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(Part II) SIFC, From Vision to Reality (Part II) A New Dawn in Pakistan's Agriculture The Crowdsourcing Practices The Last Post: Eulogy of a Hero Securing Tomorrow’s Food: Sustainable Agriculture and Aquaculture in Pakistan The Saindak Copper-Gold Project: A Beacon of Pak-China Friendship and Prosperity Prime Minister of Pakistan, Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and COAS Visit Muzaffarabad CJCSC Calls on Minister of Defense, KSA 7th International PATS Exercise-2024 Held at NCTC, Pabbi CNS Visits Coastal Belt of Sindh and Coastal Areas of Balochistan to Oversee the Conduct of Exercise Seaspark-2024 Keel Laying Ceremony of the Second HANGOR Class Submarine Held at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works Chinese Ambassador Calls on Chief of the Air Staff Pakistan Navy Demonstrates Combat Readiness with Live Missile Firing Exercise in the North Arabian Sea PAF's Jf-17 Thunder Block-III Fighter Jet Participates in World Defense Air Show-2024 A Day of Celebration and Global Solidarity: Pakistan Day Parade 2024 Gaza: A Tragedy Beyond Words Better Late than Never... Escalating Tensions: India's Violations of the Indus Waters Treaty Preserving Pakistan Pakistan Day Parade-2024: A Celebration of National Unity and Strength Demolition of Muslim Properties in India: A Weapon of Choice and State Policy Sustainable Energy Transition: Strategies for Pakistan’s Shift towards Renewable Resources and Energy Efficiency The Impact of Climate Change on Global Health: Building Resilient Health Systems SIFC, From Vision to Reality (Part III) Emerging from the Depths: The Pakistan Army Dedicated to Promoting Tolerance and Diversity: Pakistan Army, in Collaboration with the University of Peshawar, Hosts a Successful Grand Peace Fair Pak-Saudi On Job Training 2024 CJCSC Addresses SCO Military Medical Seminar 2024 on Challenges in Military Medicines Loyalty, Honor, Duty: The Pivotal Role of Pakistan Armed Forces in Upholding Peace and Security From Darkness to Light–One Year On: Contemplating May 9, 2023 to May 9, 2024 Beyond the Smoke and Mirrors Global Perspectives on Content Regulation: Examining Network Enforcement Act and Disinformation Laws The Issue of Palestine: A Historical, Religious, and Humanitarian Perspective Modi’s Guarantee and Hindutva Incorporated Divide and Conquer: The Dangerous Surge of Anti-Muslim Rhetoric in Indian Politics India's Hybrid Warfare in Kashmir India: Where the Price of Protest is Death! 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Realities: Demystifying Pakistan‘s Defense Budget Unresolved Turmoil, The Gaza Conflict and Israel‘s Strategic Quagmire Post Shangri-La Dialogue: Prospects for Regional Security and Stability Optimizing the Benefits of CPEC 2.0 Sagadat Nurmagambetov: An Example of Persistence, Courage, and Selfless Devotion to the Motherland From Digital Resistance to Pro-Palestinian Encampment SIFC: Catalyst for Foreign Investment Driving Pakistan‘s Economic Transformation Charting a Green Future: How SIFC is Leading Pakistan‘s Green Revolution Digital Terrorism: Implications for Pakistan‘s National Security and Policy Tich‘ Cowan – The Fighting Admiral Leepa Valley: Where Nature Meets Patriotism RUMANZA: Transforming Pakistan‘s Golfing Landscape with World-Class Excellence Inside Okara Garrison: Students Witness Pakistan Army‘s Training and Tradition Prime Minister Pays Tribute at Sepoy Haroon William‘s Funeral Service CJCSC Visits Turkiye Chief of Defense Forces Australia Calls on CJCSC COAS Visits the LOC in the Haji Pir Sector Chief of Royal Malaysian Navy Calls on CNS Royal Saudi Naval Forces Delegation Visits Pakistan CAS Visits Command and Staff College Quetta Commander Multan Corps Reviews Troops’ Watermanship Training in Okara Rescue at Sea: Pakistan Navy Saves 8 Iranian Fishermen Amid Vessel Fire
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Dr. Gulfaraz Ahmed

The writer holds a PhD degree from Stanford University, California USA. He is a former Federal Secretary and has been CEO/Chairman of OGDCL and Chairman NEPRA. E-mail: [email protected]

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Hilal English

Oft Forgotten Secrets of Happier Living

May 2020

Passing through a very interesting time of the year during the month of March one starts seeing signs of the approaching spring. The deciduous trees having earlier shed the leaves in the autumn season suddenly come back into life with buds and blossoms. It appears that the trees yearly rejuvenate with a new vigor and vitality! This gives one a fantasy if the humans too could renew and rejuvenate their health and lives every spring season. One wishes that the human biologists one day are able to tinker with the genome and activate the spring time rejuvenation like the trees by jumping the tree genes. While the activation of annual rejuvenation gene may remain a fantasy, the mind is powerful enough to find its own ways of living healthier and happier. Good health and sound mind often provide the twin pillars for happier living. It is unrealistic to expect pain-free life. Pain is as essential a state as happiness in the life of human beings. The mind has to be able to manage the moments of pain and melancholy. Management of pain and suffering with a positive mind creates the conditions for happiness. Sedentary body and melancholic mind are antithetical to happier living. Boredom is antithetical to regularity and happiness. Boredom results from falling out of active living vocationally, socially as well as personally. Engaging hobbies carried and built through the old age is a proven recipe for happiness and longevity. In this respect networking creates group dynamics that provide motivation even in low moments. The elderly people find it therapeutic to break the day with a nap howsoever short in the afternoon to reset the later day’s bearings.

My alma mater, Stanford University, conducted a global research studying major cultural entities round the globe in 1980s to determine whether people above the age of 65 needed muscle strengthening exercises to stay healthier and happier. The results after 2 years of the research appeared astonishing: medium and old age fragility and frailty result from under-use rather than over-use of the body, especially the muscles. Quite surprised by the findings they extended the same study for people of age 75 and 2 years down the time, the results surprisingly reinforced the earlier finding. It was a natural progression for Stanford to extend the research to 85 years young. I am not aware of the results of the third study but these are bound to be the same. We often start feeling soft in the mind and start checking the use of the body that results in its weakening prematurely. People often circulate guidelines for the elderly in the social media like sitting down while wearing the trousers for fear of losing balance and stumbling. This is a typical manifestation of the people giving up the physical activity leading to weakness of joints and muscles and loss of stability. But once lost the physical stability and related flexibility can be regained and maintained for healthier and happier living over longer spans of life.

I cannot forget a program I saw on US Public TV in 1980s. They had invited 5 persons, two men and three women, between the ages of 103 and 105 for a talk show. The anchor tried to extract the secrets of their healthier living. It was very apparent from their dispositions that these people were very cheerful, contented, interesting and fully engaged with life. The two women at 105 addressed the men at 103 as these young men. Their show revealed that there were some common secrets of their happiness. The first and the foremost was that they were continuing to live as fully and vibrantly as they may have been doing since the retirement age of 60. These centurions had though retired from the vocational life and had only changed the mode and manner of their engagement. Each one of them had a very engaging hobby and never had a dull or empty moment. They themselves chose and cooked their food as they liked. This practice alone had created a useful time-filling routine in the advancing years. We have an example closer to home, the people of Hunza Valley have long been known for longevity and happiness. The factors behind their long age-spans are also their healthier and happier living. They have to keep their body and muscles strong and toned as the very act of living entails climbing up and down the slopes all the time. They have a local culture built around music, social activities and community dynamics and they continue to remain a vibrant part of their community socials.


Retirement from jobs should not mean retirement from life. Regularity of habits and routine are elixirs of happier life.  I know a number of elderly people fully involved with charities, environment preservation and activities related to deprived children’s education. One should jealously guard some time set aside for leisure and relaxation, socializing with friends and colleagues, partaking in children games, sports and activities.


One common consequence of our physical withdrawal from active living is weakening of the heart and the beginning of the cardiac ailments. Heart is a muscle; this is the only vital organ in the human body that has a muscular form and structure. The muscles stay strong and healthy as long as these are regularly oxygenated. The process of oxygenation works when the oxygen we inhale enters the bloodstream and some of it goes straight to the muscles and the remaining is stored by a compound called myoglobin. Even when we are not working out the myoglobin is used to break down glucose and turn it into a fuel called adenosine triphosphate for fueling the muscles later. Our muscles work harder while exercising which creates an increased demand for oxygen. As a result our breathing becomes heavier and our heart rate increases in order to pull more oxygen into the bloodstream. This strengthens the heart as well as the muscles being exercised which is fundamental to happier living.

Engagement in life means that you share in pastimes, common experiences and listen and learn all the time. When one starts to slip from staying abreast with contemporary happenings it results in a withdrawal that detracts from healthier and happier living. Growing up, people should learn from the children around them. The young ones have no free moment because it is essential for them to stay engaged to learn to grow up. The children are often happier as they extract happiness from whatever is at hand. It is in this context that we say child is the father of man. In our society there is a division of physical engagement between men and women. Men traditionally relate to vocations, jobs, and outside chores while women in making and running the homes. The men on retirement could become sedentary but women stay engaged in household chores or their supervision far longer. The women are known for talkative habits which essentially is the sign of their continued engagement in life. Men have to find engaging activities after retirement. Retirement from jobs should not mean retirement from life. Regularity of habits and routine are elixirs of happier life.  I know a number of elderly people fully involved with charities, environment preservation and activities related to deprived children’s education. One should jealously guard some time set aside for leisure and relaxation, socializing with friends and colleagues, partaking in children games, sports and activities. It may also be therapeutic for men to set up their work desks at home even if makeshift, stealing some time out for flights of imaginations.  Proverbially, a book is the best companion and it still is relevant in the age of electronic media. It is also very useful to have some workout and exercising faculties in the form of personal gyms. It is also pleasant to have some time and opportunity to just laze around by doing nothing meaningful. I have seen remarkable compassion and engagement by local groups of the elderly people developed around the neighborhood mosques. These groups are active in charitable activities reaching out to the needy of the locale.


Generosity is a true secret of happiness; it is also a religious virtue. Anything that is given away is never lost. It is believed in most cultures that generous people live happier and longer. Generosity could take as many forms as one’s abilities. The easiest form of generosity is material but often more meaningful is of time and thought.  


Generosity is a true secret of happiness; it is also a religious virtue. Anything that is given away is never lost. It is believed in most cultures that generous people live happier and longer. Generosity could take as many forms as one’s abilities. The easiest form of generosity is material but often more meaningful is of time and thought.  

Gardening is a universally acknowledged hobby. As the plants grow and blossom it keeps the excitement going. Rooftop plantation of herbs, vegetables and flowers is a great option for those with the problem of accessible space. Social gardening groups that may exchange experiences and their produce are very therapeutic for excitement in life. Never a dull moment is the way of the avid gardeners. It is also a great way to group dynamics and socials.

One should particularly watch out for tendency of dropping out of social activity. It is the starting point of aloofness, boredom and deprivation. Experts say that if you see a group of elderlies chatting together those who talk the most are likely to outlive those who are quieter. Conversing spurs the neural synapses and keeps the brain healthy serving as a therapy against amnesia or Alzheimer’s etc. Similarly, it is important that one is able to walk briskly and upright. Brisk walking also provides a measure of life span for the elderly. It is important to know that there are numerous physical stability and flexibility exercises which might not be able to bring the youth back but can certainly cover the age-related setbacks. Music serves as a soul of life. It is therapeutic at all ages and covers moments of inactivity.

There are some experience-based guidelines offered by the related professionals. Any physical activity performed at any speed or intensity is always beneficial. For cardiovascular benefit it has to be performed in aerobic range with over 120 heart beats per minute for at least 20 minutes in one stretch. Walking brisk for a continuous 40 minutes 5 to 6 times a week at a pace above 120 heart beats a minute reformulates the soft tissues and muscles. Walking at the same pace for 60 minutes daily reformulates the bones, strengthening and revitalizing them. Walking similarly for 90 minutes daily produces the effect of reformulating the genes helping to correct the familial defects. For general upkeep any physical activity at any speed is always beneficial. For cardiovascular health it has to be at or above the aerobic threshold of 120 beats a minute. For athletic conditioning and competitive sports it has to be performed at 200 minus the age in years the heart beats a minute.

Curiosity is a measure of youthfulness no matter what the biological age. It plays an important role in maintaining physical and spiritual vigour in life. It also correlates with health and happiness. Children are a great source of learning curiosity from. One should keep the child in oneself young and vibrant. It draws you out to travel to new places, experience new things, meet more people and share experiences. In the times of sprinting technology curiosity drives you on way to modernity and keeps you at home with new gadgets mushrooming in this age.

For the elderly especially it is important to exercise one’s mind in a rigorous manner. It can be done by doing mathematic or arithmetic exercises. At a minimum are the basic tables of multiplication or division etc. As a general health guide everyone should do a math refresher training after crossing the milestones of 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 years and above. As the elderly population is increasing owing to lengthening life spans the elderly population is continuing to increase. Promoting the physical and mental health of the elderly, especially, of the geriatric would become critical to the economic and general wellbeing of the people of a country.

Smiling face is a happy face and smile is an often forgotten secret of success and happiness in life. Smile on the face reflects the mind at peace and tranquility. It is often a spontaneous and subconscious expression of the mind. However, it can also be a product of conscious gesture in which case the conscious move prompts the mind to ease into harmony. A smile often invokes a response conducive to the smiler. But what is even more important is that when you smile you tune your mind at its higher level of abilities. Smiling leads to happier disposition and consequently healthier living. One can often smile out of a difficult situation for a happier outcome. A smile does not come handy as only a physical gesture; it is a product of a mental orientation. With positive mental orientation one can smile even at the adversities, often influencing the outcome positively.

Eating less leads to healthier living resulting in a happier life. The readers could see a detailed article of mine on eating less and eating better under the same theme of “Some Oft Forgotten Secrets of Happier Living” published in Hilal’s January 2018 issue.


The writer holds a PhD degree from Stanford University, California USA. He is a former Federal Secretary and has been CEO/Chairman of OGDCL and Chairman NEPRA.

E-mail: [email protected]

 

 

Dr. Gulfaraz Ahmed

The writer holds a PhD degree from Stanford University, California USA. He is a former Federal Secretary and has been CEO/Chairman of OGDCL and Chairman NEPRA. E-mail: [email protected]

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