Living completely requires you to be non-tense. Which is you must not allow anxiety, worry, guilt, fear, anger __ in fact anything that makes you tense or stressed __ to affect you in any manner. To be non-tense, we must learn to drop all memories, all expectations, all desires and simply embrace the present, the NOW.
At the core of all human suffering are memories, expectations and desires. Most of the time we are saddled with painful memories of what once was. We either want to go back in time or we want to rid ourselves of the pain and suffering we have been through. But how can you get rid of anything that you cling on to? Then there are our expectations. We expect that all our integrity and hard work is always rewarded. That all our wants are always met. When that does not always happen, as it may possibly not, you agonize. Then there are our desires. For a future that is not yet visible. We want Life of a particular order. We don’t know if it will happen or not. So we worry about the possibilities, about the odds, all the time.
To avoid all this suffering, you need to do three things:
- Stop living in your past __ and the memories will no longer come back to haunt you
- Expect nothing – simply receive what you get, with joy, with humility, in acceptance
- Desire nothing – In the absence of desires, think about it, there will be no future to worry about
Earlier this week a friend from the hospitality industry pinged me. He frantically wanted some advice. He lived and worked out of a South Asian country and served in one of the most premium beach resorts there as an Assistant Manager. His wife and one-year-old daughter live in India. He said he had been to India on vacation until 10 days ago. And confessed he was very homesick. He had stopped enjoying his work because he wanted to be living together with his family. His wife was not too keen on leaving India for another South Asian country and preferred moving to the Americas, if at all. To compound matters, his company had overlooked him for a promotion. He was disillusioned and wanted to quit his job and get back to India. He said he wanted to do something to make his situation better. We chatted a bit on Skype. Here are snatches from the conversation.
Me: How does quitting become the “something” you want to do to make your situation better?
Him: At least it will get me back to being with the family!
Me: Oh! So, you don’t need to be earning right now to support your family?
Him: No. No. I do need to be earning. I have not much savings, so, yes, I need to keep my job.
Me: Then how does quitting the one you have help?
Him: I am so frustrated. I just think quitting will help.
Me: Since you ask, let me tell you, you must not be quitting, but must create value in whatever work you do.
Him: Create value in a job for an employer who does not value me and has passed me over in the recent appraisals? I don’t get you!
Me: The employer has passed you over. That does not stop you from creating value. Yes, you probably need to find a lasting solution to your twin problems of a. living with your family and b. finding an employer that values you. But clearly quitting is not the way forward. Accept first that you are not living with your family now. So, let go of the immediate past, your vacation, that haunts you and makes you homesick. Accept also that your employer does not value you the way you would like to be. So, drop that expectation totally. And think of what best you can do every day. You can probably make your tenure as an Assistant Manager invaluable by creating value in your role every moment from now on! Just do that. Because that opportunity is in your control.
Him: So, what do I do about getting another job? Are you saying I don’t try at all?
Me: That doesn’t mean you should not try! Of course, just as you can create value in your role every day, you can apply to new positions every day. But do both these things without delving too much into the past or without worrying about the future. Work without pressure….work immersing yourself in the present, in the opportunity available to you, to create value!
That was my friend’s story. He signed off promising he would think over our conversation. Yesterday he pinged me again saying he had had a candid conversation with his current boss __ the one who had overlooked him for a promotion. And he said he kind of understood now the rationale behind his appraisal being the way it was. He declared that he was a lot more peaceful now. He said: “When you accept things for the way they are, you are no longer tense about how they will be or over how they once were.”
Honestly, I did not expect such a meditative point of view from my friend. But so deep has been his learning – he discovered the power of non-tense living! And I share it with you.
Your own Life situation may be different. But a non-tense way of looking at it may help you create value too than just acting in haste, and emotionally, in times when you don’t get what you want. A non-tense Life is always more fulfilling, more practical, more peaceful, because it is based on the only reality, the only truth available to each of us __ which is, the NOW! When you are not in the now, you are actually dealing with a lot of nonsense – emotions like worry, fear, anxiety, anger, that waste your now away. If you are focused on the now, on the other hand, there is no past, there is no future. There just is, what is. And so, in the present, there is no tension of what was or what will be. So, there will be no more wasteful emotions, literally, no nonsense!
Here’s hoping you live a truly non-tense day today!