Measuring Your Life

Life is indeed complicated. It is not easy to understand it or even figure it out. No one can have all the answers and if anybody claims to be someone with all the answers, always be wary of such people.

I spend a decent amount of time in figuring out ‘what life is really about’ or ‘how do we measure life’ or ‘what does success mean’. Most of the time I don’t get any answers and when I do, I don’t like them. So I consciously try to bury these questions. This is not just me; it’s a human tendency to kick off the things that are uncomfortable. But then I think about how important it is to understand life because otherwise I will be chasing all the wrong things.

My outlook towards things has been shaped a lot by the works of Professor Yuval Noah Harari. His one of the ideas has made me realise that the most important thing in life is to be able to distinguish between what is ‘real’ and what is ‘a fictional story’. When I look at the things that are ‘objective realities’ such as birds, trees, and mountains, I immediately realise how insignificant my life’s problems are which may have been a product of my own imagination (this idea is again inspired by Prof Harari’s book SAPIENS). For instance, I have been observing birds a lot lately both when I am in my room or when I go outside. There is so much that I have learned about those birds from my mere observations on a daily basis. I get such a level of satisfaction that no gadget or technology can ever compete. I feel I am looking at things that ‘do exist’ in this world. Even when I look at the beautiful sky I sense vastness and everything in life- all the accomplishments, all the possessions seem little (I won’t say worthless because that would be extreme). We do spend a lot of time in our own imagination and hence, suffer. As Seneca would say, “WE SUFFER MORE IN IMAGINATION THAN IN REALITY”. Our brains create parallel realities that are not objective. I can suffer and feel miserable by thinking that I am a total failure because I did not get the job I was hoping to get. However, in reality that may be questionable. How do we understand what ‘failure’ is? Can we see it? Can we touch it? We can solely feel it but we can’t always trust our feelings.

Drawing a fine line between reality and non-reality is not a child’s play. Even philosophers and scientists are having a hard time decoding what ‘reality’ is. So, I am not going to pretend that I have figured it out. I am no expert. But there’s one thing I can say with confidence: the whole search for what is real is worth it.

You must be wondering that the title of this blog is ‘Measuring Your Life’ and I haven’t talked about it as such. Well that’s how you measure life- for me real success in life is about segregating what we usually call ‘mere illusions’ because majority of the time in life we suffer because of our distorted perceptions towards things. There are real stresses in life such as illness, death, unemployment among others. But it’s also true that sometimes we feel unhappy because we take ‘fictional realities’ for ‘real realities’. When we understand the difference we will have the headspace to think about other things that are actually matter (and possibly real) such as the importance of investing time and effort into relationships, loving people, and doing the work that is meaningful.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is simply an exploration. The author’s objective is to explore ideas and not arrive at a conclusion. So read it with a grain of salt. Happy reading!!

Most Important Lessons I have learned so far during the pandemic

Picture credits: Roffey Park Institute

Every event in our lives teaches us something. If you believe it doesn’t then I’d suggest you take a look at any event of your life again: this time more carefully. I am pretty sure you’re going to see it yourself that you had some learning. It’s impossible to believe that the pandemic is not teaching us anything. There is so much learning each day and remembering and not forgetting those lessons ever may help shape our lives for the better.

Personally, I have learned a lot of things in the past one year. While I was grateful of my life during this time, nonetheless it wasn’t an easy year. Actually it wasn’t easy for anyone. In spite of everything I have had a few realisations and I’d like to share some of them with you.

You’re always hanging by a thread

What I am about to say is going to sound cliche but it’s the harsh reality of a human life: life is very short. You can put your 100% energy into predicting the future still you will fail. You will fail badly. Everybody is hanging by a fine thread. If the thread breaks up it simply means that you are alive no more. What may sound scary is that you can never know when your own thread is going to break. One day you’re like ‘life is a bed of roses’ and another day your worst nightmares have come true. I don’t mean to make you feel depressed. My purpose is to bring it to your attention that don’t disrespect life. Don’t treat it like garbage. Value it. Bad things do happen. Sometimes the worst possible things but such events are supposed to make you stronger and not ridicule at life itself.

Never stop fighting for your/loved ones life

When we are at a very dark place it is natural to start losing hope. Giving up seems like the only option. I am not perfect. Even I tend to start losing hope sometimes when nothing is in my favour. In those moments only our resilience and bravery is tested. If we try our best to maintain our demeanour we can think clearly. When we think clearly we stop focusing on what has happened to us and start focusing on what we can do now. Options, which we thought earlier we had none, become very much visible. I believe it is about intention. A good intention make things possible while no intention does nothing good to us. No matter what you’re going through in your life never stop fighting for your life and the life of your loved ones.

Your focus must be on what you control

There are two kinds of things in this world: the things we control and the things we don’t control. Humans want to control everything. They often believe that they have a control over everything and that’s why their lives become miserable. Some people have a good sense of what they control and what they don’t. Such people have a much better life than those who focus way too much on the things beyond their control. I know it sounds easier than done because while I understand the fact intellectually it is hard for me sometimes to act upon it. Nevertheless, it is never too late. The next time you are in an adverse situation ask yourself one simple question, “What I can change and what I cannot?” I am sure you’ll be having enough clarity to make a better decision.

Each day is a gift

We have a tendency towards believing that life is short but not too short. We have a lot of time. There’s no need of hurry. Indeed, that’s the reason we fail to celebrate each day. The pandemic has shown me very clearly that in no time you can lose anyone. One day you’re talking and laughing with someone and the next day that person is gone forever. It can give you the chills if you think about it deep enough. Therefore, be grateful every single day. Try to look at each day as if it were your last. By saying this I don’t mean you start living in a fantasy world where nothing is broken. You shouldn’t stop feeling all the negative emotions. But every day remind yourself: how would you want to live your life today if this was your last day?

Impermanence is a reality

Everything is transitory. I am sure you have heard it many times. Accept it. Accept the fact that your life, the life of your closed ones, your possessions and your achievements are all temporary. None of them is going to stay with you till eternity. Focus your attention, time and energy into the things that matter: a purposeful life, good deeds and spreading love all around.

Are you building your competence or character?

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Competence is very crucial in today’s world. If we do not possess sufficient knowledge, judgement and skills it will be hard to perform well at our workplaces. These days a lot of emphasis is being put upon building new and variety of skills. Quite frankly, it makes sense because we are living in an era where nothing stays the same for very long. Every now and then things are changing rapidly due to constant innovations in science and technology. And if we can’t keep pace with such innovations and keep ourselves competent enough to land a good job, survival will be very hard.

What about character?

Does it matter in a world that pressurizes us to put our whole energy into building our skills and careers? Or simply, it doesn’t matter at all?

From my limited experience of the way this world works, I believe people do not give much thought to building their characters. Everyone is busy in a rat race. Everyone wants to be ahead of everyone else. It looks like people are losing their basic human values including kindness, gratitude, love, forgiveness, etc. Building a good character is not primary anymore. Rather it has become secondary.

Tasks either reflect competence or character

Jay Shetty who is a former monk, coach, author and a podcast host has written his first book titled “Think like a Monk”. In one of the chapters, he talked about how tasks that we do on a daily basis either reflect our competence or character. If I am an academician and I am focusing on improving my critical skills, statistical skills and teaching skills then my job will be a reflection of my competence. This will show that I am skilled at my work. What about jobs/tasks that are not related to our work? Like washing dishes, cleaning the washroom, brooming, doing grocery every week, etc. Do they not reflect our competence? They might do but more importantly they reflect our character. We undermine these tasks thinking they are below our level and why should we waste our time doing them when we could be doing something more important like making another report or studying.

In one of my previous blog posts I wrote about me doing all the household work alongside my mother. All this time I felt frustrated from time to time because I had this belief that I was just wasting my time. I felt I should be investing my time in doing something more important and better like learning new skills. But after understanding that some tasks actually help in shaping our character I realized I have been so wrong about my perception. I might read a chapter of a book in the time I am doing household chores. As it turns out, life is not simply about making myself the most competent person but also building a good character.

Look, a broom is trying to teach you something

While listening to an audio book by Jay Shetty I came across a very valuable point he made in his book. He said while he was a monk in an ashram in India he learned the importance of exhibiting flexibility through a broom. And he is very much right because we can learn that lesson too. When we are trying to clean our houses using a broom we often forget that without showing some flexibility it will be very hard for it to do its job. It is so interesting to realize that a broom is only able to reach the corners of our houses because it is flexible.I believe every task that we belittle is trying to teach us something. We need to change our perspectives. That’s all.

It is a good thing if we are millionaires. After all we deserve to be because we had worked very hard for it. Being financially stable is very important because lives cannot be sustained without money. We need money to fulfill our basic requirements. And we can be financially independent if we land a good job. Good jobs can be landed if we show the company/organization that we will be valuable at work. To be able to show our worth we actually have to be worthy and our worth is a result of our competence. However, we must never forget our worth is not limited to our skills and workplaces. Being someone of  a good character should be one of life’s purposes too.

Important lessons I have learned so far- Part 2

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(Note: This blog post is a continuation of my previous post)

5. Less is more

Less is more.” Read that again if you haven’t quite understood it yet. Yes, ‘less’ is ‘more’. Words might sound contradictory but reality isn’t. Having less people around you, having less stuff alongside you, having less of everything is always better. Before you get all confused let me clarify a bit more. I used to believe that having more people around me was a good thing. It was never easy for me to let go off people so easily. That, obviously, had a huge demand on my cognitive resources– I had to pay constant attention to their needs, I had to pay attention when they needed help, and I had to pay attention to the fact that I wasn’t not ignoring them. In the middle of this, I wasn’t paying attention to the people who were actually worthy of my time. I wasn’t prioritizing myself either. My constant efforts to keep the relationship going weren’t recognized as well. So, I cut off all the compulsions I had set up for myself. Now I don’t have contact numbers on my phone beyond 20-30. I am very particular about investing my time on people who do not come under the radar of my social circle. I am not saying that I have become cruel or rude. I help people if they need my help. But I don’t keep any expectations. This has literally let me have a lot of peace in life. The same goes for material things. Before buying something, I ask myself, “Is this really necessary?” If not, I move on.

6. Prioritize health

One of the biggest mistakes we often make is ignoring our health and putting everything else first like we can manage to do ‘everything’ with our so called ‘good health’. Actually it’s just poor health if you are not giving it any importance. Compromising on health is equivalent to compromising on life. When we are young we feel like we have the most perfect bodies. We feel sickness can never touch us. It is true when we are young we don’t feel maladies affecting us but as we grow older and older we come to understand that our bodies are far from perfect. Actually, we further realize that our bodies were never perfect or well maintained. Focusing on our physical health is very very important. It can’t be emphasized upon more. While physical health should be a priority we must never forget about prioritizing our mental health as well. A sound mind is just as important as a sound body.

7. Don’t be on social media

Honestly, I hate social media. I am not available on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and countless other social media platforms designed deliberately to be addictive. Many might comment that I have a very weak will power and I do not know how to use it moderately. To such assertions I will retaliate that this idea is completely naive. People do not understand that these social media platforms have been designed very cautiously to be addictive. Those cute and vivid colors of the apps, without your conscious awareness, are playing with your brain and eventually you are giving them more time than you are supposed to. You do not realize that the red color you see when a notification comes on your Facebook account is a result of deliberate thinking by some experts. Moreover, there are constant unconscious comparisons that we make through social media and it takes a big toll on our psychological well-being. That is why I have disappeared from social media. That is why my life has become a lot more peaceful.

Important lessons I have learned so far- Part 1

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“Sometimes even to live, is an act of courage”- Seneca

When we are at some point of our lives where we are vulnerable, we start believing we have got life figured out. We start believing that we are now invincible and nobody can dare touch or harm us. We start believing there is nothing new left to learn. However, it is a fool’s errand to think like that. Life will never seize to inspire us. It will never seize to teach us. It is a lifelong teacher and we must stay a lifelong student. At every point of life we will have something new to learn.

That’s the rule!!

I have been on the journey of self development and self improvement for some time now. It was only after I went out of my comfort zone (my home) and saw the real world that I understood there was so much to life- challenges, improvements, knowledge, achievements, principles, etc. And it was only when I went out into the real world I learned some important life lessons- the lessons which can only be learnt better if experienced.

1. You have to be patient in your life. Things will come around if you’re patient.

We believe things often work out if we are in a hurry. It is true that we must be efficient and fast but sometimes we should not rush into anything. Patience is one of the keys to success and people who cannot afford to wait should not expect better results. There’s a beautiful quote that resembles exactly what I mean- “Greatness takes time. Just remember it takes 13 hours to build a Toyota but 6 months to build a Rolls Royce.” So do your work and be patient.

2. Trust the process. Whatever is happening (good/bad), just trust your life.

It is not easy to trust anything when nothing is happening in our favor. And it isn’t easy either to be optimistic about it. And that’s where people often fail- fail to accomplish what they are seeking. Trust is very important. Now, I don’t mean trust in any supernatural beliefs which are beyond scientific explanations. I also don’t mean merely trusting things to work out while you’re sitting comfortably doing nothing. That’s just you being lazy. What I mean is doing your best and not worrying too much about the future because in life we only have control over limited things. There is so much that we don’t control. Understanding this key difference eases our journey. Every event-good or bad is making you. Let it make you. Don’t interrupt the process.

3. Be kind and humble. But not with everybody.

One of the important factors responsible for success in people’s lives can be attributed to their kindness. Being kind is not some conventional mindset. It is very much a conventional wisdom that has many psychological benefits. Nowadays, people don’t believe in these moral values but no matter what the trend has become nothing can beat the power of kindness. Kindness is the essence of our existence and if we sustain it we can make huge impacts in the lives of other people. However, I believe not everybody deserves our kindness. Some philosophical minds are of the opine that we should be kind with everybody no matter what. For some cases it is true but for others it isn’t because it is not wise to make a fool of ourselves. People who can’t value our kindness should not be a part of our lives. This may sound very rude and cruel. But that is the best way to avoid any sort of emotional baggage.

4. Take your own decisions.

All decisions in life are not easy. They demand a lot of discomfort, cognitive bandwidth and what not. When it comes to critical decisions of life it is plausible to seek help of people we trust and who are more experienced than us. But there’s a fine line between taking our own decisions and seeking help for the same. We cannot always expect someone to save us- not all the time. Many things in life happen all of a sudden and in those moments we are alone.  That’s when we must be bold enough to gather courage and make the call. It is because no one else knows what we really want in life better than us. Take help and guidance if you want but the final decision should always be yours.

Mental health goes back to over 2,000 years ago

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Philosophy is not everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t mean to be rude but that’s true. Nevertheless, it is an integral part of one’s life. At least, it should be. There is an old story Thales of Miletus who was a Greek philosopher. His friends used to make jokes saying, Those who can, do, others philosophize.” To someone like me who keeps philosophy at the top (other than science and writing) it seems quite offensive. Surprisingly, as the story goes Thales took the words of his friend seriously and made huge amounts of money. Looks like, philosophy does pay off.

Seneca, a stoic from Spain was born over 2,000 years ago. He was a terrific philosopher who made huge contributions to the stoic philosophy. He was the son of Seneca, the Elder. Seneca got his education from Rome and in spite of belonging to a wealthy family he left no stone unturned in imparting his wisdom. He had written a letter in his famous book “Letters from a stoic” where he talked about the importance of mental health. I was a bit surprised when I read that letter because it was hard for me to believe how possibly someone could be talking about such a delicate yet crucial subject such a long time ago. Yet he did. It’s all out there.

There are some key lines in that particular letter Seneca wrote. The excerpts are a clear indication to his efforts of prioritizing mental health. In other words, an attempt to maintain equality between physical and mental health.

  1. “The greater load, moreover, on the body is crushing to the spirit and renders it less active. So keep the body within bounds as much as you can and make room for the spirit.”

I am a skeptic when it comes to ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’. I believe what I haven’t explored and what I don’t understand yet should not be talked about. So, for my peace of mind and to avoid any sort of confusion for the readers I am going to attribute ‘spirit’ as human mind or simply human brain. Seneca has wisely separated the human body and human mind thereby separating two types of health: physical health and mental health. Seneca is not wrong in stating the importance of making some time for our mental recoveries. We are exerting ourselves physically ignoring the mental variable from the equation. Believing hand fracture is a problem while depressed mood for more than 3 weeks just a phase of life is nothing but an invitation to crushing our mental health by all means. If we are merely focused on recovering physically and not mentally or emotionally then everything is going to take a toll on us. That is why we must be careful enough about prioritizing not just our physical bodies but mental bodies too.

2. “There are short and simple exercises which will tire the body without undue delay and save what needs especially close accounting for, time. There is running, swinging heights about and jumping. Pick out any of these for ease and straightforwardness. But whatever you do, return from body to mind very soon. Exercise it day and night.”

Being physically healthy is the need of an hour because we are living in societies plagued with health problems like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, etc. Even Seneca around 2,000 years ago talked about moving our physical bodies to remain active and healthy. He suggested running, jumping, swinging heights out of many other exercises. But he was also very particular about practicing mental exercises. He said ‘return from body to mind very soon’. We may think mental clarity can be compromised with. I think it is the biggest mistakes of one’s life. We cannot move far if our minds are over flowing with baggage. So, in a way I believe if we are physically exerting ourselves once in a day to grow our muscles stronger, we should also exert ourselves mentally to grow our mental muscles.

3. The mind has to be given some time off, but in such a way that it may be refreshed, not relaxed till it goes to pieces.”

Occasional breaks from our busy schedules are very important. After all, there is a limit to everything. Seneca argues in his letter that we must always make time to refresh mentally because we can’t function to the best of our abilities if our emotional reserves are constantly depleting. At the same time, he is very careful about not letting that leisure time increase too much that we become lazy and sloppy. Relaxation is crucial and it is highly needed but too much relaxation is not good. Too much relaxation torn us apart into pieces and then more efforts are required to put those pieces back together.

4. “The life of folly is empty of gratitude, full of anxiety: it is focused wholly on the future.”

I am an ardent believer of practicing gratitude regularly. Even Seneca agrees. He says that life is no good if it has no place for gratitude. People who aren’t grateful for big and small things in life can never manage to stay content. Such people are always focused on building their future. They think future is the answer to everything. They are wrong. Present moments matter more. If we are present in the moment it does not mean that we become completely ignorant towards our future goals and make no plans. It means taking things one step at a time. Be active for your future. But don’t ruminate on it. It is not unhealthy.

History and philosophy have a lot to teach us. We just need to open our minds to let wisdom enter.

Quotes that make complete sense to me NOW- Part 2

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(This post is a continuation of my previous post).

Quote 4:Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’”- Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor Frankl was a prisoner at one of the concentration camps during the Second World War. His one of the most influential books of all time “Man’s search for meaning” has this beautiful line. Mr Frankl had a ‘why’ to live for and that’s exactly what made him come alive out of the horrendous conditions he was living in which are beyond our imagination.

What Mr Frankl had said decades ago is very true. In life, we all need a purpose– purpose can be anything like helping poor children with education, being emotionally supportive of our close friends & family, not taking undue advantage of anyone, curing people who are suffering from different ailments, etc. It doesn’t matter how big or small our purposes are as long as we have one. It’s what keeps us going when we have no reason to do so. We can overcome any obstacle of life if we are determined to live a life and not waste it. So, have a ‘why’ everyday and you will figure out the ‘how’.

Quote 5: “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Every time I read this quote I have a mind bending experience. It is very common among humans to project their fears and insecurities. We all do it and saying that we don’t is one the worst lies of all time. It’s our defense mechanism. A lot of times it happens that we are criticized by the people around us whenever we are set to do something. If it’s not criticism then at least a little of discouragement is there for sure. Such people are the ones who don’t hear the music as referred to by Nietzsche. And he’s right. It’s one thing to show someone the right path and prevent them from making a mistake. But it’s another thing to call them insane or mad just because we can’t listen to the same music they are listening to. We all have our preferences. We all have our perceptions towards life. And bringing down their morale just because we don’t understand them well enough isn’t the right way to live a life.

Quote 6: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”- Mark Twain

Anger is one of the most common emotions experienced by humans. When things aren’t as per our expectations we express anger. Sometimes it is okay to be angry because we are humans after all. But many times it is more of an enemy than a friend or companion. I am not going to deny the fact that I struggle with the implications of my anger. I have known this for a very long time. On the other hand, I am glad that I know my problem and trying my level best every day to resolve it. When I first read these words by Mark Twain I knew in that immediate moment that nothing has been more apt for me regarding anger. It gave me such a strong explanation for why I should try to not be angry a lot of times for the reasons I have no control over. When we are angry at someone or something we are eventually harming ourselves because it is our liberty that gets taken away from us. Not the others. It’ like we are punishing ourselves for someone else’s mistakes. So, the next time you are getting really angry for no good reason tell yourself that the acid is destroying no one or nothing but you. Just You.

We need to re-define the “How are you?” question

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Friend: Hi.

You: Hello.

Friend: How are you?

You: I am good. How are you?

Friend: I am good too.

(The biggest and most meaningful conversation just ended).

I am pretty sure this sounds familiar. Happens with me. Probably happens with you too.

We are living in the modern world of meaningless conversations and small talks. It is like everything is superficial. We might have some good intention behind asking our friends or loved ones how they are. It is necessary that we ask them. But in the midst of a noble intention sometimes we don’t realize that we are not very observant of what we are asking and what our closed ones are replying. Sometimes or I should say most of the time (in this modern world) we don’t see the pattern in our repeated questions and answers. That is why it is high time that we re-define the “How are you?” question.

“How are you” shouldn’t always be about work

How many times you ask someone how they are and you literally mean ‘how is your work’ or ‘how is your  internship/job going’  or ‘how’s studies going at the university’ or ‘how many online courses have you done during the COVID-19 pandemic’? Again, sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I know it is going to sound cliche and you probably have heard it many times before- work is just a part of life, it is not the life. We don’t try to understand that may be someone out there doesn’t want us to ask how their professional life is going. Maybe they want us to ask them how they are doing besides their work. It’s like we have made up our lives totally about professional success. We constantly identify ourselves with the kind of work we do, our professional accomplishments, etc. as if life ends and begins with mere work. The next time you ask someone about their life make sure you don’t just make it about work. Be kind and humble enough to be a little bit observant. You might make their day better. 

“How are you” is also about- how are you regulating your emotions and what can I do to help if they are unregulated at this point of time

Everyone struggles. While it may be true that some people have to struggle a lot more than others, still, the bottom line is: we all struggle. It is inevitable. With different kinds of challenges and obstacles come different emotions: anger, frustration, sadness, disgust, happiness, envy, jealously, pleasure, etc. Sadly, we are very ignorant when it comes to understanding people’s varied emotions. We don’t care enough to ask how they are regulating their emotions. And so, extending a hand for help never crosses our minds. It is possible that such ignorance is unintentional and we aren’t aware of such little things. Nevertheless, it is high time that we help our loved ones in regulating their emotions- even if they ask for our help or not.

If you’re okay with their “I am fine” replies, stop asking your “how are you” question

How are you?” “I am fine.” Done. Trust me, nobody is fine. There is always something going on in everybody’s life. It’s just that some people hide it better than the others. Our problem is that we let it go if someone says he or she is fine. I think a little push is what we need so that we create a comfortable environment for our closed ones to be able to share things with us. I don’t think we should be very quick in jumping on to another question whenever someone says they are fine. It is like we are all doing a formality by asking our superfluous the “How are you?” question.  

It is easy to ask “How are you?”. But it is very difficult to bear with the real story behind that question.

“I Can Think. I Can Wait. I Can Fast.”

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Recently I have finished reading a book called “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse.

Why did I pick this book? Maybe I was expecting to gain some wisdom.

Did I?

Yes. I did. Of course I did.

There are many pages in the book pouring down some ultimate truths. But my favourite line throughout the book is when Siddhartha, a young man seeking discovery of the self, said, “I CAN THINK. I CAN WAIT. I CAN FAST.”

The line might seem trivial. If we care enough to think about it, however, there is so much that we can learn from it. We humans are always seeking ‘something’ in our lives. And unfortunately, many times we don’t have the slightest idea what that ‘something’ is. We have longings for materials. We have more attachment for ‘things’ and not ‘people’. We seem to be trapped in a vicious circle of desires where fulfilment of one doesn’t guarantee happiness and contentment. As soon as we accomplish A we turn our attention to B without even taking a moment to celebrate the A. It is not wrong to have goals and ambitions. We must have something to ‘look forward to’ or else we’d be walking dead. At the same time, there is a fine line between being satisfied with what we have or accomplished and desiring for more. Whoever sees the line clearly learns to stay blissful.

When Siddhartha told he could think, wait and fast he did not mean that he could not do the other things. Of course he could. But he emphasised on three key qualities which are worthy enough to be pondered upon. No matter what facts we know. No matter how smart or intelligent we think we are. No matter how big or mediocre or small we think our dreams are. If we cannot harness our ability to think deeply and constructively, to have some patience and satisfaction in life and control our instant gratifications then everything will be in vain.

I CAN THINK

We all think. Thinking is an integral part of our lives. We are a lot because of our ability to think. Interestingly, mere thinking is not enough. What’s important is the quality of our thoughts that is manifesting our process of thinking. Like Sam Harris mentioned in his book “Waking UP- Searching for Spirituality without Religion”, “The problem is not thoughts themselves but the state of thinking without knowing that we are thinking.” We all have negative and positive thoughts. And that’s okay because it is a result of evolutionary processes happening since millions of years. At the same time we must not forget to develop how to think constructively whenever a negative/bad event takes place in our lives. Constructive thinking helps us gain a better perspective of the external world and guides us further to minimize friction with the external environment.

Majority of the people, nowadays, are not deep but shallow. They don’t bother getting much into the core of at least some things. And this is very unfortunate because superficiality in anything especially in thoughts will only alleviate the symptoms & not the problems of our lives. Therefore, deep thinking should be practiced by making sure we are not turning into chronic over-thinkers.

I CAN WAIT

Patience is the key. We have heard this innumerable times. Sadly, we don’t actually understand what patience is all about. At least that’s what I believe. People who are hard-working, tenacious, opportunists and most importantly patient can manage to accomplish what they are seeking. It is because they know how and when to wait. They know good things take time and no one ever gets anything without keeping some patience. Siddhartha knew this very well.

I CAN FAST

Many people are going to comprehend the last key quality/ability of Siddhartha in terms of modern concepts like intermittent fasting. While intermittent fasting is beneficial for our physical and mental health this is a completely different area of which I will be talking about in my future posts. What my analysis is that by fasting Siddhartha is referring to having control over ID which is the source of instant gratifications. We must learn and teach ourselves to never sacrifice future pleasures for short term ones. That does not mean to be constantly putting experiencing pleasures in the moment on hold for future which is not guaranteed. But we must know how to experience pain in the moment for a better future. From time to time we should experience what it’s like to be devoid of something for some time.

Reading Siddhartha and coming across such a powerful sentence can never run short of imparting wisdom. Life is not a destination and we should not expect to become wise at any one point in life. Rather it is a journey and becoming wise is a process and each day we can become better than the day before.