Guest AuthorPrabodh Sirur

Do you see any crazier way of showing gratitude?

By | Prabodh Sirur | In search of Postitive Intranets at In search of Positive Intranets

Many of you may have gone through situations where you wanted to repay someone who is not ready to accept the money. Here is an opportunity to be creative. You would ultimately find that you paid much more than the intrinsic value of the debt. My story about my offbeat way of repaying a gratitude will help you. The whole exercise sent me on the path of understanding ‘happiness’.


One of my CEOs was a foodie. He loved to feed his friends and colleagues.

His way of showing affection was through food. I remember, with fondness, that he once drove me some ten miles from office just to feed me mango ice cream to celebrate my fifteenth work anniversary. I also remember he once brought an exotic iceberg lettuce when returning from one of his international travels for a foodie colleague of mine. He always remembered who liked what and made it a point to buy things whenever he travelled. He would invite us to his residence once in a while and fill us to the brim with some unique cuisine he cooked.

He would often take us to some amazing food places; we learnt to appreciate cuisines from all continents (except probably the Arctics) thanks to him.

I have a complaint though – he missed out feeding us Muktuk, an Eskimo dish made of whale skin and blabber!!

Photo credit – Wikipedia

He would take great efforts to create gastronomical adventures for us. It was his way to connect with us, maybe his way of observing the team dynamics/relationships within teams, maybe his way of bringing his people closer/breaking silos.

I hade a difficulty. He did not allow us to pay in restaurants. He would quote some company rule that only the senior should pay, even when he was paying from his pocket. I had to find a way out to repay.


Here’s how my train of thoughts travelled –

I have to pay –>

He must have spent about 30,000 rupees on me over the last few years –>

Huge sum –>

But I am not allowed to pay –>

Can I do charity of 30,000 rupees? –>

Maybe not; charity is an obvious answer –>

Is there any other way? –>

Can I buy him a gift? –>

He may not accept –>

What else can I do? –>

What is food? –>

Food is an input to a body –>

Food is happiness –>

Knowledge is food for the brain –>

Acquiring knowledge also gives happiness –>

So both food and knowledge are happiness –>

But what is happiness? –>

YES –>

Let me study what happiness is –>

But how am I repaying by studying about happiness? –>

Back to square one –>

Don’t know the answer –>

Time will tell –>

Action – Study ‘happiness’ first. Then think about how to repay.


So I started looking for something relevant. I came across a course called The art and science of happiness run by MIT. I bought all the books recommended for the course using the money I had kept aside for my hospitable CEO. I started reading those books and started summarising.

Then an opportunity came to me to share this knowledge. I was in IIM Ahmedabad to meet Dr Anil Gupta. One of his honeybee network volunteers arranged my session in his college. I spoke to the students about the different ways they could pursue happiness in their career. This experience opened up many occasions where I conducted workshops on the topic of the art and science of happiness. What’s more, this study gave me huge material for my new book that I am working on.

Won’t you agree that I more-than-repaid my CEO? Really, our workplace is a great place where we can generate huge possibilities.

You will ask me, “What did your CEO get out of your bizarre repayment model? Instead of paying him, you used the money to pay the authors.” Valid question; would some of you like to help me answer? In the meantime, I will contact the CEO and ask him.


The essence of what I studied as part of repaying my gratitude –

  1. Happiness can be manufactured by us irrespective of our status and condition (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
  2. It needs regular practice to generate happiness (Dalai Lama)
  3. We can survive any level oppression in three conditions – when we are in deep love with someone, when we have an unfinished task about which we are passionate, and when we have a dream to accomplish something larger than life (Viktor Frankl)
  4. 50% the happiness gene is passed down genetically, 10% depends on our external circumstance and remaining 40% on our habits and behaviour towards the level of our commitment to be happy (Sonja Lyubomirsky)
  5. One of the major sources of happiness is seeking the well-being of others
  6. One of the secrets of happiness is having low expectations; just imagine the frustration we have when we visit a mall where we are presented with hundreds of options to choose from; and invariably we come out of the mall dissatisfied with the final decision we made. A typical problem of abundance and the paradox of choice (Barry Schwartz)
  7. We have a choice to lead three types of happy lives – pleasant life, good life or meaningful life (Martin Seligman)

Republished with permission and originally published at Prabodh Sirur’s Linkedin

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