Why I raise a mind-morning toast to Life!
After my morning walk today I remarked to Vaani: “It feels so good to have walked. It is so energizing.”
Just about 15 years ago, I loathed exercise. I was perpetually on the “busyness treadmill” – running from meeting to meeting, traveling 21 days a month, managing people – their shortcomings, attitudes and tantrums – more than harnessing their talent or managing our business! I had diabetes and hypertension; I weighed 95 kilos and had a tobacco habit. I also drank considerably large volumes of alcohol – frequently, sometimes daily.
And look at how my Life has changed in these years!
I read a story on Albert Einstein’s idea of happiness in the papers a couple of days ago. He has said this is 1922: “A calm and modest Life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” That was almost 95 years ago, but even today I can relate to his philosophy. Simply because I have lived that restless Life and understood its futility. When we went bankrupt in 2007 (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal), and in dealing with worklessness and pennilessness for most of the past decade, I realized that the greatest wealth in Life is the ability to celebrate what is, to live fully in the present moment. I believe I squandered a large part of my 20s and 30s pursuing success – name, fame, money – and so I was constantly restless. I was searching for something; I don’t ever remember feeling fulfilled or complete at that time. And then – poof! – everything material was snatched away from me, from us. And I was forced to learn to be patient with Life. That’s when – and how – I learnt the value of being calm and of enjoying, savoring, each moment – no matter how tough our circumstances have been.
Interestingly, I am reading ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life (by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles) currently. ikigai is an ancient Japanese concept that means ‘reason for being’ or ‘a reason to jump out of bed every morning’! The book’s interesting. Though I feel it is more focused on the idea of longevity than on happiness itself. And I come from the Anand (1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan) school of thought of “Babumoshai, zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin”!!! (Life must be a grand celebration and not necessarily long!) Even so, I completely relate to the idea of ikigai! Because only when we understand the reason for our being, only when we have a reason to jump out of bed every morning, will we learn to be happy – despite the circumstances!
It’s been a fascinating morning for me…yet another day worth celebrating despite our zillion problems…there are so, so many broken parts of our Life that we don’t know how to fix, but re-reading Einstein’s idea of happiness, living my ikigai, worshipping a carefully cultivated sense of equanimity and relishing every sip of Vaani’s coffee…make me look forward with enthusiasm. To Life!
What you seek will seek you.
“I often vex over trying to understand what is the Purpose of my Life,” said a young man who I met recently. He wanted to know if it was a “good thing” or a “bad thing” vexing over trying to understand your Life’s Purpose.
I smiled. The very fact that a young man, in his 20s, is thinking of Life’s Purpose, I feel, is commendable. I started wondering if my Life has a Purpose at all only when I was in my mid-thirties. And this is what I have learnt from my quest for, and discovery of, my Life’s Purpose.
We must first remember that all forms of creation have a Purpose. Particularly, the human form. To be created a human being, with no significant ‘manufacturing defects’, is a not just a miracle, it is a blessing. If you have been created human, surely, there must be a reason behind it; a Purpose. Else, possibly, you may been created in some other inanimate or non-human form. Think about it. Why are you created human? And the answer really is simple. You are human so that you can experience happiness, so that you can serve other forms of creation using your intellect and your compassion, and so that you live a full, complete Life. But what do we human beings do – we are conditioned by our upbringing and social expectations, so we are stuck with earning-a-living instead of living, we are forever saying we deserve more, instead of serving and because our wants outnumber our needs, we are perpetually unhappy. So, in essence, we are, as a race, a majority of us, missing the whole Purpose behind our creation.
Every human creation has an individual Purpose too. Just as Gandhi’s had, Mother Teresa’s had, Kailash Sathyarthi’s has and Malala Yusafzai’s has. It is a fallacy to imagine that only ‘great’ people’s lives have a Purpose. The truth is that they are regarded as great only because they lived a Life of Purpose. Now, you cannot find your Life’s Purpose by vexing over it. Agonizing over something will only cause suffering. So, just relax. The very fact that you know that your Life has a Purpose and you are seeking it is a blessing – there are so many, many, many millions out there who are merely ‘earning-a-living’ and are imagining that they have been created to slave, earn, save, suffer and procreate. So, you are in a more evolved state than many out there. Celebrate yourself, than agonizing, therefore.
What’s beautiful about Life is that your Life’s Purpose will find you. What you seek will seek you. There’s no way you can explain this. It happens to each one in their own way – over time. Sometimes a cathartic turn of events may awaken you. Sometimes, a flash of an idea may inspire you. Or you may just be in a place by sheer happenstance when you feel a river moving inside you telling you, ‘come, flow with me!’ Purpose is magical. It transforms your Life instantaneously. It makes you want to wake up each morning and go live each day fully, happily, energetically, no matter how debilitating the circumstances are.
There’s a simple way to stay tuned in the direction of your Life’s Purpose though. Make a list of all the activities you are passionate about. Then decide which one or ones are you capable of being world-class, excellent, at. Then focus only on doing those couple of things that you are passionate about and have the potential to be best at in the world. Soon you will come to that one activity where you lose yourself. Which is, when you immerse yourself in it, you lose track of time, sleep and even of your own identity. Ask yourself how can this one activity not just benefit you alone but how can you serve people around you? The answer to this question may well direct you to your Life’s Purpose. Getting to this stage of understanding, evolution and clarity, takes time. So, trust the process of Life and be patient.
And, of course, Purpose and money are unconnected, unrelated. Though living a Life of Purpose may surely lead you to earn money, making money cannot be your Life’s Purpose. Because money is a human invention, a social necessity. Your Life’s Purpose is the reason for your creation, it is why you are, well, human in the first place. It is the reason for your living, for your being. It is Life’s longing for you – to make your lifetime meaningful, to make it count. So, you don’t have to get vexed trying to find it. Just stay tuned to the big question – ‘what is the Purpose of my Life?’ – without agonizing over it, and your Purpose will, over time, find you.