I am often asked how do Vaani and I handle the social implications of being bankrupt.
“Don’t people call you a ‘Failure’ – how do you deal with it?” – well, that’s a question that always comes our way. Surely, we have been called ‘Failed Entrepreneurs’ and ‘Cheats’…in fact, many more debilitating labels have been stuck on us! As long as we worried about those labels and gave them attention, they really weighed us down. But soon we learnt an important Life lesson – “What others think of you is none of your business!!!”. So, we simply peeled off the labels in our mind, trashed them, and moved on.
We have realized that when you are sure of your values, you have integrity of Purpose, when you stay true to yourself and own the outcome of your actions, no one, nor what they say, can then pin you down!
This picture was taken at a recent “Fall Like A Rose Petal”Talk where I am sharing this learning with a bunch of young engineering students. I am telling them that the Big ‘F’ word to be wary of is “Failure”…I shared with them that both “Success” and “Failure” are mere imposters, they are labels that society tries to stick on you. As long as you let neither label stick, you will be happy and at peace with yourself!
“I am sick and tired of fighting Life,” he said as he sat down across me at a café recently. He was in his late 20s. He looked beaten. He had reached out to me and Vaani wanting to seek our perspectives through our ‘Let’s Talk Happyness!’ Program. He ordered a black coffee for himself and told us his story. His parents are separated. He has a smoking habit that he loathes. He has been rejected by all potential employers – 15 of them so far – in the last 3 years. He feels he is “cursed” and “condemned” to “worthlessness”. His girlfriend has deserted him. “I feel lost and lonely. I am sick and tired of fighting Life,” he repeated, choking as he spoke.
This young man’s plight is not unique. There are many, many out there who feel lost and beaten by Life’s challenges. They feel they can’t go on “fighting Life” anymore. Vaani and I can relate to their agony, because we have been there and felt that way. But we have also realized that fighting Life is futile. You can’t win over Life. And, interestingly, Life is not playing to win – or defeat you – either. No matter what the circumstances are, however excruciating and hopeless they are, you only have one option. Which is to face Life, and take it as it comes, one day at a time. This may sound too simplistic especially when you are in the throes of complex situations. But there seriously is no other way. You can never fight Life – and hope to win. No matter what, you must just face Life and flow with it.
This is what Vaani and I have learnt from our own experience of dealing with a decade-long bankruptcy. We believe that it is best to put your head down and go to work – remaining detached from the results. We have learnt not to complain, not to mope and mourn, not to suffer.
Facing Life simply means this – you do what you can in the given circumstance without expectations, without resistance, without grief. Eventually, each of us has to go through what we have to go through; so, we might as well face Life with equanimity than fight it with angst.
What do you do when you don’t know what to do in Life?
A young lady reached out to Vaani and me recently. She said her 2-year-old marriage was breaking up. Her parents were both diagnosed with cancer. Their family property, which had been under litigation for years, was decreed in favor of her uncles. And she had been laid off at her job. “Where do I begin to fix my problems? I have nowhere to go with my ailing parents and my one-year-old child. I don’t know what to do,” she confessed, breaking down inconsolably.
Vaani and I have been in her situation. We too have felt clueless and lost. What do you do when you don’t know what to do in Life?
I remember Thursday, April 29th 2014 vividly. On that day, we went ‘zero-cash’. We spent the last eighty rupees with us on an auto ride and lived in Chennai, in spells of pennilessness, for months on end after that. Our bankruptcy had blown up into an incomprehensible phase of prolonged worklessness and pennilessness. At one time, we endured 30 months, between 2012 and 2014 when we had no work, no income. (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal and watch this Fall Like A Rose Petal Talk.) This, despite, our best efforts to work our network of contacts, pound the pavement, restructure our delivery model, and put our business back on track. It’s a phase that we are still enduring at varied levels of intensity and challenge from time to time.
It is through this darkest phase of our Life that Vaani and I have understood the true meaning of faith.
We have understood that faith is not quite about trusting an external resource or agency, also popularly known as God. Faith truly means trusting the process of Life – and being happy despite the circumstances; which means, being non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering. We realized that despite our excruciating circumstances, Life was providing us all that we needed. Nothing went according to our plans. Nothing still does. But we have survived a decade of bankruptcy and its attendant, often imponderable, challenges. In this time, our children graduated – our son from an overseas University in 2012. Our daughter too is doing her Master’s abroad. Miraculously, every time we came to the brink, a helping hand appeared from nowhere and hoisted us up or ‘someone’ opened our wings and taught us to fly. That’s what faith has come to mean to us – to know that since you have been created without your asking for it, you will also be, unfailingly, looked after, provided for and cared for. We have learnt that just because we find the going tough, we must not conclude that Life is cruel. In fact, as we have discovered from our experience, Life is most compassionate – always giving you a situation only so that you grow better from dealing with it.
This is what we told the young lady too who sought us out through our Let’s Talk Happyness Program. When you don’t know what to do in Life, you simply let go and you let Life take over. To be sure, you never were in control of anything. Life was always, Life is, and Life will always be in control. Or simply, the Master Plan has no flaws. All that you have to do when you are clueless is to trust the process of Life, keep the faith, and take each day as it comes.
If you wish to seek our perspectives on a Life challenge you are faced with, please reach out here – Let’s Talk Happyness! If you have a personal story of faith, please share. Or tag someone for whom this Post is likely to be useful.
I will continue to post whenever I have a learning to share – may not be daily, but I may post several times in a month.
It has been over 10 years since I have been writing this Blog. I have been writing it daily. Without missing a single day. It started as a Word file in 2007 – as notes to my two children, Aashirwad and Aanchal, in the form of a personal journal (these notes/letters in August 2014 came out as my first Book Fall Like A Rose Petal). Then, in end-2009, I started posting my daily learnings on a Yahoo Group where several of my school friends are members. Slowly, with the emergence of Facebook, I moved to posting there. And eventually, in 2010 or so, I set up my Blog – first on Blogspot and later on WordPress. It has been a fascinating journey over the past decade of sharing learnings continuously – for the past 3650+ days. My daily Blogposts, my sharing, have helped me find meaning in what may otherwise well be called a “dark, meaningless” phase of my Life! My inspiration for my consistency has been Amitabh Bachchan who, despite his superstardom and associated schedules, blogs unfailingly – daily. And my inspiration for my daily posts has been Life itself – I have been sharing here what I have learnt from Life and from people around me.
Going forward, however, I have decided to reduce the frequency of my Blogposts.
I am immersed with conceptualizing and writing two Books – one of them with Vaani. Besides, I would like to dedicate the hour, that I normally invest in writing my Blog daily, to my health – focusing on a walk and exercise regimen to manage my diabetic condition a lot more efficiently!
Today is an important day to make this decision I guess.
It marks the end, astrologically, of a tumultuous phase in our Life. As per my chart, I complete a decade-long phase of my Life today. This phase came close on the heels of another scorching 7-year phase. In these 17 years my own views on God, religion, rituals, faith, astrology and the inscrutable Higher Energy have evolved. I have come to realize that Life (all Life) has a Purpose, everything happens for a reason and time plays a huge role in whatever we experience. I have now understood that Life is the greatest teacher of them all. She always gives you the test first and lesson later. Astrology to me is a science (like meteorology is) that tells you how the conditions are likely to be – I don’t see it (anymore) as capable of changing your Life’s course. In fact, no one, and nothing, can change it. I remain grateful to Life for all that I have experienced and learnt.
Even so, as I embark on a new phase in my Life, when I sincerely believe our business and financial situation will turn around, and we will be able to repay all the money that we owe people, I look forward to engaging even more purposefully with Life. With Vaani, I hope to be Inspiring Happiness among any audience that cares to pause and reflect – through my Books, my Talks, our Workshops and through this Blog. I may play around with the medium here – choosing to write a Blogpost or share a Vlog or Podcast. I will essentially continue to post whenever I have a learning to share – may not be daily, but I may post several times in a month. So, please stay tuned! Vaani and I wish you and your precious family, good health, abundance and “Happyness” – now and always!
My first ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’ Talk was hosted by two of our dear friends at their home in Chennai on December 2nd, 2012.
The Talk was way ahead of the Book itself (which released in August 2014). In the Talk I share how – through the numbing experience of our bankruptcy – Vaani and I conquered fear to become fearless, how we overcame self-doubt and self-pity and anchored in faith, how we dropped anger, grief and guilt to forgive ourselves and those around us who had been judgmental and how we found our true Self, our Higher Purpose in Life, and found happiness, when we were actually totally lost and clueless!!! This cathartic experience led us to understand the value of Reflection, Resilience and Resourcefulness in Life. We have learnt to be non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering, and so, we have learnt to be happy despite our (any/excruciating) circumstances.
To us now, while we are still eons away from resurrecting our material Life and beginning the process of repaying our creditors/Angels, “Inspiring Happiness” is our raison d’etre, our ikigai – this is what we wake up to do every morning. This is why we curate and host four, free, public events on this theme across Chennai.
Recently, the head of a large organization invited Vaani and me to share our ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’ journey with his team. He felt our message of deploying the power of Reflection, Resilience and Resourcefulness was very relevant to work and Life in any context; it helps people understand what personal leadership is all about. In delivering our Talk for several batches of his team, we have completed 100 ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’ Talks (the actual count stands at 110) between 2012 December and now.
Vaani and I remain soaked in gratitude and are humbled by this opportunity, through the experience of our bankruptcy, to have learnt what happiness truly is and what it does.
If you would like to hear the Talk, you can watch it here.
If you would like to order the Book, please order it here.
Ping us if you or anyone you know would like to host this Talk for any audience that cares to pause and reflect on Life!
Life is always in the driver’s seat and we are mere passengers on this journey of our lifetimes.
I saw an interesting promotion for safe and responsible driving at The Park, Kolkata, recently. It read: “Sometimes it’s good to take a back seat.” The idea by the hotel was part of their effort to discourage drunken driving.
But I found a deeply spiritual perspective in that signage’s message.
For the longest time, I believed that I was in the driver’s seat in, and of, my Life. Until the bankruptcy felled us in end-2007. (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) In the past decade we have left no stone unturned to fix our business and put it back on track. And each time our efforts have come unstuck. And, at several times between 2007 and 2017, the threads of our Life have been snatched from our hands and thrown away in a mangled heap. It is through experiencing Life’s upheavals and learning to accept what is, surrendering to a Higher Energy and choosing to go with the flow that I have understood that Life is always in the driver’s seat – and we are mere passengers on this journey of our lifetimes.
I have realized that our Life does not happen because of us. It happens through us and, often, inspite of us! It is our desire to control our Life that causes all our suffering. When we awaken to the reality that Life cannot be controlled and that we must only flow with it, that moment, that Eureka moment, is enlightenment.
This does not mean that we must be resigned to our Life. It does not mean that free will is irrelevant in Life’s context. Free will works handsomely but with limitations. In any situation, you have to do what you have to do. Or do what you feel like doing. That act of doing, now, that’s free will. But in almost every context, it is Life that manifests outcomes. When these outcomes match your efforts and expectations, you conclude that you are in control. Yet there are times when despite your best efforts the results don’t add up. That’s when you become frustrated and depressed. So, the best way to avoid all suffering in Life is to do your best in a given situation and leave the rest, the results, to Life.
That’s what taking the back seat in Life means. Life always was and is in control. You just allow yourself to be led by Life. Only then can you be truly anchored and happy.