Jin Shengtan was a 17th-century Chinese scholar and writer who once found himself stranded with a friend in a temple for 10 days because of a rainstorm. While thus secluded, the pair compiled a list of 33 of the truly happy moments in life. The resulting book was called Chin’s 33 Happy Moments. The wonderful thing about his moments is their lack of piety. Happiness is seen not as a constant state, but as an occasional surprise.
Here is Chin’s 21st happy moment:
A poor scholar comes to borrow money from me, but is shy about mentioning the topic, and so he allows the conversation to drift along on other topics. I see his uncomfortable situation, pull him aside to a place where we are alone and ask him how much he needs. Then I go inside and give him the sum and after having done this, I ask him: “Must you go immediately to settle this matter or can you stay awhile and have a drink with me?” Ah, is this not happiness?