It is only from feeling lost in Life that you can go figure what makes you come alive

Celebrate being clueless and not knowing where your Life is going!

20160415_164125There may be times in Life when you will begin to question why you made the choices that you made. There may be anger and grief in you for what has happened. And there may even be guilt over what you have done that led to what has happened. As you wallow in self-pity and self-doubt, everything about your Life will appear listless, uninteresting and meaningless. You just begin to hate the Life you have and don’t know where to begin. Or how to snap out of such a state.

Relax. You are perfectly normal if you feel that way about your Life just now. It is only from feeling lost in Life can you find yourself, find focus and learn to appreciate the value of being happy despite your circumstances. I too have been there and felt exactly that way. So whatever I tell you now, I share from personal experience.

We must first understand that Life by itself has no meaning. You came with nothing. And you will go, when your time is up, with nothing. So all this drama of achieving, possessing, losing, reclaiming, all this is just a waste of an entire lifetime, really. But this doesn’t mean that there’s no point in living. Obviously a Higher, Intelligent (that’s certainly more intelligent that everyone around here) Energy has created you and given you the gift of this lifetime. Now if you are spending this lifetime brooding, grieving and feeling miserable, then you are clearly squandering this opportunity, this gift. Recognize that the opportunity to utilize the gift of this lifetime is with you. Nobody but you can live your Life for you. No matter who you are with, you have to act, you have to take charge, you have to get moving to create the Life that you will enjoy living. Simply, you must get down to work to bring meaning to your Life by doing all – and only – that which makes you happy.

Now, it’s quite possible that you are feeling lost in Life because you are where you are because of the choices you have made so far. It is always your past that creates your present. And it is your present that seeds the future. Since no one can undo the past, the only way you can move into the future is by living in the now. When you are clinging to the dead past, you are missing the now. Your brooding over what was is not going to change it for you. As you go along in Life you will discover that no experience is ever a waste – clearly, as Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots backward. So, let go of the past but learn from your past choices. Understand which of those choices made you happy. And which are the choices that you would never want to make again?  Then ask yourself what is it that will make you happy? And begin to work in that direction. You must remember here that from where you are you may not be able to immediately transition to where you want to be. But unless you start making choices relating to your happiness, you will not move in the direction of where you want to be. Also know that sometimes the future you want to create for yourself may seem hopelessly distant. Or that you may struggle with getting started on the journey. This is when you must be patient and start learning to live in the now. Trust the process of Life. Things happen in their own time and at their own pace. Your job is to keep working on being happy celebrating and savoring each moment.

Knowing your ikigai helps here. Ikigai in Japanese means reason for being. But, colloquially, it also means what do you wake up for each morning? What gets you excited to get out of bed and going? Find your ikigai. And this takes some time and effort. So, you begin with a long list of things you like doing. And keep doing most of them. Soon you will realize that you love doing somethings more than the others. The list now gets shortened. And soon again you will discover that when doing a thing, or a couple of things, you just feel blissful. That then is your ikigai. Start focusing on it. Do it again, and again, and again. Become a master at your ikigai. When you become world-class and attain mastery at it, you not only are happy doing it, you are also profiting from your happiness because the world likes to pay a premium to engage with masters!

So, stop ruing the fact that you are lost. Instead celebrate being clueless. And get down to working on your Life. An exciting journey awaits you that will help you understand who you really are and what makes you really come alive and be happy.

Sunny Leone is more spiritual than most people around us

Important Note: This Blog will continue to feature my daily blogposts. In addition, on Sundays, public holidays and long weekends, I will feature The Happiness Road Series and my #HelpYourselfToHappiness Vlog Series!
Here’s today’s blogpost!
Spirituality does not impose any conditions on your being. It is the flowering of inner awareness that brings you to be present in whatever is.
Sunny Leone
Picture Courtesy: Internet
There’s this whole song and dance, well we can call it drama too, over Bollywood actor Sunny Leone’s interview with CNN-IBN’s Bhupendra Chaubey. I have not seen any of Sunny Leone’s movies nor have I dug up her footprint, as an erstwhile porn star, online. I have also had no interest in any interview she has given up until now. That’s when my friend BG’s story on the actor and her interview appeared in The Hindu this morning. Now, BG’s someone I respect a lot. And his concluding line, “…Until now, she was a small-time actor, the interview made her a heroine.”…caught my attention. So I googled and pulled up Chaubey’s interview with Leone and watched it. I not only concur with BG’s perspective but I go a step further: I don’t just think Leone is gorgeous-looking, sexy if you will, I believe she’s very, very, spiritual too.
I have no comments to offer on Chaubey’s interviewing style or the quality and tone of his questions. That’s his way of Life. So, my perspective here is not because I disagree with what Chaubey asked or did, but is here because I agree with, and can relate to, everything that Leone said. It takes an evolved person to say that I have no regrets about the past. And Leone does not just say it, she says it with a deep conviction. She says, “ …Everything that I have done in my Life, has led me (in)to this seat…it’s a chain reaction that happens…everything is a stepping stone…when you are young you make decisions that lead you to who you are as an adult…” To me, Leone’s interview offers an unputdownable lesson in spirituality. It left me admiring this young lady for her ability to hold herself up with dignity, when so many people are hell bent on judging her. Watch the full interview here:

I make no comparisons here. But interestingly, at the recently concluded Hindu Lit for Life event, ace photographer Raghu Rai, who was in conversation with renowned art editor Sadanand Menon, said something very similar: “I am just a sum of all the experiences I have been through in Life. Everything that I have done in my Life has made me the person that I am today.” Everyone who heard Rai share with Menon came back feeling reflective and spiritual.

And truly, that’s all there is to Life. We all are a product of the time and the experiences we go through. There’s nothing right or wrong about the choices we make. Each choice leads us to another one and that one leads to yet another. And through choosing, falling, crawling, getting up, flying and falling again, we learn to choose better and cruise along in Life. Leone’s choice of opting to be in the porn industry was not very different from my choice of having been a salesman early on in my career or Rai’s choice of being a news photographer for several years. In the end, really, no experience is a waste and no experience is bad. Each one teaches you something, provided you are willing to learn.

As I see it, there’s a lot I can learn from Leone. She displays humility, acceptance and a keenness to just let things be. For instance, she says that she has neither been “haunted” or “held back” by her past. She tells Chaubey that she does not want to think of a future – of acting with a big star like Aamir Khan – that is not yet born: “At this moment I don’t know (about the future) any better.” I wish, instead of bringing a hypocritical sense of morality into play, that people pause and reflect on Leone’s interview for the honesty she inspires through it. That and her ability to be who she is, celebrating herself, without any regrets of a past that is dead and gone, and without any anxieties over an unborn future, are very spiritual qualities.  To me, those qualities make her more spiritual – and not just sexy – than most people around us are. 

Your past can be your teacher

In hindsight, all of us are wise. The key is to learn from experiences and not either cling on to grief or guilt.
A recent issue of TIME magazine carries an interview with ace golfer Tiger Woods. Lorne Rubenstein asks him: “Your private Life was exposed in 2009. What would you have done differently?” And Woods replies: “In hindsight, it’s not how I would change 2009 and how it all came about. It would be having a more open, honest relationship with my ex-wife. The relationship that I have now with her is fantastic. She’s one of my best friends. We’re able to pick up the phone, and we talk all the time. We both know that the most important things in our lives are our kids. I wish I would have known that back then.”
Woods nails it. It is very important to pause, reflect and internalize what you can learn from a past – any – experience. With reflection, and introspection, grief and guilt may arise. But you must develop the ability to stay detached from these debilitating emotions. You must look at your own Life – and the past – dispassionately. Ask yourself if there is any point in brooding or feeling angry and guilty? There really isn’t! Once you realize the futility of harboring these emotions, you let them go. This does not mean you don’t either feel them or don’t learn from them. You will feel them. And you can learn from them. But just don’t get bogged down by them!
The past always teaches you – something about you and about Life! The past can also hold you hostage. It is up to you whether you want your past be your teacher or your captor!

Don’t churn the past or the future – just let it all be

The human mind is powerless in the present moment. That’s why it insists on dragging you back to the past or into the future.

An important and fundamental clarity we must all have is over the functioning of the human mind. It thrives in the dead past – spewing thoughts of anger, grief, guilt over what has happened. And it thrives in the still unborn, unknown future – throwing anxiety, worry and fear over what may (or may not) happen. So, as long as the mind is controlling you, you are oscillating between the past and the future. The mind never allows you to settle. Such is its nature. 60,000 thoughts arise daily and all of them invariably dwell in the past or concern the future. This is why we often feel chewed up and are desperate for clarity. And this is where mindfulness comes in. When you are mindful of the present moment, immersing yourself in your current reality, your mind is powerless. When your mind is not controlling you, and when you are directing it instead to be in the present, there can neither be grief or guilt nor can there be worry or fear.
Once you understand this basic concept about intelligent living, you can begin the practise of mindfulness. It requires that you train your mind. And the principle to remember is that just like the human body can be trained, the human mind can be trained too. Mindfulness begins when you stop churning the past or the future in your mind. Just let it all be. You focus only on what is, on what is available, in the present moment. It may be difficult – as is the case with any new practice – but if you keep at it, you will make progress. Surely, over 21 days of daily practise, you can learn to be mindful.
I love what the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has to say about mindfulness. He says it so simply, so beautifully: “To be mindful is to bring body and mind back to the present moment so that you do not miss your appointment with life.”

Eat the strawberry or stop complaining – either way choose to be happy!

Focus on what is happening than on what was happening or what will happen.
Distractions in our Life come from two sources. The past. And the future. There’s no worry about the present moment. Because you are in it already! There’s no choice with the present. This is where we can be happy.
But while we want to be happy, we don’t recognize the opportunity to be happy when it comes in front of us. The truth is we don’t know how to be happy. We like to indulge in self-pity and in worrying. So, we conveniently exercise the debilitating choice of slipping into the past or moving into an imaginary future state. Neither of which is in our control. The past is over, it HAS HAPPENED. It is dead. The future is still TO HAPPEN, it is the unknown. Anything can happen and not necessarily what you imagine. So, stay in the present. Stay here knowing fully well that you CANNOTstop the worries from coming to you. What you can do is STOP WORRYING!
Worries are like waves. Their job is to keep coming to the shore. Come, crash, ebb, recede, resurge, come, crash, ebb….this is a non-stop cycle. So will your worries keep coming to you, non-stop. Their job is to keep coming at you. You will have to learn to be unmoved. Don’t try to be untouched though. Because the nature of a worry is like the wave, it will drench you if you are standing at the shore. But don’t be influenced by it. Remain unmoved. And that you can achieve by focusing on what is happening. Worrying from a guilt or a burden from the past or fearing the unknown future is going to take away the beauty of the moment you are in. 
There’s this Zen story called ‘Cliffhanger’ that should help us understand the power of being in the NOW. One day while walking through the wilderness a man came across a vicious tiger in his path. He ran for his Life but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the precipice. As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing at the vine. Suddenly, he noticed, on the vine, a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious, he thought, and enjoyed himself! Imagine, the man had the following options: 1. Continue to hate the Tiger, his past, at the moment, that had, in a way, led him to his present. 2. Fear the mice for what they were about to do to the vine and worry about the future__for his Life. 3. Eat the strawberry and celebrate the moment’s delicious opportunity. He chose the third. This is the secret of intelligent living. To make the right choice.
Remember: Life’s offering us delicious strawberries even as the tigers from our past are chasing us and the mice are chewing away and possibly ruining what we imagine to be our future. Know that the tigers can’t come down to the present__they are only there to haunt us. And that the mice can’t do anything to stop you from enjoying the strawberry, if you decide to eat them! The simple non-negotiable reality is that if you want to be happy, you must eat the strawberry, you must ACCEPT WHAT IS. And if you don’t like strawberries, then, please stop complaining about the lack of happiness in your Life!