Be ready and willing to go through any situation, experience everything, in Life!
“How do you console yourself when you don’t get what you want; when your Life doesn’t go the way you planned it?” This question came to me yesterday from a lady I met at the Help Yourself to Happiness Talk I delivered at a Rotary Club.
The answer I gave the lady is that you must not try to console yourself. Consolation has an air of mourning, of grief, inherent to it – that you tried for something, you did not get it, so it is ‘okay’! There is no ‘okay’ status that works in Life. The best state to be in is to be unmoved. There is no need to either exult in Life nor is there a need to brood or mourn. You must taste, you must experience, everything in Life – success and failure, victory and defeat, joy and sorrow – and eventually you will realize that they are all imposters. You will discover that neither the state when you are exulting nor the one when you are brooding is permanent. So, don’t credit yourself for creating contexts where you exult at your achievements and don’t discredit yourself just because the context is one where grief is gnawing at you, over what you lost or what you didn’t get. Just learn to be unmoved. If you can be unmoved, then everything, every event, calls for a celebration! Then every moment is a celebration!
The lady urged me to explain my point with an example. I shared this story from my Life that I had also recounted to Vaani on New Year’s eve.
I took my first flight in my Life at the age of 10, in 1977, from New Delhi to Madras. I loved the experience. And resolved that I would only fly when I grew up; also I because I find train journeys very boring, very uninspiring. To date, I prefer a flight over a train! My second flight was the one I took at the age of 23, in 1990, from Madras to Bangalore. I was flying on work for India Today magazine and was on an assignment to report on Veerappan, the dreaded sandalwood smuggler. It was a big moment for a young, ambitious lad – flying on company expense. I saved the Indian Airlines (now called Air India) boarding passes of both my onward and return journeys from that trip. I reckoned that when I became ‘very famous, very rich, very successful’ I would display these boarding passing proudly in my office or home, as a trophy of where my ‘high Life’ had truly begun. Soon, I was traveling more and most of my trips were by flight too. And I started collecting my boarding passes. I extended my idea of the saved boarding passes to reflect the number of air miles I had logged in all my active Life. For the longest time, I had this vision of me sitting in my private study and bar, smoking a cigar, and having an entire wall done up with boarding passes from all my flights in my Life. Soon the collection grew. I now have a whole mound of boarding passes saved up – I don’t really think I have lost a boarding pass or missed saving one in my Life. At one time I was taking even three or four flights a week, and traveling 21 days each month. So the boarding pass collection really swelled in good time. Within India I was loyal to Jet Airways and was their Platinum Card holder for several years – in all those years, our family of four, always took vacations on free tickets purchased with my miles! My boarding passes collection reflected the Life I led – busy and flying around! For someone who came from a middle-class background, this was exciting stuff, a sign that you had arrived, in style!
And then, as I recounted to Vaani on New Year’s eve, 2016 has turned out to be the year of no flights for me. No flights taken in an entire year. Even in the past decade, owing to our bankruptcy (read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) my flying has shrunk considerably. But I never bargained for a flightless year, that too in what should have been the 28th year of an active, professional Life!
So, that’s my example, a story from my Life, I told the lady, who asked me to explain my point about being unmoved. Surely, I am not citing that I have traveled more than anyone else in the world. In fact, my story showcases how such a personal collection of boarding passes appears so vain now in the wake of Life’s larger design and Purpose. I am not even suggesting that I will not fly again or that I will not have that wall in my private study and bar. All I am saying is that I am no longer impacted by whether I am flying or not. It has ceased to mean anything beyond a data point to me. In the last quarter of a century, I flew a lot, then I flew less and last year, I did not fly at all! Simple!
The essence of intelligent living is that you must experience everything in Life. You must be ready and willing to go through any situation. Don’t ever expect Life to only be a particular way. Recognize that what goes up comes down. And what goes around comes around. Life is always flowing and you must learn to go with Life’s flow. This is the way to be unmoved, to celebrate Life’s every moment, no matter what you are faced with or are going through! This is how I celebrated my flightless year – 2016!
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Just live each day fully, make it memorable!
A manager asked me, after a Help Yourself To Happiness Talk I delivered on Friday, why New Year resolutions are often never followed through. I feel resolutions stop making sense because we attach too much importance to the time of the year than to what we resolve to do. So, when the sheen of the New Year wears away, the resolutions too dissolve, they disappear.
Now, I don’t believe in resolutions around the turn of the calendar year. I feel that New Year as a concept is over-rated, over-marketed and is, in several ways, exaggerated. Yes, I partied hard last night. But I didn’t party because it was New Year’s – I party every day. Some days, I drink and dance. On others, I simply am. I celebrate Life in all its manifestations. So, every day is a party. And each moment is a celebration.
I believe totally in management thinker Noel Tichy’s definition of leadership. He says, “Leadership is the ability to see reality and mobilize the appropriate response!” Now, consider the most evident reality of our Life – it is impermanent, it is a limited-period offer, we are all speeding towards our death and our Life will be over soon. So, what is the most appropriate response that we must bring to the table? We must live fully, not just exist, we must be happy and we must make each day count! This is what personal leadership is all about. Making each day count means doing what we love doing each day, so that the day becomes unputdownable and remains memorable.
Try this simple exercise. Take your age and multiply it with 365. That’s the number of days you have been on this planet. How many of those days do you remember? How many have been memorable? How many have been unputdownable? If you have started counting, you have lost the game of Life! Because the idea of this lifetime being handed to you as a gift is for you to enjoy living, to celebrate yourself, to be happy. It is not to merely earn a living and suffer just because you have problems in your Life.
Clearly, you can’t undo the past. But from today on, from this very moment, you can resolve to make each day count. Go on, just do that! And watch how the rest of your Life is filled with ‘Happyness’ every single day!
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