Saturday, November 19, 2011

History repeats it self

I guess we all have numerous complaints against as many agencies.Quite natural !Our expectations are not met fully or promptly & this leaves us disgruntled.So we all have grouses-right?And they relate to various services which are inefficient or insufficient.But some of us have only one single complaint in life.Guess what-are they more organised & better adjusted than us ?I am afraid not ! Quite the opposite!It is more probable that they have severe adjustment problems.You could hear them saying"This always happens to me" or "Bad luck follows me like a shadow"or "This world is so cruel"or"People are very selfish"or"Everybody is jealous of me","Nobody appreciates me",so on & so forth.Mostly it is one refrain which colors their grievances.It is them against the whole world.No wonder, with the burden of such thoughts on their minds;they find the world a rotten place & want to quit.

One is forced to wonder whether they have really  been singled out for such persecution? Is it the truth or a delusion ?Since i don't have first hand knowledge of their lives apart from what they have told me,i would rather not pass any judgement.But this question does need to be answered . Therefore i decided to begin with my own experiences & turned the eye inwards.Did i have any such grouse which had been bothering me for ever?

I was pretty surprised by the answer-yes i did !I was unhappy because people did not befriend me--despite my best efforts & initiatives.What could be the reason ?Do i have a stern countenance ?Perhaps.Am i selfish?No,never.Do i manipulate or humiliate others or make fun of them?Not at all ! I am not rude or offensive.I don't bitch or back-bite.Always ready to cooperate & never prying into others' personal affairs.Then what?What could be the reason for my friend-less state?I could zero in on only one reason-i am somewhat different from those who surround me.They are not comfortable in my presence,do not enjoy chit-chatting with me & do not accept me as one of their own kind.Actually i too do not find any common interests between them & me.Perhaps this fact somehow shimmers through my behavior & they maintain a cordial distance from me.

This honest journey inside was very enlightening.I realized that somewhere i am to blame for what has been denied to me.You get the point ? If i want better results i shall have to bring about changes in my own self.Now i wanted to understand why so many of my clients felt singled out & victimized by the whole world.

A has always had this complaint against his class-fellows that they don't include him in their groups,don't befriend him.He says that he has always been a topper & that is why they are jealous of him.Actually he is inordinately proud of his intelligence.He wants his class-mates to come to him with their problems & to hero-worship him.His arrogance puts them off & they leave him alone.If only he could see through his own behavior he would have been a part of his class & not an outsider.

B feels that the world is very cruel.He has a mammoth Inferiority Complex because, according to him ,he is very dark & ugly.He also stammers.He has no friends because people give more weightage to  appearances rather than the inner qualities of a person.Actually it is he himself,who is more concerned about his looks,than his other attributes.Since he is no Adonis to look at,he thinks he is zilch.He  sees no redeeming feature in his own personality.He avoids people because he thinks that he does not deserve their friendship,or that they will make fun of him.This lack of self esteem reaches out to the friends he has; they make fun of him & call him derogatory names.He grins & bears it ,but it causes him excruciating pain.So much so that he wishes he had the courage to take his own life.He does not realize that he himself is the root cause of his problem.People see an easy target in him.There are many stammerers & ugly persons in this world.Do they all have to face such torture at the hands of their friends ? If only he stiffened his back & confronted them, they would back off.He allows people to trample all over him.No matter where he goes & whom he meets; history repeats itself.

What i want to say can best be illustrated through the following story----
A mendicant was sitting under a tree when a traveler came by.He told the "sadhu" that he was going to the next village & asked him what sort of people inhabited it.The sadhu asked him what he thought of the village he had left behind.The traveler replied that the people of that village were awful--very mean & uncooperative.That's why he had left that village for good.He wanted to know what sort of people he would meet in the next village.At this the sadhu replied that in the next village too, he would meet exactly the same kind of people as he had left behind.

"No matter where you go,there you are!"Confucious.

The message is clear.It is futile and counter productive to the blame for our travails upon others.No matter where we go,what we do & whom we meet;we take our own attitudes,beliefs,prejudices , complexes & reactions along with us.That is why we encounter the same kind of setbacks again & again.In fact such episodes are a clear indication that we have lessons to learn.It is only human nature to put the blame  somewhere else for our misfortunes.But if we are the common denominator in problems that surface time & again;then we could be the trigger here.Unless and until we iron out the wrinkles in our own personality we cannot hope for a better life.

In fact these obstacles should be viewed as opportunities for growth & evolution.It is essential to scrutinize our own attitudes,reactions and choices minutely to find out what is causing these problems.Once we realize this & take remedial measures,we will be pleasantly surprised that those disappointments no longer chase us.Therefore the next time we are exasperated by a familiar irritant, let us pause & consider if we are at fault.Is life giving us a hint that it is time to stop, analyse & modify our own behavior?Some introspection and course correction will give heartening results. 

Jalaluddin Rumi has very rightly said "Be grateful for whoever comes,because each has been sent as a guide from beyond "

Sunday, November 6, 2011


The prime goal of every living being is happiness but despite best efforts,many of us fail to achieve it.The key to this lies in the words of Tenzing Gyatso,The Dalai Lama x1v-"Happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors.If your own mental attitude is correct,even if you remain in hostile atmosphere you feel happy."The role of attitude in attaining happiness is of prime significance.

Happiness can be described as"a state of well-being & contentment"or"pleasurable satisfaction".Using this parameter to gauge the level of happiness many of us will fail the test because we are seldom satisfied with where we are & what we have.No wonder, we feel restless & off-key.If we are living on rent we want our own house.When the house arrives we soon want a bigger one.Having one car is not enough,we must have at least one more--the bigger the better.Our kids must go to the priciest school.Having good clothes is not sufficient,they must be branded.So on &so forth.

We make untiring efforts to achieve all the lollies we yearn for.They give pleasure for a short while.But after that,what?The same hunt starts all over again.We are convinced that once we arrive at the next milestone we shall be completely happy.But this milestone keeps shifting farther &farther.We strive & struggle to achieve the next goal.We are convinced that this is the goal of our happiness.Is it really so?Actually it is the goal of a swanky car,a high profile job or the membership of an elite club.How can we get something for which we are making no efforts at all?Happiness comes from satisfaction, but we are disgruntled all the time.We want more & more of everything.There is no limit to our desires.As soon as we tick off one item at the head of our wish-list,a new one is added.We ourselves defer our happiness to the next acquisition.No wonder  stress & depression take over.

We need to realize that happiness does not depend upon money,status,power or material acquisitions.It goes without saying that some amount of money & basic necessities are essential for happiness.Scientific research also proves that it is only for those who live below the poverty line,that getting more money adds to their happiness.But once a decent standard of living has been attained,the accumulation of more wealth only gives momentary satisfaction.One gets used to the new acquisitions very soon.

Actually what is needed in order to be happy is-a sense of balance & gratitude.A person who is grateful will be happy at any rung of the ladder.Today we give more importance to garnering the tokens of a successful life, of having arrived;rather than enjoying the fruits of our labor & looking for joy in our surroundings.

Problems start when we compare ourselves with those who are better placed than us & we begin to compete with them.Or we want to prove to our equals that we are a cut above them.All this stress & strife is detrimental to physical & mental health.Having said this let me hasten to add that i do not advocate a supine  approach to life.But comparisons lead to dissatisfaction, jealousy & rivalry which are the anti-thesis of harmony.As we speed along the path of progress,the competition should only be with our own self rather than each & every person who is ahead of us.

Even as we try to better our own performance,it will be prudent to set realistic goals,so that the chances of failure are minimum.One more point--we cannot be happy if we find ourselves isolated & friendless.While striving for personal advancement we must take care not to sacrifice loving relationships.It is these relationships which provide help,support & advice when we are distressed.

It is our whole outlook on life which determines whether we are happy or miserable.Yes there is no dearth of precipitating factors which could push us to the depths of despair.Everyone has to face misfortune,failure,death,disease,disappointments & setbacks sometime in life.But each one of us reacts to adversity in a unique manner.This indicates that it is not the stimulus itself ,but something in us, which determines whether a situation will leave us dazed,disappointed or dejected.If we learn to control our reactions, we can be calm even in the face of misfortune.Incorporating equanimity in daily life will go a long way towards enabling us to handle difficult times in a mature & efficient manner.A person who goes overboard in good times is more likely to fall into the dungeons when good luck recedes.

While equanimity helps to conserve our sanity,flexibility helps us to glean happiness from the debris of broken dreams.Life does not run along predictable lines.When a cherished ambition is thwarted,it is prudent to change course & settle for the second best.But a mere change of course, is not sufficient to guarantee happiness.It depends upon how we do it.Just being resigned to it is not enough.It is imperative that we  shift to the new alternative whole-heartedly--giving it all we have.We need to look for advantages in the new situation & make use of them.Only then can we find happiness in the aftermath of an unwelcome change.Flexibility & positivity make a good recipe for happiness.

Embracing positivity also involves shedding negativity.Negativity thrives in emotions like hatred,jealousy,anger,fear,vengeance & remorse etc.As long as we harbor such emotions in our chest we cannot be happy.As soon as a negative emotion appears,it is best to have a positive one ready to replace it.Likewise with negative people-avoid them like the plague!

Going a step further ,geniality,empathy,friendliness,helpfulness & kindliness--all contribute to a feeling of well-being & peace of mind.Compliment someone,lend a helping hand,appreciate somebody's efforts ; & the smile you get will suffuse you with warmth.

One essential prerequisite of happiness is self-esteemIf we are not comfortable in our own skin nothing can make us happy.We can get rid of low self esteem by making an inventory of our plus points & learning them by heart.Negative self-talk is taboo, & so is magnification of one's flaws.Do not underplay your  achievements.

Happiness is a state of mind.The mind has to be conditioned to receive it .Once we have done this, an untoward event may cast it's shadow,but it will be easy to spring back & recapture our peace of mind.In the words of Sri Sarada Devi "Difficulties always come, but they do not last for ever.You will see that they pass away like water under a bridge"

The picture above has been taken from the web.