To simplify Life, be aware, be honest

Nothing about your Life is going to change unless it does. Life is what it is. Feeling negative about it is never worth your while.
Someone asked me the other day if it is possible to not feel negative about Life at times. Of course it is possible. Yet, don’t expect negative thoughts not to rise. They will. Such is the nature of thoughts. They will always keep swimming in your mind. But you can develop the ability to recognize and rid yourself of negative emotions as they rear their ugly head. This calls for being both aware and honest.

Be aware first of the futility of negative thinking. Can you solve any problem by brooding over the fact that you don’t have a solution in sight? And is there any point in brooding over a problem that you cannot solve? Even so, negative thinking will insist – and ensure – that you brood. This is where awareness comes into play. It is simple – if you are aware, if you observe your thinking, you will not heed the negative thoughts that will arise in you. And what you don’t heed, what you don’t give attention to, doesn’t grow. Period.
Take self-pity and jealousy for instance. When you compare yourself with others, naturally, you are bound to pine for what you don’t have and feel jealous, often subconsciously, of what someone else has. Neither of these emotions is constructive. Self-pity keeps your feet nailed to the ground and jealousy fills you with negativity. This when you must be brutally honest. Ask yourself: What are you pining for? And who are you jealous of? Continue this train of awareness-based questioning: Is what you are pining for really so critical for your Life? Can you not manage without it? And is feeling jealous of someone going to make you get what you are pining for? These questions can have an awakening effect. You will be amazed at your own ability to realize that these emotions are wasted, unproductive and are shackling you. Out of that ruthless honesty will emerge the simple clarity that you are who you are. Unique. And what you have is all that you have. You will awaken to the reality that pining and brooding is not going to make you, or your situation, any different.


Employ awareness and honesty to simplify your Life. Being positive about Life may not solve your problems. But it will at least make you smile. As a line I often quote, ostensibly from the Guru Granth Sahib, goes: “Taqdeer teri apne aap hi badlegi aye dost; muskurana seekh le, wajah ki talaash na kar!” It means: “Your Life will change when it must, my friend…Learn to smile (in the meantime), without looking for a reason!”
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Relating is the key to thriving at work and in Life

People are people. There are no right people and wrong people. You just either relate to people or you don’t.  
We met an entrepreneur the other day who leads a large organization. He has about 15 people reporting to him. Over the last couple of years that we have known this entrepreneur, he has forever been complaining about the lack of ownership among his leadership team. He is obsessing over how to sack the “laggards” among his direct reports – but, ironically, he hasn’t been able to do anything in that direction. Every time we meet him though, he only keeps complaining, fretting and fuming about his people. In a way, we sense so much negativity emanating from him – it makes me wonder whether he has a problem with his people of if he is the problem?
Contrast this with what Suresh Krishna, the CMD of Sundram Fasteners, shared with me when I met him recently for my Sunday Blog Series – “The Happiness Road”: “There are no right or wrong people. There are just people. And you have to take them along. This ability to take everyone along is what leadership is all about!”
I totally agree with Krishna. Seriously, whether it is in business, at work, or in family, don’t obsess over people and their behaviors. There are no right or wrong people. Everybody is right in their own way. In fact people do whatever they do because they believe what they are doing is right from where they are seeing it. To be sure, even you – or I – do things only from that perspective. So, there is no point in vexing over people like our entrepreneur-friend has been doing. You either relate to someone or you don’t. And people either relate to you or they don’t. And it is only when two people continue to relate to each other that they (can) work with or live with each other. It is, really, as simple as that.
I have learnt to employ a simple thumb-rule: no matter who they are, anyone who I cannot relate to, does not form part of my ecosystem. Whether it is a co-worker, a family-member, a school-mate, a neighbor or vendor, the day I have stopped relating to a person, I just let them go. This is my way of preserving and nurturing positive energy – and inner peace – in me.

When you agonize over people’s behavior, and your unmet expectations of them, you are filling yourself with a lot of anxiety, stress and, possibly, negative energy. This negativity festers in you and makes you inefficient, irate and, believe me, very, very unhappy. The only way to fix this situation is to drop all expectations you have of people, and to simply walk away – or let them go – if you have stopped relating to them. The key to thrive, at work and in Life, is to keep relating, than obsess over the reporting or the relationship itself! 

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!

Be aware and choose your battles wisely

You can find peace in Life by doing the opposite of what’s expected of you, by people around you, in any challenging situation.
If someone betrays your trust, keep trusting. If someone breaks your heart, keep loving. If someone insults you, forgive. If someone suppresses you, stifles you, give more of yourself to that person. This does not mean that you are subjecting yourself to being a doormat. This is what rising in humanity really means. This is keeping Life at what it is__keeping it human. It means being aware and choosing to be who you are – no matter what the insinuation against you is, no matter what you are told.
I am dealing with someone with whom I have never had any great chemistry. For some time, we seem to have had a truce of sorts – a working relationship where we cautiously communicated with each other. Yesterday, that truce fell apart. I was expected to show up for a showdown – which is what I would have done just a few years ago! But I chose not to fight this time. Not to enter into a war of words. Not to justify or prove a point. I have simply chosen to be silent – to have nothing more to say. Because all that had to be said has been told. And I realize that I will never be understood ever. So, why waste precious time and energy? Why soak in the negativity, which is really what this person embodies?
At the core of our creation, we are all pure. The negativity that surrounds us is but a veil, a veneer, which has been accumulated over years of experiences, most of them that did not meet our expectations from Life. The reason we are suffering in and with almost everything __ relationships, jobs, parenting, with our health, with our money __ is because we are trapped beneath those layers of negativity. Like we peel an onion, we must peel off the layers. The betrayed person is not you. The betrayal was just an experience. You are pure and still trusting. The hating person is not you. The hating was just an experience that occurred in a situation. You are loving at your core. The insult is not you. The insult was just a word, thrown at you, and, surely, it didn’t stick. You can remain untainted, blemishless, just the way you were when you were born, if you choose your battles wisely! Sometime, sooner than later, you will realize that being at peace with yourself while giving up wanting to be seen as right is simpler and better than winning against someone by proving them wrong!
Be aware of all the negativity around and choose wisely. To remain unmoved, unaffected, by anyone or anything, by Life, is bliss.

No amount of negative thinking can change your Life

Nothing about your Life is going to change unless it does. Life is what it is. Feeling negative about is not intelligence.
At the same time, don’t expect negative thoughts not to rise. They will. Such is the nature of thoughts. They will always keep swimming in your mind. But you can develop the ability to recognize and rid yourself of negative emotions as they rear their ugly head. This calls for being both aware and honest.
For instance, take self-pity and jealousy. When you compare yourself with others, naturally, you are bound to pine for what you don’t have and feel jealous, often subconsciously, of what someone else has. Neither of these emotions is constructive. Self-pity keeps your feet nailed to the ground and jealousy fills you with negativity. Being honest with yourself is a good beginning. Ask yourself: What are you pining for? And who are you jealous of? Continue this train of awareness-based questioning: Is what you are pining for really so critical for your Life? Can you not manage without it? And is feeling jealous of someone going to make you get what you are pining for? These questions can have a eureka effect on your thinking. You will be amazed at your own ability to realize that these emotions are wasted, unproductive and are shackling you. Out of that ruthless honesty will emerge the simple clarity that you are who you are. Unique. And what you have is all that you have. You will awaken to the reality that pining and lusting is not going to make you, or your situation, any different.
Bob Marley, (1945~1981) the famous Jamaican reggae singer, said it so beautifully, “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So, when you are riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!”

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!


To rid yourself of your negativity, go to the source within!


Learning to deal with emotions you don’t want in you, requires a deeper understanding of yourself. You are the source of all your joy, your miseries, your habits and your overall attitude to Life.

Fundamentally, no one wants to be angry or sad, worrisome or anxious, fearful or complaining. Ask anyone and you will be told that all they want is to be happy. Yet why do the other emotions come into play?

The simplest way to understand this is to know yourself. Let’s say someone did something nasty to you. Broke your trust, or cheated you or conspired against you. Then your entire system erupts in response and emotions like anger and hatred come to the fore. “How dare you?” and “Let me teach you a lesson!” are the manifestations of these emotions. And you project your anger or hatred on that person or on that object. That is really of no use. Because while that person will perish, at times, unable to bear your shower of negativity, the source also gets scarred. And the source is you. So, if you want to check your emotions, go to the source. This happens also when you are sad. Someone dies. And you feel sad. You feel infinitely sad for days, weeks, months. The person who died is no longer there, the object of your grief is absent. But you keep on projecting your emotion on your memories. These emotional projections are like cinematic projections. They are magnified and become larger that you! They rule you, possess you only because you allow them to. For them to become inconsequential, you must go to the source. And that source is within you, not in the object that you project your emotions on. So, if you want to get rid of your anger or sorrow or fears or anxiety, stop focusing on what triggered it and focus inside you, on what’s continuing to cause it! You will need to turn off the projector if you want to stop the projection!

We are doing this projection business all the time. With a variety of emotions. In India people go to the beach for various reasons early in the morning. A jogger sees the rising sun in the Bay of Bengal and feels refreshed and energized. A child sees it and is excited about wanting to make sand castles. A man sprinkling the ashes of his dear father who he has just died the previous evening, wonders sadly, fearfully, anxiously, how the first day of his Life without his father will be. A lady looks at the sun and later at the sea, which appears surreptitiously calm, fearfully and angrily wondering how it will react the next moment – because that has been her experience with the tsunami of 2004 when she lost her entire family! The fact is that the sun and the sea are the same. It is the same sun and sea that people are seeing. But each one’s projection is different.

So the hatred, the sorrow, the fear, the worrying about that comes out on to objects that are causing you to behave that way are actually a reflection of how you are at the source. Some part of you dies each time you express yourself with any of these negative, debilitating emotions.

That’s why in Buddhism, everyone is encouraged to be a Buddha. And a Buddha is about compassion. In being unmoved by what’s coming at him or her, the Buddha projects compassion, because she or he is compassionate at the core. To reach that state, we only have one way, to understand who we are. We are all centers of love. If we bail out all the negativity in us, what will be left is love. Become that center of love, and you will be unmoved. In fact, you will attract everyone in the Universe, just as a magnet does.

Osho, the Master, often shared this marvelous Zen story: “One of the greatest of Zen Masters, Lin Chi, used to say, “While I was young I was very fascinated by boating. I had one small boat, and I would go on the lake alone. For hours together I would remain there.” Once it happened that with closed eyes I was in my boat meditating on the beautiful night. One empty boat came floating downstream and struck my boat. My eyes were closed, so I thought, ‘Someone is here with his boat, and he has struck my boat.’ Anger arose. I opened my eyes and I was just going to say something to that man in anger, then I realized that the boat was empty. Then there was no way to move. To whom could I express the anger? The boat was empty. It was just floating downstream, and it had come and struck my boat. So there was nothing to do. There was no possibility to project the anger on an empty boat.” So Lin Chi said, “I closed my eyes. The anger was there, but finding no way out, I closed my eyes and just floated backward with the anger. And that empty boat became my realization. I came to a point within myself in that silent night. That empty boat was my Master. And now if someone comes and insults me, I laugh and I say, ‘This boat is also empty.’ I close my eyes and I go within.””

Maybe you may want to use this technique of the empty boat. It works miraculously!