ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

Days passed, I was sitting under a night sky gazing at the moon when bouts of introspection made me wonder about my attitude towards life and fellow other human beings. Developing a sense of gratitude, integrity, good values and positivity is what I have been striving for. Had love, care and affection not been into existence life would have no means. So there is a lot to be grateful for.

Considering people as the biggest asset I think back and recall my parents, teachers, friends, family and even a few strangers to whom I am grateful to. By God’s grace, there had always been somebody with me for help. Honestly, I wish to owe them everything of mine in some way or the other. To name a few, Vipul Agarwal sir is the one who had mentored me so well taking care that I learn never to give up in life. Chiradeep Bhaiya who made me a part of Candles family and had ignited my desire to write and serve others. Avinash Bhaiya who made me believe in the existence of God. Priya Aiyar Di, a good well-wisher of mine who had helped me with a big decision.

Although gratitude is not a process of give-and-take, more often than not it is misunderstood as the reciprocation of good deeds. Shiv Khera’s “You Can Win” book very beautifully explains that a good deed cannot be cancelled by a counteract. Sweet sounding words like thank you, a gesture of appreciation, a smile, handshake or a hug are not something that can be repaid or taken for granted. They too have a meaning and changes our outlook towards life.

With gratitude comes happiness, with happiness, comes love, with love, comes sacrifice and with sacrifice comes the sense of pride.

Albert Schweitzer very aptly said, “At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

BE GRATEFUL, BE HAPPIER

We all are aware of the lessons that 2020 taught us- like how to be optimize resources, how to live with the bare minimum, how to work to the best of your capabilities and a lot more. One of the biggest lessons that everyone has taught all of us is Gratitude. While my 9-year-old was cribbing about his online classes and the pandemic altogether, I kept telling him to be grateful for what we had, rather than complaining about what we were missing. We were safe, together, at home and eating well. 

Of course, life isn’t a piece of cake, but when we are in a tough situation, we often feel like that is the worst thing to have happened, but often forget to realize that something worse could have happened.

One of my friends recently lost her mother. It was devastating for her obviously, but she was contented that she could meet and talk to her on the last day. 

Be grateful and express gratitude is what I wish to practice personally. Before going to bed every night, I say a small prayer and end with this line- ‘Thank you God for everything’. We are forever grateful to God and mother nature. During the pandemic, I was in terrible stress, like most of us. I started thanking the mother nature and felt so much better. I literally used to start my day by drinking water and thanking water. I thanked the Sun, the wind too! Though I was aware that everything was created by one living God. Watching clouds and birds became my favourite pastime and I captured some good shots too!

We are grateful to our family and friends, but we often take them for granted and overlook the good deeds they do for us. Life is short, is what I always say. Be grateful for what you are today, be grateful to those who have been with you and express your gratitude to them, don’t wait for tomorrow, for tomorrow may never come.

GRATITUDE A CATALYST FOR HAPPINESS?

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means graciousness or gratefulness, depending on the context). In some ways, gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for any tangible or intangible things that the individual receives. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. Gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or supreme power. 

I agree igniting the gratitude vibe helps us to see that not everything is terrible. But many times, we force ourselves to be grateful. There are certain situations in life when we pretend everything is okay when actually it’s not! By doing this, are we not masking our actual feelings? When we show gratitude to hide the real problem, it can never be a catalyst for happiness! 

Many of us have met some people in our life who express gratitude in every situation irrespective of the fact, whether the situation deserves our gratitude or not! Some people keep thanking other people multiple times in return for a small favour. There is another category of people who express gratitude to others for their own achievement. They downplay their talent and success by inappropriately expressing gratitude to other people. These expressions of excessive gratitude can have negative impacts on us. 

Thus, consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude builds up a sort of psychological immune system that can cushion us when we fall. Moreover, scientific evidence shows that grateful people are more resilient to stress, whether minor everyday hassles or major personal upheavals. Hence, the contrast between suffering and redemption serves as the basis for practising gratitude.

HOW I EXPERIENCED THE POWER OF GRATITUDE

When our organization declared permanent Work from Home on 18th of March’2020 – I was delighted. No more traffic jams. I can sleep till 8 am. I can nap in the afternoon. I can work late in the night. WFH was a blessing. Within a month, reality hit like a slap on my face. I was dying to talk in person to somebody of my age (I live with my in-laws and my son). I wanted to feel the fresh air. I even started to miss the never-ending traffic jams. Work-life balance was totally off the charts. There was no time to even take a bath. There were days when I would realize at 7 pm that I forgot to take a bath or even comb my hair. 

Soon after depression hit. I started to look at every aspect of my life negatively. As a means to cope with depression, I started binge-watching TV series and eating junk late at night. My health started to suffer. To further vent out, I wrote many anonymous blogs complaining about every aspect of my life. Anonymous because I didn’t want my people to judge me, yet I had a strong need to vent out. 

This went on for a while. Arguments and discord were on all high at home. I was raising my voice and my hands on my son for every little thing – soon enough I hit the rock bottom with no way out in sight. Work pressure was only increasing and that was the only relief. Frankly, work was my escape path, I could work late nights to get away from my negative thoughts. But of course, that was just a temporary escape and not a solution. 

Then one day while browsing social media – I came across a post from a lady named Preeti Kamat. She introduced herself as a “Life Coach” or “Law of Attraction Guide” and she was offering a WhatsApp course on Emotional Mastery. It sounded interesting but I ignored it initially. Later that day after a nasty argument at home, I just picked up the phone and sent a message on WhatsApp her asking for information on joining this course. 

I am not going into details of this course or many other courses I have done with her till now, but I am just going to talk about one little thing that she made me do and it totally turned around my life. Among many other things – she asked me to 

  • Write 10 things that I was grateful for every night before sleeping. 
  • Remember 3 things in the morning that I am grateful for

Trust me, it was a challenge initially. It couldn’t find more than 1-2 things that I was truly grateful for. And usually, those 1-2 things were also work-related. But I forced myself to write. Slowly gratitude started to flow. And within one week I could count 15-20 things that I was truly grateful for. In no time, I started sleeping well, I stopped binge eating or watching junk stuff, my overall well-being improved. And as these things happened, I had more things to be thankful for. I was on a continuous upward spiral.

Today things have turned around so much that we as a family are going on trips together, eating together, giving gifts to each other and working to make each other’s lives easier in every way possible. If there is one thing that I need to be thankful for is the fact that I built a beautiful and most amazing relationship with my in-laws during the lockdown. This would have never been possible if I didn’t have so much time to spend with them under the same roof. This time turned out to be a blessing because I chose to live a life of gratitude, without which it would have been filled with deep misery. 

“Whatever you appreciate, appreciates”. What I experienced and witnessed, was no less than a miracle and I am truly amazed at the power of Gratitude. 

A WORLD SANS GRATITUDE

Mr. Cold was busy in his laboratory developing a variant to be introduced in the human body. His intention was to unleash something so dreadful upon the world which is no less than an apocalypse. He had his mutant ready but so eager he was to test it in the real environment that he didn’t bother to have the antidote ready for it.

He released the virus “NOGRAT” in the air and sat back to see the drama unfold. As the virus spread in the air and inhaled, it instantly froze the hearts of people by squeezing out the warmth. The very source of warmth – Gratitude evaporated. And a different psychological cycle started operating. No one felt thankful to anyone for anything.

The privileged were thankless for what have or acquired hence the very emotion of service to give back to society extinguished. The already existing wedge in the society between the haves and have nots widened beyond imagination.

Children are not thankful to their parents for providing them a safe haven. Students were not thankful to their teachers for showing them the right path. As a result, respect breathed its last.

Friends, Family, Relationships all shed gratitude and don new robes of brand “ungrateful” and forgot every sweet and kind gesture they have been bestowed upon. Care, Love, Loyalty – burnt to ashes and buried deep down.

People devoid of gratitude towards God, towards fellow human beings, were soon bereft of all emotions that had gratitude as a breeding ground – love, care, sense of belonging, benevolence, sense of commitment, loyalty, respect, the intent of service. Meanness, Greed, Lust, Hatred, Jealousy now active in frozen hearts turned them into mechanically working robots. The air of ingratitude now started engulfing nature as well. Droughts, cyclones, famines, and fury everywhere. These extreme conditions made the inhumane humans devoid of all godly emotions devour on each other.

Mr. Cold was enjoying this sitting in his laboratory as the world sans gratitude was crashing because of his virus “NOGRAT”. As he let his hair down after a devilish experiment his pet dog came to him running from outside. It inhaled the same air that everyone did. He loved his pet dog. As he tried to snuggle with the dog it bit him.

He cried in pain as he shook off the dog away from him calling the dog “You UNGRATEFUL creature!!” and it was the very moment when he realized what havoc he created robbing the world of happiness as he stole the seed itself – Gratitude. And the horror is haunting him as he locked himself in a dark room, slowly inching towards death away from any help from the monstrous world which was once beautiful and helpful…

Trrrrrinnggggggg…

My alarm rang and I snapped out of that dreadful and scary dream. It’s beyond the contemplation of my wisdom to imagine a world sans gratitude! Gratitude isn’t a singled out emotion, but an ecosystem in itself, a gamut of various positive emotions. Being thankful for the almighty is the beginning of the thread that weaves the bonds between human souls. Being grateful in itself is great, it teaches humility, love, responsibility, loyalty – differentiating a human from just man – food for thought.

I AM IN THE SPOTLIGHT – Prerna

First of all, I would like to say, this idea of answering the questionnaire was quite unexpected. For me, it came as a surprise. When I came to know about this idea, I was like let’s see whose questionnaire comes into my account. So, I got Kalpana’s questionnaire. However, none of us knew whose questionnaire we will have and who’s going to have ours. But I am really happy with what I got.

1. Is there another side to you, whom we can only dream to know?

Well all of us have our private life. This private life is not shared with anybody. To world I am an outspoken, intimidating and bold person. My image is of a straightforward and I get to hear so many times that my attitude is harsh.

But only a few know how empathic and emotional I am. It really disturbs me to see any human or any animal in pain. I feel as if I am going through the pain. Every time I see people or animals in pain, the only question to the Almighty is, “Why can’t you take away their miseries?”

I like keeping this side of mine hidden. Only few can know but now I have answered this question and so it is no longer hidden.

2. The proudest moment of your life?

Actually, I am still waiting for it, I guess. There were some moments when I was proud. Recently, it was when I came to know, a guy started to write after getting inspired by my writings. And this really means a lot to me. 

3. Have you ever regretted helping someone, I mean anyone whom you realized later isn’t worthy of your time?

Yes, I did. Not once but several times. As I said, I am empathic and so I help those who are in need of help in every possible way. But it’s not necessary others will be like us. Initially, I do whatever I can do for the person who needs help. Eventually, I get to know the one whom I helped wasn’t worth it. It makes me sad at first but then I realize, not everyone is intended to stay in our life. 

4. If not present profession you are in, then what you would have been?

This question is really interesting. And I like it the most. During our childhood, all of us thought about being whatever seemed exciting and interesting to us. Well, I genuinely wanted to pursue law as my career but due to some circumstances, I couldn’t. Although I am fine with what I have now but I wanted to be a lawyer. 

Interestingly, when I was in my teenage, I wanted to be a student at Hogwarts- The school of witchcraft and wizardry (according to the famous Harry Potter series). Even now, when I am a grown-up, I still wish for the same. I know it’s fictional but I wish it was true. 

5. Your greatest weapon/trick up your sleeve that never fails you, whatever you do?

I think it’s my confidence and my fearlessness. These two behaviours of mine have always helped me in achieving what I truly wish for. Whenever I feel, I have no choice but to give my best, then my confidence and fearlessness never lets me down. 

6. If you are given a chance to change one thing about yourself, what it would be?

Actually, I love myself the way I am. I always have had pampered myself and loved all my flaws. I believe, my flaws are the most beautiful in me. Through my flaws, I get a feeling that I am strong and determined. So, I am not going to make any changes in my physique or appearance but yes if there really is a chance, I would like to change my impulsive attitude. I would change it into a very calm and serene attitude. 

7. Your Inspiration to write?

The credit for my inspiration to write goes to my urge to express my thoughts. I can never walk to a person and speak my heart. This is because I am a reserved person when it comes to expressing feelings. Only few can know and those few may or may not be always with me. Therefore I thought the best way to express is to write what I feel. Moreover, I loved reading, so it also counts to the inspiration. 

8. Intelligence (smartness) or honesty that could land you in soup- what’s your pick?

I would go for intelligence. An intelligent person is the one who can win over any situation. Intelligence always attracts me and I consider it to be the most prized possession. 

9. What is your biggest regret in life?

I think everybody has some regrets in their life. So do me. The biggest regret that I have is not one but two. The first regret that I have is: I had a pet named Bruno. Bruno was a small and an adorable puppy. To me, he was like a bundle of joy. The first time I saw him, I couldn’t stop myself from holding that little being into my arms. I used to cuddle him and together we would muffle in my blanket. One day, after feeding him I went on to the washroom without knowing that the door was open. Bruno went out and met with an accident. The poor being was slowly and excruciatingly moving towards death. All I could do was cry bitterly and pray for his painless and easy death. Had I been a bit cautious, my pet would have been with me. 

The second one is: It was the time when I was moving to a hostel for the first time. I hugged my parents and my brother before going. My grandmother was also there. She handed me a little bag full of some fruits and the snacks that she made for me. I touched her feet and took her blessing. I wanted to hug her but I don’t know why I didn’t. This was the last time I saw her alive. She died 22 days later due to cancer. This shook me and till today I feel sorry for not hugging her one last time. I could have told her, how much I love her and what does she means to me. But I didn’t. 

10. Which lane of time you want to visit and stay there forever?

Life is all about moving along with the time. It is not wise to hold on to our past no matter how beautiful it was. There were many beautiful phases in my life to which I am really very thankful, as well as there are many more to come. Also, we should look forward to what’s next. Therefore, instead of wishing to visit a lane of time and staying there forever, I would choose to wait for upcoming moments. However, sometimes I imagine how good it would it be to look at my writings and relive these days.

Thanks, Kalpana, your questions were really brain-storming. Though unintentionally but you succeeded in knowing my secrets. During answering these questions, I really felt like being in an interview. This was so nice.

I AM IN THE SPOTLIGHT – Kalpana

Avinash’s Questionnaire

1. What does life mean to you?

I don’t want to sound too preachy by quoting lines like “life is a book, read it”; “life is a journey, finish it” blah blah blah ( a secret: I used these lines while learning MS Office for practising fonts 😁).  To put it straightforward life can never be defined by a set of words, at least by me. It is only meant to live and register your experiences at every step.

2. What matters the most in life for you?

Happiness, as it makes life worthy of living.  I strongly believe in the concept of “sarvejana sukhino bhavantu” which means “everyone should be happy“.  Everyone includes my immediate family, my neighbours, fellow countrymen and so on. For we are social animals and can’t lead a peaceful life in solitude when others around us are unhappy, period!

3. How to discover the destiny of our life?

Let life take its own course! The only way to discover the destiny of your life is to make the next move and see how it unfolds.  One should constantly do his / her duty (Karma).  See, at this point I don’t know where I would be standing 5-10 years down the lane though I might be having few plans running but uncertainty hovers all along.  So shall I hold back myself from doing my part as I am oblivious about the future/ destiny/ the outcome? NO. Destiny is for a journey and no journey can be finished if you are stationary.

4. How do you shape your life to reach the goals of your life?

You should have asked this question to an achiever 😁 but nevertheless, I have a simple theory for this:

  • Identifying your weakness (mine is lethargy of higher order 😉) and acceptance is the key.
  • Be ready to accept/assimilate knowledge from everywhere. Learning should be a never-ending process.

5. How do you retreat your regret?

I ask a simple question “can I change anything?” If the answer is yes then I must do it instead of sulking in a corner and if no then I should better go to bed to avoid dark circles thinking over spilt milk. 😁

6. Why do I need God when I have everything?

Let “Everything” you have, formulate air and water for you to survive, then you surely won’t need God.  Do get back to me with your answer.

“God is the way of life”.

7. Is pleasure the ultimate meaning of life for you? 

Definition of pleasure differs from person to person.  For me, pleasure (Ananda) is a state of mind where materialistic gain or loss doesn’t impact you.  It’s a point of indifference towards worldly matters and a constant pursuit of the light guiding us. If you ask me then I won’t hesitate to say “Yes”, Yes pleasure is the ultimate meaning of life.

8. Is Godliness possible to maintain in earthly life or it is illusionary?

It’s important to define what’s my understanding of Godliness – wish good for others, do good in your capacity, so I believe it’s definitely possible on this earth in this abode.

9. Can integrity be compromised?

Absolutely Not. Let me give you a simple example… My father used to say that he came across people in his life who proposed to give money to him to know the status of their case files or to give a push to the same (though a handful) but he refused as politely as he could.  He believed money earned in scrupulous ways could buy you fortunes but the serenity of soul and peace of mind goes in smoke.  You can’t sleep without the fear of being caught, guilt makes its way for sure into your heart which is unhealthy.  Then why trend that way?

Hope you got the answer! Integrity is a MUST.  Had integrity not been an integral part of our life then there would be no difference between how we see Dr. Abdul Kalaam and Vijay Malya, the scam master, isn’t it?

10. What can I carry after my death?

I surely can’t carry anything but only leave. A name to be remembered – with love or hatred depends upon the course of my journey. I surely want to leave many parables to be talked about.

Avinash! I can bet my life that this is the most difficult questionnaire I have ever answered.  It reflects your zest for life. Kudos to you.