With so much inspirational stuff floating around the net, I’ve decided to also jump on the motivational bandwagon with some thoughts that could potentially make you insanely happy. Now you may be concerned, rightfully so, that I’m not a philosopher, psychologist or spiritual leader qualified to dole out such wisdom. To be honest, I am not very blissful myself and have even been recommended a Botox doctor for those darned frown lines. But I have two things going for me that the bearded gurus and toga-adorned statues may not – first-hand experience with the seesaw in reality’s playground and the clarity that comes from imbibing a few chilled beers in quick succession. So here are some pearls of introspection that just might help you swing at life’s next curveball with a broad smile.
1. Accept that people react like pre-programmed computers
If you stayed awake through even a few high school biology classes, you’d appreciate the magnificence of the human body. Cells get into formation to fight diseases, nerves transmit electrical signals, organs work as a seamless team – the body is the ultimate machine. And it is controlled nonstop, from birth to death, by the ultimate supercomputer – a brain that processes each thought, impulse and experience to manage this operation called life.
Once you appreciate that people are nothing more than high-end MacBooks, albeit some hotter than others, you’ll understand that they behave the way they do simply because that’s how they have been wired.
The mind works like any software program – If X then Y else Z and this programming is a combination of genetics, childhood learnings, and life experiences. So if your partner shreds you for that bit of feedback, it’s merely her program starting up – “Feel irked, go nuclear.” If your boss’s stapler strikes you on the pate, it’s just his mental tuning – “Encounter duffer, throw the nearest object.” And the same ‘react like a computer’ principle also applies to you. Now it’s possible to rejig one’s programming, but it requires some serious meditation and yoga-type esoteric stuff that you may not be inclined towards. So just accept that you are who you are, people will be who they will be, and it is neither good nor bad – it simply is.
2. Put yourself in context
You are undoubtedly an awesomely functioning machine but keep in mind that there are billions of such machines on this planet. And billions of such machines existed before you arrived and billions will come after you. And this is just one planet in an endless universe, and it is entirely plausible that billions of such machines also exist on other planets. So the next time you worry about not getting as much importance as you think you deserve, put yourself in context. You are a microscopic white dot on an infinite transparent canvas. You are a bead of sweat on an ant’s forehead, billions of light years away. You are that stubborn last dribble of pee straining to extricate itself into a giant cosmic urinal. The sooner you realize this, the more contented you will be.
3. Do not compare yourself to anyone living
It is human nature to compare oneself to peers – who got promoted faster, who bought the fancier car, who got the bigger bonus and so on. Our happiness and satisfaction is strangely dictated not as much by what we achieve but rather by what others do or don’t do. Now try this – live the next few months without comparing yourself to anyone alive and watch how your perspective irrevocably changes. Because once you eliminate 7.4 billion living people from your consideration set, you are left with only yourself to focus on and possibly some late role models to emulate. So you start concentrating on your strengths, weaknesses, and goals rather than wasting valuable time and energy on evaluating what others are doing. Competing with oneself can be lonely but is undoubtedly more fruitful.
4. Don’t be Johnny, Johnny
Dishonesty can be quite draining with one continually having to keep track of one’s falsities and being on edge about getting caught. So whether it’s Papa cooking the company books to buy Mama diamonds or Mama getting cozy with the neighbor while Johnny is at school or Johnny eating sugar and then denying it to Papa – it’s all too freaking complicated. One lie leads to another, and it’s usually all in vain because invariably the “Open your mouth, Ha-Ha-Ha!” moment will happen. Alternatively, one can be honest, genuine and snoring aside, sleep peacefully at night. Life may not be as exciting, but it will indeed be happier if you can live it with the phone unlocked and browser history uncleared.
5. Determine how you will be relevant
Everyone would like to add some value to society and leave a legacy; it’s important that you determine what your contribution could potentially be and then start taking steps towards it. That appreciation for music that you had as a child, the filmmaking course you didn’t pursue beyond college, the passion for teaching underprivileged kids, the unique knack for sorting and classifying navel lint – whatever it is that you believe will make the most significant impact on the world around you, start giving it some time and attention. It doesn’t have to be some earth-changing creative pursuit – if it is your job or career that you most identify with, go ahead and be the best professional that you can be. It merely is important to start reflecting on what you can realistically contribute to this world and then get cracking.
6. Finally, take a karmic view of life
Maximize life by enjoying the moment that you are in right now rather than thinking about a past that you can’t change or worrying about a future that you can’t control. And whether it has any scientific basis or not, you can certainly eliminate a lot of angst by believing that life will eventually balance out. Whatever crap has happened to you is payback for some wrong that you did in the past. Whatever good you do is being recorded in some cosmic register, and you’ll be eventually rewarded, for example with a red Ferrari, in this life or the next. The relationship or boss who screwed you over will be reborn in your garage as a one-legged roach. And distracted by the swimsuit model next to you, you will inadvertently drive over that leg as you reverse out the Ferrari. Karma can be a powerful shoulder to lean on or fire from, but you first need to have it on your side.
All of the above, obviously, is easier typed than done. However, adopting even some of it can put you in a perpetual prancing-in-the-field-with-hair-blowing or jumping-on-the-beach-with-hands-outstretched state of mind. And if not, well…there’s always Plan B-eer.