October 16, 2021


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How to live & die: Khushwant Singh’s 10 rules

3 min read

I’ve lived a reasonably contented life. I’ve often thought about what it is that makes people happy—what one has to do in order to achieve happiness.

1. First and foremost is good health. If you do not enjoy good health, you can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct something from your happiness.

2. Second, a healthy bank balance. It need not run into crores, but it should be enough to provide for comforts, and there should be something to spare for recreation—eating out, going to the movies, travel and holidays in the hills or by the sea. Shortage of money can be demoralising. Living on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one in one’s own eyes.

3. Third, your own home. Rented places can never give you the comfort or security of a home that is yours for keeps. If it has garden space, all the better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them grow and blossom, and cultivate a sense of kinship with them.

4. Fourth, an understanding companion, be it your spouse or a friend. If you have too many misunderstandings, it robs you of your peace of mind. It is better to be divorced than to be quarrelling all the time.

5. Fifth, stop envying those who have done better than you in life—risen higher, made more money, or earned more fame. Envy can be corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others.

6. Sixth, do not allow people to descend on you for gup-shup. By the time you get rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their gossip-mongering.

7. Seventh, cultivate a hobby or two that will fulfil you—gardening, reading, writing, painting, playing or listening to music. Going to clubs or parties to get free drinks, or to meet celebrities, is a criminal waste of time. It’s important to concentrate on something that keeps you occupied meaningfully. I have family members and friends who spend their entire day caring for stray dogs, giving them food and medicines. There are others who run mobile clinics, treating sick people and animals free of charge.

8. Eighth, every morning and evening devote 15 minutes to introspection. In the mornings, 10 minutes should be spent in keeping the mind absolutely still, and five listing the things you have to do that day. In the evenings, five minutes should be set aside to keep the mind still and 10 to go over the tasks you had intended to do.

9. Ninth, don’t lose your temper. Try not to be short-tempered, or vengeful. Even when a friend has been rude, just move on.

10. Above all, when the time comes to go, one should go like a man without any regret or grievance against anyone.  Iqbal said it beautifully in a couplet in Persian: “You ask me about the signs of a man of faith? When death comes to him, he has a smile on his lips.”

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(Excerpted from the forthcoming Absolute Khushwant: The Low-Down on Life, Death & Most Things In-Between (Penguin). The book will be launched on August 16.)

39 thoughts on “How to live & die: Khushwant Singh’s 10 rules

  1. Absolutely correct these ten rules discribed by late sardar shiri khushwant singh ji can make one certainly happy.
    This is to live in discipline.
    Ego create disturbance in life.

  2. I agree with Khushwant ji too. One should try to live hard life as it give us strength to fight as and when some trouble comes. Do sheduled activities daily, enjoy life with your companion, do touring as much as u can. But be a active healthy life otherwise nothing is there.

    1. One more thing I wants to add , that is your attitude towards society it must be postiv in all things ., that make you progressive in all respect of life.

  3. The essence of life as described Shri Singh is admirable indeed. If the rules are followed, one can fetch the true meaningful life in living.

  4. I’ve always been a huge fan of Khushwant Singh,and everything that he wrote has a great infence on me.Like everything else I fully agree with these 10 points to happiness.What a genius he was .RIP

  5. The precepts by Khushwantsingji are indeed practically possible.
    How simple and easy to achieve.We need to change our attitude first that we can do it
    Anand Manapure

  6. Yes good message but 4 th one I felt little unnatural because usually rifts are common in any relationships either spouse,wife,or friends. If you are empowered with values,virtues of yourself you can live happily without separation. That what I feel 🙏

  7. I m not agreed with khuswanth singh ji.what he said that is our need and there is no end of needs. He gives very little preference to god.one must know we should prefere more to god while doing our duties. At last/old age, we should least concentration towards relationship and totally devoted towards God.u know what is the aim of river. It originates in mountain and move towards its end in the sea. Same our aim in this life is to get god but we knot in relations. So always try to get god.

  8. Absolutely these rules are the best mantras to live life king size and to enjoy it at the highest level.
    Mental peace is the best thing to have in life.

  9. Ten rules described by khushwant singh are really make ones life peaceful. But at the same time all are not possible many times when you have to depend on others like if spouse is not able to understand your importance and not ready to adjust. Rest is definitely pearls of wisdom.

  10. Each written word is true to how life should actually be lived… I couldn’t agree more. Late Khushwant Singh always made a lot of sense with his worldly views & experiences. He was my favorite writer for sure!

  11. Really a good message from Kushwant Singhji. However it depends on the individuals life to adhere to these principles as also the environment and situations one has to adjust with more responsibilities in the family. But one can follow his lifestyle by sacrificing our time and other social responsibilities.

  12. Absolutely essence of perfect life but one thing more I wants to add in it is “POSTIVE ATTITUDE TOWARDS OTHERS”.We should always be positive in all circumstances of life , It increases our immuity to survive in comfort lifestyle.

  13. All the advisories offered by khushwant singh are so much meaningful to live with joy beyond hard and anxiously stressful atmosphere and to become hardeous for greater growth.

  14. Very well said by Khushwant Singh little to add regarding Yoga &Meditation & your attitude towards others it should be positive always

    1. I agree with the 10 point guidance,given by genius person like s khushwant singh to live & die happy life,I recall a telephone call I made to him just 9 months before his death to ask for a time to meet him, to present him a book written by my wife, his reply was that since he is too old to meet any one,pl send it by post,& acknowledged it with thanks,a great human being .

  15. These are gems recommended by all gurus of the art of living.Undoubtedly, the fulfilment of these points takes a good part of our lives.Having a good health depends to a large extent on hereditary factors.Having our own house takes a lifetime of savings.Still his suggestions are commendable and must be taught from childhood and made cardinal aims of life.

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