A framework to understand quality of life

Trying to analyze the NED which had hit me a few weeks back, and has partially stayed on, I think I’ve come up with a framework (yes I was a management consultant for three months) to try explain how life can get messed up. It’s some kind of a building structure (insert whatever is appropriate here – skyscraper or pyramid or whatever).

The basic concept is that personal life is like the foundation of the building; work life is like the the ground floor and everything else (such as hobbies and extra currics) comes after that (and they can be side by side). Ok so building is a bad analogy. I’ll say tree. Personal life is like the roots of the tree. Professional life is like the trunk and everything else are branches.

Now, if the roots of a tree are weak or diseased, no matter how strong the trunk and branches are, the tree is likely to collapse. Hence, the basic thing required for a decent life is a good personal life. There should be no problems on the domestic front. No breakups, no domestic fights, no bad standard of living, no poverty, etc. On the other hand, an extremely strong root doesn’t help much. It is just that the root needs to be “strong enough” that’s all. So no stable personal life, no happiness.

Next comes the trunk. Again, bad trunk implies tree collapses. Bad professional life can again be a recipe for disaster. If you are working really long hours or you don’t like your work or if there is too much pressure or you are undergoing a phase of no confidence, the “tree” collapses. Strong branches or good fruit just can’t help. Again, it’s not like you need the strongest trunk in the world. All you need is a “good” trunk. And again i’m talking of necessary but not sufficient condition for happiness. So unstable professional life means no happiness!

Now come the branches, which as I described earlier represent hobbies or extra curricular activities. For a start, they are dispensable. A bad branch doesn’t mean the tree will fall. On the other hand, a good flowering branch brings great joy to the tree (assuming a strong root and trunk of course). Given that I consider quizzing as a hobby, if my root and trunk were “at least normal”, qualifying for the finals of the Landmark Quiz would have brought immense happiness. However, doing badly there wouldn’t have affected my life that much. An alternative here is the coconut tree model – in case you have a super strong trunk, you don’t need any branches for happiness. However, considering that palms constitute a small number of all trees can tell us how many jobs out there can provide happiness on their own!

During my NED phase earlier this month, a lot of people advised me to restart old hobbies, or take up new ones. They asked me to quiz more, write more, re-start violin classes, and maybe even learn the guitar. Basic thing was they were asking me to grow more branches. Excellent suggestion, only if the problem is a “just stable root” and “just stable trunk” and no branches. For example, qualifying in the Landmark Quiz was a matter of great pride, and provided lots of kicks. However, the next two days at work were a nightmare! Productivity was near zero! I hope you are getting the drift.

In this context, I think it is pertinent to mention a concept that

has proposed – the “CMP job”. Since bj has stopped blogging, I might as well explain it. CMP, in the hoary traditions of Indian politics, stands for Common Minimum Program. The basic concept is that no single job can provide you everything you want – good work, good pay. good work life balance, blah blah. So what you do is to chart out your minimum requirements, which becomes the “common minimum program” for the job. And find a job which offers all these (they are easier to come by). Now, this just promises stability, and not any spikes. It is like an ordinary tree with a just about stable trunk and no branches. And for the spikes, you will have to grow branches. Take up hobbies and extracurricular activities. And get the spikes out of that, and that will bring happiness.

To summarize, necessary conditions for happiness include a stable personal life and stable professional life. However, they may not be sufficient, and have to be supplemented by hobbies and extra curricular activities. However, there is a possibility that a great professional life could be a sufficient condition for happiness, but that is only in exceptional circumstances.


A proven way of getting out of a no confidence crisis is by bribing people from Jharkhand! Kodhi, if people follow my advice, you can expect to get rich soon.

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