Are you unhappy? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most people belong to this ‘unhappy club’. In fact, I too was a member of the same club before starting the Laughter clubs in 1995. Years of experience and understanding of life taught me that happiness is not something you can go looking for; it does not come easy when you seek it. It is a state of mind and you need to feel good from within to be able to experience real and unconditional happiness. One way that you can achieve it very easily and effortlessly is when if you give happiness to others. The selfless joy of striving to make others happy leaves you with an abundance of happiness in your life; it provides you with a sense of contentment which is unparalleled.
I would like to share a story which depicts the real purpose of life for everyone:
I was honored with a Super Achievers award on January 4, 2007 by an educational institute in Pune, India, which awarded people for their outstanding contribution and innovation in different fields of science, art, culture and education.
It was a gratifying moment as I held the trophy in my hand. I felt humbled and was really moved by the response of the people. After the warm felicitation, I was expected to say a few words about my achievements. As I took to the dais, I looked at the trophy and felt a kind of spontaneous rush within and much to the amazement of the audience, I said, “I don’t think I’m a super achiever”. I knew they didn’t expect this, but the words came straight from my heart.
When I was young, I always wanted to be a super achiever and become rich and famous. I wanted to prove to the world that I was a high flier and a go-getter. But, it was not easy. The struggle was very long and hard. It left me unhappy, stressed and depressed. As I approached my 40s, I felt that time was running out and I hadn’t really achieved much. I was getting restless and the drive to attain and accomplish became even more intense. At that point, I was only thinking of myself, the others were just secondary.
Suddenly, life took a U-turn and I came up with an ingenious idea of Laughter Clubs. People advised me to patent the idea as it could make me a millionaire, and I must admit that I was very tempted to go ahead and fulfill my life long ambition. But, within six months, I started receiving hundreds of letters and e-mails from people all over the world saying how laughter clubs changed their lives. This again managed to stir my innate desire to become rich and famous. Seeing the growing popularity of the clubs, I thought of charging a small membership fee, which would generate a substantial income. I had almost made up mind, until this incidence changed my entire perspective and gave me a new direction. The age old adage, ‘Man proposes God disposes’ made me do something which I never ever thought I could.
One day, in December 1995, 85 year old Babu Rao, came to my clinic with his son. As soon as he entered, he fell at my feet. Momentarily uncomfortable at seeing an elderly man touch my feet, I knew this was customary in India. It was just a way to show respect and gratitude. I had done it all my life with parents and elders in the family, so I accepted it and took it in my stride.
After a while, he started crying and kept crying for almost five minutes. He could barely talk. As he wept, he kept repeating, “Doctor, you’ve saved my life.” I picked him up, gave him a hug and tried to pacify him. As I started talking, he offered me a box of homemade sweets. He told me he had been suffering from several diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, insomnia and depression. Fed up of life, he contemplated suicide, but fortunately, he joined a laughter club, which changed his whole perception. A month later, he felt much better and his sugar and blood pressure levels stabilized. There was a new resurgence of a will to live and he felt completely rejuvenated. I was moved to tears on hearing his account. Seeing his belief in my concept humbled me and for the first time, I realised the value of true contribution; something that can change a person’s entire life is to be cherished and shared with the world. It can never be equated with money.
After that, I decided to tour India. I came across several people who had benefited from laughter- nature’s most powerful healing force and the best medicine for physical and emotional and mental well being. Seeing the growing popularity, I realized it wasn’t me – it was a divine idea and I was merely a medium who helped to spread the good word. I dropped the idea of patenting the concept and charging a fee.
It was a gift that I was going to give to the world. That day, I felt happy and relieved.
This unique concept captivated the people and gained tremendous popularity worldwide mainly because it encompassed everyone. It was not about me. It was an idea that helped people get the feel of complete wellness, happiness and joy. As the concept spread, my dream to become world-famous was fulfilled. Money and respect started pouring in and I soon realized that I had everything that I ever wanted from life. I understood the importance of placing others before one self.
This is what I spoke to a packed house of 600 people attending the ceremony
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for honoring me with super achiever award. I don’t think I am a super achiever. I would rather call myself a super contributor. The times when I was striving, struggling and pushing too hard to accomplish something in life, I found it was very difficult. It was not easy and I was quite frustrated. Nothing was ever enough as it was all directed towards myself. But, when I started thinking about others and planned to do things that would help people, life became simple. I could easily achieve everything by making a worthwhile contribution to the world and making a difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. There is an old saying – ‘Whatever you give out to the universe, it comes back’. This is the circle of life.
Inspired by the speech, the chairman of the Institute said that they would like to change the name of the award from ‘Super Achiever’ to ‘Super Contributor.’