Saturday, March 26, 2011

Little Is Enough

Today when we see the endless ads, marketing of latest products, mobiles, electronic gadgets, cars, dresses, cosmetics……., sometimes make me wonder from where does this race starts and where does it ends? How much does a man need? Where does this greed end?

Why does even after possessing all latest materialistic pleasures one is unhappy with his/her daily routine? Why can’t we adapt a simple living instead of being inclined towards acquiring materialistic possession? How can one become Self-sufficient in this Materialistic World? Perhaps it is time to think…...

What is the bottom line? Is it this growing fixation for something which is adding no value to our peace of mind? No doubt, products do have a functional value, but being obsessed about our possessions and running after them is absurd. What happens to our quality of life when we value materialism?

In a world obsessed with materialism, entertainment, and vanity it is no wonder that many people have become unhappy with their lives. Working to pay a mortgage, car loan, and credit cards, life has lost its appeal for many. And when it seems the bank owns everything, and has trapped us in an endless cycle of working to pay the bills people seeking greater happiness must ask oneself, is it all really worth it?

It is a point of concern that we are becoming more and more materialistic with every passing day. The real issue is when this mad materialistic race distracts one from honesty and hard work. This tendency has isolated us from the actual spirit of life and has pushed it towards selfishness. The wish to become rich overnight by hook or by crook has resulted in increased crime and other issues like murders, robberies, kidnappings, bomb explosions, etc...

It is precisely a race to match to the standards of the society in which we live. It is a false belief of feeling happy after owning an expensive “thing”. There is no connection between our happiness and acquiring expensive products. We all shall comprehend the concealed fact that this happiness from possessions is really temporary, superficial, short-lived, lasts just for a while and then we start running after something else…….

Today an ordinary man is not clear and rather suffers in the darkness of these overly inflated, unrealistic ideas about the worth of wealth and possessions, ignoring true self-worth, deep satisfaction and genuine meaning of life. When we run after possessions, we continuously create goals, wants and desires in order to measure up to an ideal situation, setting up discrepancies from what we already possess. And we start living with an incomplete identity and thus decreased life satisfaction.

Once we introspect and tell our self that It’s “ONLY ME” who has the power to make myself happy; we will realize that these materialistic things won’t attract us anymore or at least we shall not bother to run after them. More is not better and in no way linked with happiness. We have to correct the underlying psychological issues that lead to such an empty pursuit which is detrimental to our well being.

The issues within us will always be there until and unless we address them. One of the core aspects of leading a fulfilling life is our self esteem. If our self esteem is high then we can go out and win over the world in any given circumstances; we don’t need expensive mobiles, cars or clothes to do that.

We as superficial materialistic society need to discover that life has much more to offer than the opportunity for shopping, shopping, and shopping. And that people shouldn't be rated by material possessions. The best things in life are still free!

Even God must be thinking that what actually He has to offer to a man to quench his thirst of desires and turn him into a happy soul!!! As all His efforts to make us happy have been futile, whatever we asked for He kept on giving us and still could not make us smile, and we still keep on asking for more and more and more, these are unending and thankless desires. And when we are all the time running after them, we fail to count and thank already existing blessings, ignoring them, taking them for granted and realizing later when we have even lost the existing blessings in the race to get more. (Health and Family are the most often, most ignored ones…)

Little is Enough, right now also we have enough to be happy and content, just look around and count the blessings and stop running after more……Enough, enough to be Happy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Here And Now

Recently when we bought a new professional camera and were busy clicking pictures of all that is beautiful and exciting around us, I realized the importance of here and now. I could actually see that the world is so beautiful just right now and just around me at this particular point in space and time. Whereas most of the time, most of us live thinking about either some gone by beautiful past or some imaginary beautiful future which is yet to come, forgetting and rather ignoring what all is so beautiful, right here right now. We prefer to live in THERE and THEN, rather than HERE and NOW. But LIFE is only HERE and NOW.

Why do so many personal development experts or 'gurus' place so much emphasis on the here and now? I realized earlier I was living in a constant state of anticipation - I was never actually enjoying the moment or savoring where I was'. Always focused on the future as present would not measure up to my idea about how I want to live my life. Life is in this present moment and if at present, we find our self in a place in our life that we want to get out of, then how shall we live and be happy in life?

Where life is, it is here right now, where you are now. Life can only be lived in the here and now. Sure, we might be striving towards future objectives, but those goals will only be achieved if we do our very best right here, right now. On the other side if we are constantly focused on the past - deeply engrossed in our 'stored knowledge' - the things that impressed us most about life THEN and we are taking most of our decisions based on that stored little knowledge, ignoring the most important facts about the PRESENT, then How can we progress?

More importantly we also develop our own self-image based on the past, our formative years. Because our obsession with the past is constant and because it happens subconsciously, we are completely unaware of this constant backward focus. And yet it is this constant obsession that is the key player in our lives. It's that 'stored knowledge' that dictates the way we feel about ourselves. It is the resultant self-image that dictates the way we act or react - and it is our behavior that determines how we relate to others, how we rise to life's challenges or how, more normally, we simply muddle through each normal day. This self-'knowledge' runs our lives. This depletes the greater part of our mental energy and as a consequence, our current behavior becomes impaired, counter-productive and even self-sabotaging.

The key point to realize is that we, as normal people, can never do our best whilst looking backwards - however, our default settings tell us to constantly look backward. Can you drive your car by looking in the rear view mirror?? Forget about driving, can we even walk looking behind? But that is how we normally drive the vehicle of our LIFE!! And when the accident occurs we are ready to blame the rest of the world around us.

Past and future and far-away places are not ultimate realities; they are instead useful concepts that help us make sense out of our present experiences. The present does not derive its importance from its place in history; instead history itself derives its importance from the present.

The future which we plan for our selves, for it to become a reality and our PRESENT, we need to live in the present taking assistance, help and guidance from God, helping us to achieve our planned future. When we are in here and now, we shall be able to see and hear the God send angels to us, whom we can meet and talk with, only in the present. It is then the miracles happen and our planned future becomes a reality. Have you ever met your God send angel? They are the people like you and me, who meet us in the PRESENT, just at the right time and right place, to make our FUTURE better.

Now how to live in the present? People might say is it a joke we are living in the present!! Of course I agree we are living in the present but we are physically living in the present mentally we are either in the past or future. So to actually live in the present we have to control our mind, our thoughts, which would again try to change the focus, and take you in THERE and THEN instead of focusing on HERE and NOW.

But imagine how much more free we shall be if we have freed our mind from the past and future. We feel much better, freer with loads of additional internal energy to perform better in the present. By focusing in HERE and NOW, I myself could enjoy my food much better, with so much more taste and flavor in it. I could breathe and feel more oxygen in the air around me. Trust me it is to be experienced, and put to the practice in order to feel the difference.

Let us not shrink our soul by limiting ourselves to the little knowledge and little world of our past, world is much more and much beyond that, let us give an opportunity to God, to send us His angels who are waiting to make our future much better and brighter. He is waiting to shower His blessings on us, we have to welcome them in our life by seeing it here right now in our PRESENT. Let us not take our present for granted.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Innocent Suffering

The recent news of Japan earthquake and Tsunami, really makes one think that why God let this happen to innocent people? Why is there so much suffering in the world? Who is to be actually blamed for all these; natural disasters, terminal diseases and so much other mental and physical suffering?

With little introspection, realized we have always learnt to play the blame game, we are ready to blame everyone else including God – that they are responsible for all suffering, but we shall never owe up to ourselves and take our own little responsibility. God created this world and created us, as free spirits, giving us all the freedom in this world to do whatever we want to do, and He has also given us an ability to think and differentiate between right and wrong actions. Our own wrong actions bring suffering in this world.

We cannot ignore this, we have created imbalance on this earth by our fast developing technological advances, we are little concerned about the nature and its balance. Each one of us from using of plastic bags to the making of atom and nuclear bombs is responsible in some way or the other for this imbalance on the earth. Man has himself evolved suffering to enhance and improve his own survival.

But trust me although we might have created a great mess and suffering in our life but God really knows our life and shares our hardship and suffering along with us. And with complete faith and hope in Him, we can come out of it BETTER. Without Him also we shall come out of the suffering but BITTER.

Many times suffering helps us view life in the right perspective. Suffering grabs and drags us to the place where we discover how much we need God's grace. It makes us understand that most material things aren't much of a help for the actual sufferer. We can rationalize which material things really count, which we're better off without, and which simply don't matter.

The gains come from the fact that God and, like God, we ourselves can take 'bad', 'horrible', and even 'evil' situations and make something good come from them. It's this fact that gives us real reason to hope during suffering. This 'good effect' doesn't change the nature or 'badness' of suffering; it is what it is. Garbage heap is no less filthy when there's a diamond in it.

The truth is people need real hope at the time when adversity has struck; we need to have full faith in God, that He shall give His resources to us so that we can face the suffering and make something positive come from it. He gives the direction and power to make these resources work. God gives hope, which itself creates perseverance. He gives wisdom to find the way past the suffering, and to learn from it. He works for believers, with the gifts to support and strengthen. In times of suffering, honor the Lord by trusting Him and knowing that He loves you and has a purpose for your life.

Do not yield to discouragement because of suffering. This is one of the greatest battles we will ever face - the battle to stay encouraged and joyful. PRAYER is a major key to making it through trials. If offered sincerely, in faith, to God, it will help us get out of troubles faster than anything, and we will get stronger and feel less pain in the whole process, because God dwells in the prayer of His people. When we suffer, our response is very important. We need to remember that God still loves us, and while there is life, there is hope. God is sovereign, and there are usually factors in His decisions that we have no knowledge of whatsoever. We have to trust that indeed He is "working all things together for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose" God wants us to be courageous, not unbelieving or fearful. Unbelief can cause all kinds of suffering, for us and others. Unbelief keeps the blessings of God such as healing, forgiveness, fullness and freedom locked out from our lives.

God may have a greater good in mind. He may allow suffering because it somehow fits into a wider plan of things which we, as human beings, are not aware of. Since we are part of this world, we can be crushed by physical forces bigger than us. Since we are vulnerable biological systems, we are subject to disease, degeneration and decay. One day we will certainly die. We have to accept reality the way it is, and exercise our human responsibility in minimizing suffering as much as we can. It was in the suffering and struggling that hard pressed apes found the unexpected discovery of new opportunities, found the way to human intelligence. Suffering by itself does not bring progress. It only does so when it is redeemed by its being grasped as a new opportunity. Fundamentally, therefore, any person can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of oneself - mentally and spiritually. An exceptionally difficult external situation can give us an opportunity to grow spiritually beyond our usual self.

Let us take this as an opportunity to pray for all the suffering souls in this world, may God give them strength and courage to fight their way out gloriously from the extreme calamity they are facing.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Art Of Appreciation

One of the greatest human desires is to feel important. We just want to feel special. An individual has an incessant and gnawing craving for importance. There is no exception to this psychological need. Barring our biological needs, practically all our actions are directed at satisfying this continuing need to feel important. According to William James, the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. We are aware of this desire in our self and continuously perform most of our actions to satisfy this need, but how many times are we aware of the same longing and desire in the other soul?

When this basic human thirst is not satisfied in the normal course, people tend to achieve this feeling of importance in varied ways. A small child would cry, shout and through tantrums, just for attention and appreciation. A teenager would wear expensive clothes or jewelry to be a notch higher than his friends. As we grow, we flaunt of our education degrees, social status, fancy designations and pay packages, just to satisfy that unending desire of being felt important by others. We drive the best and latest vehicle in an attempt to say through things: I AM IMPORTANT! Don’t ignore my presence.

People risk their lives and climb mountains, journey to the moon and expose themselves to risk because they are primarily, basically and even subconsciously, motivated by this urge to feel important, to become great and to earn appreciation. In misdirected cases, this same urge turns a few into notorious outlaws and criminals. When people fail to gain recognition, they go “insane” so that in the new world of their imagination and own making, they can obtain the importance which they have been craving for. An elderly parent often falls sick to get attention of his own busy children. However, all of these things are just covers for, most of the time, a wounded soul. From children to grown up adults, people often unknowingly hurt themselves, when this important hunger of human psyche is not satisfied.
The point which I am making here is let us be an extravagant and lavish in this, appreciating liberally and as often as possible, it shall do more good to us first and then to the others. The individual who can honestly satisfy this burning hunger for importance on the part of his fellow human beings can literally rule the world. He can motivate and influence any person, big or small, high or low, educated or uneducated, rich or poor, man or woman, provided he is capable of making the other person feel truly important. By discovering the special and particular gifts of an individual, by giving due recognition and sincere appreciation to that singular gift or talent, we can win him or her over and enhance their productivity.

This admiration and appreciation has to be sincere. If not, it will be mere flattery and a sensible person always tries to avoid a flatterer. Nobody wants counterfeits. Our appreciation has to be real and honest to evoke the desired response from the other individual and quench his thirst for importance. When we honestly admire and appreciate, be liberal and lavish. One of the most successful motivators and leaders of men, Charles Shwab, who was paid million dollars a year about four decades ago, observes that the way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement. To quote him, “If I like anything I am hearty in my appreciation and lavish in my praise”.

Criticism is just the opposite of giving importance, or appreciating other individual. And how many times do we get long lasting successful results from criticism? Rather the other person gets defensive and we end up in arguments and spoiling a healthy relationship. Let us not get judgmental with others, even God judges a person for his actions and deeds, only after his death. Then why do we get judgmental with others for their day to day actions. Nobody commits a mistake deliberately, we are all humans at the end of the day, let us be accommodating towards others for their mistakes, giving them a room for improvement and better performance next time.

Even appreciate the mistake of others, after all they have tried, give them an opportunity to learn from the mistake and be a better human being and learned performer for the future.