God is not a coat-hanger. God is not a wishing-well.

Our lives can be easily divided into 3 categories. Things we can control in life, things we cannot control in life and then things we ‘like to think’ we cannot control in life.

The first 2 categories are obvious. I am more interested in the last category where we simply dump things into a large space meant specifically for the ‘power beyond us’.

Here I am referring to the omniscient and omnipotent God. In this world, many people conveniently shift their responsibility to a supreme being or a divine power.

It is in this context the following 2 points are pertinent

God is not a coat-hanger: There is a notion that God will take care of one’s problems in life. People wish that by praying they can shift their problems to a super natural being. They feel really relieved and are deceived into believing that their problems have gone away. Unfortunately this is not true.

If an omnipotent, omniscient God has decided to dump problems on your lap then he is obviously expecting you to work them out. You can’t tell God ‘No, no you take that!” and wash your hands from the issues in life. You can’t pass the buck back to God. Your problems are your problems. If you wish or pray, life’s problems will not vanish. In some cases providence or coincidence may come to your aid, but you better not hope that it will always happen

In fact, you will be better off taking ownership of your problems and try to resolve then rather than expecting divine intervention on your behalf. The sooner you come to terms with this reality the better it will be for you in the long run.

God is not a wishing-well: This is another popular and prevalent idea in our midst. People wish that their lives turn out a particular way. They may want some career change, a promotion or to cross some academic hurdle.

Some think that if they pray hard enough or make frequent visits to temples, churches or mosques their wishes will be granted. An omniscient and omnipotent God is not keeping scores for each and every one in this world. You will not get extra marks for having uttered God’s name a zillion times nor will you get special favors based on how fervently you prayed.

Your destiny is in your hands. You are the architect of your future. You should be working to make your dreams come true. Remember “the best way to predict the future is to create it. So don’t keep posting all your wishes to God and hope he will respond to it.

We need to be practical in life, take ownership of our problems and also work towards creating the future we desire.

Having said that, I will agree that prayer does give one hope. And hope is essential in our journey through life. But hope alone does not accomplish anything.

Action does!

2 essential paradoxical truths of life

Here are 2 truths that appear paradoxical but are extremely important in different situations in life.

Stop… to progress in life: This statement may appear more absurd than paradoxical. But if you think on this for a while you will realize the truth behind this paradoxical statement. In our daily lives we are in one headlong rush to nowhere. From the time we get up, to the time we go to bed, we are constantly flitting from one task to another.

We browse the newspaper, rush to office, jump from one assignment to another, return home, flip TV channels, do some browsing and then hit the bed. We repeat this ritual every day. We simply react to external events. We could even say that we are driven by external events in our life. It is important that we come to complete halt in our lives. We must hit the pause button every once in a while.

In fact, it would really help if we allocated at least 30-40 minutes every day where we reflected on our lives. We need to see where we are in life and where we want to go to. We need to look inward into our lives identify things that we are doing right and those that we need to change. We could do this by either sitting cross-legged in a meditative pose, or take a leisurely walk. Others may find some mild exercise, meditative. Whatever method you choose it is really essential that you put a halt to the furious pace of your life and spend time introspecting and charting the future course of your action. Hence ‘to make serious progress in life we must come to complete stop and look inward’

Act by doing nothing: This is another seemingly nonsensical statement. Sometimes in life the best course of action is ‘complete inaction’. In fact the Gita claims “a true yogi is one who see action in inaction and inaction in action’. What this implies is that sometimes the best course of action is inaction. At other times action is futile and is equivalent to no action or inaction.

There are times when simply reacting to a circumstance will tend to exacerbate a situation. It may be more prudent to sit still and be patient. We could let ‘time’ play out her card, observe the outcome and then take appropriate action. An example would be not to retaliate to every move made by a foe. Rather it would make more sense to observe what the enemy is trying to do and then deal the fatal blow. So the time we spend appearing to do nothing is the time we spend in observing what the motive of the foe is.

Even In our professional lives there will be times when nothing seems to go right, you may have some misunderstanding with your boss, you may not have delivered up to the expectations or things may not be exactly hunky dory with your colleagues. Rather than taking hasty action it may be sensible to bide your time while you try to set your house in order. You must not take precipitate action but rather sit still. I am reminded of a Kenny Roger’s song, the Gambler, which goes

You must know when to hold to hold ‘em,
Know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run’

So it is imperative that we know when to act and when not to act. This is critical in life

These 2 paradoxical rules are key to manoeuvring through the alleys of life.

3 essential do’s and don’ts in life

3 essential do’s and don’ts in life

There are 3 do’s and don’ts that are essential in life

Here they are

a) Go after what you need first, then after what you want:

In life it is extremely important that you go after on what you need first. In other words we must focus the bare essentials in life. To some this may be owning a house, to others it may be getting their dream job. Whatever it is focus on what you need first before going after what you want.

In life we may want many things. Some of us want a flashy car to impress our neighbors, others may want the biggest size TV, while still others may want to take a vacation in the Bahamas.

However it is necessary to postpone what you want, till you get what you need first. What this boils down to is that one must address one’s needs before indulging in anything else. Splurge only after you are satisfied that you are financially secure.

b) In the short term – Do what you must, before doing what you want:

In our daily lives we usually have a million and one things to do.  All too often we tend to do what we like and put off what is important because it is slightly distasteful. We procrastinate on doing what we really must because we dislike it. We keep doing things that we like,  till the task that we kept putting off becomes all too urgent and critical.

In my opinion we must first do things that we absolutely must, whether we like it or not before doing what we like. This is very important. By doing what we dislike, yet we must, we get the task over with. That is one less thing to worry about. Once we have this important task out of the way we can spend as much time on things that we like to do

c) In the long term –Do what you like, not what you must:

In the long term however we must do things that we like and not force ourselves doing that we think that we must do.  We should center our lives on things we have a passion for. We should not spend our lives working in jobs that we don’t have any interest in, but we think that we must to provide for the family. Usually there will be avenues to get the job that you like provided, you look for it. In a famous study, one of the chief regrets of people in their death bed was that “they felt that they had wasted their lives living to other people’s expectations rather that doing what they really wanted”.

So in the long term go after what you desire and what you are passionate about.

These three do’s and don’ts are very important in our day to day lives

3 important rules to live life by

Here are 3 vital guidelines with which we need to live our lives.  Rather than going after success or the means to live happily ever after, this article gives 3 simple rules with which we need to live our lives. These 3 rules will help to keep our lives in proper perspective

 All good things take time: In life, all good things take time. When you make a plan or set a goal, remember to look at it long term. So for example if you would like to learn a musical instrument, become a writer, or even lose weight you will have to plan for the long term. It is important that you expect results in about 2, 3 years or maybe later. Too often we want to see immediate results in the next couple of months. We want to become rock stars, superstars or lose 5 kgs in 2months. When we don’t see quick results we generally lose interest and drop the activity altogether. So whenever we embark on any new venture set goals for the long term.

Problems are here to stay: Nobody in this world is immune from problems. Everybody from the prince to the pauper, from the saint to the sinner has to contend with his or her own set of problems. There will be always be ups and downs in everybody’s life. We need to be prepared for issues and problems in life. Buddha has said “Suffering is inevitable in life”. Hence, we can and we should never expect that we will ever live a carefree life.

What differentiates one person from another is how he or she handles their own set of problems. Suffering in life makes one stronger. So don’t wish away your problems, rather face them head-on and overcome them.

Don’t let success or failure determine your life:  Never let success or failure determine how you conduct your life. Remember success or failure are only temporary stops in your journey in life. The destination is far, into the future.  There are some who are completely broken when they face failure in their effort. They abandon the pursuit of their goal. As already mentioned failures or setbacks are temporary.  We have to learn from our failures and setbacks and move on in life.  Similarly, we should not let a couple of successes lull us into contentment. We must look ahead and aim for bigger and better goals in life. Life is long term and we must and should move on.

Finally,

Make these 3 rules below your guidelines in life

  • Life is long term
  • Problems are part and parcel of life
  • Life should go on regardless of success or failure along the way

These guidelines will prepare you to face the worst and also help to accept with magnanimity  your achievements in life.

Getting from here to there in life

There are 3 essential qualities, if you wish to go from where you are to where you wish to be in life. The 3 qualities are

  1. Grit b) Knowing yourself c) Desire and plan

Grit: By far grit is the most important quality that one must possess to get anywhere in life. Grit is the ability to face problems in life head-on and not flinch from the chosen path. It is the quality where one is able to tide over troubles and move ahead in life regardless. In life there will be ups and downs. There are no exception to this rule. Everybody from the rich man to the pauper, from the saint to the sinner will have face changing fortunes. What sets them apart is how they handle their troubles. Do they break under stress or just bend? Does one become stronger in the face of troubles in life? Those who are resilient and possess the inner strength will be able to tide over any troubles and forge ahead in life. So grit is a critical ingredient for success in life.

Know yourself: To get ahead in life another quality that is essential is to ‘know oneself’.

Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Know yourself.
Do you know where you  stand in your personal, professional and social life? Know yourself.
Do you know where you are and where you would like to be in 10 years? Know yourself.
Do you know your wants, do you know your needs? Know yourself.

To know oneself, it is imperative that we spend long hours thinking through ourselves, exploring our inner selves. We need to know what it that we desire is and what is it that we really need.

Once we truly understand ourselves we can take active steps to move in the direction of achieving them.

Desire and plan: Unless one pulls the arrow backward, it will not fly towards its target. So to get anywhere we must have the desire to reach the goal at a minimum. Intense desire must be followed up with a concrete plan to achieve the same. A strong motive is necessary. We must sincerely want to achieve something in life. This is not be confused with greed or avarice. Desire and ambition are necessary for the growth of individual. Once we know our destination in life we must strategize properly to reach there. We must monitor our progress as we move along towards out target

Hence to get from here to wherever you desire in life you must fill your life with these 3 important ingredients of grit, knowing yourself and desire.

Beware the mental mirror

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Warning: The person in the mental mirror is smaller than he/she appears.

The above message is something that we should keep in mind always. The person we see in the mental mirror, most of the time (ourselves), is in reality much smaller in every aspect than the image that this mental mirror shows. This is a fact. We are with ourselves all the time. That is a no-brainer. We are so full of ourselves that we appear mighty clever, smart, generous, kind and all the usual good stuff.

However in reality this may be very far from truth. There is always a ‘little narcissist’ in each of us all the time who makes us appear larger than our true selves. If we don’t heed to the warning above we will be in danger of behaving proudly and possibly head for a nasty fall. It is very important that we apply the necessary corrections when we views ourselves.

Another weird aspect of this mental mirror is the fact that, while it may inflate one’s own opinion of oneself, it will usually distort the image of others. So as a consequence we tend to look down on others. We assume others don’t know as much as oneself or are not as nearly smart. We tend to judge others based on this distorted view of reality.

How can we really know others when we don’t know ourselves fully? We should really be careful when forming opinions about others based on the little and often incorrect information we have about others. This in conjunction with the aberration that our mental mirror creates, is enough to make us look down on many in our social circle..

The mental mirror is something we have to mighty careful about, otherwise we will exist in a world that will be completely skewed from reality. It is extremely important that we adjust our view of ourselves and of others every now and then.

To get a more balanced view of oneself I personally think that it is very important that we have a lot of friends who can be honest with us. With a larger circle of friends we will get automatic corrections to our own self-image.

In general it is always better to avoid judging others based on usually available scant information and the occasional encounters. It is really important that we get to know the other person better before we jump to conclusions about them.

In any case keep your mental mirror free of any aberrations and adjust your view of yourself and of others, every now and then.

 

3 important laws of life

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.

Success is more about attitude than talent

That’s right! Success in life depends more on attitude than it does on talent. Whenever we think of great achievers like Michael Jordan, Sachin Tendulkar, Bill Gates or a Steve Jobs we usually think that they were born with innate talent. While this right to some extent what we need to understand is, that it was not their talent alone but their attitude to getting things done was what moved them to the pinnacle of success.

While inherent talent is necessary it alone cannot propel you to great heights unless it is accompanied by the right attitude. Talent can only take you that far and no further. To keep advancing we must have the correct approach in life.

All of us have some talent or another. Once we have identified our talent we need to ensure that we adopt the attitude that is required to take us further. Typically I would highlight the following key characteristics of people who excel in life. They are

Patience: This is first and foremost quality that is needed in life. You can have all the talent in the world but if you are impatient you will not get far. As you try to improve the excellence in your skill or talent you must have dollops of patience. You must be willing to make incremental improvements. Sometimes you will hit a road block in the domain which you are trying to achieve excellence whether it may be playing a musical instrument, writing a book or learning technology. It is important that you don’t get impatient when you see little or no progress. You must be willing to try and try a little more. Patient is critical for excellence.

Perseverance: This quality needs to accompany patience. Besides being patient for the results we must have sufficient motivation to continue on the path of improvement. In order to be adept in any field, we must persevere to keep doing better. We must not rest even if we have achieved a fair degree of success in the chosen skill. We must constantly keep honing our skills.

Curiosity: This attitude is what differentiates those who really make a big splash from those who are just great. As we continue to become better in what we are trying to do, be it swimming, playing the guitar or in cricket, we must have the intellectual curiosity to learn new aspects of the skill, game or art. We must experiment with new ideas. We must work constantly in trying to do things not just better but also explore new areas. You should have an unquenchable thirst to learn.

Hard work & grit: Success and fame never happen overnight. They are usually the result of hard work and grit for a long period of time. We should never aim for instant success. Instead, we should strive for enduring success which can only be the result of hard work and the ability to tide over failures. In other words, we must have the grit to take failures in​ our stride and yet lose sight of what we want to achieve.

If you approach life with the attitudes of patience, perseverance, curiosity, hard work and grit you are bound to encounter success. You must constant work in maintaining a balance between these 3 important qualities and you are bound to go a long way in life!

4 things to stop doing right away!

 

stopHere are 4 things that we tend to do often in our lives and we need to put an end to it immediately.

Stop beating yourself over past mistakes: This is a bad habit some of us tend to have. We keep beating ourselves over some past events where we botched things or took a wrong decision. We must begin to accept things. We have to let go of the past and move on. It really does not make any sense in wasting out mental breath over things that have happened. Blaming ourselves will only make us feel guilty and small. Rather we should accept things and look for ways to make things better.

Stop procrastinating: Why do we procrastinate? I can see 3 reasons why people tend to procrastinate.

Firstly some people put off things for later because they dislike the task. The very thought of doing this task brings to the minds thoughts of unpleasantness, boredom or maybe they find it simply distasteful. These people would like to put off this unpleasantness to some later time.  Personally I think we should attack these tasks firsts and get the unpleasantness over with. It does not make sense to postpone the pain coupled with  nagging thoughts.

Secondly there are those who put off things hoping to get divine inspiration in the future. The advice of almost all famous artists & writers is to simply show up everyday and the Muse will also show up. So it is best to get down working rather than waiting for creative flashes.

Thirdly, there are those who are genuinely lazy. These people don’t care and would just like to goof around. If you are one of these types then you must get down to business otherwise you will simply be left behind in life.

When you procrastinate not only will you have eventually be forced to do  the task, but you will also have to contend with recurring nagging thoughts.

Stop playing mental games with yourself: The humanmind is a funny instrument. Quite often it can behave very bizarrely. What I mean is this. Many times we indulge in thoughts of revenge where we try to settle scores with someone mentally. We play mental games where we have the last word in a verbal argument. We try to get the one-upmanship in a verbal duel. Similarly we try to mentally role play where we win and somebody else loses. Sometimes we are filled with thoughts of hatred, jealousy or envy and we may wish bad things for other. Whatever be the kind of negative mental indulgence it is all bad and simple serves no purpose.

Like physical energy we have a limited quantity of mental energy. We should not expend out mental energies in useless and negative mental thoughts. Rather we should use it to more fruitful and productive work.

Stop whining: Finally stop complaining, we need to be content with what we have. There are many things we need to be grateful for in this world. Our minds tend to focus on negative things in complete exclusion to all that we already have. We need to practice more gratitude in our daily lives for all the little things that we are able to enjoy.

If you drop all the above activities you are bound to be more proactive and productive. This is will result in a more enjoyable to a more fulfilling life.

Caring for the important others in life

Your life is made up of ‘others’, in case you haven’t noticed! Often we consider ourselves as the center of the universe. Our world and our thoughts are so full of “I, me, myself & mine” that we hardly have time for others.  We need to step back and reflect on the significant others in our lives and we need to care for them. Here are a list of things that we need to do

Empathy: Quite often when your friend, colleague or family member relates their troubles to you, you find yourself judging them too quickly. You may see them as weak, or stupid and unable to handle their problems effectively. But what is really needed is empathy.  Empathy is the most important habit we need to cultivate in our relation to others. Empathy is the ability to sense the emotions and feelings of others. It is the ability to step into the other person’s shoes and see the world through their eyes. When we see the other person’s problems through the other person’s eyes, we are able to appreciate the reactions and emotions the other person is going through. If only we could see it through the lens of person relating the problem you will be able to appreciate it better.

Empathy, often gets confused with sympathy, where we acknowledge the hardship of the other person and provide comfort and assurance. People are not looking for your comfort but more for your understanding of their situation.

Listen more, talk less: When a family member, colleague or friend is relating their successes, failures or their experience, stop and listen. Let them have their say, whether it is a display of excitement, joy or sadness. Do not interrupt them with your own ideas, opinions and judgments. Listen more. Observe the visual cues and the body language of the other. Share in the joys and sorrows rather than giving your opinion and views on it. People like others who listen.

It is more important to be kind, than correct: This rule is an extension of the 2 points above. When the other person is venting their anger, relating their woes or showing enthusiasm and joy, be empathetic. There is really no need for you to correct the other person’s views, even if they are wrong, immediately. Let them vent their frustrations, even if unjustified. Listen to them. There will be time to tell them what your real view is. Honesty, in my opinion is over-rated. Honest is second only to kindness. Hence it is more important to be kind than correct.

Do unto others, as you have them do unto you: “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you”. This is something that we need to keep in our minds all the time. Remember that just as you would like others to be kind, grateful and nice to you, so should all your activities to others be.

You don’t live in this world in isolation. Your life is made up of important others, all the time. Treat them well and they will treat you well in return.

So, pay heed, and care for the important others in your life!