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Why Self-Discipline is Over-rated and What to do About it

A lot of people beat themselves up over not being able to lead a disciplined life. Every time they start a “ritual”, the pride and satisfaction that come along with it is quickly gone when they are not able to keep up.

In fact many people don’t even start because they know they will not be able to keep up, so they go on living an unhappy and unproductive life.

I think one of the main reasons behind this flawed way of attaining a disciplined life is that it is based on the expectations of others. It is not your discipline. It is a discipline defined by other people.

For instance, if you genuinely dislike waking up at 5 A.M in the morning, then why should you? Shouldn’t the effort that you put into altering your lifestyle be rewarded and not result in further unhappiness?

The way to go about this should be find out what is YOUR discipline. What is about your life that you genuinely want to change? Though you can receive general guidance from others, only you can answer that question for yourself.

What is someone else’s discipline might not be yours.  Going further with the aforementioned example, if you don’t like waking up early, then don’t. But that also does not mean that you have to keep waking up at a later time where you don’t feel great either.

Try waking up at other times and see where you genuinely feel satisfied with everything. You also don’t have to wake up every day at the same time. If you feel mixing it up is the right way for you, then do that.

Find about everything related to sleeping and waking up, its effects on your health, and acknowledge any changes and compromises you feel you must make. The key should be you feeling one with the discipline you choose.

There will be a lot of trial and error involved when you follow your own discipline but it’s better than following something that you don’t believe in.

When you follow your own discipline, you’ll find you’re at peace with yourself because it is something that you can do forever. The ability to continue something is one of the most important aspects of it being successful.

That is exactly why most New Year resolutions go out of the window in a few weeks’ time. The eagerness to start something does not ensure its sustainability. Whether you are enjoying the activity itself does.

So if you find yourself having to drag your body to the gym, there’s something flawed in your approach. Maybe you’re trying to discipline yourself way too much and are approaching fitness in a way that is not natural to you.

Instead of following a workout routine that feels tough for you, find something that you genuinely like to do even if it’s easy. Look for something about a workout regime that makes you look forward to hitting the gym.

For me personally, I mix up my workouts because the most important thing to me is the euphoric feeling I get after a workout and shower. Few things in life make me feel that good.

So that forms my main motivation. I’m not too focused on carving my body in a particular way or getting an eight pack. That happens too of course as you get fitter, but it’s just a bonus.

Try to go deeper into your motivation about anything that you do. If you’re finding that something is really a struggle, chances are that you don’t want it badly enough.

Try to do things that you are naturally motivated to do, in a way that you are naturally inclined to do.

Your overall productivity will also increase. Moreover, this will give you the confidence to further improve yourself as you know you have already have a solid base that is based upon your individuality.

Your discipline has to reflect who you really are and the kind of life you really want to lead.

Remember, contrary to the light in which discipline is usually viewed, its ultimate aim should be to relax you, not make you feel afraid of it.

Following a discipline that comes from within you will require effort, but that effort will come naturally to you.

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Don’t be Addicted to Struggling and Adversity

Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer” – Niccolò Machiavelli

As we grow older, there is a part of our ego that almost starts to become masochistic in nature. We are not satisfied with anything that is readily available to us.

We start respecting only that which comes to us after some kind of struggle or the course of which involves us overcoming a lot of adversities.

While having the courage to overcome obstacles in life is definitely a virtue worth having, it is quite capable of becoming an obstacle itself when it forms a habit.

The reason why this happens is because this is how we are brought up. We’re made to believe that almost anything worth achieving, like good grades and a great job, require a vast amount of effort and struggle.

And when we do achieve these things, the glory that comes along with it conditions us into thinking that things which don’t involve struggle aren’t really worth having. It is assumed that since these were easy, they won’t help us to “survive” in this world.

What has made us believe that this perpetual NEED to find something difficult to achieve is a pre-requisite for survival?

In fact, a better question would be – Why are we so desperate to blindly dedicate all our life to such a vague notion that surviving is in the first place? If we’re always surviving, then when are we going to live?

Addiction to struggling not only robs us of the simple joys of life and relaxation of the present moment, it takes us away from who we really are.

When we force ourselves to always go for something that is not within our reach, we move away from our true nature because an objective that really comes from within will not cause a division between its pursual and accomplishment. It will be whole.

This is the chief reason behind the life crisis people suffer at different stages of their lives. They feel all that they achieved wasn’t worth the sacrifices they ended up making.

This is not to say that one should become lazy. In fact it’s completely the opposite. Following your true nature and the life that you genuinely value will require you to work very hard and have massive courage too.

But it will be work that you will love doing. There will be no division. The journey towards accomplishment will be as sweet as the destination.

In fact there will be no destination at all, just a way of living.

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Stop Being a Perfectionist

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  – Vivian Greene

Right from childhood, we’re always taught to be a perfectionist. Getting good grades and maintaining it throughout school is not just expected, but demanded. This soon turns into the demand for getting a perfect job, a perfect partner and a perfect plan towards a perfect retirement.

Sounds good? Nope. It sounds boring. It’s boring because a life dedicated to perfection in the future misses out the on the most important aspect of life – and that is making this very present moment perfect. Being perfect in the NOW. And such is the paradox of being perfect in the present moment that it can be only achieved by being imperfect. In fact, not just being imperfect, but absolutely falling in love with imperfection. Minimalizing perfection maximizes the action mentality.

Effort towards perfection is the leading cause for procrastination. You don’t always have to wait for the perfect moment to start or get things done. A lot of people always postpone actions that they know can improve their lives. They wait for everything to be right. If that’s the case, then you better be waiting in a comfortable chair because it’s not going to happen. As soon as you feel the time is just about to be right, something else will crop up and the whole cycle of delaying the all important action will start yet again.

Being a perfectionist sucks the energy out of you. Sure you may occasionally get the perfect result if you always follow a detailed and well worked plan. But at what cost? Every time that happens, you’re conditioning your mind in a way that the moment you think of taking some action that can make you happy, you’ll also feel the fear of it never happening because you’ll be scared of the effort that you would demand from yourself to make it happen in the first place.

This fear soon forms the voice in your head that tells you that you don’t deserve to be happy. That you haven’t done anything to “deserve” happiness. The only way to shut this voice once and for all is to fall into the habit of taking action. You want to travel the world? Do it. You want to get out of that miserable relationship? Do it. You want to quit your job and start a business? Do it. You have to build that “do it” muscle whatever may be the circumstance because the time will never be just right. This is what gives you self confidence.

By being imperfect, I’m not in any way implying that you have to take totally imprudent actions (though that’s still better than no action). It just means that once you have envisioned a decent plan (not a perfect plan), you dive into the thing. It’s called the “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach. Once you fire, you’ll be more motivated and happy in correcting whatever little things that need to be taken care of, because you’ll be satisfied that you took the action.

When you develop the habit of taking action irrespective of the circumstance, you’ll feel great because this habit is sustainable. No matter what the situation, you’ll be at peace with yourself as you’re not waiting for anything to pass. And when it does pass, it’s just a bonus that adds to your happiness. But you’re not desperately waiting for it to get over in frustration. You know that you would anyway live your life the way you want to, no matter what else is happening around you. Deep down you would know that the things you long for that make your life exciting are in your hands. This gives you great freedom and results in a mind that is relaxed.

They say whenever doubt, do the courageous thing. And being one with imperfection will require courage. But the journey will be worth it.

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What is boredom? How to overcome it?

Hi! Welcome to Episode number 08.

In this episode, we’ll be talking about what boredom is and how you can overcome it.

The usual answers to get away with boredom are: ‘Indulge in activities you like’, ‘Do all sorts of things that bring you pleasure’, ‘Make friends and have fun’ – which is fine and will be a part of our forthcoming answer too; but, we’re going to go slightly deeper because all these answers revolve around the surface of the problem – they don’t go to the root of the problem.

To understand the root, let’s take a philosophical scenario:

Imagine there are two roads – one is the road to boredom and the other is the road to responsibility.

Let’s look at the first road – the road to boredom.

This road is narrow with a lot of potholes and speed-breakers. It is no fun to drive on with no scenery around. But, this road has pit-stops which are a lot of fun. So, you can stop at one of them anytime and just enjoy life.

When driving on such a road, the journey is not very exciting because you cannot drive smoothly due to the condition of the road. Moreover, the scenery is very dull. So, you tend to get bored and your mind naturally starts focusing on the next pit-stop.

Therefore, all you do on this dull, unpleasant road is stop at a pit-stop, enjoy life for a while, have fun and move ahead to stop at the next pit-stop – and the cycle continues. Therefore, all you are doing is relying on these regular pit-stops to keep yourself functioning.

Now, let’s look at the second road – the road to responsibility.

Unlike the road to boredom, this road is a wide highway with pit-stops and beautiful sceneries around.

When driving on such a road, you are always having fun since it’s such a smooth ride. You enjoy life at the pit-stop too and are happy to move ahead since you know you’re going to enjoy the smooth highway journey ahead which is filled with beautiful sceneries.

So, this is a win-win situation since you not only enjoy the pit-stops but also the highway.

Thus, your pleasure of driving on the highway is intensified. This is because you’re aware that whether you stop or are on the go – you are definitely going to have fun!

How do we take the road to responsibility and apply this analogy to life?

Many people live their lives driving on the road to boredom. They choose a life where they’re ready to sacrifice the journey for the pit-stops. In other words, they choose a life where their focus is on the pit-stops.

Such people work at jobs they dislike; jobs that bring them boredom – just for the sake of looking towards and enjoying life at the pit-stops. For example, they work from Monday through Friday looking towards the ‘Saturday-Sunday’ pit-stop which brings them happiness, joy and pleasure.

However, people who observe this vicious cycle chose to do something different. They decide to drive on the road to responsibility. Such people build courage to answer the following three questions:

Question 01 – What am I good at?

Question 02 – How can I do what I’m good at such that I enjoy it forever?

Question 03 – How can I add value to someone else’s life by doing something that I enjoy?

When the answers to the above three questions work together, you start driving on the road to responsibility. The drive on the road to responsibility ensures you are fulfilled with the journey since it allows you to enjoy all way through.

Besides, the pit-stops here are cherry on the cake – you stop at them, enjoy a while and move ahead happily. These pit-stops are 100 times more enjoyable than the ones of the road to boredom because once your halt at a pit-stop is done with, you move on with your journey that you so enjoy doing. The happiness you experience is never-ending. There is no fear of your pleasure ending because you know that if one pleasure ends, the next one begins. The drive in itself is so fulfilling that you don’t even sometimes need a pit-stop. A pit-stop on your drive is a bonus. Unlike the road to boredom, your focus while driving on the road to responsibility is on the highway, and not the pit-stops.

Such a road is called the road to responsibility because it requires courage to be responsible to drive on this road. Responsibility is realizing the fact that you are here to live a life you’re meant to. To live that life is a responsibility we have because that’s how we will make our lives better and at the same time, improve the world around us in some way.

So start a self-enquiry that is based on questions like – How can I do what I’m good in such a way that I can earn a living from it? How can I add value to someone else’s life by doing something that I enjoy?

The moment you start asking yourself these questions, you leave the road to boredom and come onto the road to responsibility owing to your readiness to self-analyse to answer the questions. Then, this becomes a never-ending trial-and-error activity where you’ll keep steering your wheel while still driving on the road to responsibility, thus attaining fulfilment. You then just need to make your drive better by continuously steering yourself into the right direction. You’ll always drive on this road since you’re living your passion with a purpose.

So, if you’re feeling bored – you’re actually shirking responsibility.

To get out of boredom, find out what you need to be responsible towards. ’Living a happy life’ could be the first responsibility you can take up. This may sound selfish but this really is the first step. Till the time you are not happy with your own life, the desire to help others does not arise naturally. When you’re happy, you’ll naturally find a way to make others happy. This, however, is the second step.

The first step on the road to responsibility is to find out and act on what you’re good at and what it is you enjoy doing – even if you don’t get it right at first. Remember that nobody, who drives on the road to responsibility, initially gets it right.

And your ride can be completely different to someone else’s ride. Don’t compare. What makes you happy can be considered unconventional and weird by the whole world. But don’t get discouraged by that. Seek advice but ultimately listen to your own gut and instinct.

The road to responsibility is never-ending, but once you’re on it – the drive is smooth, the pit-stops are pleasant and the drive leaves you happy thereby reducing the intensity of boredom.

Where’s your ride heading?

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Understanding Simplicity With The Example of a Bucket and Water

All our desires can be categorized in two ways – those that result because of our genuine nature, and those that result because of our past conditioning.

The latter are always bound to result in some kind of tension since their origins lie in something that is not natural to us. They are the desires of our parents, teachers, friends, society, etc.

And anything that is not natural to us is bound to create tension, since deep down, it is not our own desire.

Simplicity is the art of reducing these external desires so we can focus only on that which is coming from within.

But simply saying that we need to reduce or eliminate them is not enough.

In order to truly begin the process of letting go of these desires, we need to realise the futility of pursuing them.

Let’s take an example that showcases this futility.

If I were to give you a bucket that is full of water (right up to the rim), and ask you the following question – “Would you bet all your money on the fact this bucket is totally full?”

You would say ‘yes’, because on the face of it, it does look full.

But let’s say I rephrase the question and ask you – “Would you bet all your money on the fact that not even a single drop of water can be added to this bucket without making even a tiny amount of water overflow?”

Now your answer would be ‘no’. It would be ‘no’ not just for one additional drop, but a whole lot of them. In fact you would never be sure of how many more drops can be added, so you would not take the bet.

But let’s say you are the type who never gives up.

You get hold of various sophisticated measuring tools and even hire a scientist to calculate the exact volume of the bucket and make adjustments for the smallest of errors.

It’s a possibility that you may end up with a figure that accurately represents how much exact quantity of water that can be added to the bucket, so that even a small additional drop will result in the water overflowing.

Now there’s a chance that you can take the bet. But you would still doubt and there would still be some kind of tension in you.

There can easily be a situation where even the most sophisticated methods could not take into account the additional drop, and you would end up losing.

But it can also happen that the calculations were spot on, and you end up winning.

But would winning have any significance when you were so tensed and unsure about the situation the whole time?

This is what happens when we make our lives revolve completely around external desires.

We have to realise that striving for perfection when it comes to external desires, is a futile pursuit, simply because there are so many external factors involved that there is always room for one more drop.

And that one more drop is what frustrates us. We always feel that something more can be added. And on the rare occasions where we ‘win’, it is all in vain because it comes out of so much effort and tension, that it destroys the purpose of desire.

So is there another approach?

Yes, there is.

That approach is to empty the bucket totally.

If there is no water in the bucket, and I ask you – “Would you bet all your money on the fact this bucket cannot be made emptier than it is now?”

Now you can, with relatively higher degree of assuredness, say ‘Yes’.

And you would be right too. What more can be done when the bucket is already empty?

This is what happens when we let go of our desires that are external to us.

We stop depending on them. Our happiness does not depend on the fact they have to be achieved perfectly. Instead, they just become a bonus.

We start to go more and more inwards. We move towards desires that are true to our nature. These desires never need perfection because they are always under our control.

These desires are here and now so we never get frustrated. External desires are always subject to completion in the future, so that frustrates us even more. And even when we achieve those desires, something is missing because an additional drop can always be added.

But going inwards and leading a life that depends on less external factors is like emptying the bucket.

There is no frustration because everything happens in the now.

This is why the concept of minimalism appeals to so many people.

Because the act of giving up can be immediately done in the now without any delay. So the satisfaction comes immediately and hence there is no frustration.

Minimalists realise that the best things in life are the simple ones which don’t need a kind of effort that is against our growth.

This approach works because you are going more and more into things that are close to your nature. Anything that is not is discarded.

Only the essentials are kept.

And that is possible only by throwing the water out of the bucket, not by longing for it to be full.

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The Only Way to Win in Life is to Accept Defeat

We’ve always been told that competing and staying on top has to be the motto that we all should follow in life, irrespective of our circumstances and age.

Right from getting good grades in school to securing the highest paying job, it all results in an incessant endeavour that we get so absorbed in, we hardly get any time to just stop and think about the possibility of leading a life that doesn’t involve a plot to overtake the next rat in sight.

Have you ever thought deeply about the everyday conflicts, struggles and disharmony that comes as a result of having the need to compete and become superior to other people?

Now before you think this is going to be an article that advocates humbleness, let me tell you it’s going to be anything but.

In my opinion, a person who purposely tries to be humble is doing the same thing – competing. It’s just that he or she is doing it in a very subtle way.

I think the only way out of this rat race is to go deep into its structure and realise how futile it really is.

And the way you can start thinking in that way is by realising that the result of the conflict that arises due to comparison or competition is not sustainable and goes against the law of permanency.

And anything that is not sustainable by nature requires keeping up. Anything that requires keeping up requires effort. And anything that requires effort requires energy.

And where is that energy coming from?

From YOU.

So when you get into the struggle to always ‘win’, what you do is just dissipate vital energy that you could have utilised in some creative pursuit.

And what is equally important to understand is that the result of expending this energy is completely psychological, not real. When you ‘achieve’ victory over someone else, there is no actual and real feeling that takes place.

You just feel good because of YOUR interpretation of the situation.

A real feeling is different. For instance, when you eat good food, you feel good. When you exercise, you feel great. When you do something creative and get lost with the flow, you feel amazing because your thoughts cease to bother you for some time.

All these are real feelings because they are a result of some genuine positive change that takes place in your mind and body.

But when you dedicate all your energy towards getting the better of someone else, nothing real takes place even when you succeed.

It’s just the ego that makes you feel good.

But any feeling that is not based on reality is bound to be fleeting. And hence, you may have realised that whenever you ‘win’ a conflict with someone, you actually feel guilty.

The guilt is not just there because you hurt the other person, but also because you know that you indulged in something that is childish.

But you don’t think about this enough and again get into similar situations. Some people spend their entire life only worrying about how to get the better of other people.

An aware person will start to realise the stupidity of this whole affair.

Just come to think of it. You are spending so much energy into something, the result of which doesn’t even bring you sustainable joy.

And there is still more to make things worse.

Once you indulge in a conflict and come out on top, you immediately feel the pressure to maintain your winning position.

This results in even more wastage of energy because the fear that you may end up on the losing side the next time around, crops up.

You were not feeling great anyway even after the victory, but this realisation makes things even worse.

This fear is nothing but your inner voice trying to tell you that your effort to win is futile.

Once you look back at similar situations in your own life, you’ll realise that you would have been better off by not worrying about winning or losing, but just doing what your heart desires.

So what is the way out?

The way out is to accept defeat. To be a loser.

Yes, it may sound shocking but to be a loser is WAY better than to be a winner.

You know why?

Because a loser is free.

A person who has accepted defeat even before any conflict takes place is untouchable.

A loser is free to do anything without the pressure to prove anything to anyone. And to be able to live a life that you value brings sustainable and real happiness.

A loser becomes friends with shame, whereas the winner lives in continual fear of it.

On the outside, the winner may look better, but on the inside he is trembling. The loser is relaxed and the winner is always tired because he has to keep his image up.

You may find that to become a loser is not easy. The ease at which you can decide to become a loser will vary according to the different spheres of your life.

But the important thing to do is to begin the process of dropping the need to be a winner in the traditional sense.

The winning that comes out of being a loser is totally different and way more joyful because there is no pressure.

And I’m not asking you to pretend to be some nice person.

Each of us loves to be superior. It’s in our nature. But the problem arises when you become attached to that notion. That’s what happens to people who are always desperate to get the better of other people.

A loser-winner is different. He or she can enjoy the superiority that comes with success more because a loser-winner is not afraid of shame.

Even if everything is taken away, a loser-winner will not be bothered much, since there is no active conflict with anyone in the first place.

Once you’re not attached to the notion of superiority, you can be superior without the fear losing that superiority. And that is where you will actually enjoy success.

The loser can enjoy everything since his main concern is always his own life. He simply doesn’t care about anyone else.

A loser is only interested in winning at one thing – to live a life that is true to his or her values.

Once that’s the case, rest everything becomes just a bonus. If a conflict does arise, the loser handles it with ease since he knows that a positive result is just a bonus and nothing else. He is already enjoying his life.

But he doesn’t waste his time actively looking for conflicts.

So if you want to be true to yourself, start disconnecting from the outside world as far actively worrying about conflicts is concerned.

As long as you are living the life you desire, what the world thinks should not be your major concern.

Just be ready to be a loser even if it requires a certain amount of acting. You’ll conserve so much energy which you’ll be able to use in creating the life that you always wanted to have.

Here’s to losing.

Our Generation is Lost Because We Have Borrowed the Meaning of Success From the Past

Somewhere in the future, when they’d be researching and assimilating the nature of different eras, phases and generations of years gone by, I think it would be safe to assume that this current generation of ours would be easily summed up in a single word – LOST.

That’s exactly how most of us are – completely lost and clueless about what’s happening around us. Being indecisive has almost become an innate attribute of the current generation.
Gone are the days where people would stick to a job for 30 years and work their way up systematically.

Relationships have lost their true essence and majority of marriages are either a masked collaboration of joy over the ugly truth of utter dissonance, or a fleeting affair, where the slightest diversion from the expected course can result in an abrupt end.

Technology has taken over and further added to this endless commotion that our mind and soul experiences on a daily basis.

While all this can sound rather dystopian, can it be that all this is really a blessing?

Can it be that amidst everything that changed and followed the dynamic nature of life itself, the only party guilty of remaining constant is US?

Can it be that the dissonance most of us experience is a direct result of us not being able to disconnect from our past and embrace a change that is bound to drive us out of our comfort zone?

One of the sure-shot ways of understanding this desire to hold on to the past is the never-changing nature of what the term ‘success’ means.

Finish school. Finish college. Get a reputable and sustainable career. Get married and have kids. Live happily ever-after.

This was the mantra for success for the previous generations.

And what is it for our generation? I’ll give you a hint: Look above.

Why is that when everything has changed around us, we find it too tough to break the pattern of what a good life is supposed to mean?

Why is that most people still prefer unhappiness over uncertainty and adventure?

You’d have to go way back to the time where one of your ancestors managed to hold their own in a world where survival was the only meaning of success.

At a time when agriculture was a choice-less occupation, the luxury of pondering and contemplating over the meaning of life was reserved only for the extremely privileged ones.

As the industrial revolution hit the world, the productivity rose and it required people of a diverse skill-set.

This was the first time the common people had that little privilege of choice. Survival was still the pre-dominant notion, but at least you could choose the trade that would facilitate it.

As things settled more, systems became stronger and for the first time, administration and managerial roles began to garner some importance.

This was where the limits to choice started to vaporize into thin air. In other words, people began to get spoiled with choice.

The plethora of options before them meant that work was no longer the ultimate criteria that ensured survival.

Other needs began to show up.

The need for well thought-out relationships. The need to find work that seemed satisfying. The need for spiritual growth.

But all this was still at a nascent stage.

Then came our generation with no barriers to choice at all.

For the first time, the notion of satisfaction took over that of survival.

Survival wasn’t good enough. Anyone could survive. Anyone could lead an ordinary life and make it through to old-age.

But this is also the time when choice itself became a paradox.

More choice started to mean more dissatisfaction.

While the earlier generations could follow a typical path and be satisfied with it, the variety offered to our own resulted in an insatiable desire to find the greener grass.

But just because that desire is present did not ensure that anything was done about it.

And this resulted in a phenomenon that was to give birth to one of the biggest problems faced by any generation – ANXIETY.

The amount of choice actually overwhelmed the current generation.

And what did we do?

We took the easy way out – We decided to hold on to the past.

And this is exactly why we are lost.

On one hand, we know the limitlessness of our own potential and how the current environment can facilitate that, but on the other hand, we refuse to face uncertainty and anxiety.

That is the reason we are still defining success just like the generations of the past.

But we have to realise that holding on to the past can never beat nature.

Nature demands that we grow and be dynamic, just like everything around us.

We have to understand that to be lost is in fact the greatest blessing we could have ever received.

Because for the first time, it meant that the focus of surviving shifted from being able to put food on your table to achieving a self-actualized state where we are the highest versions of ourselves.

For the first time, we have a plethora of knowledge of anything and everything that we could dream of, just a click away.

For the first time, we can decide to live a life that offers a kind of richness and variety that the previous generations could only dream of.

But what are we doing these possibilities?

You have to realise that success does not have to mean any of the things that we have been conditioned into believing.

It’s not your responsibility to do a 9-6 job. It’s not your responsibility to spend your entire life with someone who makes you unhappy. It’s not your responsibility to have kids. It’s not your responsibility to JUST SURVIVE.

But it’s definitely your responsibility to find out WHAT SUCCESS MEANS TO YOU!!

It’s also your responsibility to not give a hoot in hell about other people’s opinions.

Figure out the life that will make you happy and follow it.

You may get it wrong, but you’ll learn. And that’s exactly what your soul needs. Growth and self-actualization.

Just like your ancestors’ souls graduated from being fulfilled with mere survival to stability, yours is craving for more.

And it’s your responsibility to satisfy that craving. It’s asking you to move forward, not backward. Would you feel good if you ate the same thing every day?

No. Similarly your soul has had enough of stability. It’s crying out loud for you to find a deeper meaning to life. It needs you to move higher up. It’s had enough of the ordinary food and it’s FED UP!!

It needs the dessert and for the first time, our generation has the ingredients to prepare one.
For instance, when I looked at my own life, I realised that none of the things I was conditioned into thinking were success made me genuinely happy.

I had finished my MBA and was on course for a supposedly fulfilling career in Finance. It all crashed in under two months when I quit my job. And it was the best thing I ever did.

It led to a professional and spiritual adventure that I could have never dreamt of. And last year when I started my photography business, it was the first time I felt the power of following one’s own vision of life.

Sure enough it meant that I would face raised eyebrows, lose ‘respect’ in society, not be able to buy that fancy car and what not.

But did it matter to me? HELL NO!!

Once you taste the adventure that comes from following your calling, you simply don’t look back.

It was because I garnered the courage to be honest with myself.

I realised that the financial conditions around me were decent enough to ensure that the motivation to do anything that I hated was not revolving around survival.

Satisfaction was more important than survival and that meant working for a purpose, rather than just a salary.

This is not to say that it’s all easy or that my life is perfect.

But the point is that I have taken my life to another level by paying heed to what my soul was crying out for.

And this is one problem I notice with my peers. Many of them doing things they hate even when they well and truly are aware of the fact that they are not motivated by the notion of survival.

Instead, they have bought into the idea of success that is conditioned into us by the generations of the past.

However, as already seen, there can never be any comparison as all of us possess a soul that is way more evolved than ever before.

So while you may be able to buy the next smartphone with your salary, you won’t feel as satisfied as someone from an earlier generation would have. It’s like feeding the same thing to your soul all over again. And then we complain when it throws up!!

Our generation needs to take a plunge into the act of defining their own success and having the courage to follow that vision.

It’s time to let go of the past and embrace the present of future with a clean slate.

Yes, you’re lost……And you cannot have it better than that.

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A Unique Way of Understanding the Nature of Work and Purpose

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. – Confucius

Let’s be honest. By now, we all have been bombarded so much by this “do-what-you-love” notion that it just doesn’t seem to have the same appeal as it used to.

There are a plethora of resources, ranging from internet articles to full-fledged books, that deal with this subject.

And yet, this vast supply of knowledge just doesn’t seem to solve the problem for most people.

I think the main reason for this is that it’s a problem which is of an extremely subjective nature, more so than it is usually given credit for.

And the reason I say that is because “solutions” like psychometric tests or exercises are still considered to be one of the sure-shot ways of answering this massive question. The problem with these approaches is that they have a linear nature. They are systemized approaches that often ignore the deepest values residing in a person. While they make sure that an outcome will always result after the process ends, they fail to consider whether that answer strikes the deepest chords of the soul of the person in question.

I am of the opinion that there cannot be a sure-shot way of finding out what a person would love to do for the rest of their lives. Life is just too deep, complex and dynamic to ever conform to something of a fixed nature.

But it’s definitely possible to guide someone in a better way by changing the approach from being specific to figuring out the principles that can steer them towards living their passion.

Hence, I’ve developed a little approach that relies on some hypothetical situations to get closer to our deepest selves so we can answer the question in a way that ensures higher sustainability.

This little exercise won’t answer what it is that you need to do, but can make you realise how important it is to follow one’s dream.

So let’s get started.

First of all, I want you to imagine a rather dystopian situation:

Imagine that scientists discovered another planet that was more hospitable to human life and everyone was evacuated.

You overslept on the day the evacuation process took place, and now you’re the only person left behind.

Your inability to garner some amount of self-discipline on the most important day ever means that you’re on course to lead the most boring existence ever know to any human.

What would you do in such a situation if you really had no hope to ever leave?

You would do whatever you wanted.

There is no one to stop you.

But no matter how much ever you indulge in things that were previously inaccessible to you, you would soon be bored.

Even if you were a creative person, like let’s say a musician, you would not be able to play music with the same zeal as there is no one to play to.

What about work?

You wouldn’t even think about things related to work or your passion, as it’s all meaningless when there is no one around.

Money won’t have any value any more.

You would come back to the very basics and the only actions that would have any meaning for you will be directly related to your survival, like eating and sleeping.

Your only entertainment will be any sort of pleasures that you can help yourself with. (let’s not get into those)

Ultimately, your existence will boil down to just satisfying the basic needs a human being has.

Nothing more, nothing less.

What does this mean as far as the concept of work goes?

It means something we all know already. That the primary reason people work is because they want to survive in a world where there is fierce competition to stay alive.

Even people who follow their passions, do it ultimately for that need, though on the face of it, it may not look so.

But the dystopian situation described above proved that passion only has meaning when there are people around.

No people around you would mean that the motivation to work would not exist as everything is available to you.

The only work you would be doing is to just make sure you have enough to eat and survive.

So this teaches the primary of nature of work and the motivation people have to do any kind of work.

Now let’s imagine a completely opposite situation.

Let’s say you wake up and realise that the above situation was all a bad dream, and that the Earth is as beautiful and full of life as ever.

And you receive an expected, but extremely pleasant surprise.

You’re notified that you’ve been declared the winner of a lottery-based contest that was held by a large corporation, which you had taken part in half-heartedly.

But now you’ve won it. And your bank account is credited with an unimaginable monetary figure, large enough to ensure that you never have to do a job for survival.

You can now do ANYTHING that you ever wished to, without ever worrying about your finances.

Now what would you do?

That’s exactly what you would do – ANYTHING that you ever wished to.

That means indulging in all sorts of things which were inaccessible to you before. Your freedom would be similar to the dystopian situation but your motivation will be completely different.

Now you would enjoy everything more.

And though you can completely live-off a hedonist lifestyle forever, at some point, you are bound to ask yourself some questions about finding your purpose and doing something that fulfils that purpose.

So what about work?

You definitely won’t work a usual boring job, but you will start to finally follow your dreams because now there is no fear of survival.

And now your creative endeavours will have meaning, since there are people around to respond.

You will only have the energy to do work that brings joy to you.

You may fail but it won’t matter, since all your future attempts will have one thing in common – they will be pursuits based on your passions.

What does this tell us about work?

This tells us that once the basic needs of survival have been met, the only way work will ever be fulfilling is if it’s based on our passion.

It also tells us that the basic nature of work is that it needs a well defined purpose

In the dystopian world, you would do only that which ensured survival.

In the utopian world, you would do only that which ensured a purposeful life.

The motivation in both the worlds is clear and hence, work will never feel like a burden.

Then what’s the problem with our REAL world situation?

Why don’t most people love their work?

Something has clearly gone amiss.

Is the cause that there are people around us?

Definitely not.

Is the cause that we all don’t have an unlimited amount of money?

On the face of it, it looks like this is the problem.

If we all had to never worry about our finances, it would present us with the perfect situation to follow the path of our dreams.

But going by this assumption, the only people who should be living the life of their dreams are the ones who were blessed with financial independence.

But we all know that is not the truth.

There are millions out there who never had such resources, but are living their purpose.

So while having a large amount of money is definitely a huge advantage, it is by no means, a necessity.

Where then does the fault lie?

We saw in the dystopian world example that the motivation to work only existed because of survival.

Suppose work meant catching one fish a day because you knew that’s all you needed to survive.

Let’s assume it took you two hours to catch a large enough fish to get by the day.

If you knew that you could get by with one fish everyday, would you ever work 4 hours to get hold of two of them.

Probably not. Even if you did, it would only be so you can store the extra fish for the next day so you don’t have to work at all on the next day.

But you definitely would not be working extra hours because you know exactly what’s needed for survival.

And that is EXACTLY where the fault lies.

MOST PEOPLE OVER-ESTIMATE WHAT THEY NEED TO SURVIVE IN THIS WORLD!!!

And if you over-estimate, you will always be doing work that is not necessary.

Deep-down your soul knows that this extra work is not necessary and that the time spent there can be used towards making efforts to live a life full of passion and purpose, because we’ve already seen that the motivation to follow a purpose exists as long as there are other people around.

But the over-estimation of the need for survival hinders this effort, thereby resulting in the suppression of the most basic need of the soul – to live a life full of passion.

And why do we over-estimate this survival need?

Because we never spend enough to time to analyse our lives, and realise that so many of our pursuits don’t contribute to our basic needs in any way.

For instance, if you have an extremely consumerist attitude, your desire to buy the latest gadgets and devices may mean that you have to work more in order to buy these toys.

But these toys are not your basic needs. They are your wants.

But because you THINK they will make you happy, you consider them a part of living your life, thereby overestimating your need to survive.

This overestimation results in doing more of something you are not passionate about.

But deep down, your soul knows about this overestimation and therefore starts to move away from your meaningless pursuits.

This is exactly why you feel a kind of dissonance between your actions and feelings.

And this is what results in frustration.

The BASIC YOU is not in line with this made-up one.

Making a living is important, but only up to the point where your financial condition is enough to sustain the basics of life.

The basics are more to do with needs than wants.

The idea is not to live in deprivation, but to watch closely if your lifestyle is based around only those things that you truly value.

Once the expenses go down, you can begin to divert some energy towards pursuing your passion and purpose.

That’s the only way to satisfy the soul as far as work is concerned.

A lot of people live their whole lives in over-estimating the need to survive. They always feel they need more and more money, so they keep working jobs they hate.

Once we get closer to the survival method described in the dystopian situation, we’ll realise how less we need to be happy.

This will open up doors to pursue our purpose.

A life based around our passion is more rewarding than which is spent on meaningless acquisitions.

Our soul is crying out loud for us to live the kind of life that we would live if we had all the money in the world.

What that life is can only be answered by you, since you are the only one who knows the most about yourself.

You can download my free e-book Seven Ways to Finding Work You Would Love to Do in which I describe seven steps that can get you close to finding your passion.

But I felt it is equally important to understand why we need to do work that we would love to do. So if this article helped you, do leave a comment below.

 

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Why the World Being Unfair is an Awesome Thing

There is a lot of commotion about the world being unfair. And for obvious reasons, this seems like a negative thing.

But if we go deep into this topic, we can start to see that this notion of the world being lopsided and to some people’s advantage can actually free us from lot of our troubles.

The problem with trying to overcome unfairness in the world is that it puts us under lot of undue stress because we are preparing for a battle that we can never win.

The world is unfair because that is the natural state of things.

All people cannot be equal.

Wishing for an egalitarian society is going against nature.

There’s always someone out there who will be stronger than you in one way or another and you can rest assured that that person will use that power to his or her advantage.

For example, we often feel hurt by what someone did to us and we think that because they hurt us, it’s unfair.

That person can be a friend, relative, spouse, etc.

Because I spend a lot of hours almost on daily basis working out of cafes, I overhear lot of conversations. And I’ve noticed a similar theme in majority of them, which is that most people are complaining about how someone close to them hurt them and how it is affecting their life negatively.

What you have to realise is that whenever you fall victim to this type of thinking, you aren’t thinking broad and deep enough.

You are not the only one who is hurt every time.

There are always more number of people whom you are treating unfairly too.

It’s just that you are not aware of it.

Why are you not aware of it?

Because that particular person whom you knowingly or unknowingly hurt does not affect your ego.

For instance, think of a poor person who’s struggling to make ends meet.

When such a person watches you live a moderately lavish life, they are bound to think about the world being unfair to them.

Indirectly, you have caused the notion of inequality to pop up in them.

But do you care? No.

This is true even with people who are close to you. If you stop and look, you’ll realise that there are plenty of things in your life that they can be envious of.

And you can bet they are.

But your focus is not on it. Because our attention goes to only that which we don’t have.

And what we don’t have is the upper hand on someone whom we feel has the upper hand on us.

That particular person is capable of pinching your ego, so your field of awareness gets narrow.

Such a person starts to make you feel the world in unfair, whereas you are doing exactly that to a much larger number of people yourself.

It’s just that you aren’t aware of that.

So you expend all your energy into getting the better of the person who wronged you.

But this is where you are fighting a battle that is already lost.

You see the person who usually gets the better of you is doing so because they are naturally stronger and more resourceful in whichever area they dominate you.

They have been able to see your weakness and are naturally taking advantage of it.

Think of it like this.

Let’s say a group of people decide to abandon society in pursuit of egalitarianism and occupy a remote island.

They set up rules which make sure everyone gets equal opportunities in every sphere of life.

Now rules are artificial but human nature is real.

There is bound to be at least one person who is smarter, stronger and more resourceful than the others.

How long do you think such a person will be able to resist the temptation to take advantage of the situation?

You may argue that such a person will not take advantage because he may be a nice person.

But that’s fantasy thinking.

Why?

Because an egalitarian society will always favour the weak and be harmful for the strong.

To understand this, let’s take another example:

Let’s say different animals get together and start something similar.

They all decide to live happily and in peace.

Now imagine the situation of a lion and a deer.

Whom do you think will benefit from this?

Of course the weaker animals.

In fact the stronger won’t be able to survive as you are eliminating their natural advantage.

A fair world can only exist at the expense of a hypocritical and unnatural society.

So why is the world being unfair an awesome thing for us?

It’s because it helps us change and move in the right direction.

You see whenever you feel you’re being wronged by someone, it just shows that you are fighting the wrong battle.

It just shows that you are not playing to your strengths.

Our deeply flawed education system makes us believe that strengths can one be measured linearly and in favour of mental capabilities.

But the truth is that your strengths can be measured across the whole canvas of life.

Someone can have strengths in emotional spheres, someone in logical, someone in creative and so on.

You have to figure out where you are naturally good at and then start suing your innate strengths.

Once you start to fight battles based around your strengths, you’ll find that you win most of them effortlessly.

In fact you’ve always been doing so. It’s just that you were not aware.

You only have to ask the people who envy you.

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Does Your Business Idea Address the Most Important Issue? – Your Happiness

Does Your Business Idea Address the Most Important Issue? – Your Happiness

When I was pursuing MBA, I remember how excited some people used to get about the fact that they had come up with a business idea that sounded very unique and ingenious. And that was just for the purpose of a project or a presentation.

On a regular basis, I see the same approach used by people who actually want to come up with a business too.

Now I’m no serial entrepreneur myself, but I firmly believe that placing only the aspects of innovation and contribution to society first may not always be the best thing to do since it often comes at the cost of not thinking enough about what the impact of pursuing a business will have on YOUR OWN HAPPINESS.

The first time this belief of mine was validated was when I read the book The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living by Randy KomisarThat whole book is an effort to convince budding entrepreneurs that a business should be an extension of your own life, not something that you do just because you think you have an outstanding idea. That idea may not always answer the question – Why start a business at all?

Most people say that we should start a business that contributes to the society. While that is true, I feel it’s not a good starting point to think about the kind of business we should come up with.

In fact the thinking has to be totally the opposite. We should be extremely selfish when coming up with an idea to start something of our own.

Selfish in the sense that the first thing that should come to our minds should be – What does this idea achieve for ME? Does it make me happy? Is it something that I will really enjoy pursuing? Is it aligned with the kind of life I want to live and the values I believe in?

Till the time the answer to all these questions isn’t a resounding YES, what point does it serve? You’ll contribute to society, but be miserable yourself. Awww, how nice of you.

If you’re not thinking about yourself first, don’t be under the illusion that you are being very noble. You’re secretly doing it all for recognition and praise. So the purpose is still selfish.

But unless you enjoy what you are doing, even the purpose of serving the society through some innovative measure will be defeated since your business won’t be sustainable. You’ll probably run out of steam and enthusiasm to keep going.

I believe that every business contributes to society in some way. Thinking too much about the contribution part drives you away from the most important thing and that is the degree of one-ness you feel with whatever you want to do.

Your idea can be something really small. The scale of it should not matter as long as you are happy. Even if it’s not some ultra-innovative concept, why should it matter? Don’t we see so many cafes opening up even when there are a lot of them anyway?

You can always find a little twist that makes your idea stand out but it doesn’t necessarily have to be something that is unheard of. The threat of competition is over-rated.

In fact the factors where you should be going away from the crowd have to be the ones that don’t stop you from pursuing anything that would make you happy in doing what you want to do – like worrying about getting a business registered when you start, or having some kind of office, or anything that you think is preventing you from going ahead just because that’s how things are done normally.

So the uniqueness of your business should be directed towards factors that break the norms of how business is carried out in the first place, and not necessarily what the business is about.

Many people don’t start something that they want to because they feel it may not represent something serious and official. Why does it have to be serious and official?

Let’s say you are good at dating men or women. And you want to start a website or a blog that educates people on how they can achieve similar success with the opposite sex. It may not sound like a great and official “business idea” but why should you care?

If YOU believe something can work, then why care about how absurd it may sound. If it’s fun and enjoyable to you and you are confident you can monetize it in exchange for providing something valuable, it’s all good.

Helping someone become better in their relationships is also contribution to society, since someone out there may really and desperately need such a service to improve their lives.

Being genuinely happy by becoming the best dating advisor may be better for you than being a half-hearted owner of some large scale software company.

Whatever you do should come naturally to you. The other technical aspects of entrepreneurship can always be learnt once you start. But at least you’ll be sure of feeling content and at peace with yourself.

But these things sound too spiritual and soft, so people don’t pay enough attention on them. They will first focus on the technical aspects because doing that makes them sound superior and like someone to whom running a business comes naturally. In my opinion, that kind of thinking comes from the fear of what other people will think about their idea and whether they’ll think that the idea is not clever enough.

Why does it have to be some clever idea? Just go with what is natural and don’t bother about others. If it makes you happy, it’s the right one. There cannot be any other criteria.

Lot of people argue that only worrying about our own happiness will not result in coming up with businesses that solve the real problems of the world.

But have you ever thought that the very reason why those ‘real’ problems exist in the first place is because of people who carry out the unnatural and stupid activities? So the whole process just turns into something that is similar to patching up problems. It becomes all about curing and not prevention.

The more we can move towards nature and happiness, the more those problems will disappear. But sadly, we’re too far from that state.

But at least we can contribute to that aspect individually by being more conscious and taking up something that makes us happy.

We can be rest assured that if we’re genuinely happy, our happiness will, in some way, have a positive influence on other people too.

And that will be true contribution to society since it will be without dedicated selfish motives.

It all starts from the individual and that’s where our focus should be.