This book will make you happier
The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku
Eddie Jaku was born in Leipzig in 1920. In his own words, he and his family considered themselves ‘Germans first, Germans second and then Jewish.’ But in 1938, as the Nazi regime tightened its grip around Germany, at the age of just eighteen, as a Jew, he was dragged out of his home; beaten bloody and sent into the concentration camps in the fateful night, we today refer to as Kristallnacht or Night of the Broken Glass.
Over the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors every day, first in Buchenwald, then in Auschwitz, then on a Nazi death march. He lost family, friends, his country.
Yet, as he turns 100, he believes himself to be the happiest man on Earth. What was his secret to happiness?
If you are lucky enough to have money and a nice house, you can afford to help those who don’t. This is what life is all about. To share your good fortune. There is more pleasure in giving than in taking, the important things in life – friends, family, kindness – which are far more precious than money. A man is worth more than his bank account. There are many things in this world that no amount of money will buy you, and some things are priceless beyond measure.
“For it is in giving that we receive.” - Saint Francis of Assisi
“Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, but Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” - Master Oogway, Kung-Fu Panda
Their is only one road to get to tomorrow. That road passes through today.
You may encounter success or failure, if you have good morale, if you can hang onto hope, you can do miraculous things. Tomorrow will come. When you’re dead, you’re dead, but where there is life, there is hope. Why not give hope a chance? It costs you nothing.
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill
“At the end of your life you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child or a parent.” - Barbara Bush
All your loved ones, friends and family are mortal. One day they are here, next day they are not. Don’t get to busy making a living that you forget to make a life. Whenever you have to decide between visiting family for an occasion, or working for that one extra hour; do yourself a favor and choose your family.
My last newsletter touched on a similar theme. It was titled, Send roses to loved ones first, think of a reason later.
“Shared sorrow is half sorrow; shared pleasure is double pleasure.” - Swedish Proverb
People don’t share their joys and sorrows with each other out of the fear that people will look down upon them or belittle their achievements, or become jealous of their success or happy that they have the sorrows they do; or even worse not care.
But Eddie advises against it, he says that happiness is best celebrated with friends and sorrow is best forgotten with friends. Such ideas are mainly products of our nihilistic philosophies and don’t lead to anything worthwhile.
In the book, Eddie shares an unique way he wishes people; “May you always have lots of love to share, Lots of good health to spare, And lots of good friends who care.”
Through his memoir, “The Happiest Man on Earth”, Eddie Jaku doesn’t attempt to share his pain and gain sympathy. He attempts to share his hope with a world that needs it the most.
He doesn’t expect you to understand his pain as a Nazi victim, he wants you to understand that despite looking eye to eye with the very evil in humanity, he was able to focus on the brighter aspects.
If he can let go of the trauma of the concentration camps and become The Happiest Man on Earth, is that not possible for all us, who are probably in better conditions than the concentration camps.
Despite my best efforts, I don’t believe that this newsletter covers every learning from this book. If you can afford it, do consider buying this book and reading it for yourself.
This book is a must read for every person who believes their life to be full of difficulties and hurdles, after all what problems do we really face in comparison to Eddie?
Despite all hurdles, Eddie Jaku didn’t retire as soon as he was able. He kept on spreading his message, his learnings and his experiences; even at the age of 100 which was his age when this book was written.
In the end, I’ll leave you with a quote from the book:
Happiness does not fall from the sky; it is in your hands. Happiness comes from inside yourself and from the people you love. And if you are healthy and happy, you are a millionaire.
Thanks for reading,
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