Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Last week I got an anonymous SMS, which went as follows:


Well, I know what youre thinking
1) if that were my husband I would use a large pineapple on him, and 2)rotten grammar!

either way it sure got me wondering …what is complete success?

Well, Im a great one for self help books. From “ Men are From Mars” to the “Seven Secrets of Success” and the Unofficial Guide to Corporate Success, you name it, its sitting in my bookshelf gathering dust and acting as a refugee camp for egg carrying ants during the rainy season (and what is it with ants and old books, TV remotes and CD wallets? You turn around for a few weeks and suddenly the little beggars are hauling in a large collection of messy white larvae, and if you disturb them they collectively project a truly self effacing aura of surprise & damp apology and start running around)… … I must have spent an absolute fortune on self improvement books which I havnt read, or like in the case of "MEMORY BOOSTERS -ten tips to a popwerful memory", cant remember who I lent to..

Yoga , Karate and Belly Dance CDs sit gathering dust in my CD Racks and my daughter has warned me against any more meditation books ,sternly pointing out that if I invested that much in X FILES SEASON NINE , at least SOME ONE would find happiness…

If that’s not enough guidance, there’ s free advise, unloaded on the unresisting computer user daily :My email inboxes , for example are permanent repositories for such newsletters as “The Weight Loss Game Plan” “How to Catch and Keep Your Man” and “Size does matter, increase yours!”which promise you happinss around the corner ,if you just could possibly reach that ideal level…

With all this good advice, tips tricks and guidelines all over the place ,you wonder how people can be as disgruntled , dissatisfied and downright disturbed as they are in this modern age and indeed I too have given this a lot of thought. If statistics are anything to go by, it would appear that some Sri Lankan’s actually find lasting happiness by uncomplicated straightforward means such as being regularly drunk, beating women or animals and giving into road rage. Or adultery:

Personally I don’t “have” a lot of things that are perceived as success in society. I don’t have a house, a car, a man or even a steady dog (two of them left because they got tastier stuff nearby and one got rabies)…I have beautiful children but because I could not afford a committed lawyer , I did not get custody of them. I do have a cool job but most of the time Im crippled by inexplicable insecurity about if I deserve it..and so go through life apologising for myself, it is a thought provoking list.

So am I successful? Has something stuck from reading all the gigabytes of good advice Im exposed to ?Am I happy? the answers are worth examining.

Im a whole lot happier than the bloke who sent me that message, and I have never been happier in my life, not even when I had all those things viewed as critical Success Factors.- I was comparatively miserable then because I never appreciated their value, took them for granted and generally didn’t even notice anything remarkable about them. I know, I now value what I do have. For example:

I have wonderful children…all around me ,not just mine, but every where I look, small eager ,powdered , dusty kneed, pop eyed, bursting with curiosity and potential , those sweet miracles of the universe.Like puppies and kittens,they represent years of potential happiness in watching them grow.

I still have some of my teeth, in spite of the fact that maintaining them is taking a sizeable chunk of my salary monthly. I look down at my toes and think “ gosh those appendages are thirty five years old – they don’t look that BAD!” I mean imagine gloves or socks you have used for thirty five years around the clock. The human body is miracle and a evolutionary success fine tuned over millions of years- and we just never notice.

I have sunlight, each morning I wake up and marvel at the beauty of this country, things that we usually just don’t seem to notice or appreciate. Waiting for the bus last Wednsday I watched the local troupe of languars dash cheekily across power lines, clowning furry black bodies against a haunting back drop of a totally amazing giant orange globe of rising sun, and this mind you was in Wellampitiya twenty minutes away from Central Colombo. No one saw them, I guess everyone else was concentrating on how to be a success that day….for me if the sun shines the day cannot be bad .

There are thirty six million colours around me. :As Im writing this article Ive had a long tiring day and Im enjoying a small square box of pineapple juice the kind you can get in any grocery for 22 rupees. It’s a lovely bright yellow and red marvel of modern packaging and there are luscious looking beads of dew on the outsides. Have you never looked at one of those packages closely? True they are the products of commercial strategizing but are they not beautiful all the same ? Would not ancient man have stopped in his tracks if confronted with such art , but don’t we take it for granted like all the other beautiful things in life we don’t bother to notice?

So I have to admit (touch wood) at last and at the ripe old age of thirty six, I have finally got what I want in life. And incidentally I have not clawed my way up some symbolic co orporate ladder, back stabbing hapless fellow humans along the way, married into a rich dynasty or won any thing larger than a 50/- sweep ticket , in my life.

I have in fact , as my good friends know, been steadily creeping my way down the proverbial corporate ladder, and yet, I have what I want, or maybe its just that I want what I have and that’s what makes all the difference…Perhaps someday I will write my own book to tell people how it was done but for now there are three lines I have always lived by and probably always will:

“ Everything can be taken from man, but his power to chose his reaction.”
By Victor Franknyl, a survivor of Auschwitz
“You cannot give someone happiness without having some of it rub off on yourself ,”
Mother Theresa (I think)
And of course, from the sunscreen song –
“DANCE – even if you have no where to do it but in your living room!”
The author recognises that she owes her happiness to a wonderful and supportive family & ex-in laws and a few good friends. She is no expert and the above are simply personal observations and in no way actually guarantee to bring success into readers lives. But do give them a try…