Your Life is more precious than your misery

To overcome betrayal, forgive and just wish the other person well. It is not difficult. It is simple.

Think of a situation when you have been let down, back-stabbed and left to feel like trash. It happened sometime surely in your Life. What was your response? Anger. Outrage. How-dare-you?: your mind keeps throbbing with this question. You sulk. You rant. You brood. At the end of it, your Life goes on. So does the other person’s. And what was the outcome of all that struggle? Pure misery for you.

Was all of this avoidable? Yes surely. All you needed to do was to wish the other person well and let that person be. You can also call this forgiveness. The person’s choice to betray you was their own. Why do you have to react to it violently? It is only when you react this way that you encounter misery. If you were to just accept the situation as is, wish that person well, I am not saying you will feel good, but definitely, you will not feel like trash or be miserable.


Know this: YOU WILL BE BETRAYED IN LIFE. Not ONCE, Not TWICE, but ‘n’ number of times! Yet, each time if you wish your detractor, your back-stabber, your betrayer, well, you can be peaceful. Ultimately, it is ONLY your peace that matters. When you are peaceful, Life in your circle of influence will be peaceful. When people see you peaceful they will retract from their positions of designed or happenstance hostility. Being miserable you cannot make the world a better place. Being peaceful you can make YOUR world better. You don’t have to be a martyr to do this. You just have to be human to see value in this proposition. Wish well, forgive and move on. The rest of your Life is more precious than you clinging on to your misery! 
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Choicelessness is a blessing that leads you to bliss!

If you have no choice in Life, it is a good thing. Then you can just be, with what is!
The other day I was delivering a Talk to a group of young managers. I spoke to them about learning to be happy and content while living with whatever circumstances Life has placed you in. The Talk was autobiographical in parts as I shared anecdotes and learnings from my Life to illustrate how I had made the transition from running the rat race and earning-a-living to simply living – accepting whatever Life offered me. One of the managers, in his late 20s, observed that perhaps I had lost the “aggression” in me because of the experiences I had been through in Life. He said: “Maybe because you were left with no more choices, because Life dealt with you ‘unfairly’, you had to accept whatever came your way.”
Interesting point the young man made. What do you do when you don’t have a choice but to accept whatever Life offers you? Simple. You learn to live with what is there, whatever is available, and through this acceptance, you are happy and peaceful. Well, in reality, there are no choices. Our education, our intelligence, makes us believe that we have a choice over what Life offers us, over the way Life deals with us. So we keep on resisting or avoiding the Life which is happening to us. In doing all this, we end up suffering. What causes us misery is not what is but our wish that it wasn’t there in the first place.

Spirituality is not about religion. It is about the flowering of inner awareness in you – the one that tells you that it is what it is. And that you will do well to accept what is. So, over time, and from experience, all of us evolve. Some of us evolve through a crisis. Some of us evolve through resisting, fighting, avoiding and then learning to accept Life. Some of us evolve by understanding the scriptures and applying our learnings to real-Life contexts. Each of us evolves though for sure – at our own pace and time. The evolved person does not ever say no to Life! He or she is never looking for choices. Sadness comes and it is accepted. Tragedy comes and it is accepted. Opportunity comes and it is accepted. A moment to celebrate comes and it is accepted. This person does not impose conditions on Life. And therefore this person is happy and content despite the circumstances he or she is placed in.

It is only by being happy and content with the Life you have that you can anchor in inner peace. And, to that end, having no choice in Life, whatever be the context, is a great blessing. A blessing that leads you to bliss!

Ridding yourself of comparisons and envy

Comparing yourself with others is what ruins your inner peace. Drop all comparisons. You are unique. Just as everyone else is.  
A participant at one of my workshops recently asked me, “How do you not envy someone who has everything that you don’t?”
His question was as profound as it was candid. To compare, and often times, even subconsciously, feel jealous of someone is a normal human quality. But if you are aware, you will find that jealousy does not help in any manner. In fact, it ruins your inner peace. It is only through your awareness that you can drop comparisons and stop feeling jealous of someone!
I remember reading a story. A man was sitting peacefully on a mountain top. He was taking in the scenery. It was a beautiful morning. He had had a very rough time in the past few weeks. So, he had decided to trek up the mountain just to get some quiet time to himself. His girlfriend had deserted him. And he had been heart-broken over that incident. But coming here, up the mountain, had helped him greatly. He must have been sitting there for over four hours. And he did not once think about his ex-girlfriend. He did not feel anger or grief. He was able to see how beautiful Life was – just as it was, despite whatever he was going through. Around noon, a young couple arrived at the mountain top. They were happy to be with each other. The man saw this couple and his thoughts went back to his girlfriend and he started pining for her first. Then he was soon angry with her. And in some time, he was jealous of this other man for being able to have a girlfriend when he did not have one himself! The scenery and nature’s pristine beauty did not matter to him anymore. He was angry with Life. He left the place in a huff.
This story is very relevant. For it helps us understand the sequence of events that lead us to feeling miserable about any situation in Life. When the man was “present” in the moment, when he was taking in the scenery, he had no problems. For several hours he had no problems, no thoughts about his past. But the moment he allowed thoughts of his past, of his ex-girlfriend to creep in, he first started feeling uncomfortable, then angry and finally, miserable. This is the way the mind leads you to misery. When you are in the Now, when you are present in the moment, it is actually the state of no-mind. This is when all you are doing is that you are engaged in whatever is happening. If you are watching a movie, you are “in” it. If you are singing, you “are” the song. If you are reading a book, you “are” the book. There’s no past. There’s no future. There’s just you – in the Now!
The mind comes into play only when your attention wavers. Now awareness cannot stop your attention from wavering. But awareness can help you rein in your mind and bring your focus into the present moment. How do you build a higher level of awareness in you? Simple – by constantly training the mind to not interfere with the present. The mind thrives in debilitating emotions like guilt, grief, anger and worry – in the past or in the future. It is powerless in the present. To be sure, you too can train your mind through daily practices like meditation or mouna (observing silence periods).
So, don’t worry about your tendency to compare yourself with others or feel jealous of them. Those are the effects. Go to what’s causing the effect. Which is the mind. Work on training your mind. The more you train to not let your attention to waver, the more you will be present in the moment. And as long as you are present, no painful past or anxious future, can ever touch you. When you reach this state, through repeated practice, your Life will be blissful. Untouched by the scourge of comparison and envy!

No point in ‘DISLIKING’ anything in Life

A friend lost her close friend. And she shared her grief on facebook as a status message. 15 people ‘liked’ her status in a matter of seconds. People ‘liking’ someone’s grief? Doesn’t it seem odd? But when I thought about it deeply, I saw that facebook for all its quirks teaches us something very spiritual. By not allowing a Dislike button it forces us to (only) Like a status. If you examine the absence of the Dislike feature on facebook closely, you will find that many people end up clicking Like on their friends’ tragic statuses. This has often led to arguments on facebook that people are must rein in their sadistic instincts.
                                                        
But I see this slightly differently. Not so much in the context of a facebook Like, but in the context of Life itself. Even when terrible things happen to us, truly, we don’t have any other option than to accept it – and to move on! Indeed, we may not like the situation. But we have to live with it. So, in effect, we might as well like it. Because if we dislike it – and so wish that the situation did not exist – we are inviting misery into our Life!
The message here is simple: Happiness is wanting what you get! Or liking whatever happens to you – being in total acceptance. You may want to change the situation. No harm with that thinking. But make your plans and attempt the changes while accepting your current reality and while moving forward peacefully, happily. Disliking or hating a situation is not going to make a situation better. To be sure, nor is liking it going to change it immediately. But when you proceed with acceptance and joy, any journey becomes worthwhile – however arduous it may be!

Understand sadness to find bliss



Nobody likes being sad. We all hate it. So, the more we hate it, the more it haunts us. Yet as much as we hate it, we find a strange comfort in being sad.

Face it. It is easier being sad than being happy. Happiness requires a lot of work __ a lot of overcoming is to be done. Whereas sadness comes naturally. Every time something doesn’t go to plan, all you have to do is to be grumpy, feel sad and brood.

You may want to consider a different perspective though: the moment you understand sadness, you will find bliss! It is as simple as it sounds. But getting there, understanding, isn’t easy.

You feel sad when what you want isn’t there. But since sadness isn’t your natural state (in fact, happiness is!), your entire being resists your being sad. The mind feeds on misery. So, it tells you to fight sadness. It selfishly urges to fight for something which isn’t there, which is causing your sadness. The mind wants you to be sad because it needs fodder. It needs you to be sad for it to thrive! Think about it. When you are happy, you are actually mindless. Which is why, when someone is in a state of rapturous delight, we believe he or she has gone crazy, or has ‘lost his or her mind’. True happiness, bliss, is a state of ‘mindlessness’. So, if you are sad, it means your mind is in control. On the contrary, you can be happy only when you are in control of your mind! Understand that you cannot overcome your sadness by fighting it. You can overcome it only by tricking your mind. So, when you are sad, don’t resist it in future. Accept it. Accept the condition which is causing it too. In acceptance, there is no resistance. What you don’t resist, does not persist. So your sadness, through acceptance, transforms into a new, peaceful state of being. That state, simply, is your bliss.

Yesterday, we received a mail from a family friend who had lost her husband to lung cancer barely a week ago. She thanked us all for our prayers and offered to be at a memorial service that some of us were organizing later this week. In her mail, she wrote: “Thank you very much for helping me to keep everyone updated all through his illness and I know it is with great sadness but unanimous relief that he is finally at peace. I am still in limbo! Every morning I decide to ‘tidy up’ some of the things lying around, the nebulizer, all the tubes and masks, medicines boxes, cotton wool….still haven’t succeeded. I see his toothbrush and toothpaste in the bathroom and I feel if I remove it from there it’s like trying to wipe out memories…. so I don’t! I wish words like ‘dust to dust and ashes to ashes’ didn’t represent the finality of death  so accurately….    

This is what acceptance of your sadness is all about. In this friend’s case, it was the death of a companion. In someone else’s case it could be a separation. Or a pink slip. Or, as my daughter shared an inspirational story of her senior at college this morning, the loss of mobility, and a semester, owing to a ghastly accident. Whatever be the causes for our sadness, unless we come to terms with it, both the cause and the effect, we cannot move on, we cannot overcome. But the moment we accept, we will encounter inner peace and be (in) bliss.

As the legendary Sahir Ludhianvi (1921~1980) memorably wrote for Guru Dutt’s all-time classic ‘Pyaasa’ (Thirsty, 1957), in the song, ‘Jaane Woh Kaise Log Thay Jinko…’, “….gham se ab ghabraana kya…gham sau baar mila…” The lyrics mean, “what’s the point in worrying about sadness and sorrow…we keep getting them (again and again) so many hundred times (in Life) in any case…”. Be clear and get this straight! The number of times your expectations will not be met in this lifetime will far outnumber the times they will be. So, theoretically, you will end up being sad, than happy, for much longer in your Life than you can possibly imagine. Do you really want to spend the rest of your Life being sad and sorrowful for circumstances that, well, are beyond your control? Isn’t it, therefore, better you embrace this simple, practical way to bliss?

Make peace with what saddens you today. And through understanding your sadness, find your bliss!

Move on in Life and move into perpetual bliss!


If there’s only one lesson in Life that you want to internalize, then learn to simply move on!

 

Many unwelcome, painful, unexpected things happen to us. Failure. Death. Separation. Job loss. Health crisis. Socked by the impact of such events, we are numbed. Clueless on how to cope with them. It seems almost impossible to continue to live at such times. We sulk, grieve and mourn. But living in sorrow only makes us feel more miserable.

There’s hardly any value in grieving. Yes, of course, grief makes you feel special __ temporarily. Because people will come to you and bemoan your fate alongside you. You feel important, like the star of your own tragedy show. But over time, people have their own lives to catch up with. So, they will disperse. And then your grief will only multiply, keeping your feet nailed to the ground. The best way to deal with the unexpected when it happens is to allow yourself to be shocked, allow the first wave of grief to arise, let it soak you in its depressive energy, but quickly, very quickly, DECIDE to move on. This decision is crucial. And it comes from awareness. Remind yourself that you came alone and with nothing. And you have to go alone, again taking nothing with you. So, what’s all the fuss about losing__someone or something? This realization will give your aching heart and mourning soul, a much needed, awakening perspective. You may take a few weeks, or a few months, a year, or maybe longer, but whenever you awaken to the truth that Life goes on, and that you must too move on, you will find that feeling beautiful. It will liberate you instantaneously from the throes of pain, grief and suffering!

Carnatic music lovers, and in fact the entire Indian music fraternity, was shocked when popular Carnatic vocalist Nithyashree Mahadevan, 40, lost her husband less than two months ago. He committed suicide jumping off the Kotturpuram bridge, into the Adyar river, in Chennai. The famous Chennai music season was on and Nithyashree was booked to sing various concerts through most of December 2012.This sudden development shocked everyone and most definitely Nithyashree. The pictures that appeared in the media made everyone’s heart go out to her. They showed a forlorn, distraught Nithyashree and most people, while sympathizing with her, wondered how she would cope. But just this past weekend, Nithyashree was back on the concert circuit. She was singing better than she had ever been. And, most importantly, she was not in grief. She presented a picture of complete acceptance and inner peace. The Times of India carried a picture of her singing at her latest concert. The picture was captioned ‘Like A Song’. Indeed Life’s like a song. It has to be sung, and sung well, no matter what’s going on! What she has done is truly inspiring. She has shown all of us the way that we must continue to live our lives, doing what we love doing, irrespective of what happens to us.

Each of us has a way to feeling joyous, forgetting ourselves, our worries, our problems, our grief, when we engage in doing something. It could be anything. For Nithyashree it is music and so she plunged right back into it. For Chitra Visweswaran, it is dance. For Sachin Tendulkar, it is cricket, which is why he got back to the World Cup schedule in England a few years back, soon after cremating his dad in India. Karambir Kang, the former GM of the Taj Hotel, who lost his wife and two kids to the terror attack on his hotel on 26/11 (2008), immersed himself to rebuilding the hotel and restored it to normalcy within a year of the attack. It’s not always that we have to deal with death. Many kinds of setbacks happen and await us. Irrespective of what happens, after the initial bout of depression, sorrow and grief is gone through, take Life by its horns. Face it. Find something, anything, that you love doing and just do it. Watch your feelings change. Remember, what you feel, you become.

Simply, stop asking why things happen the way they do in Life! Don’t ask why you were born and why death, or for that matter anything, happens? Simply live the Life that’s coming your way. If you don’t like what you see or get, don’t grieve endlessly. Conquer your grief with awareness. Know that the truth about Life is that everything changes over time. And that includes how you meet Life and live it! Learn to move on in Life. You will then move into a state of perpetual bliss!

When’s your bougainvillea moment going to be?


In reality, Life is pretty simple. And there’s beauty in its every moment. 

 

 

However we make it complex by worrying, fearing, grieving and rushing through it __ so we miss the magic in each moment!

 

 

They blushed at me from across the street

Pause. Close your eyes. And feel your breathing. Feel your heart beat. Hear the clock tick. Get up, walk over to your balcony and look out on to the street. Wait for a while and identify the most beautiful thing you see. I just did that. And I saw a burst of bougainvillea blushing at me from across the street. It’s a huge affair. But I had never noticed it until this morning. I am grateful I did. Because it made me come alive.

 

 

We often take many things for granted. Yesterday, my daughter suffered a ligament tear in her left foot, landing badly after attempting a mid-air split during her dance rehearsals. She’s out of action for at least a week and off dancing, which is her Life, for over four weeks. As she limped around, writhing in pain, I realized how ungrateful we are to our feet. Our cars receive more attention than our feet who have been with us longer and continue to serve us without protest, carrying our entire weight!

 

 

The way we behave, and the way we distribute our attention, is so unfair. For every problem we face, we have perhaps a 100 other reasons to celebrate. But our problems receive our biggest attention. Somehow, the fickle human mind loves misery. So, we celebrate our sorrows. Always thinking about what isn’t and feeling woeful about Life. Lamenting is convenient. It requires no effort. The mind can and will go on and on and on telling you that you don’t have this or that. Grief, to us, comes naturally!

Being happy, on the other hand, is hard work. You have to labor to take your mind off fearing and worrying to be happy. It is not that being sad is bad. When things don’t go your way, you will feel sad. But to berate yourself and live in a perpetually sorrowful state is sacrilege. That’s really when gratitude can help. When you are thankful for what you have, what you don’t have loses its relevance. Christopher Reeve (1952-2004), the man who played Superman, before he became a quadriplegic in 1995, after which he was consigned to a wheelchair and had to have a breathing apparatus, had this to say: “Some people are walking around with full use of their bodies and they’re more paralyzed than I am.

Indeed. We are paralyzed by our insecurities, desires and anxieties. As American author Cynthia Ozick says, “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” If only we spent a little time each day, to connect with Life, like my bougainvillea moment of this morning, we will see how simple, and how beautiful, Life really is. So, when’s your bougainvillea moment going to be?