Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World, Work

Cups, Perfection or Happiness

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Abraham Lincoln

As per the recent health surveys, the growing levels of stress are increasing steadily, not only among white collar workers, but also among young adults, adolescents and even at school level. In 2016, an estimate of over 1.1 billion people worldwide ( 1 in 6 or 15-20%) had mental or substance use disorder with around 4 percent of population had anxiety disorder ( Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease study). As per the Cigna 360 Well Being Survey (2018), around 9 in 10 Indians suffer from stress. With all this statistical evidence and data of mental as well physical health correlations, the glaring fact or query is whether happiness or health is defined by the boundaries of pre-defined standardized success or by the quiet inner serenity of “being successful within”.

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Albert Camus

One of the reasons why we often sink into the pits in our journey in life, is because we are too busy looking around to notice our own. One becomes too busy in concentrating on how “our coffee cup” is shaped, styled and modeled in comparison to others either by wealth, career, assets or other parameters. Unfortunately in doing so, we fail to enjoy to taste, flavours and pleasure of indulging in the freshly brewed coffee in our own cup. Wouldn’t it be better if we enjoyed our own cup in the short time that we have?

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer

To attain the happiness in life, doesn’t imply to concentrate only on the cup that we have. Perfection doesn’t define happiness. Rather define what is important to one and find comfort and peace of mind in those. The choice to remain at peace and serene lies within us and our thoughts. Choose to stay calm, happy and content by finding the value and worth in things that really matter to us and our inner peace.

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” Aristotle

A Cup and Coffee

A group of highly established alumni got together to visit their old university professor. The conversation among them soon turned into complaints about their stressful work and life. The professor went to his kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups, including porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive and some exquisite. The professor told them to help themselves to the coffee. After all the students had a cup of coffee in their hands, the professor said: “ Did you notice all the nice looking cups are taken and only the plain inexpensive ones are left behind. While it is normal for everyone to want the best for themselves, but that is the source of problems and stress in your life. “ “ The cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most of the cases, it’s just more expensive and hides what we drink.”, the professor continued. “What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but all of you consciously went for good looking expensive cups and then began eyeing on each other’ s cups.”
“Let’s consider that life is the coffee and the jobs, houses, cars, things, money and position are the cups. The type of cup we have, does not define or change the quality of our lives.”

Advertisements
Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Work

Exchange Points: Adolescence to Adulthood

“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Neil Gaiman

Last week an unexpected mail had appeared in my inbox from friends of the middle school year. As kids of government employees, transfers were inevitable as a part of resource allocation, promotions and training. Consequently changing school every three to five years was the regular norm. Thus receiving this email had opened the box of memories and moments, considering the fact that middle school was a time when we were all evolving.

“Nothing happens unless something is moved.” Albert Einstein

Looking back, every year of our life as we grow older involves a change. Refreshing the memories as middle-schoolers, life was mostly about assignments, sports, dating and the cultural. Academics had featured a role when relevant. Yet fast forwarding, adult life signifies mostly an exchange. Academics were replaced by work, dating by either relationships, marriage, family and sports or cultural as bucket lists, leisure or recreation. Time became more and more precious. Personal life had taken a back seat once, when career life had started.

“It happens to everyone as they grow up. You find out who you are and what you want, and then you realize that people you’ve known forever don’t see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on.” Nicholas Sparks

Reunions, spontaneous unexpected run-ins with old acquaintances, opening the high school year book or college class book and the like, all bring back memories of the best, worst, embarrassing and nostalgic memories at the different time frames in our lives. The difference lies in how we have progressed, view situations today and has the picture changed for the better or worse. The dreams and hopes as children or adolescents combined with the unbiased and open thinking as well as the willingness to embrace change, mistakes, criticism and appreciation as well; have they been lost or matured to finer aspects.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates (Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior)

While the younger years were marked by learning through self experiences, formation of groups or peer pressure, forging of new bonds and learning to protect one’s self esteem from being shattered as well as trying to fit into the society; adulthood takes on a different turn with the lessons that we have learnt and experiences underwent to prepare us for the journey ahead. Yet the fact remains on whether we have progressed beyond the classroom thinking and contours of “adolescence” for the kindness, maturity and love that adulthood offers or have we accepted the fickle matters of life with all the lights, sound and the glorification as the truth. Only time will know, can tell and foresee.

“That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes

Unexpected Rays of “Providence”

“Every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will ‘turn the necessity to glorious gain.” C.S. Lewis

Unexpected occasions arise in one’s life at different points in their time frame. Yet while one mayn’t look for it, help often comes by His Grace.

Often unexpectedly, at a good hour, one may meet a person who disperses the clouds that have gathered in our soul, unwittingly resolving some of our personal problems.

” “Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? “They are high as the heavens, what can you do? Deeper than Sheol, what can you know? “Its measure is longer than the earth And broader than the sea.” (Job 11:7-9)

Often it may be so that one happens to hear from another person a word that pleases them, or to say someone an encouraging word. Or suddenly one may receive a letter from someone, and precisely when it is necessary be it at a low point in one’s life or when one has been waiting for the “lost” opportunity for some time.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Often when one is deeply entangled in the circumstances life has thrown them into, when one is desperately trying to reason within their views and thinking, trying to get out of the hopeless situation; when suddenly something happens that radically changes the situation. Thus by inference unexpected meetings, kind words, cherished and promised letters and such situations as well as kind deeds towards oneself are all signs given to as reminders, lessons, admonitions, encouragement or as a call to remind one of the Grace of God and the gift of Providence.

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Mathew 6:26)

Among the phrases handed down in the various cultures, there is a Chinese saying that all the darkness of the universe can not extinguish the smallest candle. It would do well to remember this during the dark phases of one’s life. When one knows and learns of this, the most ugly situations and the most terrible people may be viewed by different angles and seek out the spark of light. For Providence does indeed hold out the light, only it mayn’t be somewhere expected. When one believes in His Grace, Faith and Love; along the way one will find the rays that Providence throws offering the sparks and the rays to live.

“Numerous have been the manifestations of God’s providence in sustaining us. In the gloomy period of adversity, we have had ‘our cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.’ We have been reduced to distress, and the arm of Omnipotence has raised us up.” Samuel Adams

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”
― Corrie ten Boom

“……and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation…” (Acts 17:26)

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Work

Hold the Condemnation

“What we don’t speak burns more than the spoken words especially when the actions, expressions and emotions radiate the sense of censure as the silent unspoken disapproval.”

If we ever sit down and reflect on the number of times we had condemned or felt extreme disapproval at the actions of others or towards the circumstances, the list would be formed for most of us. The tendency to condemn or sentence another is one of the most common follies and fallacies of man. If we look on the pages of the local town news or reflect on the “hearsay” at the office, communities, neighbourhood centers and even schools, the “good news” gets less attention when compared to the “bad”. Though it is indeed important to know both, a fact that stands true is that the more disreputable the news is, the faster it spreads and believed.

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” Carl Jung

 

One of the sad realities of the social order is that people are more engaged in passing the “bad news” rather than the good happenings especially of others. Unfortunately condemning anyone unless the entire picture is known will strike back at us, especially when we are at our worse. To not condemn anyone may seem simple when said, but to actually do it is quite difficult. At some point of time, each one of us would have been at the wrong end of the receiving line, sometimes at no fault of ours or we have been grossly wronged. In such situations, it seems easier to condemn and castigate the other. However one’s real character is reflected when we hold such thoughts, emotions and actions.

 

When the wrong has been done to us, instead of engaging in harsh words or negative behaviour, feel angry but don’t feed the anger. Then acknowledge that what has been done was wrong and just move on. The harsh words, gestures or behaviour may aid one in letting off some steam for the moment, but a little later the regret, guilt and ramifications set in. The more we engage in the act of condemnation, the guilt may not bother us; yet when the day back to us as a boomerang it may be too late for the remedial actions or reparative measures. Eventually if we try, we can learn and master the art of  avoiding condemnation. If we do so, one discovers life’s simple pleasures and good moments. Above all, we learn to move with the flow, treasuring the memories of happiness, kindness and simple joys.

“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People)

 

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

“Doing Good”, From Within

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” William Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice)

One of the feelings that man is silently on the look out for, is the feeling of being  loved, recognized or appreciated. One tries seeking it many places, known or unknown to them. When one strives to do something good, kind or be generous by actions, words or thoughts; one secretly harbours the feeling and hope that these would be appreciated, whether those feelings come by knowingly or unknowingly.

“Know you not that a good man does nothing for appearance sake, but for the sake of having done right?” Epictetus 

What one often forgets is that, “doing good” doesn’t come with a tag that says “thank me” but with a hidden code that reveals how much comes from truly within. We can do good or be kind; because we want to or, just because we hope that some one would do it for us when we need it or, for some one of our own who may need it. Whatever the reason may be, unless we do “good” from deep within our hearts, all these would be in vain. For the real meaning of “doing good” would be lost, if it never began from within first.

“Be happy, noble heart, be blessed for all the good thou hast done and wilt do hereafter, and let my gratitude remain in obscurity like your good deeds.” Alexandre Dumas(The Count of Monte Cristo )

One woman baked two tortillas every morning. One for family members, and the second, additional, for the casual passerby. The woman always put the second flat cake on a window sill, and any person passing by could take it. Every day, when a woman laid a cake on the windowsill, she offered a prayer for her son, who had left the house to look for a better life. For months, the mother knew nothing about her boy and always prayed for his safe return.

Soon she noticed that a hunchback came every day and took the second cake. But instead of the words of gratitude, he only muttered: “The evil that you do remains with you, and the good returns to you!” and went on his way. This went on day after day. Not receiving the expected words of gratitude, the woman felt deceived. “Every day this hunchback says the same thing! But what does he mean?”
And one day, being especially irritated, she decided to end this. “I’ll get rid of this nasty hunchback!” She said to herself and added poison to the second tortilla. But when she was about to put her on the windowsill, the woman’s hands trembled. “What am I doing?” – she thought. And immediately threw the poisonous tortilla into the fire, cooked another one and put it on the windowsill. The hunchback, as usual, took the cake, muttering the constant words: “The evil that you do remains with you, and the good returns to you!” and continued on his way, unaware of the emotions raging inside the woman.

That same night someone knocked on the door. When the woman opened it, she saw her son standing in the doorway. He looked awful: hungry, thin, weak, in torn clothes. “Mom, it’s just a miracle that I’m here! I was just a mile from home, but I was so hungry that I fainted. I probably would have died, but just then some old hunchback passed by and he was so kind to me that he gave a whole cake. And he said that this was his only meal for the whole day, but he sees that I need her more than he does. ” When the mother heard these words, her face turned pale and she leaned to the door so as not to fall. She remembered the poisoned morning cake. After all, if she had not burned it in the fire, her own son would have died! It was then that the woman understood the meaning of the words: “The evil that you do remains with you, and the good returns to you!”

Moral of the story: Strive to do good always, even if no one appreciates it now.

“Every time you do a good deed you shine the light a little farther into the dark. And the thing is, when you’re gone that light is going to keep shining on, pushing the shadows back.” Charles de lint

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes

Treasured Memories

“Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye – it is very beautiful.” Kailash Satyarthi

The joyous days of fun, laughter and treasures are something that time or age can ever erase. For parents and guardians, having children around brings to mind and memory of their days. As children, they try to make out and see the best of everything. While it may be because they haven’t yet caught the cynicism and attitude of the world, the gentleness of children brings joy to the dark days.

“Imagination and invention go hand in hand. Remember how lack of resources was never a problem in childhood games? Shift a few pieces of furniture around the living room, and you have yourself a fort.” Alexandra Adornetto

Yet what happens when they grow up ? Caught in the modern paced world of consumerism, materialism as well as ambition; along the lines the simplicity of childhood is lost. As parents, care givers, guardians and nurturers of the future generations, care should be taken that in the modernism that we surround ourselves, children shouldn’t lose out on their best years of their life, their childhood. True that academics, cultural and sports do matter; cultivate their talents but let them do what they love. Forcing them into a mould from the very early days, breaks them from their very essence.

“One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life is, I think, to have a happy childhood.” Agatha Christie

Roaming the lanes, exploring the backyard, learning how a frog leaps or why some plants creep and others grow tall, how the wind pane moves and the like are what engages their attention or interest. Their talents of dance, music and ball do matter; but let them pique their inquisitiveness as their minds grow. Draw the lines, set the limits but never curb their rightful curiosity. Let them grow and treasure the memories of their childhood; for its’ their right.

“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” Tom Stoppard

In childhood, when we were immortal,
Were our wealth countless.
Each pebble was precious,
Life – well-dressed, as if on stage

Even fragments of broken dishes
Once again came to life in the mystery of a miracle.
There was no more beautiful doll rag,
It was not sweeter trickle krinynnoy.

Behind the wheel with an iron jump
into the future, boys ran away …
Old books, rare films
Were kept, were loved …

We, that we had a taste of the earthly paradise,
Were not surprised by the promise of another …
Believe me …
In childhood, when they were still immortal …

L. Znakovskaya

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings

Affinity, Soul and Time

“How will a person know, Selina, when the soul that has the affinity with hers is near it?” She answered, “She will know. Does she look for air, before she breathes it? This love will be guided to her; and when it comes, she will know. And she will do anything to keep that love about her, then. Because to lose it will be like a death to her.” Sarah Waters (… the author of Affinity)

Boy meets girl, by chance. Sparks fly but not much more after that. Fast forward years later. Lady meets a gentleman. Sparks fly and the fire is lit. If not, years on, an elderly man meets the woman of his dreams. Both old, yet sparks fly and the fire is lit. Forever or not, only time will know.

The above scenario may seem familiar. Our story or the story of someone we know or have heard of, may resonate with certain events as written above. What strikes one most on looking back, is the affinity between the two souls, no matter how far away. While “reel life” dramatizes the whole concept to “first look of pure love”; real life can range in varying degrees from mutual acceptance or comfort to instant attraction or the deep feeling of being complete. It varies from person to person.

For some “soul affinity” strikes instantly; while for others, it does not arise suddenly. Love with all its’ due respect, doesn’t arise from nothing. Where there is a fire, there are sparks. True love grows from a small sprout, of respect and admiration for a person, to love, affection and friendship comprising of pleasant moments through the attention given to each other. Love encompasses knowing the other; respecting the differences as well providing empathy, care and attention. Once experienced, its’ a feeling best described by emotions, memories and moments, more than the words that one can say.

“Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world… Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin