There is no strategy to live Life: just be useful!

You must simply live your Life, and carry on living, not worrying about either strategy or success!
Someone I know told me recently that he does not understand what I gain by blogging, Vlogging, delivering Talks and holding free, inspirational, public events. “There’s no meaning in this. You are not making money,” he said. I smiled back at him and said, that doing all this, makes me useful – even if not successful in a worldly sense! “It is liberating to share, unlearn, learn…,” I explained. But my friend said he still could not see any meaning in my “strategy”.
I did not try to justify any further. Because there’s nothing to explain. There is really no strategy to Life and living.  Life cannot be lived fully when we are nailed down by negative, debilitating emotions like doubt, anger, jealousy, sorrow and fear. It cannot be understood too when we are held hostage by our ego and our wants. It can only be understood when we let go of what cripples us, what worries us and what scares us. Only when we practice detachment__from what holds us and what we hold on to__can we be useful without reason, without “strategy”.
When the ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’ ceases to be anything material, your Life is filled with abundance, grace, happiness and, well, magic!

Thanks to our conditioning and to our upbringing we are encouraged to start running a race, as soon as we begin to make sense of our world, and are taught that Life’s meaning is to come first, to win, to acquire, to accumulate, to conquer. In this context, by always wanting to win, we don’t realize we have to willy-nilly ‘vanquish’ or ‘deny’ others the opportunity to win. Or when we try but when we don’t win, we end up feeling depressed and despondent. This is when we start looking for a strategy to employ in Life. Then, a time does come when even that ‘winning strategy’ becomes meaningless. So, we end up seeking meaning when we discover that despite all the winning, all the conquest, all the accumulation, we are still missing something __ the essence of Life, of simply being happy.

In Viktor Frankl’s 1946 epic book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ __ chronicling his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II __ he concludes that, as time passed and as he looked back at all that he had been through, the gut-wrenching experience he had in the camp was nothing but a “remembered nightmare”. Even his desire to kill his tormentor was now gone. He awakens to his Life’s meaning which is “to help others find theirs”.

In summary, as I have discovered it__and I am still learning__Life has no meaning. You bring meaning to your Life by being useful than merely wanting to be successful. It is not that wanting to be or being successful is wrong. But the pursuit of success often blinds us and takes us in the direction of being successful at the cost of others. Whereas, being useful, is what true success is all about. 
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Be useful. Make each day of your Life memorable!

Age doesn’t matter. Seriously it doesn’t. What matters is what do you want to do in Life!
John Pontin 
We met an enterprising, energetic, committed and alive 78-year-old last evening. He’s John Pontin, a British millionaire, who ran a design and build company that has been engaged in socially enlightened property development for over half a century now. But what keeps John awake at nights, and awakened, is his monomaniacal focus and commitment to leave our planet a better place. His work is currently focused around a charity he helped launch a few years ago called The Converging World with a seed fund of 2 million British Pounds. One of its objects is to fund and build renewable sources of energy, such as wind turbines, in India. In 2008 The Converging World project installed two large turbines in Tamil Nadu. Since then, and a few smaller turbines later, several million units of electricity have been delivered to the Tamil Nadu State grid. Ask John why is he doing what he’s doing and he says, with a twinkle in his eye, “I am driven by this hunger, this sense of urgency, to make a change. To do something. I can’t wait. What has to be done, has to be done.”
Talking to John his like getting yourself a shot of inspiration. He looks 78. But he’s got the energy of an 18-year-old. “I know I am not getting any younger biologically. But I couldn’t have felt younger or better. I am living the best years of my Life. I am creative, naïve and am getting cheeky. Maybe that’s what’s making me do stuff or get stuff done faster which normally takes a long, long time getting done,” he explains.
John and his team at The Converging World are no doubt doing great service. That they will make significant contributions in the years to come is for sure – that alone is not something that will be counted as John’s legacy. What John is teaching us all is this: Age is a mere number. Be useful. Make every day of your Life memorable and make it count!

I wish all of us snap out of our comfort zones and complaining-sprees. I wish we stopped existing and merely earning a living. I wish we borrowed a leaf from John’s book, rolled up our sleeves and went down to work on making a difference. John reminds us that our time here is ticking away. And that the best gift we can give our children is a better world that’s greener, beautiful and bountiful. Even if we don’t want to be a conservationist or sustainability champion like John, we may just want to be useful to the human race instead of putting up our feet and gloating over how successful our material lives and careers have been. Hearing John speak last evening, I was certain about one more thing – there is no better time to get started on living and serving than now.

Who says Making Money is not Spiritual?


Spirituality, simply, is the flowering of inner awareness. When there is awareness, when you are awake, everything is spiritual _ including making money!

 

One of the most preposterous myths we psyche ourselves into believing is that making money is not spiritual. If being happy is spiritual, so is being wealthy. If seeking bliss is a honorable pursuit, so is seeking money.

 

The problem arises when we confuse the pursuit of wealth creation as the purpose of our creation. Money is a good, useful invention. And therefore must be used. It is when we cling to the money we have or crave for the money that we don’t have, which is, when we get used by money, that we suffer! We deny ourselves the opportunity to live fully, meaningfully, when we get addicted to making money and we are struck by avarice. Or when we don’t make or have enough money and when we look at those who have and either feel jealous of them or pine for more for ourselves.

To understand the Power of Money, recognize that it is but a cog in the wheel of Life and not Life in its entirety. The cog is important for the wheel to turn smoothly. In its absence, the wheel will still function, albeit struggling. That only means we must slow down the wheel and not waste energies trying to rue why we are without this cog called money. That’s scarcity thinking. Abundance thinking means that so many important cogs in the wheel of Life are working just great: health, family and career, for instance.

 

The other way to leverage the potential of money is to use some of whatever we have to share and to enrich another person’s Life. Half the world’s population goes hungry without even one square meal daily. This is no longer a problem if the other half recognizes that all they have to do is to feed one hungry person one meal a day. However broke we may be, if we can read this post, it means we have the ability to feed one hungry person in our circle of influence today. And every single day. So, seek money by all means. But make the pursuit meaningful by undertaking to feed another daily. And watch how your own Life transforms from pining for money, or feeling insecure about it, to being blissful about wanting it not just for yourself but to make our world a better place.

Be aware therefore of money’s incredible potential to make Life simpler, but don’t let it come in the way of your happiness. Money can enable and it can cripple. Money can attract and it can distract. Be conscious of its power to make or mar you. Then, you will be perpetually rich with happiness__something which no money can buy!


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.