Each person in your Life is your Teacher!

Celebrate the teachers in your Life! Celebrate everyone in your Life! Because, everyone is, in some way or the other, teaching you about Life!
The conventional definition of a teacher is one who helps you qualify on the academic side. But what use are the education you receive, and the degrees you accumulate, if you don’t know how to live your Life intelligently? This is where the definition of a teacher merits expansion.
There’s the ‘guru’, of course! And that’s not always the one who is the ocher-wearing, bearded sage who mouths mantras. The word ‘guru’ is derived from Sanskrit. In simple terms, ‘gu’ means ignorance and ‘ru’ means the remover or dispeller. So, literally, a ‘guru’ is someone who removes ignorance, the darkness, in you and lets the light of knowledge into you! By this definition, anyone can be a guru. Anyone who removes the veil of ignorance and helps you soak in wisdom of any kind. Even a detractor is a guru. Or someone who lets you down. Because a detractor is teaching you how to face criticism and someone who betrays you is teaching you the value of trust.
When you don’t see people as teachers you may tend to miss the learning in each interaction, in each moment. This eventually retards your inner growth.  
Historically, in India barbers were considered a lowly class. And were looked down upon. Unfortunately, more often than not, they still are. However, in recent times, hairdressing and its practitioners have gained respect and found both professional and social standing. At a time when I had a lot of hair on my head, I would visit the salon at The Taj Residency Hotel in Bengaluru. My favorite hair stylist was a middle-aged man called Ramalingam. He is a simpleton. But very skilled and has a great service attitude.
Ramalingam: My Charioteer Guru!
One afternoon, may be 15 years ago, when I showed up at the salon and Ramalingam began working on my hair, I got a call on my phone. It was a colleague who was reporting that a client had not made a payment that was long overdue. I had given specific instructions that we needed to have that payment collected one way or the other. I was naturally upset. Without realizing where I was seated, with little respect to the others around me in the salon, I let off a lot of steam at my colleague. I may even have used a few expletives. When I hung up, I realized that Ramalingam had stopped working on my hair, and was standing some distance away. I presumed he had done so to allow me to finish my call. Impatiently, fuming, I gestured to Ramalingam to get on with it.
He moved forward, resumed working on me and with some hesitation asked me if he could be allowed to say something. I said yes. He then spoke: “Sir, who am I, but a barber? And you are an educated person. I see you as successful. Yet, unless you control your temper it will burn you.” He then chanted a verse from memory from the Bhgavad Gita which championed living in this world and yet being above it! He continued, “Sir, learn the fine art of living __ of remaining unmoved through joy and sorrow, in success and failure, in action and in acceptance! You shall then have made your Life memorable.”
Ramalingam’s extempore unsolicited sermon touched my soul. I realized my folly. It was the fondest call for awakening from a man least qualified technically for making it!. That afternoon, I believe, Ramalingam was like Krishna and I was his Arjuna. He was__and is__my guru because he dispelled, removed the ignorance in me. He introduced me, in the simplest of ways, to intelligent living! As they often say, “When the student is ready, the teacher shall appear!” Perhaps I really was ready that day!
To this day, although I don’t have much hair left on my head, whenever I am in Bengaluru, I do make the pilgrimage to meet Ramalingam. He reminds me that I am still a student of Life, learning from each of Life’s ambassadors who touch my Life in their own special, inspiring ways!
Therefore celebrate every single person in your Life. Do not have opinions. Don’t judge people. Each one you know is a teacher. And in their own ways, they are teaching you to love, to trust and to make a difference. Nobody is good or bad. Through people’s kindness you learn to appreciate the goodness and purity in all creations. People who forgive you teach you humility and how to elevate your perspective at times when you don’t need to. People who are unkind and unjust are teaching you patience and forgiveness. Thank everyone you know every single day for making you who you are today!

Stop looking for meanings, simply surrender to Life!

Life is incredible, beautiful, inscrutable and miraculous. Only when we try to make meaning out of it do we agonize. 
There are many situations in Life where logical explanations are not possible. We can either accept whatever is happening, choosing to live in complete amazement of the Universe’s ways. Or we can question, challenge and grieve over our inability to explain why certain things are happening the way they eventually are.
You may face a challenging situation for several reasons. You may invite the challenge upon yourself __ like drinking and driving, and crashing your car, for instance. Or you may walk into one __ like quitting a job and taking another one only to realize that your employer is a fly-by-night operator and by the time you bail out, you have lost the momentum and opportunity spectrum in the market. Or something may befall you __ like a death in the family in the most unexpected circumstances or at the most inappropriate times. When Life decides to stir your story just a wee bit, perfectly happy marriages could be ruined and very families could be thrown in disarray. In all of these, and other, situations while you may imagine that things are happening only to you and may grieve asking either ‘why’ or ‘why me’, there’s no denying the fact that what has happened would have happened any which way. Life operates with a mind of its own. It doesn’t have any specific intention to fix you. It just goes on with a plan that’s been ordained for you, a plan that you will never quite understand or know in its entirety until you have lived through the Life that you are ready to review! The most intelligent way, therefore, to deal with Life is to just accept it, surrender to it and to never question it or its rationale.
Things never change overnight because you accept them or choose a higher path! They just become simpler__not necessarily easier__to handle. You are, with surrendering to Life, better off than fighting Life. Because a fight is always spewing negative energy. It is always about brute force. When you try to untangle a ball of knotted up wool, impatiently, by tugging at it from all sides, the mess will only become worse. Instead, calm, patience, diligence will help.
Pi and Richard Parker: Peaceful Mates
In the movie ‘Life of Pi’, Pi faces up to Life’s inscrutable ways with an equanimity which comes with understanding the futility of fighting Life. His initial period of helplessness and brute force, resisting his situation, does not yield him any results. He concludes that he can survive his ordeal only when he surrenders to Life’s grand design. At the same time, he resolves to do what is in his capacity, which is to make peace with Richard Parker, the tiger. He works on establishing a method of communicating with the tiger and training it to understand that co-existence was the only way forward for both of them! That was his diligence. His application of thought in what he could possibly do. So, surrendering to Life does not mean giving up. It means giving in, while doing whatever is possible.
Most situations in Life are pretty much like that. They are Catch 22s __ where the game is not over and there is still something, however small, that you can be doing to stay in the game. It is when we mistake these still workable, still doable situations to be ones where we are check-mated, that we encounter grief and misery. In a check-mate, the game’s over. In a Catch 22, the game is still on! With a check-mate you are usually dead. If you are alive, it is only a Catch 22.
So, hang in there. However incredible your story may be, stop analyzing and trying to make meaning out of your present state. Just know that in the end you will prevail. And when you look back, like Pi does in the movie, you will find that it all happened to make you richer from the experience and wiser from the learning!

Being Guilty is Being Foolish

To be completely free, and live freely, free yourself of all guilt!
Guilt cripples. It comes between you and your joy! It is a wasteful emotion that debilitates a person completely. To free yourself of guilt, you must treat every effort you make as a learning. As yet another small experiment in this larger experiment called Life.
You feel guilty in the first place because you are so attached to the process of doing something that when it doesn’t get done the way you want it to, you feel morally accountable. But have you considered that Life doesn’t insist on anything from us? It doesn’t have definitions of success or failure. There are no SOPs – standard operating procedures, in Life! Then why do you insist that an outcome must be only the way you have envisioned it! It is only from that insistence that guilt is born. So, wouldn’t it be simpler if you had no attachment to what comes from your actions, choosing only to learn from each experience?
Sometimes things just happen to us. Or we may simply end up being at a place at a time, contributing unwittingly to an activity that will come to haunt us later. Or sometimes we may have just done or said something which may create a sense of pain in us when we pause to reflect. Every which way, feeling guilty after saying or doing something that you ought not to have said or done is completely in vain. Grieving over what you have done or could have done is the most futile of all emotions.
In the new Hindi movie ‘Talaash’, the main protagonist Inspector Surjan Singh Shekawat (played so brilliantly by Aamir Khan) carries the burden of his guilt, suffering immensely as he does that! He agonizes over it, in each of his waking moments and does not even get sleep! It is only when he realizes that he didn’t choose this Life, which he is currently experiencing, but that Life chose him, does his grief subside, his guilt evaporates and he awakens.
Ideally, you must not do anything that makes you feel guilty. But when you get caught in the throes of everyday living and your actions do cause you to feel guilty later, treat the event as simply an event. Learn from it. Don’t lean on it! What are the few things that we often feel guilty about? We get angry with someone and regret it later. We cheat and feel miserable when we reflect on our action __ especially when we are not caught cheating. We overindulge in loose conversation or alcohol or food in a social setting and say and do more than we must have. These occurrences are common place and all of us are prone to feeling guilty after we conduct ourselves in the manner in which we did. The mind will insist that you have lost your self-esteem and that you must redeem yourself. This is when brooding begins and you start descending down a negative, depressive spiral. Cut out the self-pity and focus on what caused you to behave in the way you did in the first place.
Or sometimes you could feel guilty over what you could have done in a situation that once existed. You could have been more responsible or loyal or compassionate or sensible. But ‘could have done’ is a review of the past. Some place in time that you cannot go back to anymore! What is the point in feeling guilty over an event that you cannot contribute to anymore?
In a way, truly, being guilty is being foolish. Life is not a six sigma process. There are no minimum error rate thresholds that anyone is demanding. Then why are you inflicting one on yourself? Life is about living, enthusiastically, trying out new things, being adventurous and learning from what outcomes you get and from what situations that you are given. Only when you live your Life with this simple understanding in mind, will you be happy. Guilt then subtracts from your happiness. Do you really want to not be happier than you are? As ‘Talaash’s’ tagline says __ the answer lies within!

The End is Always the Beginning!

The end is always the beginning! When you fail, love that moment. Because it teaches you how to face Life! Failure always prepares us for trying better the next time!
The reason why all of us struggle with coping with failure is because we think we are in control. We feel we have put in the best effort. And so, we believe, we must pull off every plan that we embark on. In a way it is our ego, of us knowing what the outcome will be, that makes our failures unbearable.
On the other hand, failure can be a great motivator if we shed our ego. When we understand that what’s within our control are only the motive, the means and the effort. Beyond that we don’t have any control and therefore no right to the outcome. When this thinking is firmly established in our sub-conscious, we will treat failure as a teacher. And worship failure than abhor or loathe it!
Abhishek and Vikram: Expressive and Intense!
Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet and converse with one of India’s finest film makers, Mani Ratnam. A good friend, and one of India’s finest cinema critics, Baradwaj Rangan’s new book ‘Conversations with Mani Ratnam’ was launched by Penguin yesterday. And I caught up with Mani on the sidelines of the event. Everyone around there at the event was keen to talk of and toast to Mani’s fine body of work, and his most successful films. I wanted to learn from him how he dealt with failure.
Me: “Mani, the director, as the captain, the leader, often takes some momentous decisions. They work out well sometimes. And they backfire sometimes. In recent times, your decision to cast Abhishek Bachchan as ‘Raavan’ in the Hindi version of the Tamizh film ‘Raavanan’ (Actor Vikram plays the title role in the Tamizh version!) completely backfired. How do you deal with a situation when you realize you have perhaps blundered with such an important decision?”
Mani: “Failure at and with something is not the end of the road. I still feel both choices__Vikram in Tamizh and Abhishek in Hindi__were right ones. And both actors delivered masterfully. They have very distinctive styles of delivery. One is intense and the other is expressive. As his director, I believe Abhishek gave me what I wanted. He gave me a stellar performance in that role. The audience rejected it though. And I accept that verdict. Did I fail? Commercially perhaps. But creatively, I learned more than what others may even understand. And that’s the only way to look at things when they don’t work out the way you planned them to be.”
That’s a great quality. A mark of a winner. To be himself in the face of both success and failure. When you fail, despite your best planning and efforts, it only reinforces that the Master Plan has no flaws. So, that moment of failure does not call for grief. It calls for exultation, celebration. Because you have just discovered something that has the potential to break your ego __ which is that YOU are NOT in control of any of the outcomes of your efforts! And why would anyone not want their ego bubble bursted? Because only in the absence of the ego does bliss arrive and thrive! When the ego dies, a new awakening, a new YOU is born!
Which is why the end is always the beginning. So, love it, love yourself when you fail. Because you have one more opportunity at Life and__hopefully, intelligent__living!

Relating is more important than relationships!

Relating is more important than relationships. The day people understand this there will really, seriously, be no problem between people.
What a relationship does is to make anything a quid pro quo. There is an unstated contractual arrangement. So then it becomes business.
This is why people break up, marriages fail and families suffer. Because a business arrangement has failed.
What does the business arrangement say? That I will be faithful as long as you are faithful. If you breach my set code of conduct, my terms, then it is off. Love between people cannot be conditional. An overwhelming proportion of marriages break up because the spouse “strayed” in the relationship! But that assessment of love is based on passion and not compassion. A physical yearning to try out a different partner is only an expression of a bodily urge. Sex is just pure passion. But love is about compassion. It is perfectly possible to satiate a physical urge and still be relating compassionately to another. But that is not the way the world sees it.
Society loves link-ups, extra-marital affairs and juicy tales of passion. The General Petraeus scandal or the Monica Lewinsky one titillates public sensibilities. People love hearing of others’ exploits. So the whole theory of relationships has acquired an unwarranted ring of morality to it! For no earthly reason! Judgments are passed and people are ostracized.
Nehru and Edwina
There’s still so much talk about the interest that former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had in Edwina Mountbatten (the wife of British India’s last Viceroy Lord Mountbatten). Edwina Mountbatten enjoyed a close and warm relationship with Jawaharlal Nehru but it was spiritual and intellectual, not a sexual one, says the lady’s daughter Pamela Hicks. Excerpts from her just released book Daughter of Empire published in Friday’s Daily Mail say Lord Mountbatten was aware of his wife’s fondness for Nehru but did not interfere. Edwina fell madly in love with the country and with Pandit Nehru, the first Prime Minister after Indian independence, says Hicks, now 83. From the start, there was a profound connection between them, she said. “She found in Panditji the companionship and equality of spirit and intellect that she craved. Each helped overcome loneliness in the other.”
That’s what relating is all about. Mountbatten’s decision to not interfere is commendable. It is that maturity which we need to bring into our lives and associations with people. Seriously, if they did have a physical dimension to their affair, so what? It is between two adults. Why judge their desire to explore and enjoy each other privately?
Osho, the Master, says,”Relationship means something complete, finished, closed. Love is never a relationship; love is relating. It is always a river, flowing, unending. Love knows no full stop. It is an ongoing phenomenon. Lovers end, love continues. It is a continuum. It is a verb, not a noun. And why do we reduce the beauty of relating to a relationship?”.
Think about it. If you are having pain in a relationship__any relationship: brother-sister, boss-subordinate, husband-wife, lovers, neighbors, parent-child__then the simple truth is that YOU BOTH, whoever you may be, have stopped relating to each other! If you want to experience joy, then the only way you can have that happen between two people is when they relate to each other. So, in which context in your Life are you finding the river of love flowing and in which one are you finding the relationship stagnating? You know what you must do. Only when you do that, will you find the happiness that you seek!

Don’t come in the way of your children!

Don’t come in the way of your children. Let them journey through their lives and find their own paths.
We try to possess our children just because we gave birth to them and therefore we are ‘rightfully’ (that’s a delusionary claim, in my humble opinion!) worried for them. The very idea of possession is so vulgar. It reduces the child to a thing. You possess a thing. You don’t possess your children. You have them in your Life because you are blessed! Parenting is a blessing and is not your birthright!
I read some very tragic stories in the media over the last couple of days. That got me thinking on parenting, responsible parenting at that, all over again. And when I refer to parenting, I am not just referring to biological parents here. I am addressing the role of teachers, society and media, besides the natural parents.
Ashok Kumar
The first story is of a 15-year-old school boy from Chennai, R.Ashok Kumar, who was the runner-up in the National (Indian) Badminton championships. When he returned to Chennai with his medal and certificates, his school admonished him for missing too many classes ‘in the name of sports’! His mother, who works as a maid in households in the neighborhood, is at a loss on what to do. She says her son loves the sport but is ‘worried’ because the school threatens to throw him out. This was also the fate of young Indian cricket star, Unmukt Chand, 19, who led India to victory in the U-19 Cricket World Cup a few months ago. His college, St.Stephen’s in New Delhi, initially did not allow him to appear for his exams because he did not have enough attendance! It then took some backlash in public for the college to revoke its insensitive and senseless stand!
At least, in these two cases, we can see that the children as still in a younger age group, and therefore having __ not mandatorily, in my humble opinion again__to be answerable or responsible towards a school or college, apart from their own families.
Gaurav Jain
But take the case of this young post-graduate, Gaurav Jain, from New Delhi. The Hindu reports that after picking up a Master’s Degree from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication’s Amravati campus this year, Gaurav realized he needed to live the Life of a poor person if he wanted to honestly critique public policy. So, on September 10, 2012, he hired a cycle rickshaw from Roop Nagar (a New Delhi suburb) for Rs. 40 a day, giving his driving license as collateral. Apart from actually living the Life of the folks on the street, Jain also writes a blog on his daily learnings. Titled ‘The other side of the Fence’, his blog, cycletorickshaw.blogspot.in, chronicles his Life and times. And Life on the street is not easy. It has his own upheavals. Jain, given his education, started to mobilize the unorganized cycle rickshaw pullers into a team so that they could demand better fares from customers and better treatment from the high-handedness of the cops, who normally give members of this trade a raw deal. A few weeks ago, Jain was assaulted by a cop for “parking in a no-parking zone”. The story made it to the papers in New Delhi. And Jain’s family flipped! They had no idea their son was a rickshaw puller. And so they actually threw him out. They disowned him! And Jain found himself sharing a 100-sq ft space in a small tenement with six other daily wage earners! The Hindu further reports further that since this incident, his family and Jain have made peace. Jain is now back home. Enriched with his experience, he is now looking for positions where he can apply his real-world perspective in matters of public policy!
Can you imagine a family actually disowns, even if for just a few weeks, an adult son, just because he dared to be different __ with a good reason to boot?
This brings us to a larger question, a common thread, that passes through all three stories and is possibly playing out in your own homes too! And that is the rather sick trend of parents (and teachers) coming in the way of their children’s dreams! If you have adolescent children you will relate to this even more. You are finding now that your child, who until now, was listening to you, does not want to be told ‘anything’. You are beginning to wonder if your child is focused on academics. You worry, therefore, for your child’s grades and job prospects. If this is happening in your home, let me tell you that YOU are losing it! Your worry is understandable. But you acting from that worry __ what you fear about your child’s future __ is totally unacceptable. Instead why can’t you act from faith __ in your child’s desire and ability to make intelligent, independent choices about her or his Life? And why can’t you have faith in your ability to guide, counsel and support your child’s vision for herself or himself? Your children want to live THEIR lives. Get this straight. If you have taught them good values and share a good bond with them, then, you have raised them well! You have got an ‘A’. Beyond this, please, let us__that you and me__not come in their way.
If a child wants to take up badminton or tennis or cricket as a career or act in movies or ride a cycle rickshaw or be a ragpicker, what, pray, is the harm? How many more doctors and engineers and lawyers and software programmers do we want to produce in this world? And if children don’t take those decisions how will we have next the Saina Nehwal or Roger Federer or Sachin Tendulkar or Amitabh Bachchan or Gandhi? How will we have a better world if we keep championing conservative, secure careers, accepting mediocrity in thinking and limiting the aspirations of our children?
Here’s a simple test that you may want to take in your private time. Do it with just yourself. If you are a parent, ask yourself:
  1. Am I doing what I enjoy doing and love doing or am I just earning a living?
  2. Given a choice wouldn’t I want to be doing something totally different from what I do to earn a paycheck just now?
  3. Do I want to see my child as a well qualified professional or do I wish for her or him to be a well-rounded human being?
  4. Will I feel proud my child owned a villa and four cars or will I be happier if she or he touched the lives of people, made a difference to this world and inspired millions?
You know what you answered. You know what needs to be done. You are not dumb-headed because you are the parent (or teacher) of such a beautiful, intelligent child! So, please, for heaven’s sake, get out of the way of your child’s future. Your child needs your love, your understanding, not your ‘help’ and certainly not your decisions that are born from your insecurities, fears and worries!

Expectations bring agony!

Expectations bring agony when they are not met. Agony leads to frustration. Frustration to anger. And anger sometimes culminates in rage__extreme agitation in the mind. And, far too often, as we see it in the world around us today, rage in the mind manifests itself as physical violence. 

But what causes expectations in the first place? The thinking that YOU are in control creates a desire, an expectation. Because you work hard and sincerely, you think you deserve a higher raise. So, you desire. Because you brought your child into this world, you think your child must ALWAYS live life the way you want her/him to. So, that’s an expectation. Because you have never done any wrong unto anyone and have had a healthy lifestyle, you believe you must never ail from a dreaded disease like cancer. Again, expectation. But how are you__and I__ever in control of anything? 

Look, the sun, the birds, the world, go on without us controlling them. We can’t as much as twiddle our toes of our own accord. We control NOTHING. We are but specks in this vast cosmic design, nobodies. When we are anchored in this humble truism, there will be no expectation, we will live in the moment and will live in peace. Only then will we experience bliss HERE and NOW. 

When we begin to see ourselves as controlling even a minuscule element in this cosmos, we will cause misery within us and then in our immediate circle of influence. 

To keep yourself grounded and free from expectations, desires, agony, frustration, anger, rage, and to find bliss, ALWAYS remember that ‘life goes on not because of you, but in spite of you’!

Celebrate Helplessness!

Be ecstatic when you feel helplessness. You may not always find solutions to what you are confronted with, but you will find peace. 
The normal human tendency is to grieve over being helpless. You are watching someone close to you die. Maybe a disease. Maybe an addiction. You have tried everything. Medicine. Counseling. Yet the person is dying __ and you feel powerless. Helpless. Or you know someone is taking a wrong decision. Like a sibling or a child or a friend entering into a relationship __ business or personal. Again you have tried making that person see sense. You have advised caution and have held a mirror. But no, the person in question, is intent on committing hara-kiri. What do you? You end up wringing your hands in despair.
Sometimes, your own situation may be one of helplessness. What do you do when each time you try to pick up and wind up the threads of your Life, they are snatched away, knotted up and thrown asunder? I have a personal situation, a relationship, which to most human beings is sacred, but to me it just doesn’t exist. And I have a business situation which, despite my best efforts, refuses to correct itself. There have been times when I have fought with both situations. And grieved endlessly. Until, after years of battling, of agonizing, I realized that your helplessness is a stark reminder that you are not in control. That your game is being played by Life all along. And that you are merely to allow yourself to be played with!
When this realization dawns, it is an awakening moment. It is an intensely private moment of discovery. You can call it enlightenment. Here you are, with all your education and upbringing, imagining that you are in control. You grieve therefore because this situation you are faced with refuses to listen to you. When you try, cry, lament, kick around, fail, try again, kick again, scream, agonize, suffer, give up, and come back to try again__somewhere in your nth attempt to regain control of your Life, you see the writing on the wall. And it reads: “Smile. Relax. Life’s in charge!”  
Allowing yourself to be played with by Life does not mean inaction and resignation. It means acceptance and humble submission. It is to do what you think you can, and what you must, without grieving.
Helplessness is actually a great feeling. It celebrates the dropping of the ego. Why do you feel helpless? Because you are unable to control some things about your Life. And the desire to control, to stay on top, is your ego at work. Nothing else. Helplessness leads also to understanding the true nature of your Self and to peace. Take hurricane Sandy or the March 2011 Japanese earthquake. Despite mankind’s greatest discoveries and scientific advancements, what were we humans able to do against nature’s will? We were helpless. We were mere spectators to events that were happening to us, around us, about us. In a way, helplessness always begins with sorrow. With grief. But if you are aware and awake, your grief will be replaced soon with acceptance and peace. Because Life is such __ transient, impermanent. So, why grieve?
Instead enjoy the cosmic process of teaching you to surrender. There is great joy in this surrender. Because initially you will resist. Then you will realize the futility of such resistance. And then when you finally give in, you accept, you humbly submit, you will exult! Because you will feel great inner peace. It’s beautiful. You have to experience it to believe it!  
So, take any situation in your Life that you are dealing with currently. And celebrate your helplessness. Choose a time when you are alone. Stand at your balcony, on the beach, in the middle of a busy street, or sprawl on your carpet as if no one was watching, and in your intensely private moment, in your personal space, let go and tell Life, “Come take me!”. Cry if you must. Scream if it want to. Just rejoice over your helplessness. Feel a new peace embracing you. Not only will you feel better, you will want more of it!
This then is your true prayerful state. Because prayer is not what you recite. Prayer is what you feel when you are one with the Universe. When you accept your helplessness, your egolessness, even momentarily, you will be blissful!

Motivation is an Inside Job!

Motivation is really an inside job! Every once in a while you will feel destroyed and completely worthless. That’s when you must draw from your inner reservoir of happiness and reenergize yourself.
Feel happy? When you are sad, down and out? How is that possible, you may well wonder?
Well, take, for instance, the most horrifying, saddest moment of your Life thus far and ask yourself how could you ever have made the situation any better by brooding over it? You cannot get rid of sadness, suffering and agony with more sadness, more suffering and more agony. You cannot rid yourself of any feeling that debilitates you by being sad that it (the feeling) exists. You can only change your current realities by connecting with your inner joy, by being happy.
In any tough situation, obviously one that you dislike, a good starting point is to ask how you are feeling. Replace that feeling with a sense of acceptance over how things are. If you are having a break up and are grieving over it, accept that it is over and done with. If you are having a health challenge, begin by accepting the prognosis. If you have lost heavily in business, accept that you goofed up, that the money is gone! Of course, the situations you choose to accept may have never been what you want them to be. Yet there is no denying that they are the way they are! It is only when you accept Life for what it is, will happiness flower inside you. Until then happiness will seem elusive. It may even seem bizarre. That till you accept a situation, you have poor self-esteem, feel self-pity, brood and feel intensely low. And the moment you accept, you feel peaceful, are flooded with a new, positive energy and are willing to give Life one more chance!
That’s really how you motivate yourself in tough times. External reference points can only be inspirations. But for something to happen to you, it must first happen from within you!  
Zig Ziglar
One of the greatest champions of re-energizing oneself Zig Ziglar, died a few hours ago in Texas, USA. He was 86. All his Life he exhorted people to accept, to appreciate and to find opportunities by being happy with what they have. He often told a story about a woman in Alabama who he said was bitter about her job and angry with her co-workers. He advised her to write down whatever positives she could think of — the solid paycheck, the benefits, the vacation time — and then stare into the mirror and say how much she loved her job. Six weeks later, he said, he ran into her again. “I’m doing wonderfully well,” she told him with a bright smile, adding, “You cannot believe how much those people down there have changed.” Ziglar would also always remind us that ‘failure is an event and never a person’. The import being simply that we may fail with many things and many times in our Life but each time we can bounce back by being happy with ourselves!
Being happy does not mean that sadness will not strike you. It may well when things don’t go per your own plan. But it will not affect you anymore. Being happy is the ability to celebrate what you have, despite your circumstances, rather than agonize over what you don’t have. When you choose to be happy, you, naturally, will be more alive, more motivated to live a fuller, meaningful Life!
So, the antidote to failure, to unmet expectations, is to motivate ourselves to believe, to try again and keep doing this__as long as we must__till we get the results that we want!

Worship Your Divinity!

Recognize how sacred you are and worship your divinity.
There’s so much focus on an external God that we humans have all but conceded that we are mere pawns in this game called Life! While it is important to follow our individual faith and respect the traditions in which we have been raised, it is equally crucial for us not to feel unworthy.  
Just consider you upbringing. You have been told that God is all powerful. That God hates sinners. And that you must keep doing good to stay blessed. So, all along, the reference point is something external. And when things go wrong, as they often do, you believe that your solutions too has to come from an outside source! As you grow up you do get a whiff of wisdom and realize that it is perhaps possible that the energy that powers the Universe, that keeps you alive, is inside of you. And that energy is possibly the God that everyone refers to and is looking for. Yet years of conditioning cannot possibly be dismissed by few moments of epiphany.
Also consider the experiences when you have possibly encountered people who, while appearing to be incapable of divinity (at least as perceived by us), are able to provide phenomenal insights to intelligent living. Your logical, re-doubting mind often wonders if such people have an axe to grind or are charlatans! Fundamentally, while we humans crave that the Gods we worship, in temples and churches and mosques and gurudwaras, open their eyes and grant us our wishes, we have a serious problem believing and trusting when God, finally, speaks, especially in human form!
Seek Within and You shall find
During some specially trying times, a few years ago, my wife and I went to meet a Siddha yogi. We were referred to him by a close friend. When we reached his place, on the outskirts of Chennai, we were quite startled to find him dressed in a lungi and vest, standing outside on the street and smoking a beedi. He politely requested us to go inside and be seated. He took his own time finishing his smoke and later joined us. As soon as he sat down in front of us, he said, “Is your problem your debt?” We were dumbfounded. Startled. Shocked. We had not spoken to him about anything. Nor had we introduced ourselves. And here he was, putting his finger on exactly the same issue that confronted us, our enormous debt and our struggling business! How was that possible, we wondered? But the yogi had no intention to allow us time to marvel at his abilities. He continued quickly, even as I mumbled saying yes, “Sir, your problem is not your debt. Your problem is how you are dealing with your debt. You are hating your debt. So, it bothers you. Instead love your debt. It has come into your Life to teach you something. Learn you lessons. And be sure that when you learn them your debt will go away just the way it came into your Life. All our problems in Life can be solved ONLY when we look within and find our OWN answers.” With that our meeting ended.
We found his answer too simplistic. I remember telling my wife as I got into our car that the man is either too naïve or is a charlatan! Now, when I look back I realize how stupid, fickle and uncharitable I had been. Because the yogi had not called us, we went to him. He did not ask for money. He did not prescribe a tantric ritual or a series of prayers. All he said was look within and advised us to learn our lessons while loving the problem that had invited itself over in our Life! Over the years I have found only his approach working for us. Our problems remain where they are. Even so, our ability to deal with them have grown phenomenally because we have learned to love them and continue to learn from them. The yogi has also become a close personal friend who has taught us another important perspective to Life: “Worship the divinity within you. Face Life. All your solutions, to problems that confound you, are within. Seek within and you shall find them”!
In our case, it was our debt. Your story and your problem situation may be different. But whatever the problem may be, I am sure, this awakening perspective will certainly apply to you too.
It really is as simple as it sounds. Life is not complicated. We make it so by failing to recognize our own divinity!