It is now 5 years since I passed out of college and started working. I love working. I am not a workaholic but I love working. There is a lot of pressure in the work we all do. This era is all about speed. Everything around us moves at the speed of thought. And the wise guys from the big B-Schools would tell you to be there at the right time or else you’ll loose the next big opportunity. All of us try to search for the next big opportunity so that we are not left of out in this race. We travel from place to place in search for that hidden treasure, success, happiness or whatever one may like to call it.
I have closely interacted with hundreds of people in these years and one of my favorites activity is studying people and human behavior. In the beginning I used to get surprised (sometimes even laugh) when I hear a new kid out of college and starting his life say that he feels burnt out. But then if you look at it closely, the kid is right. He is burnt out before he even starts because he is always expected to perform beyond what his mind and body can take. There is always this sense of urgency within all of us that usually keeps us unhappy no matter what we achieve.
I too was in this rat race till my mother taught me the most important lesson of my life and that is about being in the present and enjoying every moment of it. Sadly though I had lost my mother by then. I still remember that day on 18th December 2002 when I was thinking about my mother in the back of my mind but yet I stayed in the office as we had this requirement to get the ISDN up in our office. I was scared that if the leased lines goes down we’ll not have an alternative. So I sat with the providers and did not listen to my heart. As a result by the time I went to see my mom it was too late. I wish I had followed my heart instead. That is when I realized that the ISDN connection had no real significance in my life and yet I gave it an unwanted priority.
Here are some rules I live by now which I hope would help all of you. They say that it is best to learn from others mistakes. 6 basic rules that we must all follow to be happy –
Live in the present – Most good books on better living talk about being in the present. You cannot afford to think and live in the past. Neither can you think about the future all the time. You do not know what would happen in the future. You do not have control over it. This does not mean that we should not plan. It just means that we do not need to over stress ourselves thinking about what would happen in the future.
Let me explain with a simple example. You want to go for a vacation. You need to plan and buy the tickets in time. But it does not mean that when you are in the train or aircraft you start running inside it. You’ll not reach any faster than all the other passengers who are traveling with you.
However, do remember that you must learn from your past and improve upon it. The food from Pizza Hut is fattening. This means that it would remain the same, unless they do some major changes to the way pizzas are made. So saying that I cannot think about the past and I should keep going over and over again to Pizza Hut does no make sense.
Also another important point is that you must learn to visualize about the future. When I was kid our swimming coach used to talk a lot about the power of visualization. He used to say that if you going for a competition tomorrow, the previous night one should visualize the entire event. It goes like this – I feel light and energetic. The weather is great for swimming. I am going to get the best place. My start is perfect. I have a perfect dive in the water. The water is not too hot neither is it too cool. It is just right for me. My breathing is perfect and my strokes are perfect and coordinated. I am the winner…
Simulate the same situation when you are facing a client or an ISO auditor.
Another aspect I’ll like to point out here is that some people get into the urgency because they feel insecure about the future. They think “If I die my wife or family would face a lot of problems… “ In the process they start taking insurance policies left and right, try to buy a house etc.. In many cases they are not able to keep up with all the liabilities and in that tension many do really die. One must plan and have a secure future but never over do anything. Take commitments only when it is possible to live up to the commitment.
In short it all boils down to one thing. Be happy and live in the moment. Enjoy every moment of it. Because the present will become the past tomorrow and you need to cherish it then.
Never have any anger – There are times we are unhappy because we have anger against somebody. That really does not help. All it does is make us sad. In no way does it effect the person who has angered you. As in my case I was angry with the providers for having given us a good for nothing ISDN modem. What I lost in return was a lot more. It is not possible for us to not get angry because the reason why one gets angry is when things do not work the way we want it to. When people do not behave the way we want them to. And this would continue to happen. The best we can do is focus on something else in such situations. That makes us more relaxed. Also, be grateful for what you have and do not think about what you do not have. There are many in this world who are less fortunate than we are.
Never have an ego – Most of us have a big ego which makes us all worse than what we think we are. We are nobody to judge another person. We are nobody to justify our actions on others because of what they did to us. In most cases when we do something against a person it would due to some false ego we have inside us. “How could he do this to me. I’ll show him who I am“…. Like I said a little while ago. I am nobody. If somebody treats you bad it is his fault and there no need for you to teach him a lesson. He needs to have self realization about it. Most of our epics is about teaching a lesson to the other person. I remember as a kid watching Mahabharat and Ramayana on TV, most of times somebody would be testing somebody else’s ego.
When I do talk about ego, I feel it is necessary to talk about self esteem too.. Both these are very different. We all must have a level of self esteem and dignity. But we must not allow somebody else to treat us as a door mat. If you do not like what the other person did to you. Cut off the relation or remove the expectations.
Take pride in who you are – There are many who have an inferiority complex about themselves. They generally think about the family, school, college or country they are from as being inferior. And hence they prefer to be bottled up inside themselves and their complexes. This is one prime reason why people make bad decisions in life.
One must always be happy as who they are. Have pride in what you have. I was not born to the Tata family. But then Tata was not born to the British royal family. Everything in this world is relative. You can either see what you do not have and get complex’d or see what you have and be happy. Once we start loving our past, our family, our nation and people around us, we would generally start loving ourselves.
Learn to tolerate – Many of us have a hatred because we feel only we are right. We can’t tolerate others. We can’t tolerate other’s behavior or actions. We generally fail to respect people for who they are. Rather we would respect them if they become like what we want them to be. Hitler could not tolerate the Jews. The Europeans in the US could not tolerate the African Americans. The upper caste people could not tolerate the lower caste people in India. We fail to see the person inside.
We must learn to appreciate others and respect the way they are.
Only reality of life is death – And finally the only reality of life is death. All of us have to die one day. Maybe what we can all do is try to visualize what we would like to achieve by the time we are dead. Let us work backwards. Rather than setting up a goal for 5 years from now, we must set up a goal for what we would like to have accomplished by the time we are dead.
I did ask myself these questions about my life sometime back. One of my targets was to be a good son. I cannot fully achieve it now as I have lost my mother. For her I can never be the good son I wanted to be. I can, however, be a good son for my father. I can be a good brother to my sisters. I can be a good husband to my wife. I can maybe built a team which can compete with the best in this world, I can maybe in my own small way make this world a better place. I do not want to loose these wonderful opportunities. I do believe that if I live every moment of my life happily I would be a happy man when I die.
Now we may not be able to achieve all what we desire to achieve. But we sure can work towards achieving it.