Launch of The Jewels of Happiness Audio Book by Sri Chinmoy

jewhapAware that the increase of happiness depends also strongly on the training of one’s own spirit, the United Nations SRC Society of Writers sponsored the launch of an audio book by Sri Chinmoy on the eve of the first UN International Day of Happiness at the United Nations Headquarters in New York (19 March). Among the 17 outstanding individuals who read a chapter of the new audio book The Jewels of Happiness are Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter Roberta Flack, Olympic legend Carl Lewis, Tony and Emmy award winning actress Judith Light and Russian singer and superstar Boris Grebenshikov. The Jewels of Happiness presents selected writings of Indian born Sri Chinmoy, who offered twice-weekly peace meditations for delegates and staff at the United Nations for 37 years. He also initiated global programmes to foster peace and happiness including the Peace Run – named now World Harmony Run – , the world’s largest relay run for international friendship and peace. The chapters of the celebrity audio book containing prose and poems deal with qualities and virtues whose development is necessary to gain lasting happiness. For more information please visit:

 Over 500 United Nations ambassadors, delegates, staff and members of NGOs were present at the launch.These sweet gems of wisdom by my dear friend Sri Chinmoy are timeless truths full of encouragement, love and goodness,” Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said in a video message. “Sri Chinmoy was a pioneer in forging a grand alliance of hearts and minds for the culture of peace,“ said Anwarul Chowdhury, Special Advisor and Ambassador of Bangladesh to the United Nations for many years, in his introduction. Renowned composer Philip Glass performed on the piano while Cathy Oerter, co-founder of Art of the Olympians and wife of legendary Olympian Al Oerter, and Ashrita Furman, holder of the most Guinness World Records, read from the book live. A special message from peace activist Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, and former Member of Parliament in South Africa, was also read out.

 The audio book is available on itunes and and its proceeds will go to charities for children worldwide: Nelson Mandela Childrens Fund, Philani Nutrition and Development Project in South Africa and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

TODAY: International Day of Happiness

sri-chinmoy-happinessThe International Day of Happiness is a movement to promote happiness as a universal goal and aspiration in the lives of human beings around the world. A coalition led by Dr. Hamid Al-Bayati Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations, the International Day of Happiness is created in the spirit of the initiatives and other ongoing efforts of the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al- Nasser, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other UN member states. On March 20th, during International Day of Nawruz Celebrations, Ambassador Al-Bayati stated, “The UN was formed and intended to be a peace keeping guardian, the objectives adopted in the UN such as peace, respect for human rights, eradication of poverty, sustainable development and millennium development goals, are all for one objective, which is the happiness for all of the people of humanity.”

The following month, at high level meetings addressing “Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” convened by the government of Bhutan, the PGA stated that, “It is imperative that we build a new creative guiding vision for sustainability and our future, one that will bring a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach that will promote sustainability, eradicate poverty and enhance well-being and happiness.”    The Secretary General remarked that, “We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development.    Social, economic, and environmental well-being are indivisible.    Together they define gross global happiness.” The International Day of Happiness also recognizes and captures the spirit of the efforts of other nations and groups who have begun to explore various ways to measure prosperity that go beyond material wealth initiated and championed by Bhutan.

The International Day of Happiness will be held on 20th March. Each year, on this date, a universal phenomenon occurs. The sun is on the same plane as the earthʼs equator so that day and night are of equal length, creating balance in the earthʼs celestial coordinate systems. It will be an annual global day of awareness and activities that will drive increasing levels of connectivity, education and action based programs.

Ten keys to become happy

Action for Happiness has developed the 10 Keys to Happier Living based on a review of the latest scientific research relating to happiness. Everyone’s pathto happiness is different, but the research suggests these Ten Keys consistently tend to have a positive impact on people’s overall happiness and well-being. The first five (G-R-E-A-T) relate to how we interact with the outside world in our daily activities*. The second five (D-R-E-A.M) come more from inside us and depend on our attitude to life.

1. GIVING: Do things for others
Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good

2. RELATING: Connect with people

Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness.

3. EXERCISING: Take care of your body

>Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sle

4. APPRECIATING: Notice the world around

Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life – like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day.

5. TRYING OUT: Keep learning new things

Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things – not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more.

6. DIRECTION: Have goals to look forward to

Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them.

7. RESILIENCE: Find ways to bounce back

All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned.

8. EMOTION: Take a positive approach

Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty.

9. ACCEPTANCE: Be comfortable with who you are

No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are.

10. MEANING: Be part of something bigger

People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.


Imagine a world of peace…

Sri Chinmoy, the well known poet and peace dreamer, inspires us to imagine a new world – a world of peace and oneness.

“Imagination has power.
Imagination is power.
Therefore, be sure to have
A good and elevating imagination.”
“Imagination is a world of reality which is waiting for revelation and manifestation here in this outer world, which we know as reality.”
– Sri Chinmoy

Poems by Sri Chinmoy, Slideshow by Mananyu. Music composed by Sri Chinmoy, arranged by Shindhu; Pictures by Mananyu and Shushuti

Bhutan: Happiness above all

With a friend of mine I recently visited the Kingdom of Bhutan before I continued my journey to Nepal. Our appetite was whetted with spectacular views of the Himalayas and most of the world’s highest peak, including Mount Everest. Bhutan is mostly a mountainous country with the two main cities being over 2,200m above sea level. During the 40 minute flight, the captain reminded us to keep our safety belts fastened particularly coming into land as the plane descended through the valleys where we experienced a lot of turbulence. The flight is not for the faint hearted as the pilot made several dramatic manoeuvres’ through the valleys before a fairly sudden landing. Bhutanese are proud to claim that their pilots receive special training and can get piloting jobs with any airlines. It is worth noting that no other airlines are permitted to fly into Paro Airport, Paro being the Capital.

Tourism is third on the list of national industries in Bhutan, behind exporting electricity and farming. The tourism industry is highly regulated where one can only visit through an official tourist agency. All aspects of your travel arrangements are set out and paid for in advance such as itinerary, hotels, meals and excursions within the country. Visa costs are very expensive from $250 upwards the final cost depending on the length of you stay in Bhutan. A group of 8 British climbers paid $24,000 for their visas! Basically, the visa is an entry charge into the country. During your stay in Bhutan, you are required to take a tour guide and a driver who take you on a detailed journey through the country. Bhutan’s policy on tourism is one of ‘Low impact but high value to Bhutan’.

A brief history.

In the 17th century, a Tibetan monk arrived in the area, in search of metals and managed to bring together villages and communities. As such, Bhutanese are mostly Tibetan in origin with their 11 dialects of language being a derivation of Tibetan. Bhutan is 70% Buddhist, the signs of which are very visible from the country’s emblem, artwork, ornamentation, iconography and temples throughout. The harmony between religion & state is very evident . The Fortress complex in the capital, Thimphu, houses both government buildings, crown jewels and a Buddhists monastery. In 1907, a monarchy was established which still exists today. In the early 70’s the 4th King introduced the concept of ‘Gross National Happiness’, GNH. This is perhaps why Bhutan is best known. The King commissioned a Canadian sociologist to formalize the tenets of this philosophy, namely an index to measure the happiness of people and to set out measures to create harmony between spiritual and material well being. In 2008, the 5th King amended the constitution and paved the way for the first modern democratically elected government in Bhutan with the main focus being the implementation of GNH.

The eight general contributors to happiness are:

  1. physical, mental and spiritual health
  2. time-balance
  3. social and community vitality
  4. cultural vitality
  5. education
  6. living standards
  7. good governance
  8. ecological vitality

Some statistics:

•      Similar in size, area & shape to Switzerland with a population of 700,000, among them 70% Buddhist & 20% Hindu
•      Main source of income: exporting hydro electrical power, mainly to India.
•      Bhutanese speak 11 dialects,  developed forms of  Tibetan.
•      National Sport is Archery
•      National Flower: Blue Poppy
•      National Animal – Takin (looks like a cross between goat & cow)
•      Smoking has been banned completely
•      Only 5% of population have internet access
•      Only 10% of population have telephones
•      70% live on subsistence farms
•      There are no traffic lights in Bhutan

Bhutan also claims to be the only ‘Carbon Sink’ country in the world, i.e. Bhutan produces more energy than it uses. The amount of electricity generated from hydro electrical stations far exceeds that of the energy value of oil and gas imports. Bhutan’s biggest trading partner is India. India imports Bhutanese electricity and in return Bhutan imports cars, food and the like from India. Bhutan relies on India for the construction of infrastructural projects such as roads, bridges and dams. Higher education in the areas of  the humanities and life sciences takes place in Bhutan but for higher degrees in engineering, Bhutanese travel to India. Aside from the Buddhist tradition which is deeply rooted in every day life, most Bhutanese speak Hindi and watch Indian TV, Bollywood movies, Indian soap opera, etc. There are no American fast-food outlets such as MacDonalds, Kentucky, Fried Chicken of cafes such as Starbucks.

It is against their beliefs to kill any animals – all living creatures are sacred. However, that those not mean that they are vegetarian – Bhutan imports meat, fish and poultry from India. Mountaineering is not permitted. The last expedition took place in the mid 80’s when a British team climbed their peaks – out of respect the climber stopped a few yards before getting to the peak. In Bhutan, they believe it is inappropriate for man to stand on top of a mountain as this invokes negative spirits to descend to earth and claim the souls of their deceased. Polygamy is permitted in Bhutan, but in practice is very rare as the man, in order to support more than one wife needs to be very wealthy. Divorce is also permitted. Once divorced, a woman with a child / children is very unlikely to re-marry as Bhutanese men will not accept her child / children from her previous marriage.

First impressions usually establish your level of expectations for your entire experience – the very clean, relaxed environment in the airport was impressive. And this was a reflection of Bhutanese people generally. People are very polite and courteous and see you as a guest in their country, to which they are there to serve. GNH is a reality – Bhutanese people appear genuinely content. They display a broad cultural and educational diversity with dignity, sweetness and generosity of spirit.

Text and Photos by Ambarish Keenan

Ashrita Furman presented Largest Seesaw of the World

It is 79 feet 2 inches (24.13 m) long and although you find it usually on a playground, it might be not recommended for children to use this record apparatus: the largest see-saw of the world. If you sit on the side that is up, you are 11 feet 7 inches (3.53 m) above the ground. With the giant teeter-totter Ashrita Furman made a new entry into the Guinness Book of Records. On Friday afternoon in the borough Queens of New York City the 55-year-old American health food store manager presented the giant teeter-totter during a birthday anniversary. 83 helpers were needed to carry the wooden construction from two blocks away to the anniversary function. He dedicated the see-saw to Indian born poet, composer and peace visionary Sri Chinmoy, who would have become 79 years on 27 August 2010. Ashrita Furman said: “As an expression of gratitude we celebrate Sri Chinmoy’s 79th birthday with a 79 feet long see-saw, which gives happiness to children small and big. Sri Chinmoy himself was such a childlike, happy person and he inspired me to set records with his weightlifting world records. His philosophy is that through happiness we can have peace.” It took Furman and his team of 15 people 7 days to construct the teeter-totter weighing almost 13,000 pounds (5900 kg) without the stand. The supersized apparatus works like the ones on the playground. “200 guests enjoyed the ride on the see-saw and smiled. I had to smile so much that it even hurt”, Furman, holder of 122 current Guinness World Records, including the record for the most records, said.

Ashrita Furman has been breaking Guinness World Records since 1979. His first entry in the Guinness Book he achieved by completing 27,000 jumping jacks. Since then he has broken 299 records on all seven continents, including racing against a Yak in Mongolia to set the mile sack-racing record, doing underwater Aqua Pogo for 3 hours 40 minutes in the Amazon River in Peru and bouncing the fastest mile on a kangaroo ball along the Great Wall of China. As a teenager Furman got inspired by Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy of self-transcendence. Indian born Sri Chinmoy himself set many records, such as lifting elephants, airplanes and trucks with a calf-raise machine and composing 21,000 songs in his lifetime. Furman attributes his success at breaking records to meditation, which he practices daily for 30 minutes in the morning and in the evening. Meditation helps him keep his childlike spirit and his  mental and physical strength which is needed to continuously set world records. Since Ashrita Furman started 31 years ago, he never stopped setting world records which need a lot of serious preparation or training: “Going beyond your every day capacity is such a fulfilling feeling. The day I break a record I’m just happy the whole day,” he says.

The Guinness Book of Records is published in more than 100 countries and 25 languages and is one of the highest-selling books. About 120 million copies were sold worldwide since it’s first publication in 1955.