Undivided attention minus judgment delivers love

Stop craving for attention. Start giving full, undivided attention. In this crucial shift in thought and action lies the secret to bliss.
Picture yourself at home. You have done something nice, maybe made a great meal. Your spouse comes in. Throws her belongings on the carpet, rushes into the kitchen, grabs a juice and some cookies, completely oblivious of the entire spread laid out on the kitchen counter. You are wondering why she is so uncaring. You crave for that “Hey, what’s all that for dinner tonight?” conversation. And then when it doesn’t happen, you sulk. You reply in monosyllables and say good night and go to sleep. What happened there? In your craving for attention, you missed out on giving complete undivided attention to your spouse: maybe she was fatigued after a long day at work or maybe she was unwell or maybe she’s too stressed out. How magical would it have been had you started by asking, “Is there something that I can do for you?” or “Would you like to taste your favorite pasta that I have whipped up with pesto sauce?” The same attitude and approach applies in all situations in Life. At a busy airline counter, you blow your top at an agent who has not looked up at you because she’s perhaps been busy, overworked, or is having a relationship crisis. But you craved for a ‘Good morning there, how can I help you?” and since that didn’t happen, you lost your cool. Another instance: In a meeting to discuss the strategy for your company’s new product, you are fourth in line to make a presentation. But because your CEO is applauding the previous presenter, you have lost your focus and are now worried if your work will be celebrated similarly. In your craving for attention, which breeds anxiety, you lose your flow, stumble through your slides and perhaps even evoke a reprimand from your CEO for poor preparation. And you go back home, behaving like that spouse who grabbed the juice and cookies, missing to notice the great meal spread out awaiting your arrival!

You see how one thing leads to another. The solution is to give complete undivided attention to whatever you are doing. Just that one thing. Nothing else must matter. When you do that, systematically, in each moment, you will become one of the greatest listeners in the world, and you will see only beauty, perfection and joy in everything. All the time. When we are craving for attention, we are really being judgmental. “Oh, he doesn’t care!” This really means you wished he cared. “No. I am not wanted here.” This means you are craving to be wanted. Undivided attention minus judgment, minus the craving, delivers love. And where there is uninterrupted love for whatever you are experiencing: a person, an object, a flow, a situation, you will feel bliss. You will be bliss.

Give your attention to what’s more important than to what comforts you

Whatever we give attention to in Life grows.
You and I are who we are because of what we have focused on. If we have dwelt on mundane issues, we will be stuck in the rut. If we have looked at the magic and beauty of Life, we will be surrounded by people, events and scenarios that make us happy. For you to understand how this works, you must know what’s important for you in Life. And you must shift your attention to those things, those pursuits that are really important. When you look at the roads, the unpicked garbage and the street people or when you read the headlines about selfish, corrupt people you will end up being cynical. This cynicism will grow. Making you bitter and angry. Instead, if you focus on the good that people do each day to make your Life possible with a degree of comfort you have chosen, you will find gratitude welling up within you. This gratitude will make you both peaceful and prosperous. If you focus on how it’s possible for your child to go astray in this big, bad world, that feeling of insecurity will chew you up. It will haunt you even in your sleep. Instead if you focus on the joy of having brought a new Life into this world, through you, and allow that goodwill to grow within you, you will see your child as a wholesome individual charting her own path in this world.

In Life, all things you seek and that comfort you are mundane at one level: the money you have, the control you think you have on your circle of influence, the respect you get from society and other such similar stuff. And yet what you have and don’t think of always are the most important at another level: this Life, your family, the ability to touch, see, feel, hear, express….Give your attention to what’s more important than to what comforts you. You will then invite abundance unlimited into your Life!

Allow the Universe’s abundance to drench you

What you don’t have will always torment you. And what you have will always be taken for granted, often forgotten. If you can swap these two patterns of thinking and living, you will be in bliss! Which is, take for granted, and if you will, forget about what you don’t have and instead rejoice over what you do have!

Staying wedded to what you don’t have is staying steeped in scarcity thinking. Celebrating and loving what you have is abundance thinking! Noted author and speaker, Dr.Wayne Dyer, 72, explains it so simply, so powerfully: “Abundance is not something we acquire. Abundance is something we tune into.”

Abundance, despite its glorious potential, is still a poor contender in the cosmic sweepstakes. What hogs most of human attention, most of the time, is the negativity that we ourselves create around us. And from within us. Everything seems to be wrong with the world. Hunger, Disease, Suffering, Terrorism. Everything also seems to be wrong with your own world too. You have so many problems that an immediate shortlist is, well, impossible! It is always a long litany of woes! Then there’s your view of the world. Where you imagine that someone is better off, happier, wealthier than you are. So, that comparison unleashes a whole set of new problems __ both perceptional and real! With so much negativity, how can one tune into abundance?

Yesterday, my wife and I had to walk through a crowded, noisy street __ full of people, vehicles, hawkers and litter! We had just finished a rather exacting day__having had to examine a fully blown, 70mm, version of our Life and our immediate, attendant problems. By the evening we were exhausted, battered and bruised. But the busy street necessitated deft negotiations with its other occupants to create enough room for both of us to walk. At one point, I realized, my wife was holding my hand. It was a beautiful moment of discovery. It was energizing. I realized how blessed I was, in these times, to have a companion that, literally, was willing to walk hand in hand with me. I was drenched in the abundance of that moment, in the beauty of that realization! All my problems seemed momentarily insignificant. What mattered was the joy of knowing how blessed my Life is!

Indeed, to be happy, peaceful and blissful we have no other choice but to celebrate the abundance in and around us! And to celebrate abundance, we must align our intention, attention and energy! All of us have the right intentions. Because none of us wakes up planning or wanting to do a bad job. So, from an intention perspective, we are all winners. Each of us wants to do good, be happy and be successful. But where is our attention? Almost all of the time, our attention is not on what we want to do or what we want to become. That is, our attention is NEVER on our intention. Our attention is on what we don’t have, on our wants and on what worries us. So, fundamentally our attention is steeped in scarcity while our intention is to be soaked in abundance. Isn’t it jarring?

That really explains why we are all caught in the world wide web of depression, pain and suffering. Being grateful for the blessings and abundance in your Life is a sure way of driving out depression. None of us forgets to brush our teeth in the mornings. But how many of us remember to be grateful when we wake up for another day to live, another day to love and be loved, another day to serve and be served?

Look at your Life afresh. Look at what you want done in the remainder of your lifetime. Look at what’s AVAILABLE __ than what is MISSING! Discover the abundance in your Life, love it, than brood over what’s scarce, and allow yourself to be drenched by it!

Travel light and you will travel far!

No. This is not a budget airline’s campaign line! But a simple Life philosophy. It is as easy-to-practice a tenet as it is forgettable and so it doesn’t really get used much or championed.

All of us fellow voyagers in Life are traveling with far too much excess baggage than what we really need. There are three forms of excess baggage we saddle our lives with:

  1. Emotional Baggage: Memories pertaining to past hurts, insults, events, experiences. Some of these are heart-wrenching and keep our spirit nailed causing deep anguish, pain and untold suffering.
  2. Physical Baggage: More than 50 % of the stuff that inhabits our homes__furniture to clothes to documents to kitchenware to shoes to display-ware__are the ones we have not used in months and, most often, in years. So, our homes are overloaded with ‘waste’ which can be useful for others when given away
  3. Baggage that never was and that never may well be: This is the baggage of worry and anxiety. Of things and events that you fear will happen to you and because of which you are unable to live free and in the moment

All three forms of excess baggage must be set down to travel in comfort. The second form, the physical baggage, may still be reconcilable. As in, if you have a large living space, you can afford to accumulate, save or hoard the stuff that you don’t always use. But the baggage falling in categories 1 and 3 are just not worth carrying. In a way, Life is pretty much like an airline company. You sure do end up paying a heavy price for traveling with heavy, excess baggage! In a Life context, that price is the inability to live in and experience the magic of the present moment, of the NOW!

I learned the value of traveling light and traveling smart from experience. I used to, about two decades ago, work for a boss who was very good to me. He gave me a lot of room to do my work. And gave me additional support and resources to get my work done. For instance, he would allow me plane travel when others in my rank were not allowed. He approved my use of limos for local transport when others were asked to use public transport. He allowed me a business entertainment allowance which was not allowed for anyone else in the company but him. I believed he was justly supporting me because I was the best performer on the team, achieving, and often exceeding, every single target I was given. To be sure, I never misused or abused my position. I only employed the extra resources available to me to deliver unprecedented results month on month! Then, something must have happened either at a leadership level or at an audit level__of which I was not aware. One fine morning, my boss called me and asked me to explain the use of limos in Mumbai when the city has so many ‘cool cabs’ (air-conditioned public taxis). I said I have been using these limos for over 18 months now and I did not see why the question was being raised now. My boss, not always known for his good temper, said I had no business asking those questions. He placed a couple of my expense claims in front of me, marked several bills in red ink rejecting my claims and said all additional out-of-rank perks to me were being withdrawn with immediate effect. I was aghast. The way he came across to me, I felt, he was questioning my integrity. I walked back to my desk and sent him a detailed note justifying my claims, attached my resignation letter to my note and left the office immediately. He tried to reach me a few times on my home number (in those days, we didn’t have email or cell phones so widely available as now) but I refused to take his calls. For years after this episode, and my abrupt departure from that job, every time I met a former colleague or any reference to this former boss came up, I would be abrasive and abusive about him. I would call him a thankless opportunist, who used me, and dumped me ‘when his job was over’. I would say, brazenly, and with conceit, that I built the company up and upon my departure, things came crashing down. Each time I launched into such a tirade, I discovered I would be filled with negativity which would last for days. The memory of that unceremonious episode__the avoidable question on my integrity and my hasty, acrimonious exit__caused me great pain and suffering, each time it surfaced.

Years went by. And then, one fine day, while traveling to Boston, MA, (USA) I bumped into this former boss of mine at a book store in Harvard Square. We both found looking into each other’s eyes in a matter of a few seconds. Had I had an opportunity, I would have preferred not to talk to him. Because even in the first few nano-seconds of our encounter, the meeting of our eyes, I could feel the negativity in me for him rise violently. He spoke first.

Him: “Hey AVIS! Wonderful to see you man! Where have you been?”. So saying, he looked at his wife, who was with him, and introduced me to her. He said, “AVIS is the best professional I have worked with. He’s ethical, deadline-driven and extremely target-focused.”

I was surprised. In fact, amazed. I don’t know what got into me. Maybe it was my rage. Pent up over years of carrying the burden of the memory of that awful episode. Maybe it was my immaturity. Whatever it was, it just led me to discard all norms of dignity and I took on my boss, in full view of his wife, in that chance encounter.

Me: “Ethical? Ha! That would not cut much ice with me. Weren’t you the one that disallowed my claims, citing reasons of my questionable integrity, and withdrew all the perks due to me in just one hasty decision without even asking me to explain or wanting to listen to me?”

Even as his wife looked on, my former boss, perhaps sensing that his immediate leadership of the situation was required, responded calmly to clarify.

Him: “I want you to know there was no question about your integrity. I was under pressure from both the management and the auditors to explain why you alone were being singled out for such ‘special treatment’. My boss had advised me to be ‘perceivably’ fair to everyone on the team so that even a just reward should not be seen as favoritism. So, while disallowing your claims momentarily, I was planning to work on a raise and a grade promotion for you basis your outstanding performance so that I am seen as not having to make policy exceptions every single time. This is what I was calling you about. But you never called back. I let you go because I felt you will learn better from Life than if I tried to reach you and teach you.”

In a momentary flash everything became clear to me. Indeed. I had learned. I had begun to dislike the negativity I carried about him and that episode, for years, that I had now begun to not want to think about it anymore. In my former boss’ clarification, I felt both humbled and sorry. I apologized to him. He hugged me saying it was okay. We stepped into a coffee shop, And over the next couple of hours, I emerged cleansed and peaceful.

Back in my hotel room, that night, I looked out my window at the Charles River, and asked myself:

  • How much negativity and years of boiling over could I have saved if I had not traveled without the baggage of that wasteful memory? It wasn’t at all about who was right or who was wrong or could the whole situation have been handled any better by both me and my former boss. What was gnawing at me was, wasn’t all this burden of carrying this angst, this grudge, imminently avoidable?
  • What a wonderful opportunity to speak up, share, clear the air, resolve and resume, would have been missed if I had not come face-to-face with the man? Given a choice I would have preferred slinking away from the encounter! Couldn’t I have written to him, or called him, in these intervening years, to clear the air? What did I gain with refusing to face him and with carrying this baggage on for so many years?

That night of self-enquiry awakened me to a whole world of inner peace and introduced me to a new way of journeying through Life __ of traveling light! I discovered that there is no value in giving power to the past or arming the future.

Either effort leads to excess baggage that you don’t need. What you need to live is what you have in the now. Ask yourself what past memories are causing an inexplicable heaviness in you? Ask yourself what worries take your mind away from attending to the now? Burn your heaviness away by giving the present all your attention. Make a call, give a hug, simply forgive__do whatever that will bring you into the present. Stop worrying about what will or may happen in the future. Life is here and never in the future, just as it is not in the past! Most important, learn, and keep relearning, to offload all your baggage and travel light. You will then not only travel smart, but travel far too!