The Power of the Present

Life is fleeing past us, unnoticed. Time is flowing too fast to keep an account of the moments fleeting. We all complain on missing out on life. Yet we all are living either in the past or future, instead of this very moment, The Present. We live life when we are living in the present, but life happens to us when we quit living in the present. We are either consumed in the regrets of the past or baffled by the plight of the unseen future. No amount of regret can change the past and no amount of preparation can make us all equipped for the future.

We all have experienced the art of letting go of this present moment in search of our happiness in some distant past or near future. Living in the past can take many forms. We keep running and re-running the conversations in our heads which happened long ago in the past. We water our regrets to the extent that they consume us. We blame ourselves for mistakes of the past. We hurt ourselves by blaming for our bad decisions.

Similarly, living in the future can take many forms.

We dread our exams result, worry about our job’s future, fear the turmoil in our relationships, and much more. We create scenarios in our mind that might never happen. We weave far-fetched realities and resort to unsaid conversations. We worry about those problems which we might never face. Then, we devise unrealistic solutions to these problems. One of the major reasons of living in the future is our presence online. There will be very few among us who do not have an online presence on a social media portal or who are not part of any chat group. These online portals have changed the way we live and behave. We go to movie theaters and all through the screening we try to capture one perfect shot of the running images in front of us. What for? Just to share it on some social media forum. We go to social events, charity balls, wedding functions and all the time our minds are consumed in finding words to compile a catchy status and our eyes are hunting for a perfect shot of the event through which we can share our life with the world out there. Sometimes, just for the sake of sharing our happiness and sometimes making some one jealous of our blessings. We put our lives in front of others to observe, yet when some of these observations are accompanied by comments which are not so kind, we complain.

Our happiness should not be needy of a validation from others. Similarly, our sorrows should not be searching for sympathy from others.

Most of us try to study or even work with several distractions willingly added to our environment. Because, we don’t want to miss out on our lives through social media. The mere urge of connecting with the world has made it difficult for us to handle the same world. Our lives are constantly buzzing with the pings of texts, notifications, emails, reminders and what not. The moment we wake up in the morning the first instinct is to check emails and see social media activity. A single unpleasant comment can ruin our whole day. Similarly, a kind comment can set the pace for the day. Our moods are now defined by our interactions online. Social anxiety is a reality now.

The burning question now is how to live in the present then.

It really requires a mental shift. First, we must admit that we have been doing ourselves no good by residing in the past or living in the future. Then, consciously drag ourselves into the present whenever we start immersing ourselves in the ruins of the past or fear of the future. It takes a conscious repeated effort to remind ourselves that this is the moment we must live in otherwise it soon will become something which is lost forever.

I am not suggesting that you disconnect with the world around you but keep it to the extent which doesn’t make you anxious and restless. I remember the time when I chose to put a limit on the details of my life being shared online. It was such a relief that I no longer have to take a perfect picture for my social media timeline or have to think of some fancy words to put up as a status. I no longer have to worry about selecting the best picture of the event to put up online. I don’t feel the need to share every other political meme, lame joke or viral video. I also don’t have to go through the anxiety of checking my status views and post likes again and again. It’s a beautiful and blissful world out there away from the hysteric of the social media.

To live peacefully in the present moment, you first have to make peace with yourself.

Start by forgiving yourself. Be kind to yourself as they say charity begins at home. Similarly, I have gathered enough courage to relieve myself of the regrets of the past. I have also forgiven everyone who wronged me. Forgiveness is more for your own well-being than it is for others. Not that I have forgotten everything. But I don’t go for a leisure walk on the trodden path of regrets of the past. Now I don’t live by the urge of fearing the future or re-imagining the past.

I live here, in this moment and that is the best place to be.

Strange Measures of Success!

It had become a routine of her corporate life where during every official meeting some people, out of their personal grudges will cut her off unnecessarily at every step of the way. Their  harsh comments and criticism was meant to disregard her efforts and take credit which wasn’t  even due. Outcome of this was, that she, not being able to go down to their level, just had the option to recoil quietly. People didn’t stop passing mean comments and she also couldn’t stop from blaming herself for everything. But, that day, something changed inside her. She, with absolute patience, responded politely to all the criticism. And after the meeting instead of blaming herself and feeling pity she was glad that she was able to handle the situation with confidence and fortitude.

That’s how she measures her success now.

He was running late for office. The day ahead was jam-packed with meetings with clients. Meeting after meeting, he couldn’t spare time for lunch or even prayer. Feeling dead tired he left for home. A couple of calls for prayer went unnoticed. The more he was trying to manage his day-to-day tasks the more his life felt entangled. Working till late at night made getting up for the morning prayer an uphill task. Then one day he realized that unless you manage your prayers you can’t manage your life no matter how hard you try. So, he started moulding his life around prayers rather than doing otherwise. And the day he offered all five prayers he was elated and satisfied as it was his definition of success.

He was an employee of that office for the last five years. That nine-to-five job turned him into a working machine in corporate culture. He was unaware of his surroundings as he was too busy dealing with his own issues. When one day the old guard at the gate of his office, with salt and pepper hair & beard and wrinkles all over his face; smiled and waved at him. Suddenly he was brought back to reality. That one kind gesture proved to be a beautiful start of his day. When he got free from his hectic routine and had forgotten about everyone around him, that kind soul was still standing at the gate to wave at him with a gentle smile. That one kind gesture of that old soul made his day. From that day onward, he was the one to first wave at the guard with a generous smile.

It was his measure of success.

She had always been a spiritual person. But, the society demanded that she get complete her education first. She got a degree in finance. Life took a turn and she had to start working for a living. Many years passed struggling to make both ends meet. Then after ten years or so when life got a bit easier and she finally managed to take some time out for her; she enrolled herself in a religious course. That was when she finally considered herself successful.

He had been driving his car since the last 20 years and always grimaced on the lack of driving sense in people on the roads. The narrow roads with encroachments and the rush hours, always made the situation worse. But that day, when on a busy road, a woman with her child was trying to cross the road, he was the first one to give them way and let them pass.

That day, his success was not measured by grades or  a pay raise but with kindness.

She was the epitome of elegance who always looked gorgeous with her graceful clothes and stylish accessories. Her wardrobe was always filled with the dresses from the clothing line of renowned designers. Then one day she visited an orphanage in her area. The heart wrenching stories of the girls and boys residing there made her realize how blessed she has always been. With a heavy heart she went back home. Her room was still filled with unopened bags of clothes, shoes and accessories from her yesterday’s shopping spree. One after the other she started opening the shopping bags. Yesterday She was very excited about each and everything that she picked during shopping. But now the same things felt like a burden on her soul. She picked some of her favorite items and decided to gift them to those children who deserved them the most, at least much more than her. A few days back she could not even think of giving her favorite things to someone else unless these things were used or rugged. But today, she was willingly giving many of her favorite items to charity with a satisfaction in her heart and glint in her eyes.

This was the success she had never been able to achieve till that day.

At the age of sixty-five, when she was having joint pains with several other issues, life had slowed down for her. Simpler tasks started taking longer than usual to be done. A walk down a series of steps started feeling like burden. Then with a burning desire to uplift herself, with the backdrop of being able to take care of her husband and children; she made the decision of taking care of herself before everything else. A simple exercise which previously felt difficult to accomplish was now part of her daily routine. Slowly and gradually it started uplifting her spirits and she, once again  started living her life with the same zeal and zest as before.

This was her success story.

He was the first from his group of friends to enter the library. Where one of his class fellows was already present working on his assignment. His  class fellow started telling him some spicy gossip about one of his friends. Previously, on hearing some hot gossip about someone he used to tell his friends instantly. But this time he listened cautiously with an open heart. Responded courteously without maligning anyone and decided to keep it to himself. With a contented heart he left with a spark of success in him.

We have restricted our success to achieving high grades, pursuing highly acclaimed careers and becoming richer in our wealth and beauty. These strict concepts of measuring our success have left us competing constantly without achieving peace of mind and personal satisfaction. No one can define the kind and level of success for us.

Our elaborate resumes, carefully crafted social media profiles and detailed portfolios cannot capture the essence of our true failure or success.

After pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy, if you think your level of happiness isn’t going to increase then this is not the real measure of success for you. If after becoming the CEO of a multinational  company, you can’t sleep better at night, ask yourself that are you really successful.

Let not force ourselves and our coming generations to run after fabricated tales of success and discontented idols of accomplishment.

No matter how much you earn and whatever you achieve, if you are not satisfied with your life you are not truly successful. Nature reveals itself in stranger ways. It shows us all that the world we have fabricated around us is only making us more and more absorbed in worldly desires. It has only made us more competitive and less mindful of our spiritual needs. Needs of the mind and those of the spirit can never be same. No matter how much we try to make our lives busy with our jobs and work one day we must go back to our roots.

That’s where the contentment of the heart resides.

 

Convenient Sins

A casual gossip session was going on around the coffee maker in office. Where someone was talking about a person as how he was dressed up the other day. Another person pitched in that how he was behaving in a meeting last week. Another came forward to spice up the conversation and revealed some unheard traits of that person. One over the other, the personal details of that person were piling up around the coffee maker. Conversation was firing up; more fuel was being added by each participant. Until the lunch break was over, and the gossip session was put off till the next lunch break. Next day, same place, same time; some other person was being discussed.

On one similar day, one of the active members of that gossip group was complaining about how rumors are being spread about him in the office and how everyone is blindly believing everything. The same person was deeply hurt on this personal vendetta against him. Another day, another person was being discussed, this time over the phone. Some other day, opinions were given about a person in a chat group.

One way or the other we are being part of the problem instead of being part of the solution.

Family…friends…colleagues…acquaintances…no matter in which group we fall in, we are conveniently committing the sins we were not meant to do. We justify it somehow, because we believe with utmost conformity that we are right and the other person is wrong. Why can’t we make an effort to keep our interactions pleasant for all of us. What if before responding, we, just for a moment, try putting ourselves in another person’s place. Will it make a difference? Does it make a difference? Yes! it does. From the experience  of time & age and life above all; some of us have learnt to do this to make peace with what is not under our control. What we consider forbidden for others in one situation becomes lawful for us in another situation. Then we realize that the other person might have no other option in the given circumstances.

Learn to give others the benefit of doubt.

That friend who didn’t attend my call, maybe she was driving. That colleague who didn’t texted me back maybe he was busy in a meeting. That other friend who ignored me, maybe he was going through some family problem. The list of grievances and possibilities goes on. We complain about the extended family members, gossip about our colleagues, whine about our friends, even criticize media personalities. What for? A little bit of laugh and fun time with our other friends. If you are gossiping with me, what possibility is there that you won’t gossip about me. If I’m telling details of a personal conversation of a friend to you what is the probability of me not doing the same to you with another friend. In our genuine and somewhat cruel innocence, we try to warn others of the toxicity of people. Just to save them of the possible damage that was done to us. Let others build their own opinions based on their personal experiences and observations. As observation is not much less in weightage than personal experience. Observation can open those horizons for you which you are yet to experience. Let not pollute that rendered image of a person in front of another, just because you had a somewhat different experience.

Under no circumstances it is considered ethical that you, out of your own negative experience with someone, disclose the toxicity of that person to someone who is neutral.

No matter how hurt you are by a person, be mindful your reaction. Don’t let your professional differences convert into personal animosity. As your reaction defines who you are as a person. Gather the courage to declare today that if someone hears anything negative about you, he is free to believe it. But if, through our personal interaction, he doesn’t find those speckles of negativity; then he is bound to change his opinion of you.

We need to understand that we are not required to push the buttons that do not require pushing. Do not push someone to the extent that the other person is forced to take some rigid action. Do not make your deeds such that you become the topic of a gossip. Let not injustice be the essence of your working. Make peace with the people around you. Sometimes your sincerest efforts don’t align in the direction you want them to. Let it not destroy your peace of mind.

Change Your Ways!

I was sitting in a spiritual gathering. The speaker announced to conduct a small activity with closed eyes. All the attendees were asked to imagine for a while, their bad experiences in life and come up with the names of those persons who have hurt them emotionally. Everyone went shuffling through a collage of memories.

Good-Better-Best-Bad-Worse-WORST

The life was passing by everyone’s eyes like a train arriving at a station. Each one of us was judging and evaluating some person by the number of bad things done by him*. We thought about mean relatives, fake friends, cunning colleagues and nasty acquaintances. A storm of bad experiences was hurling overhead. Then, suddenly, we were asked to open our eyes and were tossed back to the present. Instead of asking about the names of those people who wronged us or knowing the details of our bad experiences, we were asked to now imagine that “what if someone, just like you, was asked this very same question, and your name came into that persons’ mind”.

That sentence, the thought of it, hit me and hit me hard. May be none of us was expecting to hear this side of the story. May be none of us ever imagined ourselves in a negative role in someone else’s story. That was literally heart wrenching for me. My eyes were now brimming with tears over the sheer brutality of this thought; over the sheer ignorance of my own deeds. Do we ever consider that we might be playing a negative role in someone else’s idea of a fairy tale? We always see ourselves through the spectacles of kindness which, in most cases are biased. Also, we are living in a society, which breeds on doubt, and benefits from distrust, always question the goodness of others. What I have believed from the very beginning is that, it is possible that a person is hundred percent good, but it’s not possible that someone is hundred percent bad. We are all blessed with some spark of goodness. It’s just that we sometimes invoke some insecurities in a person which makes him opt for that defensive position.

The looming question now is how to give others’ stories a happier turn around with our presence. Kindness! has always been the answer. We all know deep in our heart that, that one particular person with the loudest laughter, the hilarious jokes and the ravishing lifestyle most certainly has or is going through some tough times in his life. So, if we all are part of this equation, why not be kind to others. Because, who knows who amongst us is going through a tough time in this very moment. What I have learnt through experience over the past years is that it’s not much difficult to think before you speak. Ponder a little and gauge that what you are about to say; is it true, is it required and above all does it hold a speck of kindness. We, in our materialistic desires of proving ourselves, keep on speaking our hearts out no matter how devastating it would be for others. No doubt, truth must be spoken. But, let not that truth destroy our personalities and others lives. Because, no matter how much you try to hide your own cruelty or others goodness if it’s there it is going to come to the surface one day or the other. Whether, you like it or not. So, let your Creator be the ultimate judge and not yourself.