Stop Complaining. Start Living!

Be eternally grateful for this Life and this experience! Life is a mixed bag. You often will get what you don’t want. And you will also often get what you didn’t expect. Every which way though the best you can do to be anchored in peace is to be grateful for whatever happens to you, for whatever you get!
Zen practitioners advise using this mantra in all contexts: “Thank you for everything. I have no complaints whatsoever!” This may not appeal to most people instantaneously because when you are caught in the throes of your everyday challenges, the last thing on your mind is gratitude. And this Zen practice seems almost escapist – as if you are choosing to deny what is, to deny reality! But if you examine Life closely, you will appreciate that there is no other way to respond to Life than with gratitude. Being thankful is the only way to live peacefully. And if you live without being grateful, for everything that’s given to you in each moment, you will never be in peace.
The human mind always craves for what is not there. And rarely appreciates what is there. Look at you: don’t you bemoan scarcity all the time, rarely celebrating the abundance in your Life? Years of living like this have conditioned you to miss the opportunity in gratitude. To break free from this self-defeating attitude, do a simple exercise. Make a list of all, absolutely ALL, the things that you are grateful for in Life. And make another list of what’s not there, what you miss, in your Life. Now, do a dispassionate assessment asking yourself: Do you really think what you miss outweighs what you have?  What you will discover through this exercise is the power in the Zen mantra we discussed above.
You will then conclude that the best way to live is to simple be thankful for everything that Life’s given you. And you too will stop complaining and start living!  
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Count till you are done!

Try this simple exercise this Monday morning on your commute to work!

Count the number of people you wish to thank for bringing you (up) this far in Life, up to this moment of reading this Post. When you are done, please share that number as a comment to this Post or simply jot it down somewhere. (PS: recounting and revision is allowed!) This exercise provides an opportunity to break free from the ‘I, me, mine’ trap and is a lesson in gratitude. Saying “Thank You!” is the best prayer….

On your drive back home, this evening, reflect on the exercise and on what those people you thanked have done for you…….

As you fall off to sleep later tonight, examine how you feel. Feeling overwhelmed, humbled, grateful and stress-free are both assured and intended outcomes of each part of this exercise!

Have a wonderful, grateful week ahead!

Will you be a Santa today__and all year round?


The true purpose of Life is to serve. And that’s what the spirit of Christmas is all about too.

As kids we have all grown up adoring Santa. We have waited for our gifts. Or in families such as mine, where Santa was seen as something Western, Christian, we perhaps quietly envied those whose lives were touched by Santa. Even if it was about some wishes coming true or about surprise gifts coming clothed in stockings, there was an admirable quality about Santa. He toiled to make others happy. I remember, as a young boy growing up in New Rajinder Nagar in New Delhi, in the year preceding the imposition of Emergency in India, wondering if Santa would not be tired visiting so many homes. My bed was beside the window. And my neighbor Buba, whose family had a Christmas tree up in their balcony with festive lights adorning the frontage, making it all, look surreal and beautiful, had told me that he had wished for Santa to deliver a battery operated toy car to him! Buba’s balcony was in front of my window. I remember sitting up all night, keeping vigil on Buba’s balcony, trying to see if Santa really came by. I must have slept at some point because I did not see Santa come in. But Buba had his wish fulfilled. He came running home first thing the next morning to show off his new toy car!

My own views of Santa have changed obviously over the years. From thinking of him as a religious father figure __ because he visited only Christian homes! __ to seeing the message of selfless service in his legend. And now I see Santa as a metaphor for service, for touching lives and for making a difference. Santa is also an inspiration for serving selflessly __ have you ever wondered what wish Santa may be wishing, what gift Santa wants or who will grant him his wish or give him his present?

Surely, as each generation grows up, it will realize, just as we all have, that Santa is what parents play to their excited little ones. But perhaps there is value in teaching our children, and their children, that a true Santa is really one who touches lives and makes a difference.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, try something different today. Don’t try it because I invite you to or that you want to feel good. Even wanting to feel good is an expectation. Do it because you genuinely want to give! Take anything that you have not used in 6 months __ except your passport __ and which you think will be more useful to someone else. It could be books, clothes, shoes, blankets, pillows, suitcases, a table lamp, utensils, a pen drive, an old wristwatch, a bunch of music CDs, whatever. Go around a couple of blocks in your neighborhood. And give away whoever needs whatever you have with you. Someone may not need any of these things you carry with you, but may just want a hot coffee, or some soup or a meal. Buy them that. Or sometimes people may just need someone to talk to. Give them your time, your presence and your attention. When you are handing over whatever you eventually will, look the person in the eye and say, from the bottom of your heart, ‘Thank You. Feel genuinely grateful for this opportunity to serve. If you felt blessed and drenched in a rare energy, do it every day. Or at least when you get time or whenever you feel depressed, trampled upon or lost in Life.

The essence of intelligent living is in understanding that it is far more significant to be useful than just be successful. A small mass of humanity is successful. An equally small mass of humanity is useful. But it is only the latter that make a big difference to a large mass of humanity that is suffering and lives in hunger and depravation __ yearning for food, clothing, warmth, shelter and above all, compassion.

You can choose to be Santa and touch those who form this unfortunate majority. Go touch a Life this Christmas __ that would be a far more intelligent thing to do than just post hollow greetings, that you have not even applied your mind, forget soul, to, on social media or instant messaging services.

In reality, Santa is timeless. And seasonless. When you value someone’s need as higher than your own, when you make an effort with no self-gain in mind, when you simply give because you want to give, you will be a Santa too and each day will be merry __ Christmas or not __ meaningful and memorable.