Happiness - A Recipe


A Google search for ‘happiness' will give you around 63 million possibilities. A search for its opposite, only 2.5 million. This suggests most of us know what ‘unhappiness' is but are still searching for happiness.

"But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he needs?” This profound quote from 20th century French novelist and playwright Albert Camus points to where happiness is - within. Yet, most of the world looks for happiness in external circumstances and materiality but, if it's there, why are so many still searching for it?
The 11th century Persian astronomer, mathematician and poet, Omar Khayyam wrote of harmony and happiness in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The 1859 translation of this work by English poet Edward Fitzgerald is among the world's most published and quoted works. Over 50% of the poem is quoted in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
The 12th stanza of this work is the best known:

"A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness - 
O, Wilderness were Paradise enow!"
This is Omar's recipe for happiness--expressed in just 28 words: a shady spot at one with nature, food and wine, love and culture, represented here by song and verse. In essence, the opposite of what, supposedly, makes us happy today: a large house and a life mainly dedicated to pursuing wealth, power, celebrity and status.
Of course we need to work and provide for self, family and retirement, but does the pursuit of materiality and our obsession with bigger, better and more lead us to happiness? Google and Omar Khayyam suggest otherwise.
"Ah, make the most of what we may yet spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;"
Omar Khayyam (1048--1131), Persian astronomer, mathematician and poet.
On what do you spend your life,
What will you value in the end?
"One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown forever dies."
Do you prize the flower or the hour it gives?

What is your recipe for happiness?
When are you happy?
What needs to happen for you to be happy?
Answer these questions in writing and increase your self-awareness, one of the key attributes of successful leaders. Your answers will help you to avoid getting on to treadmills that do nothing for you.


Charles Kovess CSP is a lawyer, successful businessman, professional speaker and passion provocateur.

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