That wealth isn’t the path to joy is the realisation that dawned upon Lal Chand at the height of his success. The 58-year-old, who also has operations in London, Cyprus, a restaurant in Hong Kong and a string of businesses in Dubai that range from property, textiles, electronics and software, felt something was amiss in his life despite all the accomplishments.
‘I meet and interact with so many eminent businesspeople and they all tell me about how stressed they are. That got me thinking that if they’re still unhappy, what is the point of wealth?’
That’s when he decided to look inward. The entrepreneur-turned-humanitarian decided to set up LC Well, a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative that aims to spearhead a wellness revolution through an attitude of positivity. Excerpts from an interview:
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in the small village of Bathoro in Sindh, Pakistan into a family of businessmen. I am a civil engineer by profession and ran my own construction and development business, Lal Associates, and moved to Dubai from Karachi in 2001 to expand and grow my business. I started Bathoro General Trading, eventually diversifying into other businesses with the launch LC Biz Ltd in Jafza in 2007.
How did you come about to launch LC Well?
My parents were followers of Sufism and believed in the philosophy of Sufi La Kufi — it meant placing humanity at the forefront. I grew up with that philosophy and it was always in the back of my mind but somewhere along the line making money became a priority — my mother died aged 47 because we didn’t have enough money for her heart surgery and that made me understand the value of money.
Then I discovered positive psychology, which is a relatively new field but encourages the same ideas as Sufism, so I did a course in positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Following that course, deep inside I felt this is the way forward to make the world a better place. I felt I’d made enough money and wanted to give back to the world — to do something for society. So I launched LC Well in 2018 in London and opened up a branch LC Well DMCC in Dubai.
So what does LC Well do?
LC Well is a well-being organisation through which I want to promote the importance of well-being on an individual, community and global level. There are three pillars of LC Well — the first and main part is positive psychology and the science of happiness, subjects on which we conduct lectures online. The second part is mindfulness — we focus on meditation, yoga and neuroscience, conducting free classes in our studio in Jumeirah Lakes Towers. The part aims to reach out to people through positive movements and campaigns, such as the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals 2030 where the third goal is good health and well-being.
Why do you think well-being is such an important concept?
As human beings, we embody tremendous potential for greatness — kindness, empathy, gratitude and forgiveness are all our strengths, yet we are suffering because of various stresses and tensions. I believe we need a well-being revolution, like the agricultural, industrial and technological revolutions, that restructures us to think positively and live our lives in gratitude. I’m currently writing a book on it outlining what the well-being revolution is, how we can achieve it and what its goals and objectives are and hope to release it by December 25. The three mean themes of my book are humanism, positivism and naturalism.
What is the relationship between wellness and happiness?
Happiness isn’t a goal, it’s a way of life. We have a misconception that only achieving certain milestones in life — a degree, that dream job, the perfect life partners — will bring us happiness. The right way to live is to be happy from the very beginning and you’ll see that things automatically fall into place and that will reduce stress ensuring your well-being. We all need to find that one thing that we can find joy in, truly enjoy and keeps us happy. For me it’s promoting and inculcating the concept of well-being in the lives of others. It’s my mission in life.
How has your philosophy of positivity helped you in life?
When I was trading in the Karachi stock market and the recession of 2000 saw a lot of my shares fall, I was worried for a few days about how we’d deal with the losses. But I believed the market would bounce back and so I doubled my investments, which resulted in double the returns. My positivity is the only thing that got me through that difficult phase. Positive vibrations will bring us positive results.
Success and stress seem to go hand-in-hand. How do you manage to stay stress-free but continue to succeed?
At the height of my success in the stock market and my various businesses, I had high cholesterol and diabetes. It was because of stress. Now I wake up at 5am daily and I meditate and do yoga — the result is that I haven’t taken any medication for years now and I won’t ever. I have peace of mind and I stay happy.
What is the leading cause of stress?
There are a lot of belief systems that are stored in our unconscious, negative beliefs such as ‘I can’t succeed in this exam, or I’m going to fail at this business.’ They stress us out. At LC Well, we conduct mindfulness and NLP courses — Neuro Linguistic Programming courses to change this pattern of thinking and rewire the way we think, curing irrational fears and phobias in the process. Our mind is capable of anything but we need to train it to have a ‘can do attitude’. This is the way to relieve stress.
Why free classes and courses?
It’s my way of giving back to the community. There are a lot of workers and expatriates here who live away from their families and lead very stressful lives in the UAE. They work very hard yet they can’t afford these classes that are conducted commercially, so I decided to conduct them for free. Any charges we introduce in the future will be nominal too.
Who are your inspirations?
Martin Seligman, an American psychologist and leading figure in the field of positive psychology is my hero. I’ve done a number of his courses. I also look up to the Dalai Lama and Bill Gates. My wish is that one of these three people will launch my book later this year. My father’s ability to stay cool and calm despite any crises he’d face in business but always finding time and means to contribute to the betterment of society in whatever way he could has also inspired me.
The happiest moments of your life?
The ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, made me an honorary member of parliament in Sindh and in my capacity and a local representative, I contributed money to the development of infrastructure such as roads and welfare institutions such as hospitals. The fact that I could do something to improve the life of my fellow citizens brought me great joy.
Your plans for the future?
I’m 58 years old and people usually retire by 60, but I plan to rewire myself and become more energetic. I work eight hours now, I plan to work for 12 hours then but that time will be dedicated to working towards the well-being of the world. I also plan to open a commercial arm of LC Well — an LC Store, but the profits from the store will be channelled back into LC Well allowing us to provide great services at nominal fees such as environment-friendly buildings where people can meditate. We also plan to register in the International Humanitarian City, which is an independent free zone, so that we are able to make use of the facilities and improve awareness in the fields of well-being.