Adapt, Adjust and Accommodate: Life’s best mantra

Our lives are tailored to take the most unpredictable turns. The only way then to live your Life, if you want to be happy and peaceful, is to be willing to adapt to, adjust with and accommodate the Life that comes your way.

Someone we know recently told us that he was preparing for “exploring the unknown” next year, when he turns 49 and is in his 50th year. So he is getting ready to quit the trappings of a regular job and take “the plunge”. As I heard him share his plans, I thought to myself, while it is always good to plan the Life that you want, it also very important to be willing to accept the Life that you get. This means we must not cling on to or be rigid about our plans for our lives. Because there will be times when Life will serve you a menu that you neither wanted nor ordered!
Consider the story of Anu Aggarwal, the star of Mahesh Bhatt’s Aashiqui(1990) and Mani Ratnam’s Thiruda Thiruda(1993). Her recently launched autobiography Anusual – Memoir Of A Girl Who Came Back From The Dead (HarperCollins India, 192 pages, Rs.299; I haven’t read it yet), I believe, candidly takes us through her pretty eventful Life. She survives a horrifying car crash in 1999, which left her in a 29-day coma. She then takes sanyas – realizing in the bargain that godmen and their aura are neither true and nor do they exist. When she comes out to being her own self, “a voice from within answered”. And that’s how Anusual was born. Can you even imagine that one of Bollywood’s most successful heroines – Aashiqui which completed 25 years last month – was literally “gone with the wind”? And had it not been for a bunch of doctors and Anu’s own fight, she might have been lost in that car crash.

Anu’s story, yet again, tell us this: that you cannot plan your Life beyond a point. You simply have to live it – taking it as it comes. Planning is not a crime. But clinging on to the plan, and resisting Life’s design that often times tears your plans down – that resistance is what will make you miserable. So, the best mantra is be not just willing, but ready too, at any time to adapt to, adjust with, and accommodate what Life has in store for you! 

Comparisons get no one anywhere

Learn not to compare people or yourself with others. Know that everyone’s Life design, including yours, is unique.
The other day we were at dinner at a friend’s place. The conversation veered around the new Indian Super League that features football clubs from across the country competing in a never-before format. Someone wanted to know who owned the club from Chennai – Chennaiyin FC. When she was told that it was co-owned by the Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan (AB Jr) she remarked sarcastically, “Now that he’s not doing well in films, he has taken to sports, is it?”
She then went on to berate AB Jr: “He’s not a patch on his legendary father. His father is such an iconic star. This guy pales in comparison.”

I am not going to defend AB Jr, though I must confess that I like him. People do have mixed views about him and his work – just as they do of any film actor. I believe, for instance, in Mani Ratnam’s Yuva (2004) and Guru (2007), AB Jr was exceptional. And he has been consistently good in several other films – although many of them have not been very successful at the Box Office. I haven’t met him personally but I know several people who have worked with him – and all of them uniformly attest that he is an exceptionally warm, friendly person, a livewire on the sets and a thorough professional. Indeed, AB Sr, the venerable Amitabh Bachchan, is a Super Star. And he is light years ahead in the business – not just ahead of his son, but of almost everyone else! So I wonder why we must compare father and son – and, therefore, constantly judge AB Jr with a clear, unavoidable bias toward his father?
All of us have this urge to compare ourselves with others and others with still others. Comparisons lead us to one of two outcomes – a superiority complex or an inferiority complex. Both outcomes are manifestations of the ego. The truth is that you compare yourself with others because you are egoistic. So, if you stop comparing, you will have effectively dropped the ego.
Osho, the Master, asks us to learn from nature. He cites the example of a man standing in front of a tall tree and saying that he feels small. There are so many small trees and shrubs around this tall tree – but they don’t express their “smallness”. They simply go on living, swaying in the wind and co-existing in the presence of the tall tree. Why does this man alone feel small in front of the tall tree? Osho tells us that only we, humans, compare. And that’s because we allow our egos to lead us. Similarly, we are the only species who judge others. A is better than B. B is inferior to C. AB Jr is not as good as his father. NaMo is better than Manmohan Singh. Shoba De is better than Arundhati Roy. And on and on we go. Passing judgment. Comparing people. And presiding over our ill-informed, half-baked opinions – reassuring ourselves that we are the most important specimen in our species.
Comparing yourself with others and feeling superior leads you to insecurity, and through that to suffering – because you never want to lose that social (superior) status. Comparing yourself with others and feeling inferior leads you to suffering because you are constantly pining to become something or someone that you are not. Bottomline – in either case, you are inviting suffering into your Life. You must realize that no matter how hard you compare yourself with others or judge others in comparison with others, comparisons have absolutely no use. You will be who you are. And people you compare yourself – or others – with will be who they are. Comparisons, therefore, are a total waste of time and precious personal energy. They get no one anywhere.

The intelligent way to live is to know who you are and simply be at peace with yourself. And even if you don’t know who you are, just being at peace with the way you are, avoiding comparing yourself with others, is the way to be! 

Inner peace depends on what you feel good doing!

Your inner peace depends on what you feel good doing. Doing good, being ethical, is a personal choice. If being good and ethical gives you joy, continue to do so, despite what the world says or how you are treated or what’s handed or meted out to you. Simply, do whatever it takes to protect your inner peace!  

You grieve and suffer when you try to be something that you intrinsically are not. If you are not unethical, then ‘adjusting’ to the ‘ways of the world’ will only make you depressed. But then you look around you, listen to the voices of ‘compromise’, almost all of them leaning towards ‘adjusting, accommodating, accepting’ the ‘worldly way’, in a seemingly insane world and you conclude that goodness, ethics and humanity are dead. So, you grudgingly join the crowd that just wants to play to the whims of the world. You don’t feel good about this at all. But still you compromise. This compromise is what will kill your soul, will squeeze your inner core and make you miserable. So, the question you have to ask yourself is: are you better off living being good, though alone in the crowd, or are you willing to compromise and live suffering, in misery?


Whatever you decide, just stick to it. Don’t grieve after you have made your choice. Know however, that, as long as Life has been around on the planet, and as history has proven time and again, the good will always prevail in the end. No matter what the good sides have had to go through, no war has ever been won by the unethical sides. So, if you are one of those who needs statistical evidence, you can check this premise out. You will find it to be true.

This is not about being a revolutionary. For, our ethical conflicts do not just happen at a social or national level. They happen in close, personal relationships. If you sit down and analyze each of your close relationships, you will find that several of them have been compromised__by you or by the other. Left to yourself you will perhaps not want to continue with some of those. But you have gagged your soul, thinking you have bought peace, succumbing to manipulators, to liars and to vicious and cantankerous people in your circle of influence. This could be a spouse, an in-law, a sibling, a parent, a friend, a neighbor, a colleague, a boss, a subordinate or a business partner. Ask yourself how are you feeling about each of these relationships? Do you feel you have compromised? You will invariably find that you don’t enjoy them, that you don’t belong in that company. Then, why are you there? Because it’s easier to be ‘peaceful’ when you accept the ‘way of the world’ and when ‘you join them if you can’t beat them’? Perhaps, you have not understood the meaning of peace. Peace is what you feel when you are happy within. Are you? You obviously are not. You are just avoiding a conflict by capitulating. Now, you don’t need to revolt. You don’t need to fight. You simply must choose to be who you are. As Irish philosopher Edmund Burke (1729~1797) said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” You don’t necessarily need to bring in righteousness here if you don’t want to. You just do what you think is right for you.

If being good, doing good is your way of Life, choose it. The key is to be happy. Because Life is about being happy despite the circumstances that you are placed in. Of course, if you are the sort that can be happy with a compromise, well, that’s fine too. Or if you are happy joining those who are outright unscrupulous, then so be it. Simply, be happy!

The latest Mani Ratnam film, ‘Kadal’ (The Ocean), deals with this subject of Good vs Evil beautifully. Set in the backdrop of a village of Christian fisherfolk, it explores the challenges that good people have to encounter in the face of the easy, unscrupulous ways available to them. The dilemma, the trials and the tribulations of Father Sam Fernando (played admirably by Arvind Swami), the village’s pastor and conscience keeper, reflect those we face in our own daily lives. Each moment is a choice. To do what’s right and to adjust, accommodate and do what appears to be right. Father Sam always chooses to do what’s right. And pays a price, sometimes a heavy one, every single time. Yet, he chooses not to get bitter. And keeps persevering, spreading the doctrine of good living__being good, doing good__often times, thanklessly.

This is the lesson we need to learn. If you are peaceful doing good and being ethical, then know that you will be tested, taunted, chided, trampled upon, kicked around, but the key is to continue to be who you are. Despite the provocations. In spite of your situation.Knowing fully well that in the end only goodness works, as ‘Kadal’s’ ending demonstrates one more time, in this mad, seemingly bad, world. Besides, if being good is who you intrinsically are, just be it. Because only by being yourself can you be at peace!