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The art of happiness

The art of happiness
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First Published: Fri, Dec 23 2011. 03 00 PM IST

Infinite time: An Aztec stone clock of spirals. Wikimedia Commons
Infinite time: An Aztec stone clock of spirals. Wikimedia Commons
Updated: Sat, Dec 24 2011. 04 48 PM IST
Ancient civilizations such as the Mayan and the Incan believed that time was a circle, or a spiral. Far removed from our linear understanding of time, their sense of time was cyclical. The same events would happen over and over again.
They could pause and stand in time.
Infinite time: An Aztec stone clock of spirals. Wikimedia Commons
In Quechua, the most widely spoken language family of those native to South America, there is no way of saying you’re “running out of time”. You, on the other hand, don’t have the time for “this phone call”, “this argument”, and that piece of instrumental music that doesn’t climax till 11.52 minutes.
It goes without saying that planning a sea voyage or taking up a sport that requires you to do more than lift weights—that category of “time-consuming” activities—are ruled out.
If Mint’s readership surveys are right, we have you pinned down as an uber successful professional or entrepreneur who has, or will, travel the world. You’re on your second set of wheels already and paying back an ambitious house loan. You stop for nothing.
The Eastern and Oriental Express runs from Singapore to Bangkok, allowing a stunning view of the Kwai river from its observation deck.
So what did you do this year with all the time you saved not doing the things you wanted to do?
Apart from those who celebrated or suffered personal milestones—first jobs, marriage, baby, divorce, the death of someone close—what will the rest of you remember 2011 for?
What this issue says is, quit living life in bits and snatches. Quit the maddening mission to “save time”. You’re not running out of anything. You have the philosophy of Jean Cocteau as testimony: “Nothing ever gets anywhere. The earth keeps turning round and round and gets nowhere. The moment is the only thing that counts.”
Make your moments count. You can pause and stand in time too.
You can stretch time, get more bang for your buck from 2012 if you purge the quick-fixes to take up the long-form: Get down to finishing that entire series of Alan Moore comics you ordered off Amazon but didn’t unwrap, start on your film queue of the 10 sexiest biopics of all time.
Speaking at the Penguin Annual Lecture in New Delhi earlier this month, the Dalai Lama made the distinction between happiness at the sensory level and happiness at the level of mental consciousness. The Art of Happiness, he said, lay in understanding the latter: an all-encompassing happiness that stems from a calmness of mind.
Beautiful things, good food and wine, all the sensory delights of the world, do bring joy, but they bring a joy that is short-lived; a joy that comes crumbling down with the slightest touch. The goal is to build a more lasting happiness—a warm home, a tightly bound family, a truly healthy body, knowledge, art, and dreams that will stay with you.
Slowing down doesn’t mean going on a month-long meditative retreat. It means really living the moments in 2012.
What this issue says is, take a deep breath. Slow down. Ditch the quickie. Make 2012 the year you make love.
Anindita Ghose
Issue editor
Get off the fast track. Clean up, refresh, embark on a journey or a project. Create a memory.
1-11 | Throw out the toxins. Organize
Restore beauty: find the missing parts
1. Restore beauty: find the missing parts
2. Follow a different ‘real time’
3. Create a home retreat
4. Stitch in time
5. Mend the cracks with that friend
6. Back up the photo album
7. Put together a festival calendar
8. Make your home plastic-free
9. Purge the fast food
10. Get freewheeling
11. Rediscover slow food
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12-21 | Take up a project, make a memory
Cover the Indian coastline
12. Cover the Indian coastline
13. Write your novel
14. Build your own board game
15. Follow a cinematic thread
16. Meet the Steven Spielberg of Asia
17. Get puzzled
18. Knot up
19. Explore ‘Skyrim’
20. Understand Proust
21. The movie enterprise
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22-26 | Find your own fragrance
22. Make a scent
Build a classic wardrobe
23. Unbottle beauty
24. Learn how to drape a sari creatively
25. Take a sari pilgrimage
26. Start out with clay
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27-30 | Go on a journey. Rediscover
27. Time travel
28. Follow your wings
29. Pick up the pen
30. Go back to your mother tongue
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31-32 | Build a classic wardrobe
Get some rock
31. Build a classic wardrobe
32. Find your silhouette
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33-42 | Touch base with nature. Listen
33. Get some rock
34. Picture the wild
35. Go fishing
36. Birth of a bonsai
37. Let the herbs grow
38. Sound investment
Caption those photos
39. Give a gift that lasts...and lasts
40. Understand your urban habitat
41. Rediscover science
42. Eat with the season
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43-47 | Go the family way
43. Caption those photos
44. Create an heirloom
45. Build a family tree
Find your way back home
46. Visit a museum a month
47. String a family band
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48-50 | Get home. Breathe.
48. Find your way back home
49. Travel to a friend
50. Breathe
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Contributors: Amrita Roy, Anindita Ghose, Anupam Kant Verma, Gayatri Jayaraman, Gopal Sathe, Komal Sharma, Pavitra Jayaraman, Rudraneil Sengupta, Sanjukta Sharma, Seema Chowdhry, Shreya Ray, Supriya Nair and Viseshika Sharma.
For feedback, email us at lounge@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Dec 23 2011. 03 00 PM IST