prize winner in 1992, and columnist for New York Times. It is a delightful little book, where she reflects on what it means to live deeply and live well.

People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort on a winter night, or when you are sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you have gotten back the chest X ray and it doesn’t look so good, or when the doctor writes “prognosis, poor.”

Get a life in which you are generous. Look around at the azaleas making fuchsia stars bursts in spring; look at a full moon hanging silver in a black sky on a cold night. And realize that life is glorious, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take the money that you would have spent on beers and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Tutor a seventh grader.

All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.

Live by the words of the poem by Gwendolyn Brooks:

EXHAUST THE LITTLE MOMENT.
SOON IT DIES.

AND BE IT GASH OR GOLD
IT WILL NOT COME

AGAIN IN THIS IDENTICAL
DISGUISE.

This resonates with what my spiritual master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says often: To live life in the present moment, To give something back to the society and to know the impermanence of this world. While it is so easy to talk about staying in the moment, practicing it is so very difficult. Two things that would help you do that: Regular meditation and Sudarshan Kriya.

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