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There but for the grace of God, go I.

Hard to beat that quote when it comes to putting things in perspective. Do you agree?

It’s virtually impossible to go through life without being witness to some kind of suffering.

Sometimes, we take the time to realise how lucky we are. Other times, the things we think make us more fortunate are those that stop us being truly grateful and happy.

We become so caught up in our desire to maintain what we have and build on it, that we are caught in a trap of success. It’s a trap that threatens our physical and mental health as it allows stress to be our controller.

Here’s a story that shines the light on where true happiness lies.



This story was written by my son, Brendan, who told you his experiences of running a marathon and about the universal language of music.



“Our office is located in Gujarat which is a state that is located on the West coast of India, just north of Mumbai and we usually spend our whole trip there. However, the first time I went, my boss decided to take me to Mumbai to show me around. We stayed at an amazing hotel… It was a stadium that never got finished so a company bought it and converted it into accommodation. It was like a Colosseum, with the rooms surrounding the centre, and in the centre, there were restaurants and gardens.

We stayed there for two nights and during the day, my boss took me to see the city. There were so many people and the best way I can describe the roads is organised chaos. There are no rules, yet everything still seems to work out ok. Mumbai is smaller in size than Sydney, yet, almost has the same population of the whole of Australia, so you can imagine how the traffic would have been.

On our way to see some of the landmarks, we went through the slums. I was overwhelmed with what I was seeing. It was a huge culture shock…

Then we arrived at a famous hotel called The Taj Mahal Palace. It is a 7-star hotel. I didn’t even realise there was such a thing… We went inside and the floors were so polished that I could literally see my reflection. There was a Loui Vuitton store which only had around six handbags on display and the price tags were out of this world. We sat down in the restaurant and ordered some coffee. Coffee isn’t very popular in India as they prefer tea, so you can only order it at fancy hotels like the one we were in.



Once we had finished our coffee, we left the hotel and that is when I experienced something that has forever changed me as a person. There was a family across the street. A mother, father and their son. They only had enough clothes to cover the important parts and their only possession was a blue tarp which they had set up to provide shelter from the sun and rain. The little boy looked about two or three years old and the father was throwing him up and down and making him laugh. And as the boy laughed, so did the mother and father. They were so happy….


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Then I turned around and could see people rushing in and out of the 7-star hotel that we had just left. They were wearing expensive suits and talking on their smartphones, yet, not one of them looked happy. They all looked stressed and run down. And that was the lightbulb moment! When I realised how lucky I am to have my family and friends and how often I seem to forget this.

I remember that moment as clear as day and often reflect on it if I am feeling stressed about money or possessions.

I love sharing this story with people I meet as it is a good reminder for us to be grateful for what we have. And when times are tough, we should focus on those who mean the most to us.”

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.

Charles Spurgeon.




What strikes me most is how the people coming out of the 7-star hotel did not look happy. They were wearing expensive clothes and using the latest gadgets, yet there was no joy. They were stressed and run down because they were so busy trying to hang onto those things. And to get more. They were caught in the health trap of success.


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I think Brendan was fortunate to be one of the few able to pull himself away from the stress of business long enough to watch that beautiful picture unfold – a picture of two parents absolutely adoring their child. Parents who had nothing and yet everything.

That lightbulb moment means Brendan appreciates, even more, how truly vital real human connection is – without the trappings of success. Without the distractions.

It will be a fallback place when work pressures threaten to put things out of perspective.

The key to avoiding the health trap of success is to be mindfully grateful for what you have and where you are right this minute.

It’s fine to want and to strive for more – recognition, money, authority. Whatever it is that makes you motivated and passionate. Having goals is healthy.

It’s not fine to allow those desires to take over so much that you forget how to enjoy the simplest treasures – those who mean the most to you.

Read Grand Gratitude – How to Keep the Feeling Alive for tips on promoting gratitude in children.

Brendan is Product Manager for Quiddity and has great tips for organisation and efficiency for business owners at

Wishing you success, without the trap, and a gleeful week, Tamuria.



  • This is so true sometimes we actually just have to take a step back and look at what we have and be content with it. We don’t have to be building on it every minute of every day.
    A body and mind need to rest too and it’s ok to ‘just be’ for a while.

  • Yes yes yes!! This is a perfect message everyday of the year. Happiness happens in the moments. I’m a huge proponent of gratitude and believe being in a state of gratitude helps us stay in a happy and joyful space. I’ve experienced many instances like the one your son described and it’s times like this that remind me of how much I have to be thankful for and how happiness is an inside job:) Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

    • So true that gratitude helps us to stay in a happy place, Tandy. When we don’t allow ourselves the time for that, because we are always striving for more, we deny ourselves that joy.

  • I’m reminded of a saying that I first (and often) heard my grandmother sat: “If you don’t have your health, nothing else matters”. So when I read your story about the people exiting the 7-star hotel wearing expensive clothing and possessing the latest gadgets sans joy I thought, what the heck. To me, success without my health would not be defined as success at all. For me, success includes good physical and mental health, healthy relationships, etc.

    • It’s so important to have a balance in order to keep that healthy mind and body, isn’t it Rachel? So many people get caught up in creating more business success that they neglect this aspect of their lives, causing them unnecessary stress and unhappiness.

  • I think right now in the US there is an extreme level of stress and anxiety about our future. Many fear losing what they have when what they have is more than most people. For some, it’s a hard lesson to learn – to be happy in the moment. Thank you for sharing your wonderful son’s story.

    • I think people in countries all over the world are experiencing that stress about the future, Joyce. It’s an unsettled world with an uncertain future which makes it all the more important to appreciate what we have right now.

  • What an inspiring story you shared. It’s amazing how much we feel trapped in our world of success and forget what true happiness really means.

    • I was really inspired by Brendan’s story too, Apolline, and so happy for him that he could appreciate the importance of what he saw and use it as a life lesson to be shared.

  • True happiness is pretty hard to define. Hopefully we’ve all had a little of it recently. Thanks for sharing this.

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