Short and Sweet: Getting From Here to Happiness


Here is something to think about if you plan to turn over a new leaf in the New Year; try a different road on your search for happiness. It comes from a 1967 interview with the movie director Ingmar Bergman for Swedish TV. He told this brief story in response to a question concerning the extent to which he thought about his potential audience as he wrote and directed his movies:

It seems that some time in the Middle Ages a Chinese wood-carver obtained the assignment of making a stand for the temple bells. He was ambitious and talented, so he set about his work. As he began to carve, his mind turned to the idea of all the money he would make for performing his craft. When he was done, however, the wood-carver realized that the stand he had produced was poor. He therefore began again. His head was soon filled with thoughts of how his completed carving would win him everyone’s love. Unfortunately, the second effort also went badly and he again destroyed his sculpture.

While making a third attempt at the wooden stand, the artisan imagined that the finished product would be so fine as to win him immortality. Furious and frustrated when he again failed to do a good job, the wood-carver started over once more. On this fourth occasion he had only a single thought in his head: making the bell stand; and in so doing, he gained love, money, and immortality.

The photo is a Temple bell of the Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India, taken by Flickr user 3eyedmonsta, sourced from Wikimedia Commons.