A sunflower smiles out at readers from the cover of the book, a welcoming invitation to take a peek at what’s inside The Art Of Happiness by Dr Choong Kwai Fatt.

Five years in the making, this book is filled with expressions and observations about life and suggestions on how to lead a happy one. The 144-page title is a stark departure from the author’s other books on taxation and law, but it is one with a different purpose and a big dream embedded within its pages. Indeed, it is a labour of love for the author, who hopes it will help shed light on ways to achieve happiness in life.

Choong, a tax specialist who served as an academic and tax consultant at Universiti Malaya for 19 years, is currently in private practice. He has written almost 100 books, but The Art Of Happiness is his first book of its kind.

The Art Of Happiness is my first and only book on life, and is written for people who want to be happy. Everyone wishes to be happy but no one knows how. This is the purpose of the book, which draws from my personal experiences and observations.

“I wrote this book from my heart and I wish for people to have faith in life and live life in happiness,” says Choong in an e-mail interview.

He adds that the book provides many provoking thoughts that he hopes will guide readers on choosing to live life within their means and not according to other people’s expectations.

“One needs to be brave and dare to be different,” he comments.

Choong Kwai Fatt, author of The Art of Happiness. Photo: Loh Tah Cheng

Choong Kwai Fatt, author of The Art of Happiness. Photo: Loh Tah Cheng

He says the book is an attempt to share his thoughts on a “pragmatic method to gain happiness”. He sees a need for such guidance in light of his realisation that Malaysia’s education system focuses mainly on imparting knowledge and is geared towards future career success, which is measured by monetary gains and “fails to address and discuss the meaning and purpose of life,” he points out.

When Choong’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, followed by his mother with liver cancer years ago, it struck a chord in him and he was determined to make a change not just in his life but also the lives of others around him.

“Seeing them die made me wonder what is the purpose of life and money. There is this saying, ‘A rich man is rich because he lives poor, but a poor man is poor because he lives rich’. Too many people work hard for their retirement, but many die of work-related stress before reaching retirement! This draws urgent attention to the need to live a balanced life and not one of perpetual planning,” he says.

The Art Of Happiness, though steeped in life principles that will resonate with people from many age groups, is written with the 25- to 35-year-old group in mind.

“It is a great challenge for me to write for young people in this age group, as I am 51 years old now!” says Choong.

But it’s people in this group that would be in the midst of making important decisions about the rest of their lives, and Choong is hoping his book will be a “gift of life” for them.

The Art Of Happiness by Dr Choong Kwai Fatt retails for RM38 at MPH outlets nationwide and Kinokuniya Bookstores at Suria KLCC; you can also order it at kwaifatt.com.

Dr Choong Kwai Fatt will be giving a talk on investing in property at a StarProperty.my forum on Sept 24. Also sharing their expertise at the event are property and financial experts Ishmael Ho and Leo Chong. The talk will take place from 9.30am to 4pm at Hotel Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside, Putrajaya. Attendance is free but requires registration (note that seats are limited). Go to starproperty.my/forum for more information and to register.