Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sometimes you just have to Reboot!

(Image from pixabay.com)

Have you been in situations when your computer system or smartphone simply will not respond and you have no option but to reboot/restart it? While technology obviously is getting more stable and powerful, reboot is still an option we have to exercise at times. Once you find the current state of the device unacceptable - you pause, think, and find that you have no choice but to reboot…..

This post is not about technology though!

What if you are trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle and find that you have gone haywire?
What if you are going somewhere and feel you have gone off track?
What if a conversation has gone off course and you find yourself in a conflict with the other person?
Most importantly, what if you find yourself in an unacceptable mental state (possibly of anger, despondancy, hopelessness or fear)?

In all the above situations, you need to pause, think and see if you retrace some of the steps. But there will be situations when you simply need to start over and give up all that has happened recently.

Of the examples above, I consider the last one the most interesting. As we go through the events of the day, they leave their impressions – about people, places, things. We view the world in future with the past impressions clouding our vision.

You shop at a store and did not quite like the attitude of one of the employees. You think about whether you should go there again. Well, it was just a single employee and possibly at a store you have been going to for years. Why not view this in perspective, if it is an isolated incident?

You had a bad argument on a topic with someone – you are wary the next time you discuss anything. The likelihood of disagreeing again may in fact be quite low, and there may be more mature ways to conduct the conversation this time even if it so happens.

In my post Addition and Subtraction, over and above our natural tendency to add to what we have (skills, money, connections….) I had written about the need to also develop a habit of subtracting regrets, fears, attitudes, opinions, biases, pride, and develop an attitude of oneness with others.

Children have this remarkable ability to reboot – they have this amazing quality of viewing everything with a sense of adventure and newness.

At times, you need to introspect and just reboot, to get away from your current state of mind so that you may view everything as if it were fresh and new…..

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Have you been Idling?

(Image from pixabay,com)

There is a lot all of us want to do in life, and there does not seem to be enough time. At work, people are racing against time to meet goals and stay ahead of competition, and at home there seems to be not enough time for friends and family.

Against this backdrop, what is our reaction when we see people seemingly idling away, doing nothing? It is after a sheer waste of time, and time is a limited commodity.

However, let us assume for the time being that we have done what we planned for the day. Instead of rushing to find more things to do – is idling such a bad thing?
“Everybody seems to think I'm lazy
I don't mind, I think they're crazy.
Running everywhere at such a speed
Till they find there's no need.”

― John Lennon
The need to be productive and stay ahead in a seemingly difficult environment makes us restless – and our mind is constantly looking for new things to do. A point to ponder – do all the activities we do tie to a central life purpose for us and make us really happy? Why do we assume that the busier we are, the more we accomplish, and the happier we can be? This attitude of constant action often distracts from core purpose, allows fears to prey on our mind. It also causes us to look down upon and neglect activities such as meditation and sleep which are healing and important for physical and mental well-being in the longer term.
“There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”

― Bill Watterson
There might be merit to idleness after all. However, even idleness needs the right attitude. There is little purpose in being idle, if all we are doing is reviewing fears and regrets. Idleness should mean submission to nature and the order of the universe. Take a walk among the woods, by the sea or even in the streets early in the morning, and find a calm place to just sit and observe. My personal experience is that idling can be very energizing!
“I have often wondered whether especially those days when we are forced to remain idle are not precisely the days spend in the most profound activity. Whether our actions themselves, even if they do not take place until later, are nothing more than the last reverberations of a vast movement that occurs within us during idle days.
In any case, it is very important to be idle with confidence, with devotion, possibly even with joy. The days when even our hands do not stir are so exceptionally quiet that it is hardly possible to raise them without hearing a whole lot.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Life

Why not give idling a try today? Of course, only after completing all your responsibilities. And just maybe, you might be able to smile at people who think you are wasting your time!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Power of Simplicity

In the competitive business environment we are in today, there is considerable pressure to work harder & longer, learn skills & techniques, and network furiously. This is an age when life seems incredibly complex and stressful. However, activity frenzy can cloud purpose (see also Is Activity Frenzy Clouding Purpose).

Purpose should be central to all activities we do. If purpose is clear, the means to the goal make their appearance for the adventurer. Today is a good day to pause and reflect - Oct 2 is Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary. Many years have passed since we lost his presence (most of us never having been alive during his time), and yet the lessons his philosophy and life offer continue to be relevant, in fact very strongly so.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was a very unusual leader – he was soft spoken, and was extremely down to earth. He found strength to lead from his purpose and values. He maintained that he had nothing new to offer, and the principles of truth, non-violence and love are old concepts. While this may be true, he was able to apply it on a scale and circumstances which has few parallels. There has been some scattered criticism recently on some of his views in the early stages of his life in South Africa. I believe a sensible response to this is from his grandson Rajmohan Gandhi who has traced how Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy, views and life experiences evolved over time.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

No one is born a hero. If we regard Mahatma Gandhi as a unique figure in history, it is due to his evolution into a person of character in an extremely challenging period & tense environment. We can map his life to Joseph Campbell's hero's journey, with a call to adventure in his initial days in South Africa being a critical turning point, culminating finally in the end of the freedom struggle for India.

“Where there is love there is life.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatama Gandhi was an open minded learner, borrowing liberally from philosophies and practices around the world which he could apply to his life. Susan Cain in her excellent book “Quiet” also explores how Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most respected figures among the young. It is not difficult to understand why – he had no pretensions and was simplicity personified, other than his message of truth, love and non-violence resonating among the people.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Simplicity can be powerful – if backed by purpose, values and action. Mahatma Gandhi's life was indeed his message.

(Images from pixabay.com)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Reach for the stars but…..

The wise tell us that much of our problems are due to wishing things to be different from the way they are, including many times our own selves. Acceptance is a powerful concept – if we avoid resisting the natural order and the inevitable, we save ourselves much pain.

I have, however, found it enlightening to delve deeper into the concept, especially so as to be able to apply it in practical terms in every day life situations. This is worthwhile since acceptance brings up questions around – whether it means a state of inaction without attempting to improve or change frustrating situations. The confusion arises considering that some have associated phrases such as “everything is perfect as is” with acceptance.

Acceptance, to me, is simply aligning to the natural order of the universe. This means accepting cycles of pain & pleasure, accepting diversity but experiencing oneness at the same time, recognizing the overwhelming power of love & compassion, indulging in the joy of sharing, and looking at everything with a childlike curiosity and freshness.

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.

- Joseph Campbell

Not everything is perfect – many situations clearly are not. Acceptance does not mean we resist the urge for action to improve life situations or aspire to reach somewhere better. It is important that we link actions to a higher purpose rather than to gain personal rewards. Activity which extends to a sphere beyond our realm and benefits others is very fulfilling.

The curiosity to know about ourselves and the universe has led to dramatic progress in space science. This is a good analogy for acceptance – it is not that we are unhappy standing on the ground, but we find purpose and fulfillment in reaching for the stars. Interestingly, possibly in a decade, we humans may step into another planet - Mars. Those who do that I am sure, will still value Earth.

Reach for the stars, but be grateful for the ground beneath your feet…..

(Images from pixabay.com)