Here are 3 important laws of life which are extremely important to bear in mind while we travel through life.
Success is never permanent: Whenever we encounter success in anything we feel really overjoyed and happy. But we must keep our emotions in check and should not go overboard with it. Many times we live in world of imagined greatness for a long time. We must remember that ‘success is never permanent’ and success like all things in life is temporary. We should accept success with graciousness and humility. Success is never a destination and is just an intermediate stop in life.
Failure is never final: This is another important law that we should keep in mind. Whenever we face failure we should not be cowed down by the defeat.When you are down and out remind youself that ‘Even this must pass” and carry on in life. Failure like success is fleeting and not a permanent. To fail is to learn. We must learn from our mistakes and prepare ourselves to do better the next time.
Problems are a fact of life: This is the 3rd essential fact of life. Buddha said ‘Suffering is inevitable”. This is a fact that we should learn to accept and live with. We cannot wish away our problems. There will be days when things go smoothly and other days when life will seem insurmountable with problems. We must understand that life’s problems and life’s joys happen and we must learn to deal with them with equanimity.
These 3 laws in life are extremely crucial as you go through life.
Peace in life is a continuum and cannot simply be isolated instances of freedom from discord. But peace in life is a mirage. We never seem to attain it and are usually burdened with worries, anxieties, fears, animosities and the like.
To get anywhere even close to peace and happiness in life the first thing we need to do is to travel light in life. Here are some prescriptive processes that will take you closer to peace in life. As mentioned above they are prescriptive and they are processes and will need to be followed in your journey through life
Let go of animosity and hatred: This is the cardinal principle of living lightly and is embodied in Lord Jesus Christ’s immortal words “Love thy enemy”. One needn’t be religious to understand the brilliance in the above statement. Letting go of hatred is simply “smart mental energy management”. Harboring hatred and venom for another can sap your energy and strength. So simply let go and better still forgive and forget.
Strive for mental poise: Here is another no-brainer and is the utterance of Lord Krishna in the Gita “A true yogi is one who is unruffled by praise or criticism”. You don’t have to be a yogi to realize the truth in the above statement. Praise usually makes us excited and giddy headed. Our head could swell with exaggerated pride. This is often very tiring. Similarly criticism can make us feel crushed and hurt. This is another mental energy sapper. So we need to be able to consciously brush off both praise and criticism,
Take on problems head-on: As I mentioned in my earlier post “Life sucks … big time”. All of us are given a unique set of problems to handle in life. There are no exceptions. So handle your problems head-on. Don’t put away the issues you face in life. It is your problem and your responsibility to get it solved. So get cracking and start to work towards possible solutions.
Don’t procrastinate: This is another important step to travel lightly in life. Having a large to-do-list is bad. In fact go ahead and banish the to-do list from your life. Whatever you need to do for yourself, your family or in your profession get started and have them completed. In my opinion a ‘to-do’ list is really a ‘to-nag’ list. The tasks in your list have the dirty habit of lurking in the recesses of your mind and robbing you of your peace.
So get started. The first step is always the best step.
Let go of hatred, practice mental poise, take your problems on your chin and avoid procrastination.
Unclutter your mind.
Travel light in life!
Confront, analyze and think through your problems. Notice, I did not say ‘solve your problems” as real life problems neither have a right nor an easy answer.
When we come to this world, our benevolent Creator in all his omniscience also sends us with several post-dated baggages of problems to each one of us. As we progress through life these problems crop up every now and then.
Each and every one of us is given a unique set of problems. The problems are real and they are here. Some people flee from life’s problems. Others pretend they are not there. Some make a beeline to the latest and greatest Godman in search of a quick fix to their problems. Others try to drown their miseries in drink or other intoxicating substances. None of these really work.
The first thing we have to do is confront our problems head-on. There is no running away. Look at them squarely. Accept them as your problems and make a mental resolution to deal with it. This in itself is a big step.
The next thing you need to do is analyze your problem. Understand why the problem troubles you. Why are you getting hurt by it? What is causing you the pain? Is it because it affects your personal life, or creates a bad atmosphere at work? Look at the problem from all sides.
Think through ….
Once you have analyzed your problem try to think through possible solutions. For e.g. your work atmosphere may be vitiated by your intolerant and intransigent boss. Think through what your various options. Keep your mind open. In some cases the problem may be yourself and not your boss. If that is the case make up your mind to change. Alternatively if there is really a problem with your boss you could investigate avenues for a change in departments. You could apply for openings outside. Sometimes you could lack a skill for which you could get trained for. In any case think through all possibilities.
Sometimes your problem could be because of a misunderstanding with your relative. Think through whether your or your relative is the cause of the bad blood. It could be the simple case of a mis-communication. Work towards a possible solution. There is really no point carrying a grudge. It is simply not good “mental energy” management.
It really does help to take stock of your problems and face them squarely in the eye. Problems have the habit of nagging us and sapping our energy.
Rather than ignoring your issues or sweeping them under the carpet, confront, analyze and work through your problems.
The above method may not resolve your problems immediately but once you have faced, analyzed and worked through your problems it is highly likely that your sub-conscious mind may throw up some real good solutions.
If there is one activity that we all should necessarily do, it is ‘to spend time designing our life’. Now why is this important? There are many. For one, we just get one chance in this world. Our life is either short or long, depending on how you look at it. We want to spend this life in the best possible way we can. So we need to put some effort in ‘designing this life of ours’.
How do we go about designing our life? Here are some considerations that we should keep in mind.
Designing the route
The first one is “Where do you want to go in life?” If we know what our goal and destination in life is, then we need to look at the steps that we need to take to get to our goal. For e.g. if we want to become a Director, senior VP we need to look at what the steps we need to take for achieving this. Still others may want to become musicians, artists, sports persons. Whatever your ambition may be, we need to sit and think through all the steps that we would have to take to get us to our goal. We would then have to diligently follow this process and monitor our progress along the way. This will be your basic design to get you “from where you are, to where you want to be”. As we navigate to our goal we will have to adjust our design to be take us to our goal
Designing a fall back scheme
A common saying is that “All good plans go awry”. So despite our best design for achieving our ambition, we may face roadblocks, failures or disasters. So a good design for our life will have to take all alternatives into consideration. So if you planned in climbing the corporate ladder but found your efforts thwarted midway it does not make sense if you just collapse into a crumpled heap on the floor. A good design of life would have to plan for failures and disasters. So your design for your life should have a Plan B, Plan C etc.
Designing happiness buffers
As we move through, if there is one thing we want is be moderately happy. Note, I am saying that we should always be happy or simply elated all the time. If we go by Buddhist philosophy that “suffering is inevitable’ then it make sense that we design “small happiness buffers”. By happiness buffers I mean that we should include into small acts or activities that give us some amount of joy. This could be anything from starting a hobby, performing random acts of kindness, learning a musical instrument etc. The feel good factor that one gets in small achievements will soften any blows we may face in life.
Since we have just this one chance in this world, it makes eminent sense that we give some serious thought in ‘designing our life’
Equilibrium, equipoise and equanimity – these are the key principles behind the “law of conservation of mental energy”. We have to maintain our equilibrium in the face of success or failure, victory or defeat, pain or pleasure. The Gita says “that a true yogi is beyond opposites, he is above duality”
This is no idle statement. The ability to maintain our equanimity in the face of failure is extremely important. When we depressed or when we get excited we expend a lot of mental energy. When our mind is under tremendous stress because of pain or when we are too excited overjoyed our mind looses its equilibrium and is in a state of unstable tension. Prolonged excitement or depression can really leave one enervated and exhausted.
Hence it is critical to be able to maintain our mental equilibrium under all conditions. This is extremely difficult to put into practice since we are conditioned and programmed to react with joy to success and feel depressed when hurt or when encountering failure.
We could maintain our poise by telling ourselves that the excitement or sadness will eventually pass. We can then try to view it slightly more dispassionately.
When we conserve our mental energies by maintaining our mental equilibrium we are left with more energy to focus on problems that we have. If we expend all our energies in being overjoyed or in feeling downcast we are bound to be exhausted and we will not have any energy left.
So the key principle in life is to maintain equipoise under all circumstances.
Kenichi Ohmae in his classic book, “The Mind of a Strategist”, on organizational strategy, poses a very important question. While the book is devoted to strategies for solving organizational issues, the question he poses is pertinent even in our daily lives. This question that Kenichi Ohmae poses to us is this: Are the questions we ask designed to address the symptoms of a problem or are the questions so framed so as to point to possible solutions? In most cases, he says, we err towards asking questions that try to remedy particular symptoms.
This is what this post is going to focus on. There is an art to questioning. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “I would prefer a man who asks the right questions to a man who knows the right answers”. With regard to happiness, we should not ask ourselves “Why am I unhappy?” rather we should ask ourselves, “How can I make myself happy?”
The former question tries to focus on our laundry list of problems. Each of us will always have a set of pet peeves in life. Such a question will only bring forward all our miseries in life. It could be not having the right job, not getting a promotion or people not subscribing to your point of your view. Whatever may be the reason, when we ask ourselves “Why am I unhappy?” we are setting ourselves for further unhappiness by dwelling on our problems in life.
The problem with the earlier question is that while it focuses on the issues in our life it does not point towards any solution. We will just be turned towards many things that are not in our control and we will feel helpless.
Rather the right question we should put to ourselves should be “How can I make myself happy?” With this type of questioning we are forced to look for constructive ways out of our present unhappy state. The answers could be as simple as starting a reading habit or it could be starting on some creative endeavor like painting, poetry or photography. Others may find peace in doing random acts of kindness.
So our strategy for happiness should be based on the right questions that we pose for ourselves. The art of asking the right questions actually goes beyond personal happiness. It can be used as an effective way of solving our daily problems in life.
My random thoughts …
Don’t let the world dictate your emotions for the day. Choose to be content & happy.
Learning should be freed from anxieties, expectations and time.
When cornered, learn to make yourself comfortable in the corner.
Containing impatience is like trying to hold a balloon under water.Deflate it.
In a conflict everyone involved sincerely believe they and only they are right.
When life pushes you into a corner, start exploring the corner.
To navigate to success in life – Observe, reflect,proceed.
The human yardstick for happiness is the success one achievs in life. And success to most of us is measured in terms of wealth, fame, power and recognition. When we don’t achieve these things life we assume that we are unsuccessful which in turn results in us being unhappy. However these measures of happiness are a social invention through the ages and in reality should not have any bearing one’s happiness.We are programmed
to feel elated when we achieve material successes like fame, wealth and power the reality.
However,with a little thought we realize that happiness is a personal emotion and is of our creation. With a little introspection we will realize that happiness or contentment does not require external successes or validation but depends
more on our inner victories that we achieve.
We need to set small, realistic goals for ourselves and strive to achieve perfection in them. For example we could learn to play a musical instrument, or spend some time in creative arts like painting, writing etc. The satisfaction that we gain by achieving success in our personal goals will result in real personal satisfaction and contentment in us. So we can measure our inner joys by the little achievements we make towards our own personal goals. We should not hitch our happiness to external validation.
Besides, there are other sources of happiness in the real world. We could find joy in the innocence of children or in the endearing qualities of older people. We could find happiness in the accident of human life and its place in the cosmos. We need to understand that we are just minute specks in the vastness of the universe. We could find true pleasure in the evolution of life or as Kahlil Gibran puts it as “Life’s longing for itself”
Hence there are many avenues for happiness in life and we should not base our happiness in life on a narrow view of success on achievement of money,power and fame but on tre internal peace and contentment.
As human beings we are all susceptible to praise. We all crave for attention and hunger for appreciation. In fact the motive for most of our actions is the need for attention and the desire for praise. The desire for success is only half the story. The other half is the desire for the fame and praise that we will get as a result of success.
Such is the lure of praise that nobody is immune to it. The craving for appreciation is intrinsic to human nature. This basic need for attention and human validation is a probably very primitive and one our most basic needs. It is deeply ingrained into the human psyche.
When we get praise we want to strut about and when somebody criticizes us we feel crushed. We want people to acknowledge our achievements. We want this acknowledgement to come from as many people as possible.
Unfortunately we tend to base our self-esteem on the appreciation that we get from others. If none is forthcoming we feel let down and not sure of ourselves. This is not a good attitude. Ideally we should be above praise and criticism but this is difficult to do. However we should have a balanced approach and should not based our self esteem from external validation. Our self esteem should be solely based on the targets we set for ourselves and how we achieve it.
So having understood the basic need for appreciation and praise we should consciously make an effort to increase the world’s fund of happiness by being liberal in our appreciation of good effort of others.
We must make sure that we acknowledge and appreciate genuinely from our heart even small acts of others. It will definitely make the other person happy. We need to do this often and to as many people who deserve it. This will definitely create a cycle of happiness and goodwill among others. The only caution is that insincere praise is not only bad but is also injurious to the other person who may end up with completely wrong ideas of himself/herself.
If we make a habit of giving appreciation where it is due we can go to bed content that we were able to increase the world’s happiness level in our own little way.
This is exactly what St. Francis of Assisi said in the early 13thcentury. St. Francis of Assisi asserted that “he who expects nothing, enjoys everything”. How true this is? If only we could lower our expectations everything that comes our way will be an added bonus. However to most of us we expect everything and wind up enjoying nothing. We spoil a perfect present by dreaming of a possible rosy future
The important thing is that we should keep our expectations in perspective. This does not mean that we should lead a life devoid of any ambition or desire. A life without ambition can be dull and drab. A life without any purpose is like setting sail into the ocean without sails. While we should be imbued with ambition that will propel us along in life we should not pin our enjoyment in the current moment based on only achieving these goals.
The issue most of the times is that we are so bent on getting that promotion in office, or buying a shinier new car or moving into a large house that we fail to enjoy even what we have. We tend to complain and find fault in what we have. We keep dreaming and dreaming of something that we don’t have which results in utter discontent and dissatisfaction in our regular lives.
We expect so much in life. We feel that we deserve many things. When these hopes or ambitions are not realized we end up feeling crushed. We not only don’t enjoy what we have in the moment but we also feel utterly devastated when we don’t get what we had hoped for.
We must have ambition in life but we should not pin our hopes on them. We need to continue to enjoy what we already have. If we do get what we aim for then our enjoyment and happiness will increase manifold.
So the right approach in life is to rein in our expectations while fully enjoying what we have at hand. We should accept all things that happen to us as our good providence. By this way we will lead a more happy and contented life.