Just like any other individual, I have had my own highs and lows in life. If I analyze my phases, I can feel that most of what I have experienced can be attributed to my emotional dependency on people and the environment. Thus these internal fluctuations with regard to the good and the bad times always cause big turbulence, leading to mental havoc and wasteful thinking. From a very recent incident, I was able to recall the advice of my spiritual guide over a telephonic conversation with him, that I had forgotten amid the helter-skelter of my B-school life.
I just complained to him about people’s sympathetic and weird reactions to my auto-immune disorder which flared up on my skin at different parts in hundreds of minuscule patches uninvitedly a couple of months back. When I was finished with my rants, he asked me if it is affecting me physically or causing any harm, pain or injury. Since it just has to do with the outer skin, it actually makes no impact on my lifestyle, except the fact that I become a little conscious in my choice of clothing. On hearing this, he laughed off my problem and told me, that the problem is not with the disorder but with the way I am getting affected by people’s reactions to it. And, so he reminded me of the old advice he had given me way back in a different context that still holds true which goes like:-
“I shouldn’t be affected by what others think or say about me but what matters is what I think and say about them. ”
It might sound unconditional but it certainly changes the perception and our reactions towards people with whose opinions, we fluctuate. Stating my own experience, I no longer feel frustrated with people’s reactions but I have turned empathetic to understand their level of unawareness about the disorder. Sometimes, I feel the need to explain to them about my condition and how it will vanish soon, while most of the time, I take a silent and composed stand now, for I am actually not responsible to justify. My teacher very easily tells me to simply name the problem and leave it for people to google rather than explaining them the nuances of it. And, so at times, I listen to their fuss about it, their opinions and advice about it but don’t take it by heart. My anger for them has turned into pity and sympathy especially for those persons who judge others by external appearance. Now, I give them a smile and empathize with them for believing and falling for temporal things. Being mindful, I make sure that I create no negative thoughts but emit positive vibrations only for such people as ultimately it will affect my inner energies and I can heal soon both internally and externally. It is only through my teacher’s advice that I have been able to develop strong immunity against others’ comments and have been able to develop a positive outlook towards life. I need not mention but it actually makes me stronger and carefree.
The effect of speedy migration known as an Urbanization, Pluralization of beliefs, Power of internet and Globalized lifestyle has altered the worldviews of our centennials. Well, my statement may sound passive but flipping from the pages of millennials’ worldview I hope I may sound profound.
We (millennials) studied “Roti-Kapda-Makan (Food-Clothe-Shelter)” as the basic requirements for human survival whereas today (centennials) has altered that idea to “Paisa-Rutwa-Shakti (Money-Influence-Power)”. Today, we say, ‘If I have money, I can buy the best food, clothe and shelter – If I have influence, my lifestyle will be recognized among many – If I have power, my food, clothe and shelter is secured.’ But as a matter of reasoning, the popping questions here are, “what’s wrong to strive for the best life?” – “Is it bad to be an Elite/Affluent Influencer?”
Once Sir Abraham Lincoln said,
“We can Complain because rose bushes have thorns,
or Rejoice because thorn bushes have roses”.
This profound statement of Sir Abraham Lincoln perfectly displays the paradoxical nature that consists of every materialistic achievement we make. In response to the “how” of dealing with the paradoxical nature, God declares through the passages of the Holy Bible –
Oh, mortal man, I have created you in My own image, giving you the wisdom and knowledge to discern what is good and evil!
This day I set before you life and death, blessings and curses.
I have also given you the freedom to choose life by listening to me or to choose death by listening to your mortal instinct.
As I grew up with somewhat world desire for MONEY – INFLUENCE – AFFLUENCE, the day was about to dawn for me to drop my college bag and pick-up my office back-pack and to start to buckle my formal shoes every morning. Alike every fresher, I thought to catch up with him, who has always gone the extra mile guiding me for a godly moral life. As I went to meet my beloved Subash Uncle, I noticed a different smile on his face which was evident to say how joyful moment it was for him. Before leaving his home, he gave me some advice which has always been very evident for me. He said,
“Son, God willing one-day you might become the most successful person with many accolades but REMEMBER in the eyes of the LORD you are A SERVANT. Never take pride in what you’ve achieved. As God blesses us with the manifold of blessings, He has also the right to take it away whenever we turn unworthy to be the possessor of those divine blessings.”
Secondly, “the three greatest evil weapons that stand in our way of life are – ‘UNTAMED FLESHY DESIRES – ILLICIT ACQUIRING OF GOLD – HUNGER FOR GLORY’ (easiest way to remember these three – ‘3G’ GIRL-indicating opposite gender, GOLD & GLORY). All the temptations in the world are grounded to these 3 realities, once trapped to any of these will ruin our life, often there is no rescue from it.”
Generations come and generations go but, in each generation, the utmost desire of the human heart is always to get to the top. But alas, every time we witness an honest cry from the top confessing, “It was hard and compromising for me to reach here. But as I stand here, I FIND NOTHING!“
Alike the rich man in my second last article who cheated the whole world just to get to the top but alas, there on the top, he was unable to face his 5-year old son. Often, we quote, “end justifies the means” whereas profoundly thinking, “it is your means that decide how you will end”.
As the title goes, this was one piece of advice my parents gave me.
“Winning is not important, But participation is .”
When I was a child, there was a moment wherein, I saw a friend almost break down to tears upon losing a match. Being a child, I was unsure about what made her cry a lot. She vented out her anger on everyone around her. It was hard for me to take it lightly. I went ahead and asked my parents and they offered me the greatest lesson of my life.
It is quite natural that everyone is in a cat race. But all forget that one’s calibre is not compared to the other. As each of us is different. If you ingrain that thought in yourself, you will never be intimidated by minor setbacks. I understood that the friend of mine, was disturbed by the thought, that she failed and moreover failed to someone else.
I realised: “No one is actually afraid of being failed, but the thought of failing in comparison to the other, who might or might not be an opponent.”
Participation actually helps to deal with such fears, which the winning doesn’t bring out. And thus, we learn much more, than be disappointed or upset over it. You will also realise your positives and negatives which will help you in the long run.
Now, being a mother, even I encourage my kids to participate, but I don’t force them to bring in prizes, as I am not keen on stacking up those at home. I tell them, that the more you put in your effort, the better you gain – be it a lesson or even a worldly treasure to adore. It never mattered me much other than their joy.
I inspire them to be much more like an explorer, it is no harm in learning through a few setbacks. I assure them, that I will never compare them to someone else as I believe that they are their best versions. As I had learned from my parents, that actually Comparision kills – I never even brought in that topic. And thus, they were always enthusiastic about anything that came up their way. With this , the fear of failing also never bothered them much. Thus they could give their 100%.
Nowadays, compared to my childhood time, I see that the competition is on the roll and everyone around me are in the cat race. All want winners and not just an average or a happy child.
I see that parents and even grandparents are in a rush to make Ambanis, Neil Patels and some duplicates. They forget they are forcing them to be someone, who the child does not want to be. They are so blinded, that they do not see that the child has lost his/her childhood.
As a parent, my prime responsibility is to encourage my kids, to enjoy every bit of action they want to, so at one of point of life, they don’t complain that I never gave them a chance. Being grown up in a middle-class family, I never had the luxury of enjoying much, but I believe I did learn many things, that help me now and in the long run.
My piece of advice to those parents, who are pushing too much- just look at them with all those love and just love, don’t you think, you are doing it too much. As a mom, I pity that child, who is growing up with such parents, who are just making another duplicate in the world.
Remember – we don’t need replicas, we want cent per cent originals.
Teach them, that setbacks, be it small or good, are for a reason, not because the child is not done perfectly. Failure is always a stepping stone to success. With every unsuccessful attempt, we learn to adapt to something new or we learn to choose differently – both are in a way the best way to live. Every competition in life, teach you something fruitful and also gives an enriching experience.
All you have to do is encourage them to be an active participant, enjoy the moments with friends, and make them realise that childhood is for boxing up tons of memories, be it happy or sad.
Every child is unique, never compare them or ask them to be excellent in everything.
Let them cherish childhood- Life is just once- let not anything stop it from being lively.
I actually hold the phone hanging in my hands instead of pressing it against my ears when someone starts giving it for a long time. 😛
But advice with understanding and with much care always gets instilled in the hearts of people. That’s how one particular advice got implanted in my heart in such a manner that I have never forgotten it in my life though I confess that, I have failed to obey it all the time.
I have written articles, telling about this specific advice many times, I have given the same advice to many of those who seek counsel from me, and I have used it as an illustration while giving sermons in the church.
Why I am telling all these? Yeah, I just wanted to prove that this is the advice that has stuck with me for a long time and will remain with me till my death.
Now without any delay, let’s talk about the advice I am so serious about…
I know it very well that when I speak rashly, it feels exactly like the piercing of a sword, but when I use my tongue wisely, I bring healing to the hearts of the people listening to me -yet, I am very rash with my words. I am very good at juggling with them – yet, I know it can be used either ways. I can comfort a hurting soul with my words; I can motivate and inspire others with my words… And at the same time, I can scold, hurt and kill someone using the same tongue of mine.
My former boss had observed this character of mine so well that before he left our organization, he made me sit with him and spoke gently with this piece of advice – “Chiradeep, always think ten times before you utter any words, because once the words are out, you can’t take them back.”
It is imprinted within my heart. These words always ring in my ears and keep reminding me whenever I fail to oblige to these precious words of him.
In conclusion, I want to quote one Bible verse that always encourages and strengthens me to hold onto the advice of my former boss and that verse is –
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
Friends! Do we keep this in mind, whether our words are healing or killing someone’s spirit?
Keep reading as you ponder upon this small thought…
Giving . . . donating . . . contributing . . . for most people there is nothing new about it. People give in some way or the other. Some give money, some donate clothes and utilities, some offer to volunteer for causes, some organize free kitchens and so on.
Giving is a noble deed. Barring a few, all practice and encourage giving towards needy causes. At times, the intention to give is quite selfish. Think of the old clothes that you give off to charity, to make space for new ones in your wardrobe. Or, the leftover food that you give to the maid or the beggar so as not to waste food. Or, even the money that you offer for religious or charitable purposes with the aim of earning blessings from the Almighty. Or, donating to orphanages or calamity-hit areas to publicize your charitable act. Philanthropy and charity are booming business sectors today. All these acts, though helpful for the recipients, are self-centered in nature.
I learnt a lesson on giving from a grey-haired eighty-year old lady. She was the Consultant of the school I worked in a couple of years back. Speaking about giving she once said, “We all give. No doubt about it. But, most of us give when we have more to spare. From our plentiful resources, we give a few. It doesn’t affect us in any way. Rather it gives us the satisfaction that we participated in a noble act. This type of giving is easy, provided one has the heart to give. However, how many of us give when we ourselves are in need? You would say whether God would expect us to give when we don’t have for ourselves. But I tell you, if you can give when it pinches you, that is true giving.”
These words have stayed with me from the time I heard them. I have thought about the veracity of these words and realised how right she was. I break it down to this – when we have only enough for ourselves and we see someone who needs just that much, it would take a leap of faith on our parts to give our portions away trusting that our Heavenly Provider would not keep us in want.
Giving is not just about tangible resources. Even when we are required to spare time to visit somebody who is in need while twenty four hours seem to fall short for our personal responsibilities or to shower love on somebody when our own hearts are craving for love and affection or to understand someone’s viewpoint when we ourselves are looking for someone who would understand us – these are acts of giving when it pinches. And trust me, it is easier to give tangible resources, but difficult when it comes to imparting intangible valuables like time, love, affection, understanding, kindness, tolerance and all you can think of in this genre.
The wise words I heard that day have redefined my attitude towards giving.