He has cycled down the East Coast of the US in winter and ridden a motorcycle across East Timor; it’s clear that Navin Amarasuriya isn’t one for staying in his comfort zone. This is probably why, despite being one of the fifth-generation owners of BP de Silva Group – perhaps best known as the parent company of local jewellery brand Risis – Amarasuriya has eschewed a cushy job in his family’s company to find his true calling.
“Cultivating wisdom and compassion in the next generation of leaders is something that I hope to contribute to,” he says. It was with this mission in mind that he joined the Contentment Foundation, an education, non-profit organisation based in the US that offers wellbeing training to schools worldwide. “In an age of abundance of information, we are living with a poverty of attention. To me, true luxury is having the time and inclination to train the mind and explore the inner world of feelings. By understanding how we relate to ourselves, we can empathise with those around us.”
Amarasuriya’s mindset today is decidedly different from when he first entered the workforce. “I used to believe that logic and reason should triumph over emotions in decision making. Today, I laugh at how stupid I was,” he admits.
“As David Hume (the renowned Scottish philosopher) put perfectly: “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” Emotions offer a great vein of information that can be mined, and through watching the small space between an event and my response, my work and life have improved dramatically.”