Coping with Life when you don’t get what you want

Life often will not work the way you want it to. In such times, more than any other, it is important to learn to stay detached from the outcomes of your efforts.
A dear friend is going through a grim career crisis. He’s an expert, the tallest professional, in his field. He’s well known and widely respected in the industry. Yet he’s unable to get himself a job. He briefly tried his hand at consulting but things didn’t work out. The few times he did get jobs, in the last five years, he has been unable to retain them. Either he fell out with his bosses or the company he worked for decided to close down his division or there was a downsizing that led to his axing. In the last few months, my friend has been out of job again and is battling depression and negativity – which is stemming from his efforts on the job front drawing a naught every single time.
Anger, frustration, self-doubt, self-pity and depression – all these are by-products of an expectation that if you are hard-working, sincere and ethical, nothing should go wrong with your plans or that every effort of yours should yield the result or outcome that you truly deserve and expect. There’s nothing wrong with this logical expectation. In reality though, Life doesn’t conform to any logic. Fortune or tragedy, success or failure, opportunity or rejection – none of these choose those that they strike! They simply happen. Because Life happens through the medium of time. And each of us, whether we like it or not, whether we accept it or not, whether we believe it or not, is a product of the time we are going through. So, you can be the most talented, most respected person in your chosen field and you can be out of work. You can appear to be the fittest person around but you could be having a grave health challenge. You can be the most understanding, caring and compassionate spouse, and yet your partner could be in another relationship. Simply, there’s no point getting angry with the Life you have. Because your anger or depression can’t change your reality.
This doesn’t mean that you should resign to your fate. Acceptance is different from resignation. In resignation, there’s a certain frustration and depression that is simmering within. In acceptance, there’s peace and equanimity. In acceptance, there’s an opportunity for further action. In resignation, your frustration will hold you hostage. It will keep pushing you down a negative spiral. When you accept your current reality, you will realize that the best thing to do when things are not working out as planned, is to simply make your daily efforts and choose not to get depressed when the results don’t come as expected. This is not a profound perspective. This is a real world, practical point of view. It comes from experience and from knowing that when you don’t get what you want, it doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you. It simply means it not time yet for you to get what you want!

Detachment – the key to Inner Peace

Sometimes, Life will take away what you love and want most – could be people or things. You will find it very, very hard to accept that you don’t have that someone or something anymore. But it is only through a loss that you learn about Life – and its transience.  
On a lighter note….!!!!
Everything that you are I have has been acquired during the course of this lifetime. When you were born you came with nothing. When you die you will go with nothing. Your name, your education, your titles, your fame, your money, your assets, your relationships – everything was got here, on this journey called Life. When your Life ends, you will leave behind everything. This is the way Life is. Yet, if you examine your emotions closely, you will find that all your grief and suffering comes from your attachment to all those very things and people who you will leave behind. It is at one level so evident, so basic. That all that you cling on to cannot go with you. But even then you hold on to all that gives you grief?
There’s an old Persian story. A fakir who was wandering in the desert stopped by at the Amir’s inn. The fakir had nothing but a worn-out flowing garment on him held together by a rope strapped around his waist. The Amir was moved by the fakir’s plight and gave him his best velvet robe as a gift. The fakir accepted the robe, wore it and went away cheerfully. That night the fakir stopped to rest under a tree. He decided to roll up the velvet robe and used it as a pillow. But he could not catch sleep. Every time he closed his eyes, he imagined that bandits were attacking him to take away his robe. He tossed and turned and even sat up for a few hours. But his mind was full of fear of being robbed of his velvet robe. Finally, he took the robe, flung it far away into the darkness, and went to sleep. He slept for the rest of the night like a baby – soundly, peacefully!
The velvet robe is but a metaphor. It symbolizes all that we are attached too. Unless we learn to detach ourselves from everything – absolutely everything, including people – we will never quite experience inner peace.

Make sure you live when you are still alive!

Someone I know told me recently that he found it very difficult to “give up” worldly Life. And so, he concluded, he would never be able to lead his Life with detachment or be able to let go!
I politely reminded him that there really is no need to “give up” anything in order to live! I invited him to understand the true essence of spirituality before he came to his conclusions!
Here’s what (I have learned from Life and) what I shared with him. Spirituality is the flowering of inner awareness. It is the realization that at the end of this lifetime, nothing, not even your experience through this Life that you are living right now, will matter. And through this realization, what is also known as enlightenment, or bliss, you learn to be happy with what you have and lead a Life of contentment and inner peace. Over time, through continuous practice, you cultivate an attitude of detachment. As your awareness grows, so does your ability to live fully, in a “let go” mode!
To be sure, a person who is spiritual, or enlightened, need not abdicate anything. She or he can continue to live in this world, surrounded by all things material, and yet, as the Bhagavad Gita recommends, be above it. As one Zen Master taught his disciples, who wanted to know what enlightenment was: “It is not at all complicated. It only means when hungry, eat. And when tired, sleep!” Most of the time, we complicate our lives by making choices that are clearly avoidable! And then we complain that our lives are meaningless, are not getting us anywhere and that we are unhappy!
Being enlightened does not mean you are more knowledgeable or holier or that you have all the answers. It only means you are more aware – that, often times, in Life, there are no answers. That you simply live the Life that you have been given! Here’s another Zen story to illustrate this point.
The Emperor asked Master Gudo, a renowned Zen Master of his time.
“What happens to a man of enlightenment after death?”
“How should I know?” replied Gudo.
“Because you are a Master,” answered the Emperor.
“Yes Sir, I am” said Gudo, “but not a dead one!!!”
Spirituality clearly is no rocket science. We believe it is because we are trapped in our own small worlds – bogged down by worry, fear, anxiety, grief, anger, hatred and jealousy – and are so caught up in the worldly cycle of earning-a-living, that we have stopped living! Step out and break free from whatever is limiting you. Go live your Life the way you want to. Remember: we live only once – as far as we can believe. Make sure you live when you are still alive!

Detachment is neither impractical nor impossible!


To stay detached is neither impractical nor impossible. 
You have heard of detachment before. You have been advised to stay detached too. Chances are you may have tried it and failed. Even the Bhagavad Gita’s profound teaching __ “Do your Duty while staying Detached from the Outcome”__ often times, while sounding beautiful, seems so, so difficult to internalize and implement. 
Well, it really is not so. 
 
Here’s a ‘Detachment for Dummies’ perspective. You may want to consider it.
First, just give up trying to evaluate every opportunity in Life on the basis of money. Making money is not a bad idea. But recognize that money can only buy things. It can make Life comfortable. But it can’t ever make Life meaningful. 
Second, simplify Life. Give away anything that you have not used in six months except your passport and important documentation! 
Third, every day, forgive three people who come into your life who will not matter three weeks from now. 
Fourth, every now and then, forgive yourself for the poor decisions you took, the sad choices you made and for any of your irreverent and irresponsible actions. 
Finally, understand the impermanency of Life and money. Our biggest tragedy is we love things and use people. We love (and stay attached to) things that money can buy and use people (to make that money)! Flip that paradigm: love people and use things. And when you love people know that they too will be gone, someday, because Life is such __ impermanent! 
Detachment for Dummies
 Really, intelligent living is about doing what you can do best and staying calm, accepting whatever comes your way. Because try as hard as you may, you really can’t stop the course that Life takes. All of our frustration comes because we want to control Life. Nothing can be more absurd. More stupid. It is like trying to squeeze water in your palm! When we can’t control our own lives, how can we control the lives of others in our circle of influence? Yet, we expect people to behave in a manner that we desire, we expect Life to give us what we want and at those times, when neither happens, we bury ourselves in self-vested, ruinous emotions.
Countering this tendency is what detachment is all about. Detachment is not a difficult word nor is it impossible to practice. It simply means:
1. Exercise your right to righteous action and don’t crave for or worry about the outcomes.
2. Own the outcome of whatever you think and do, but don’t get burdened by it.
3. Love people. Forgive people. Let them go when they must!
This way, you may win some, lose some, but you will always be blissful, ever be detached and never be miserable!