It is futile to expect people to live by your values or rise up to your standards of efficiency. So just be and let be.
Earlier this week someone pinged me asking for my time to interview me for their channel. This was the second time that this channel was approaching me. The first time I had given them an appointment, no one showed up. So, this time, I requested the lady who called me to ensure that such a boo-boo does not happen. The interview was tentatively penciled in for Sunday (today) noon. But when no confirmation or communication came forth from the channel, for two days since the request was made, I proactively wrote to the young lady late last evening saying I did not appreciate the way they were treating me – that too, a second, consecutive time. I said if they are still keen to interview, I needed to be assured of their intent, commitment and efficiency before I even accepted their invitation. The lady, of course, got back apologizing profusely. An attempt is now underway to seek me out a third – hopefully successful – time for the interview.
Last evening after I got off a WhatsApp exchange with the lady, I thought to myself that I seem to have indeed evolved over the years. And that gave me a huge sense of inner peace.
Just a decade ago, I would have been hurt and I would have been angry. I would have shredded the channel and expressed my disgust in a very loud, sharp and scathing manner. But Life is a great teacher. And I guess I am working on being a good learner.
I have understood that there are only two ways of dealing with situations and people that don’t meet your expectations. One is to fight them, in an effort to change the situation or convince the people involved to see your point of view. And the other is to simply accept things and people for what they are, communicate your displeasure unequivocally, and keep moving on. I used to fight what I thought was the good fight for the longest time – trying to change stubborn situations and people. I have never really been successful with either. What I realize is that getting angry and frustrated always left me drained and seething with negativity. Worse, the negativity would fester in me for much longer after an outburst or showdown. I loathed that feeling. I disliked me in those times. Soon I discovered two truths – one, situations that are not in your control cannot be changed or turned around by you and two, people that let you down often do so only because they believe they are right in what they are doing. So what is the point in being angry with either such situations or people? I have employed this learning, this awakening, in Life ever since, and it has worked beautifully for me.
Basically, you must only work to protect your inner peace. You and only you are responsible for your inner peace. If someone is trying to ride roughshod over you for whatever reason – out of their inefficiencies, or circumstances or insensitivity – politely tell them that you don’t appreciate the way you are being treated. And move on. Don’t preach. Don’t rant. Don’t try to change them. Protect your inner peace. Period. If something, an event, a situation is causing you discomfort, and pain, try to move away. For example, if you are in a job, working with colleagues that you don’t get along with, work on changing your job. If you can’t change your job, accept your reality for what it is, the way it is, and stop complaining. Almost instantaneously your inner peace will be restored. Now, at least a lousy job situation can be changed over time. But what about a critical health challenge or the death of someone you love? There are situations in Life which are non-reversible, unchangeable. Complaining and grieving then is of no use. Only acceptance of what is can help you anchor in peace.
I have also understood that every person you know on this planet is going through their own Life situations. How they interact with the world around them – that includes you – has a lot to do with what they are experiencing in Life and how they are feeling within them. There is almost always no conspiracy against you in particular. If you stop imagining the conspiracy theory, there will be no more villains in your Life’s story. Then, everyone is a fellow voyager. Everyone is struggling, stumbling, falling, getting up and clutching on to their metaphorical last straws – just as you are! So, help them if you can by letting them be. And help yourself by just being and protecting your inner peace – because, no one else ever will!
Learn to be eternally grateful even for what you don’t want or for what you didn’t expect from Life.
Someone recently suggested that Vaani and I practice a method to help us “invite” money in our Life. The method involved picturing someone that we hated and seeking their forgiveness, in our mind, for hating them. If we did that with a deep sense of humility and engagement with the process, we were told, we would immediately “receive” money from unprecedented quarters. We politely declined the suggestion. For a few simple reasons: Principally, we don’t hate anyone. Second, we have forgiven ourselves and everyone around us. Third, we remain in an eternal state of gratitude to whatever has happened, is happening and will happen to us. We have understood that to resist anything is futile. So we are always in acceptance of what is. If we don’t like something, we simply go to work on trying to change it. And if we can’t change it immediately, we learn to be patient with the process of Life.
Being eternally grateful to everyone and everything, we now realize, is the best principle in Life.
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! Which is why, this state of gratitude and non-complaining takes time attaining. The human mind always craves for what is not there. And rarely appreciates what is there. 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 and to be ever-complaining.
To be sure, non-complaining does not mean there is nothing to complain about; it means you have chosen to be grateful for what is and not to complain about what isn’t! To break free from this self-defeating, ever-complaining 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 don’t have outweighs what you have? What you will discover through this exercise is the power in the Zen practice we discussed above. You will appreciate that there is no other way to respond to Life than with gratitude. You will then conclude that the best way to live is to simply be thankful for everything that Life’s given you. And you too will stop complaining and start living!
|Justin Vijay Yesudas
Picture Courtesy: The New Indian Express