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Lessons Learnt from Life - 1
|by S. C. Arora|
Life is a montage of moments; there is sorrow, there is joy: there is despair, there is hope: there is hatred, there is affection: there are lows and highs. At times we encounter outrageous or disdainful behavior but on other occasions we are treated most courteously and with great respect. Whereas we come across insubordination we also experience willing, enthusiastic co-operation.
We face downright wicked people but we also meet amiable, good-hearted, righteous persons. There will be situations when we may feel betrayed, violated, used, hurt, saddened, angry etc. but on other occasions we shall meet people who are trustworthy, appreciative of your work, provide happiness and comfort. That’s life! None of us asked to be born: neither did we ask to be rich or poor, tall or short, fair or dark. No matter how we choose to look at it, life is a challenge. Since we are emotional beings we get caught in the whirling vortex of life. Although it is difficult to escape from the clutches of the daily grind, it is not impossible to come out unscathed if we keep learning as we move on this voyage of life. We learn through experiences as we engage in an exchange of emotions, feelings and action. Revelations come our way which are painful, unsettling, often surprising, unpredictable and at times elevating. Shakespeare in his play All’s Well that Ends Well states beautifully:
“The web of our life is of mingled yarn, good and ill together.”
Manipulation Boomerangs: Hypocrisy and deception are rampant in every field of life. People try to manipulate and think that it will help them reach the pinnacle of glory and success. We put on a mask and pretend to be what we are not but invariably the veneer comes off and we feel small, our self-esteem sags, our level of self-confidence is lowered and we feel mortified. If we keep the camouflage on for a longish period we shall be driven by the compulsion of that mask: we shall not be able to use the endowments of our true self.
I also fell prey to this human failing but every time I was caught in my own trap when the truth revealed itself. Other people also tried to put obstacles in my path and caused tremendous problems: they have falsely accused me and endeavored to blemish my integrity: they succeeded initially but ultimately had to eat humble pie when confronted with the truth. As I continued my journey in life I realized that it is best to stick to the truth rather than manipulate it, for truth has a sterling quality of raising its head: we cannot duck it: it outlives everything. It’s only a matter of time when it manifests itself.
Most of us know what constitutes our nucleus, indestructible, inviolate core. We often slap that sense to sleep but it is a voice that does not go and keeps haunting us later. Temporarily and superficially we feel satisfied but are tormented subsequently. Therefore I have followed the dictum of Dr. Seuss (American writer and cartoonist):
“Be who you are and say what you feel
Moral Authority is stronger than Official Authority:
People in-charge of personnel often use official authority by ordering around. Often they encounter resistance and the work is not done with the right spirit. At times their authority is challenged also. It is extremely difficult to tolerate such situations. Consequently, conflicts emerge. People in senior positions may be able to subdue their subordinates but will not get their willing support. In such situations team work and synergy will be a casualty. If Nature has placed us in a position of authority let us be understanding and kind to our co-workers, more so to the ancillary staff. The “Jadoo Ki Jhappi” of Munnabhai fame works wonders.
Anger Rarely Helps : “For every minute you are angry you lose 60 seconds of happiness”. – R.W. Emerson.
Are we ever happy with the decisions we have taken or the words we have spoken when we are angry? No, the decisions taken in anger are faulty and, therefore, do not endure. We have to frequently apologize to others. Even Parashuram, great master of martial arts and symbol of strength, had to apologize to Ram and Lakshman, for he had lost his reasoning power in anger during Sita’s ‘swayamvar’. Whenever we do wriggle out of such a situation, the feeling of guilt lingers. I can vividly recall having slapped a few students in my early days of teaching, specially a frail looking 11- year old Digvijay, the son of a Brigadier and another boy Roy Ewing, aged 16, the son of the editor of Eve’s Weekly: the fact that even after 40 years I have pangs of conscience is proof enough that anger does not help. When we are angry we lose our total awareness: the thinking power is sapped and often we regret later.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who is burnt” - Gautama Buddha
It is common knowledge that people who seethe with anger, be it due to ill-tempered behavior or road rage or spouses yelling at each other during marital spats or teachers shouting at their pupils or corporate bosses losing their temper on their juniors etc, are more prone to hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Research has shown that they also take longer to recover from injury. Remember, laughter is the best medicine!
Quite often we get angry when we see the imperfection or a different standard in others: our fuse is blown off when people or situations fall short of our expectations: but the anger is to no avail. We are all fallible and vulnerable. We cannot escape human frailties and inadequacies. Therefore, when you begin to feel angry turn to your own shortcomings, the anger will dissolve. Perfection is a utopian concept: it is only an ideal, which like stars, cannot be reached but only attempted. Therefore, we should be more patient and understanding and get the work done with love and an encouraging attitude. We should constantly endeavor to evolve to a higher level of existence.
Life is a Game to be Played: Existence is a game to be played with understanding and full enthusiasm. We should do our best in all endeavors but be constantly aware that it is a game we are playing. We ought to be fully conscious that we are all actors and to quote from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It:”
“All the world’s a stage,
If we look at life from this angle we shall face less tension. Nobody can claim permanent ownership of material positions. We are only custodians and must leave everything to posterity. Being alive to this fact, we should not get too attached to worldly things which are ephemeral. The loss of material things or money will hurt us only transiently but we would be back to our normal self very soon. We should absolutely insulate our inner-selves from getting hurt from every little thing. Life is too precious to be taken too seriously: there is nothing in this world about which we should despair beyond a point. I have yet to see heaven falling! Therefore, let us savor the quirks, twists and turns of life: otherwise we shall miss the thrill of the unexpected and excitement of the unknown. Life is not meant to be a never ending journey: we should not be just survivors: we ought to be adventurers. We do not know the agenda: there will never be complete security within ourselves. No warning comes to us, no red alert is afforded to us for any imminent danger. It just happens. Therefore, we should deal with life passionately as it unfolds without getting excessively attached to people, places or possessions (3Ps).
Commitment Leads to Success
“Great organizations demand a high level of commitment by the people involved, that is how they become great” - Bill Gates
The ‘Mantra’ for success is total dedication and commitment to the cause you have undertaken to accomplish. Growth and fulfillment come only to those who make and keep commitments and promises – commitments made and word given to oneself and to others !
Nothing is Absolute
“There are no eternal facts, as there are no absolute truths.”
Positive Action Must Continue
Many a time “evil” triumphs over “good”. My experience tells me that this happens because “bad” people are aggressive and by coercion subdue “good” people: often well-intentioned persons keep quiet, not wanting to get entangled in any mess. My conviction is that all those persons who want the civil society to function in a cleaner manner, must exert themselves: they should not take ‘evil’ lying down.
Being negative takes the spirit out of us: adopting a stance of negativism only creates unnecessary pain and avoidable difficulties in life. We stand to gain by nipping in the bud such thoughts as they arise. If we make a conscious effort to emit positive vibes we shall definitely be happier.
The Most essential Things in Life are almost Free
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