Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Loving life is lovely life

A friend of mine never misses an opportunity to remind me that we should always come to the succor of needy, especially children, if we are in a position to spare the time and money. I saw recently the phrase ‘loving life is lovely life’ while reading an article. It says if we had clear and lofty goals and if we choose to be a Good Samaritan extending a helping hand to those who need; our lives would surely be lovely. The choice before us is whether we wish to have a life of ease and comfort centred in self with no care for others less fortunate or to lead a life of love and compassion. With the former style you would never be found fault with as most of the people lead such purposeless lives but you would have missed a life of service or usefulness. Our goal should be to love to serve and live to serve. That alone would please the God. One cannot love God if he cannot love other men or forms of life created by Him. Selfless service alone can be considered as love of God in action.
Life is the most precious and invaluable gift to man by God. How he spends or utilizes it is the test given to him. Human life is a rare opportunity not given to all forms of lives. Should he not therefore make wise choices and lasting investment in it? Much of life is lost in childhood, sleep, career, meeting the physical needs and so on. Thus most of our life is spent on self. What is left is but a fragment of the total life lived, ‘how long or short permit to Heaven’. How one leads this small part of life is finally that matters and the true litmus test whether life has been lived well. This is perhaps the only time available that can be considered his own that can be spared to serve others. If one wishes to waste his life living a humdrum existence of no use to others like low forms of lives, it is his choice. But wise people who are alive to the larger scheme of life and its purpose would not misuse their lives but appropriate every moment that can be spared towards service and welfare of others., the poor, deprived and the less fortunate amongst God’s children. It is not easy to become whole time saints like a Mother Teresa or Vinobha or Swami Vivekananda. But it must be said of us that we had led a ‘life of trust fully discharged of opportunity well utilized and of gifts well accounted for and a life well invested. It is now up to you what you wish to make of your life-use it or misuse it; serve your petty self or serve others. Life is yours and you have to decide for yourself.’

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave. What will matter is not your success, but your significance. What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught. What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example. What will matter is not your competence, but your character. What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone. What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you. What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what. Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice. Choose to live a life that matters.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

Leaning towards risk

In our lives we are constantly confronted with situations where the future outcome is not clear. We would weigh the pros and cons but still remain undecided or opt for the safe path that is always less attractive. In life we are to take risks constantly, we cross the road hoping that vehicle users would follow the rule of road, we take our food in restaurants hoping the food is made hygienically, take our medicines trusting they are not fake and submit ourselves to treatment believing the doctors know their job well. Even marrying a person is a risky gamble until everything turns out to be fine. In business risks are taken day in and day out based on conjectures of the market, supplies and margin. One cannot play safe for the waves to subside till we take a sea bath. It never happens. Risk free road is the busiest boulevard but no successful men are found there.
We must remember that all risks are not the same. There are some risks that are just dumb, foolish and chancy like buying a lottery ticket, placing a bet on a horse or playing roulette in a casino to win a sweep stakes. But many risks are reasonable risks which one has to take perforce, intelligent risks, where the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. In the evaluation where all factors have been taken into account, it would be foolish to let go an idea where the positive outcome is more than negative fallout. If the damage by failure is minimal or manageable, the risk should be taken and an opportunity to make good should not be lost by excessive caution. Take the simple example of a young lover wanting to propose to his girl friend but afraid of possible .rejection. If he fails to take the risk of proposing to her and face whatever her response is, he would surely miss the girl forever. While we should give a wide berth to reckless dumb risks, we should not fail to avail intelligent risks. Otherwise our lives would be ordinary with no glamour or success.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind. Taking a long term view of the decision and the likely positive outcomes and not being guided by a few cases of failure we often hear about.Sucess may not be immediate but one should work putting in maximum efforts and hoping the intelligent risk taken will pay out well at the end. Success is not for cowards. Those who refuse to lean towards risks by bending with each storm of life may never get hurt but their character to be daring would be irreparably be hurt. There is a proverb ‘Everybody pushes a falling fence’. You can never command respect. We can distinguish the leader amongst men just by looking at a pack of animals cowering under danger. Suddenly one animal steps forward and moves towards the danger. This halts the other terrified many. So is amongst men.The leader takes an intelligent risk.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

United we stand

It is not in the strength of numbers that power rests. We have seen this countless number of times.. Women who are almost half the population have not got their rightful and proportional share in all spheres, be they, in legislature, workplaces or higher educational institutions. They have the power to wrest their rightful due and yet they have failed to get. It is because they are not united as a gender or a group to compel the political class through their power of ballots. It is the same everywhere. Where the groups of people are not united against a common oppressor, their causes remain ignored. The people are not united against the government in getting rid of corruption, maladministration, misgovernance and such like grievances. The political classes are aware of this disunity amongst the people and exploit it. The consumers are not united against the auto drivers fleecing them by unreasonable demands. The parents and students are exploited by educational institutions for the same reason. People are yet to realize that in union their strength lies. As in the story of four cows and lion, divided we fall. There should be a realization amongst people of this simple truth.
I read a story of one dignitary visiting a lunatic asylum housing more than hundred violent and dangerous insane men. There were only a handful of guards to contro them with nothing in hand except a baton.Suprised the dignitary asked how come the guards are not afraid of lunatics joining and pouncing on them. The head of the asylum calmly replied, “No, the lunatics never unite.”This is the message for us. We should consider ourselves as lunatics when we do not unite for a common cause. The trade unions are aware of the strength of unity. Sadly nowhere else we witness such a unity. This is true not only as people and groups in society. It is applicable to nations also. Combined their might is adequate to cow down the bullying of a strong or super power. United the nations can work for a better world. The message is loud and clear-it is in unity that strength lies and that lunatics never unite.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Forgetting insults

We are often irked almost daily at home or in work place by some annoying remark or hurting insult. We dwell on the incident endlessly like a dog with a bone making ourselves more miserable. We become irritable and in turn pass on this mood to others. Eventually in a few days we tend to forget the incident as other events in our life crowd in wiping out the memory. New thoughts or new hurts take over. The question is how when we eventually forget every incident or remember them faintly in reduced intensity, why we cannot forget right away when the incident occurred? Why carry the unhappy thought for long only to be forgotten anyway. God in His infinite compassion has made us forget the unpleasant and painful thoughts, sorrows and suffering as otherwise life would be a living hell. So why wait for the mental self defense to work eventually to forget and why not get rid of the thought immediately.

Look at the benefits. We are spared of the unpleasantness of dwelling on it and harbouring vengeful thoughts. Our mind becomes clear and purer. It is often better not to see an insult than to avenge it. Once we forget we resist the temptation to respond angrily by word or deed and present to the victimizer a cool indifference. Our mind is also free to take on newer thoughts and activities, often pleasant and engaging. We are also freed from the consequences of tension on our health both physical and mental. It is sometimes good to develop a thick hide as a defense mechanism. Let us not wait for the natural mental process to obliterate unpleasant thoughts but forget them now. It takes some effort but it is worthwhile.
It is not he who gives abuse that affronts, but the view that we take of it as insulting; so that when one provokes you it is your own opinion which is provoking. Epictetus

Friday, June 12, 2009

Magical talisman

We are little aware that all of us have one magical talisman that can attract people towards us. We rarely use it effectively unaware of its power to build successful relationships. It is an unfailing device that has miraculous power. If you use it with your children they would listen to you better, study well and obtain better grades. Employed with colleagues and bosses, their cooperation and support would be assured. If you wield it in your home, your wife and friends, everyone would flock around you thinking you to be a very nice person. You will spread cheer and happiness all around and making you also a positive looking person. What is that luck charm available with us? It is nothing but Praise. Everyone has a craving to be appreciated. It is this need that is met by praise.
We come across people who encourage us with their praise and when we are done with them we feel built up. We also meet others who are torn down whom we should cheer up . One of the ways we build people up is to praise them. There is power in praising people! Something begins to happen in them, in you too and in your relationship when you praise someone. Let us not praise just for the sake of it. Let us find out some positive traits in them to praise. If we start looking for it, you would surely find. Let us not be dishonest. If others have done something wrong, let us point it out but when they do something right, praise it unfailingly! It is scientifically proved that children praised for their performance and intelligence do well and that children criticized fare poorly. It is praise that makes the difference. So too with employees for better output.”The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”When we begin to praise, the benefits are manifold-strengthens relationships, fosters loyalty, and creates happier and satisfied people.

We are all motivated by a keen desire for praise, and the better a man is, the more he is inspired by glory”

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Live many lives

I have a young friend who did his IIT and MS and made his pile in US by starting an IT company. After about two decades when he had earned enough, he quit and took to reading astronomy. He acquired a doctorate in his early forties and is now in the academic line guiding students. It is not just a change in profession as many do in their career from one company to another. It is a conscious decision to live a new and totally different life .There are many who do that if they are in a position to do so. I have read in a book by Kopmeyer that Dr Schweitzer lived four different lives As a Doctor of Philosophy, he authored many books. He later earned a Doctorate in Theology to become a curate in a church to lead a different life. Not content with this experience in life also, he pursued his interest in music and became a renowned concert organist. The urge to serve the poor and depressed goaded him to become a physician and surgeon. He served the sick in the hostile jungles of tropical Africa by building a hospital.
We all live life only once and rarely change the vocation. We spend our life doing nothing to distinguish ourselves with success. It is good to change our life bringing greatest good to the largest number by not confining ourselves to one humdrum life without any benefit to others. It is conceded that not all can afford to do this in these difficult times. This should not preclude those who are successful in life in the early stages to seek a new life. I have known many after their long career take to study of law, learn Homeopathy or other branches of medicine, start affordable schools, do research in their religion, and join social service organizations/NGOs giving their heart and soul into their new lives. We have the option to lead more than one life that can bring joy and happiness not only to us but to other needy people. One need not lead a life of dreariness and mediocrity. We don’t have to be stuck up with the present.Some preparation early in life will facilitate our leading more than one life.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Creating personal goodwill

We are all aware of goodwill in the business and corporate word. It is an important asset to a company reflecting the increase in its value beyond its material assets. It cannot be bought initially but has to be created. This good will is the outcome of company’s performance in relation to its stake holders, mainly its customers. When a business is sold, the goodwill it has increases its sale value substantially. Business houses ensure that they do nothing to lose their goodwill. Individuals also likewise have to acquire goodwill if they are to be respected, trusted and succeed in life. Personal goodwill cannot be bought but has to be created by the individual by the way he lives and conducts himself with reference to others. It is the individual’s reputation and trustworthiness.
The foremost thing in acquiring personal goodwill is to perform what we promise in all our dealings with others. Our word, speech and action should always be in conformity with the understanding we create in others. If there is a variance between what we say and do, one can be sure that goodwill gets deeply eroded. Most people wish to be treated important, admired and appreciated. When we say or do anything we should test our speech and actions against the touchstone whether our speech and action generate goodwill or ill will.If it is the latter we must ensure that we guard against it even though such action or speech may be temporarily expedient. Whatever we say or do should give a feeling of importance or satisfaction or appreciation to others, at times even beyond their expectations. If something more than what they expect or agreed upon is given, the benefit is much more. Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overhelm the and creates your personal goodwill. This alone will build and improve your personal relationships.
However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?” Buddha

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Plant the ‘lucky feeling’

Even today when I am comfortably placed in life, when I find a one rupee coin on the road, a sense of happiness envelops me. I consider myself lucky that day and expect the luck to run throughout the day. I may even be impelled to buy a Bhutan lottery ticket at that moment. It is not the value of the money found. You cannot get anything for a rupee these days. Even beggars do not consider much of a rupee. It is the feeling that we are lucky and things have changed brighter for us that leaves us happy. If you start thinking that luck has turned your way and that things you desire will happen, psychologists tell us that we are sure to get what we want. It is the mental attitude that makes things happens. The lucky feeling makes us expect the things we desire to happen and what we expect to get, we generally get.
People feeling lucky have a certain state of mind that helps them in various situations. Luck could influence some people unconsciously make better choices than others. I have also read from a book The luck factor by Wiseman that certain tests done, to see how satisfied individuals are with their family life, personal life, and health, have revealed a marked difference between "lucky" people and the rest. The "Lucky people are far more satisfied with all areas of their lives than other people, The feelings of satisfaction are more the mental reaction to situations than actual situation obtaining. It is how they interpret the situations. People who think of themselves as lucky tend to interpret their lives positively; they expect good things to happen so when things are actually happening their attention focuses on the positive aspects.”
To spread this lucky feeling, I left a ten rupee note without the knowledge of my granddaughter in the book she was reading. When she found the tenner, she was wondering who could have placed the money in her book. When she could not determine who placed it, she attributed it to her luck. The smile in her face and the lucky attitude encouraged in her mind by this discovery made me plant small denomination notes in children’s books, toys or things they handle frequently. It would be a good idea to plant such lucks at unexpected places to people who are less privileged than us. It need not be money. It could be a meal ticket, an old shirt, an used sari,a pair of Hawaii chappal to someone without sandals or even a free haircut.. It could be anything but should make them feel lucky. Try it out.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Life'splan and water melon

You must have read the story of how a very big Japanese grocery store solved the problem of handling spherical watermelons that could not be stacked one over the other and occupied huge space involving higher rental cost and increased transportation expenses. Though the solution defied them initially, they solved it by placing the water melon when it was growing in a square box..The fruit took the shape of the box thus bringing significant cost reduction in storing and handling.
This set me thinking till I read a book comparing our life’s plan to watermelon. We saw that the watermelon that could grow bigger was restricted to the size of a square box that was convenient to handle.. The walls of the box would not allow it to grow big. It is the same principle that operates with our plans for life also says the author. “Our plans shape- and limit-,our lives just as the box limited the watermelon. We can never be bigger than our plans.” The moral is not to make small plans. There should be no restriction on our plans/goals in life. If we limit the plan, we would get a life of the size of watermelon in the square box. Let our plans be unconfined or bounded. Let it enlarge to its fullest shape to enrich our lives. Let not our abilities suffer due to the small sized plan. There is no harm in the plan being big to test our capabilities to the full.

When Mahatma Gandhi led the freedom struggle against the mighty British rulers in a non violent manner, he had nothing else to show to his millions of followers and motivate them except by the loftiness of his goal-total independence. The immensity of the problem or goal did not deter him. When he undertook the Dandi yatra with nothing but barefooted army of people, it was the bigness of his goal and the promised freedom that inspired his followers. His faith in the legitimacy of his plan enabled him to show a clear path to his followers. He was not agreeable to cut his goal to a smaller size. Any leader in any walk of life should have a clear plan or goal that is big to enthuse his people.A leader with a petty goal cannot remain a leader for long. For one to succeed he must have a worthy goal and a big plan to achieve the goal, a plan that is not constricted by restrictions. This applies to our individual lives too. Let our life plan be big like an unbounded water melon for it to grow to its full potential.