Sunday, November 20, 2011

The 3 goals of my life

I have always asked myself if i was really lucky. No no...this is not a comparison game where i am trying to see if i am lucky compared to someone else. I am just simply trying to ask myself if i was lucky at some point. More so, i was trying to understand a while back what the term luck meant to me. The dictionary definition of the term luck goes like this:


[luhk] Show IPA
the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person's life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities:With my luck I'll probably get pneumonia.
good fortune; advantage or success, considered as the result of chance: He had no luck finding work.
a combination of circumstances, events, etc., operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person: She's had nothing butbad luck all year.
some object on which good fortune is supposed to depend:This rabbit's foot is my luck.

Note all the key terms in the above definition: force, good or ill in a person's life, circumstances, events, opportunities, good fortune, advantage, success, by chance.

Funny as it may sound, for me "good luck" amounts to happiness. That brings me to the next question: On a scale of 1-10 where does my happiness quotient lie? The day i joined one of the finest universities in this country, my first love, my first rejection, the days i was out of job, the day i got a job with one of the best internet brands, the day when my best friend betrayed me, the day when i started my own company, the day when i shut it down too, when i didn't know where to go or stay the first time i reached bangalore, the day when my dad died. At different points in this story, i might have been at negative sometimes and i might been at 9 or sometimes even at zero. Over the last few months and years, the good part is, this number is constant - am i getting content with life? But the bad part is, its not high enough - have i become a sad person?

What i have realized through some of the above incidents is that i get lucky when i stick to 3 simple goals:

1. I want to be happy
2. I want to eradicate unhappiness in my life.
3. I want every day to be as smooth as possible. I DO NOT want any hassles.

That's it. Am i asking for much? I need simple goals. Are the above simple goals to achieve? Most of us may agree these are pretty simple goals....turns out achieving them however is not as simple as it looks(well atleast for me).

There have been multiple times in my life where everything seemed so low that i would not even be able to achieve a single goal on any given day. Months would pass this way and there are many a times i have felt that the world would be better off without me. Other times, i was stuck at crossroads not knowing which road to take. Sometimes i bounced back. Over the last few months, bouncing back had become far more difficult than before - age, lack of motivation, lack of personal excellence, deteriorating interests from existing hobbies and passions are a few reasons for this. So every time i think of going for that long awaited run in the morning or visiting a temple, my only question to myself is: "What is the point?". It has become a negative feedback cycle of negative emotions fueling more negative emotions. Laughter has seriously become a luxury. Bottom line - I have become cynical, as someone pointed out today.

When i am looking at these incidents and points when i was low and i had bounced back, i am coming to realize that there is a common thread. Each time, there were 4 things and only 4 things that somehow helped me bounce back:

1. Physical Existence: Being in shape. Doing some form of exercise(sex included :)). This is not to develop those 6 pack absa or get to a size zero. Its just about staying healthy. They say you can't be happy if you aren't healthy.

2. Emotional Existence: Sometime back, if someone was a drag on me, i cut them down. If someone lifts me up, i brought them closer. Nothing or no one was sacred. Family, friends and people i care about - i was always there when they needed me. But i never got close to anyone bringing me down. Unfortunately, this rule does not exist in my life anymore. Energy leaks out if someone is draining you. And i have never owed anyone an explanation. I have always believed that explaining is draining. Don't get me wrong. This does not mean abandon those who might need you. Its quite the opposite. If you are a clean river, then people can drink from you. If you are dirty water, then people will get sick. Another important rule is honesty. Unfortunately, i am not a great communicator even among the closest of friends. I talk a lot but i am not necessarily good at communicating what i feel or think. Hence, my most honest opinions gets misconstrued most of the times. Should i stop being honest...sometimes i did that. But yet again, i wasn't feeling right about it. I have finally come to realize that this is the person i am. If people have a problem with my honesty, its their problem, not necessarily mine. So if someone gets into a disagreement because i was honest about what i felt, too bad, i don't know how to fix it for them.

3. Mental Existence: There was a time, every single day i used to write down ideas. For example the other day i wrote down about 25 alternatives kids could do beyond engineering, medicine and commerce. The next day i came up with another 10-15. When i started running out of ideas, i started memorizing all the 3 letter words i could use in the game of scrabble. Or just the other day i came up with about 25 chapters that should necessarily go in anyone's autobiography. All of these is like a cheap psychological trick. Most of us get a sense of accomplishment by filling up pages quickly.

4. Spiritual Existence: No I AM NOT talking about god or religion. What i mean by spiritual existence is to indulge in one of the following spiritual exercises:

  • Pray: Doesn't matter if i am praying to god, or to dead people, or to the empty chair in front of me. Its just a means to be thankful and not taking all the credit for just a few seconds of the day
  • Meditation: Meditation for more than a few minutes is boring. Sometimes its hard to keep your mind focussed on "nothing". I generally use a simple technique of sitting on a chair, back straight and simply observe how i breathe. I slowly went from 5 minutes on this to about 30 minutes a day at some point.
  • Being greatful: I try to think about all those people to whom i feel greatful. Then i try to think of more people and more...till it gets really hard to go any further.
  • Forgiving: Harder to implement and easier to talk. I do tend consciously these days to let go of people who have done me wrong. I try and see if i can visualize greatfulness for them(not necessarily pity).
  • Studying: Sometimes when i read spiritual or inspirational books(not necessarily self help), i tend to feel good. This is not really as powerful as meditating but its a way to gain knowledge of some kind.