Thursday, Aug 11, 2022
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Book Review: A Practical Roadmap For Life

The author explores key issues of happiness and success and lays down ways in which these can be achieved while dealing with the everyday challenges of life.

A practical roadmap for life.
A practical roadmap for life. Shutterstock

The Happiness Trail: A Road Map to Success
by Ramesh Venkateswaran  
Price: ₹ 299.00  
Published by: HarperCollins India  


We live in a fast-paced and highly competitive world. The last few years have seen changes not witnessed in centuries. Have all these developments increased our sense of well-being? Data seems to suggest otherwise! Stop and think about your life on a regular basis. Practicing thankfulness by pressing the stop button is one method to make it a habit in your life.  

The Happiness Trail shows us an attainable, contextual way to achieve two seemingly complementary goals—happiness and success—that many a time, we discover to be contradictory. Author Ramesh Venkateswaran collects this wisdom and puts it in context of our modern times.  

He observes that people frequently gain achievement at the cost of inner pleasure. It’s almost as if they are antithetical to each other. We regularly find ourselves on a hedonic treadmill, in which we experience a small period of happiness after achieving success, only to return to the never-ending chase. According to studies, material wealth and achievement do not guarantee happiness.  

Ramesh writes in the book “Happiness is not a natural consequence of success. Happiness will not happen by chance but will only be achieved by design and thought.” The content is rich, and the way of articulation is simply amazing.  

Happiness and success are subjects on which realms of literature have been written and much has been said since ancient times, across all cultures and throughout history. In this book Ramesh lays down five easy-to-follow approaches to a happy and successful life, which he calls the Five I-s: Integrity, Interact, Involve, Imbibe and Impact. Armed with this road map, the ever-elusive happiness seems within reach and success a natural consequence.  

He further writes in the book “I have said it earlier, and at the risk of being repetitive I say it again. I am no way preaching, moralising, or prescribing a formula. I have questioned myself at various points and evaluated my successes and failures, as also those of others known to me and of public figures. I have looked at myself and others and have tried to make sense of things in the context of happiness and the meaning of life. I have put together my experiences, my readings, learning and thinking about these aspects, and have tried to figure out the jigsaw puzzle that many of us are generally trying to solve in life. Over years, the pieces have fallen into place.”  

The author proposes five building blocks for reconciling happiness and success. At first sight, the model seems contrived, following the hackneyed playbook of most books of this ilk. He reinforces his thesis with real-life examples and relevant extracts from deep studies of human psychology. It's elegantly written, frequently intellectual, and extremely useful. While reading every line, you will really feel the author's warmth and zeal, which is reflected in all the mind-blowing quotes he has mentioned all over the book.  

This book not only explores key issues of happiness and success but more importantly deals with challenges in achieving happiness. It presents a compass to navigate through the anxiety and dilemmas that we face in making choices, as also a road map to translate intent into action and achieve happiness.  

With his vast experience as a successful corporate man, a renowned teacher, an able administrator, a head of institutions, a mentor, and a counsellor, Ramesh has demonstrated to us all, particularly the younger generation, how to achieve both happiness and success in today's world, which is characterised by ubiquitous social media in which technology acts as a force multiplier to overwhelm our senses with information and opinion. There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind that his interactions, experience and insights across the spectrum of his professional life hold him in good stead to write about success and happiness.  

Ramesh delicately draws the reader into how one might obtain happiness and what genuinely constitutes success using an easy-going and easily readable approach peppered with personal anecdotes as well as examples from other people's life. With simple and clear sayings, simple charts, examples, and easy-to-absorb images, the book piques one's curiosity. The book also deals with the challenge of translating intent to action, validating the five ‘I’s and contains a short diagrammatic wrap up.  

The book is a thoughtful attempt to address the universal question of whether it is possible to be both successful and happy.  

Is it true that chasing happiness necessitates hedging winning bets? Is it necessary to sacrifice happiness in order to achieve success?  

Whether you are looking at strengthening your relationships, discovering your true potential, understanding how to do well at work or even how you can give back to the world, the author takes us on an unforgettable journey with his precious insights on these areas of life.  

The author's ability to weave together across the sectors and generations makes for a captivating read. There is in today’s day and age, a rush to achieve happiness rather than allow the ‘rush’ of happiness to happen. This, Ramesh explains, is quite different from the ‘rush’ of pleasure. He emphasises that success does not necessarily lead to happiness while the opposite is a universal truism. The author also makes a clear distinction between happiness and success and even between happiness and pleasure.  

The path to happiness, many of us believe, lies in achieving various milestones, goals, and targets that we set for ourselves. Achieving these milestones is a measure of what we would call success. We then assume that by being successful we will achieve our goal of happiness. In short, as mentioned in short, we generally believe that success and happiness go together and that being successful will result in our being happy. The author tries to make us understand that this is more a myth than a reality if not seen from the right perspective. Hence, he suggests understanding this better, let us step back and take a closer look at success and happiness.  

Indeed, this book provides a practical roadmap for life that is signposted for sensitivity and compassion for others as well as ethical behaviour for oneself, irrespective of age. Overall, this is a book that should be kept, read, shared, and passed down. It is something that can be referred to from time to time during one's life. The seemingly distant goals of pleasure and prosperity are certain to be achieved if one merely lives by the principles laid out therein.  

Ramesh has donned many hats over the years. After a successful stint in the corporate world and as a corporate consultant and trainer, he has devoted his time to teaching. He is an adjunct faculty member at his alma mater Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore for close to three decades. He has also headed The Lawrence School Lovedale, Nilgiris and SDM Institute for Management Development Development, Mysuru. He is also co-founder, chairman and volunteer at Vishwas, Society for Mental Health, Bengaluru, an NGO that offers free counselling to people in emotional stress. 

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