Category Archives: happiness
I recently met a person who casually told me that she was in multiple relationships and hence is a bit stressed. I found it a bit strange for someone who I met for the first time said this to me in a formal business setting. Anyway, not wanting to be judgmental and polite I didn’t make any comments or react to it in any particular manner. Honestly, it didn’t concern me much, its her personal life and it was fine with me. But she went on to explain her relationships a bit more to me in an effort to clarify her position and impress upon me that I or anyone for that mater should not judge her based on this casual comment she made.
This is how she explained:
Her father was a highly passionate gardener who specializes in building nihon teien – Japanese Garden for his clients. Although a Zen Garden is mostly a Rock and Sand arrangement, he often combined the elements of a Japanese Garden with the Zen garden philosophies which was very popular with his clients.
But he did take the art and the philosophy of the Japanese/Zen garden to heart and made it the basic philosophy of his life in terms of his relationships and life in general. He raised her and her siblings with a strong belief that one should conduct their lives as a garden where they are their own gardeners. Especially, a garden of Zen, – a garden of tranquility, balance, aesthetics, space and peace. In this garden, you choose the elements that will make your life beautiful and all that you desire by you as a gardener, investing your time, passion, care and commitment. Thus, the Zen Garden of your life will be as follows:
The Japanese/Zen Garden. A pristine place of perfectly manicured trees, plants, clear path ways with perfectly located open space. The basic 4 rules to build such a beautiful place of tranquility and peace are
1) most trees and plants should be taken care of by constantly trimming them in perfect shapes and regularly watering them and nourishing them with the right amount of soil
2) some select trees and plants should be allowed to grow as per it’s natural beauty and shape
3) all paths should be clean without clutter and
4) each zen garden should have a space to sit and meditate.
5) Rocks should be strategically placed to support the garden.
Life. It’s similar to a Zen Garden where you are the gardener. Your relationships are like the trees. Each need to be trimmed and cared for as you want them to grow into your life. You shape them in your garden as opposed to them growing out of your bounds and liking. However, a select few of them can be allowed to grow to its own beauty such as a child or someone whose natural self just beautifies your life.
Always keep your thoughts and mind clear as the pathways and make it a point to provide for your personal space. A place to collect your self and your thoughts, meditate and calm down. In your life, similar to the rocks, there are a few relationships that will support you and hold you down to the ground when you need it most. You can always lean on them and use them for support. Pay a lot of importance to these rocks in your lives.
This will make your life a life of tranquility, beauty, peace and balance. Enjoy your own Zen Garden life!
Many months ago I had watched Conan O Brian being interviewed by Piers Morgan on his show. Although known for his antics and humor I like Conan for his inspirational quotes and experiences that he shares with his viewers or an audience he is asked to address. His popular address to the class of 2000 at Harvard, his 2011 Dartmouth College commencement address, or just his personal experiences and challenges have all been an inspirational and wisdom filled lessons.
Similarly, reading up several successful peoples biographies have often been a major source of inspiration to me as it has been for several others who seek to learn for other peoples experiences and struggles. As we anxiously seek to read up and learn about peoples success and learn their secrets to their individual fame and fortune, we often end up turning the last few pages of the book with a profound sense of wisdom gained and with an understanding and awe of the person for having the courage and perseverance to overcome their share of adversities and at times impossible challenges to achieve their successes. At times we also learn how their adversities changed the course of their lives to success in the form of new opportunities.
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. ~Garth Brooks
From such knowledge we collectively learn one single and strong fact about life; that even the greatest of them all never had it easy or without problems. The road to any success for all of them have always been paved with several obstacles, hurt, pain, agony, delays, misfortune, mistakes, blunders, and countless lessons. But with them also came, wisdom, courage, perseverance, valuable experience and amazing successes. And from learning these facts, it invariably begs the question, how ignorant or arrogant are we if we expect our success without such adversities? What makes us so special for us to expect our lives to be easier and pave our path to success with bed of roses? Weather we expect success in our individual jobs, marriage, relationships, business, good health, sports, education, finances, parenting, or any chosen goals in life, it is almost certain that we will have to face and overcome our share of challenges.
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Facing our challenges is very similar to how a mere stone is turned into a precious diamond. From a dirty stone in mud a diamond goes through a strenuous process of cutting, bruiting, grinding, polishing, and further cutting until all its facets are carved out to dazzle everyone. Liked wise, our share of grinding, cutting, and hardships brings out our courage, wisdom, wit, will, perseverance and determination that enables us to dazzle others by our eventual success.
You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. ~Walt Disney
People who succeed in their lives often learn and reinvent themselves by bring about the changes that are necessary to help then achieve their ambitions and desires. They are quick to identify their faults, self improve, struggle, and get out of their comfort zone towards attaining their dreams. For they quickly learn that they will get the same results by doing the same things over and over again, and that they need to change their ways to behaviour to drive the changes they seek towards success. They do not fear committing mistakes, they do not avoid challenges or risks, they do not choose to escape from their troubles, but they stand and face them courageously, they develop solutions to their problems, they face their adversities by staring back into its eye. Greatness comes from standing up and doing the right thing regardless of the difficulties in life, they never sacrifice their morals, values, principles and righteousness. They instead draw strength from them, they differentiate themselves from others by upholding such characteristics, and they believe in their self and never give up. From the prophets (who are considered to be the chosen ones by the creator), to several kings, scientists, leaders, sportsmen and women, experts, celebrities or businessmen, inventors or politicians, each have to go their share of challenges to succeed. There is no easy path to success. It is almost imperative and essential to gain the wisdom and experience for everyone to not only succeeded, but to be able to handle their success and manage it with humility and greatness.
If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. ~Frank A. Clark
Alternatively those who choose to escape hardships, run away from their troubles, choose the easier options to avoid stress or risks, do not accept to make sacrifices, choose not to change for the better and take pleasure from their status quo as oppose to challenge it, often find themselves in the same place facing the same troubles time and over again. The same monotony, the familiar problems, the sweet self sympathy, and the embraced bitterness and negativity consume their lives. Every challenge remains a problem as opposed to being an opportunity to develop a solution. Every adversity is a reason to wallow in self sympathy and depression as opposed to face it and overcome them. The reasons to their problems become excuses and although they remain undeserving due to their lack of positive action, they become consumed by their growing false sense of self entitlement.
Much of your pain is self-chosen. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923
So, if you are tired of your troublesome life and the adversities you face, or have resolved to giving up on turning your life around and giving in to failure, then ask yourself what are you doing to overcome your share of adversities? None of us are any different from the other in our abilities and will to change. The difference is in our minds and choices. Everyman was just an ordinary person until they overcame their challenges to do something extraordinary and succeed. No great person or successful person has escaped life lessons and constant need to face their share of challenges and overcome them by learning new facts about life over and over again. We live only once and life is too short in today’s fast paced and rapidly changing world. Everything we do daily changes our course and destiny. Where do you choose to be? It is your choice and nothing can stop you from getting where you want to go in our life. When we learn to compare our troubles with those several others who face physical disabilites, health challenges, famine, war, loss of loved ones, etc, we will quickly find shame in voicing our adversities. Remember that to become a greater fighter or a tennis player, it is important to choose an opponent to practice who is better and stronger then yourself to become good. Hence learn to see your adversities as your challenging sparring partner.
The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. ~Norman Vincent Peale
We all are shaped by our experiences in our lives. And the memories, good and bad have permanently altered our outlook towards our lives and future. We are nothing but a mind over matter that is a product of our experiences under specific circumstances in our lives. If our circumstances were any different our experiences would have been very different as well and would result in a different memory that will remain with us forever. Perhaps they lie dormant in our minds for long, but only until similar circumstance arises in our lives. I tend to draw some inspiration from the character Guido; Roberto Benigni played in the movie Life is Beautiful where in the second half of the movie he tries to create a totally different experience of a Nazi Camp for his son by telling him that they are participants in a game to collect points. In the end the son thinks he won the game while his father got killed in the process.
Experience is what causes a person to make new mistakes instead of old ones. ~Author Unknown
Our response to situations, and events in our lives are all shaped by our experiences. Your thought process, our mind set, attitude, aspirations, expectations, and social behaviour are all altered or shaped by our experiences. Many of our experiences are usually personal in nature and there are several experiences that are conceived. The personal experiences are usually deeper in nature that we hold on to for long because we have endured personally as opposed to the ones that are conceived by other people’s personal experiences or opinions which changes over time and based on our individual personal experiences on that subject. If you spend some time thinking about your experiences that have affected you and your opinions about certain things in life, you will soon realize how fragile your opinions could be as it would have been lot different only if the circumstances of your experience were different.
Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him. ~Aldous Leonard Huxley
How you react to an experience and your choice of response leaves an almost permanent code of response to similar future experiences in your memory. You are more likely to response very similarly the next time you encounter a similar experience. Thus what you chose to do with your experiences plays a major factor in your development, understanding, response, opinions and future behaviours. We all carry several fond memories of your childhood that we often try to recreate for our youngsters or children. We often try to physically recreate the same atmosphere and circumstances hoping our children have the same experiences in their lives. We ape our parents’ behaviours at times in an effort to invoke similar response from our children, we tell the same old stories we grew up with to our children, or create similar environments such as taking them to a beach, playing in an open back yard etc. The core idea being that we hope our children to grow up with the same fond memories we did from our childhood.
We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it – and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again – and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore. ~Mark Twain
When we realize how important a personal experience is to us and how it has influenced our lives in several ways, and how our choice of reaction to these experiences under specific circumstances has shaped our personality, it will dawn upon us the importance it is for us to create good experiences and circumstances for everyone who comes in contact with us in our lives. What we experience under specific circumstances shapes us and what circumstances and experiences we create influences every individual we come in contact in our lives. It is very similar to how we feel when we have met someone who makes us feel good or bad. And the other individuals’ response or reaction to the experience we bring to them affects us in return.
Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself. ~Thomas Jefferson
We all are made of our experiences that we encountered in a specific circumstance. If an individual behave in a particular way, it is because his or her experience thought him these responses and resulting characteristics were born. We are like them too and they are like is. We all are victims of our life experiences. But we each can change ourselves and others by changing the scars in memories by creating new and positive experiences and circumstances. We can influence opinions, understanding, memories, feelings, responses, love, hatred, prejudice, knowledge and lives by how we chose to behave and the experiences we create for ourselves and others. Thus by making every effort to create a positive interaction and experience every time you speak or contact others you create a better world of pleasant memories, experiences and happiness.
To do something, however small, to make others happier and better, is the highest ambition, the most elevating hope, which can inspire a human being ~ John Lubbock
So, the next time you visit family over holidays, go over to a friends home, take the time to inspire someone who looks up to you, interact with colleagues at work, meet your grand parents, siblings, nephews or nieces, make effort to create a positive experience for them has leave them with pleasant memories of you and your words and wisdom. For they often have a profound impact in their lives like your experiences have impacted you. You can begin at home with your siblings, wife and children and enjoy a life of pleasant experiences and memories. Your personal experiences are created by how others treat you. Likewise their experiences with you are based on how you treat them. It is a chain of continuous actions and reactions. But to change this link from a negative to a positive one needs to come from you.
Amongst all the wonders we are blessed with, one of the most powerful things that we have got is the power of “free will” or Choice. Specifically the choices we can make in life on a day to day basis between good and bad and how we wish to be or become as evolving human beings. I must also say that I am aware that choices are at times limited to people based on the circumstances they live in, but I am talking about the choices that still many have in lives in an effort to have a better living and happier and meaningful lives regardless of their circumstances.
It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny. – Jean Nidetch
The ability to choose is an amazing powerful gift we posses that we truly do not realize or take advantage of in our lives. In order to truly understand it and use it to our advantage we need to understand the fundamental definition of Choice. It is a mental process which helps us to judge and analyze from multiple options and selecting one of them based on preference. Choosing from these multiple options usually results in a consequence or a need for action that would eventually derive at a desired consequence. In any given day as human beings we are subject to making several choices that affect our living. They may be from the simplest forms to complex in nature. The consequences of these choices or decision to choose one from another may affect our lifestyle, religious affiliation, political position, finances, attitude towards others, reaction to situations, and health almost daily.
The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice. – George Eliot
Our life essentially is nothing but a collective result of the choices we have made along the way. There are many choices were made at several moments in life, based on several experiences and circumstances, but nevertheless these were our choices and we face and live the consequences of these very choices daily. We may choose to blame the circumstances, but nevertheless the choice was ours and we are solely responsible for those choices and the eventual outcome. We each have the power and freedom to choose right from wrong. Often we end up choosing that which is easy from hard and sadly learn that the hard ends up being the right thing to do. The righteous and the just thing to do often involves hardships, disagreement from common folk, against certain odds, and at times contrary to common thinking. But it is in such choices that great accomplishments lie. Greatness has never been served on a silver platter, but it has only been earned by the choices made against all odds with the will, determination and perseverance. But it begins with the choice. And the power to choose is in your very power.
“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”- Denis Waitley (1933-…, motivational speaker and author of The Psychology of Winning)
If we examine history, great accomplishments and even the current popular inspiring stories of our times, we can clearly see that almost each and every single person had to make a very difficult choice against popular thinking, extreme criticism, severe opposition and unthinkable obstacles. Yet, each of these individuals made their choice that was right, stuck to it, persevered and accomplished great things. From a noble prince Siddhartha choosing to give up his royal luxuries life to find greater meaning in life and becoming Buddha, to Socrates’ struggle for independent thinking, to Gandhi standing up against the British Empire, to Martin Luther King’s fight for Civil Rights, to Nelson Mandela’s struggle to abolish Apartheid, the list continues to become an example of what great and right choices in life can achieve. Anne Frank, Mother Theresa, Beethoven, Vincent Van Gogh, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Abraham Lincoln, to modern day successes against odds and popular opinion like, Steve Jobs, Barak Obama, Michael Jordan, Stephen Hawkins, Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong, Aung Sang Suu Kyi are all people who had the courage to choose and stand by what they believed to be right regardless of what the consequences would be. Even the most ordinary and common folk who may be lesser known do this on a daily basis. In our current day news the Pakistani Girl Malala who stood against the Taliban to encourage girls to go to school is just yet another example of everyday heroes who go great things be having the courage to take the decision and choose what is right in life.
Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable. – Peter F. Drucker
We are always faced with such choices in our lives. We are always given these options and choices to choose from in almost every aspect of our life. But we need to have the wisdom, integrity, and the will to make the right choices for ourselves. The life we live is designed to challenge you to make the right choices in daily. And each of your day to day choices result in a continuous change and the resulting consequences that shape your life. One must always remember that one can change his or her life by simply making the right choices in life. It’s entirely up to you. You can get rid of old habits, change unwanted situations, make better lifestyle choices, choose a better diet, choose better food, better friends, better reactions to situations and problems, and give yourself the wisdom and courage to achieve great things in your life by making good, educated and right choices in life.
“Until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise” – Stephen R. Covey (1932-…, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)
In today’s world, many of us are also spoilt with choices. We do not know what is good for us and what is not. Young high school kids have trouble picking a profession, university or a carrier. Young graduates have trouble picking jobs, or company to work for, others have to choose their life partners, financial options, cars, life style, cell phones, televisions, computers, and even a simple cup of coffee is from a list of options and variations. There were times where I can walk into a Café and ask for a cup of coffee. I would get a cup of coffee, few cubes of sugar and a pot of milk. Today in the name of quality service, brand and marketing gimmicks for an extra $4 whether you like it or not, you are forced to pick from Columbian, American, Costa Rican, host of other gourmet beans, ground, coarse, fine, Grande, Venti, Tall, milk, 2% milk, cream, black, white sugar, brown sugar, honey, sweetener, and still end up with just a coffee to kick-start your morning. But for some even such wonderful choices are bigger problems than luxury or convenience in their lives. It is a choice they have to make and yet feel overwhelmed as though it is being forced upon them. The luxury of choices has now become a burden for some while others may struggle to follow the only option they may have got in their lives.
“Man is made or unmade by himself. By the right choice he ascends. As a being of power, intelligence, and love, and the lord of his own thoughts, he holds the key to every situation.” – James Allen (1864-1912, author of As a Man Thinketh)
It takes a lot of work, courage, patience and thinking to make good and wise choices in life. Many of us are dealt with the same amount of choices and possibilities like the list of great achievers had. It is the choice we make that makes the difference in our lives. There is no excuse for making poor choices but great accomplishments can be made by making simple good choices daily in our lives. From our choices in reactions to situation, to how we express our love to others, to how much hard work we are willing to put for our own success and the words we chose to express ourselves, everything little choice we make daily shapes our life. We need to realize and truly understand the consequences of better choices and to indulge in creative thinking and strategic planning and development of ideas for the real world that will live in. Start making better, positive, progressive and wise choices today, and within a week you will see pointed positive differences in your life.
Our destiny hides among our free choices, disguised as the free-est of all.
Not so long ago I had a near death experience where my heart failed to produce its electrical pulses and a Pacemaker had to be put in to keep it going. Soon after the few fatal episodes of fainting due to the oxygen not being sent to my brains as my heart failed to beat, I found myself at the ER with a temporary pacemaker placed through one of the arteries through my neck.
In the next few days that followed I was going through a series of test before a permanent pacemaker was eventually going to be implanted. While I lie at the Cardiac ward awaiting the day to come and go soon, I was overwhelmed with thoughts and memories about my life, and the realization of how short life can be. Invariably I did question the creator and why I was chosen to be the 1 in a million to have this problem. I am rebuilding my life again and doing all the right things in life to build upon a new found courage and wisdom where I began to make serious efforts to become a better and positive person. I couldn’t get the “why me?” out of my mind regardless the fact that I fully well was aware that it could have been worse and this was nothing compared to the millions of kids and innocent people who are suffering with much more severe and fatal conditions for no fault of theirs.
The night before the surgery, I took a walk around my ward to relax a bit and ease the anxiety a little. While I was observing the people, the tirelessly serving and caring nurses and watching the pictures that were put up on the walls in the corridor, I was stopped by a couple of the posters that caught my attention that were hanging on the wall by an exit door.
One read this:
Watch you thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become your character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
Needless to say this did have a profound effect on me and my way of thinking about life. Especially after experiencing firsthand how short life can be and things can happen so suddenly and turn your whole life around or end it.
We are often very careless of our own behaviour and the effect it has on the people we interact with. We about life as though we have all the time we can to say and do things without thinking of the effects and consequences that they make have on ourselves and others. As we proceed towards our final destiny we seldom stop to think about ourselves or analyze our actions, deeds and behaviours. We hurt others, become greedy, do and say things without paying any attention to its meanings and how it is perceived by others, do not care about others, and choose to live life as though we have nothing to do with others and this world and we can only care less about them. Yet we rely on others for their compassion, help, assistance, friendships, love, guidance, support, kindness, wisdom, courtesy etc. We expect the world to be fair to us, nature to be kind, resources to be endlessly flowing, weather to be mild, systems to be fair, politics to inconsequential on our individual lives, etc. One day comes along when we will have our kids and younger generations look up to us for our wisdom, guidance, support, assistance, kindness, compassion, empathy and help just as the world we share today does from us as well. And yet we seldom pay attention to our character. We continue to expect everything and at times demand all that we desire regardless of the fact we are worthy of them or have earned the right to have them.
But if we truly watch out thoughts, pay attention to our words, be mindful of our actions and carefully control our habits, we can certainly build ourselves a fine rewarding character that will pave our success and destiny. For when we are nothing more than just a tomb stone, the world we leave behind shall only remember and love us for our character, and the deeds we have left behind.
The next poster hanging on the opposite wall was a famous quote by William Penn:
I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. ~William Penn
Need I say anymore?