If You Were On An Island

If You Were On An Island

In a recent conversation, I was asked, “Imagine, if you were alone on an island (and the only human being on the planet), do you think you would have a problem in life?”

I am curious about what you, the reader of this blog, would say! Well, I said yes. While the argument drifted to another topic, this question remained with me, and I thought that maybe the first problem would be boredom! Later I started imagining what it must be like if I never knew anyone else existed and if I was the only one on an island. It would be such a different world!

The question is complex to answer, though, and requires a more philosophical approach. While I felt I may still have problems because of all the emotions that human beings possess and a simple thorn in my foot could have emerged as a problem, the other side argued that since there would have been no one to share that pain in my foot, probably I would not have seen it as a problem. I may have just pulled it out and moved on. Well, that is something to think about!

The argument was that if we do not have an emotional dependency on other human beings, there would probably be no problems! If you consider carefully, everything we do is either for someone, with someone, because of someone, or because of our emotions about someone. For example, our happiness is usually incomplete without sharing it with someone. When we are happy, we immediately want to share it with people who understand us and would share the sentiment. Similarly, a good meal alone may not feel as good unless one is in the company of one’s liking.

Everything we do is about someone else – be it for their acknowledgment, their response, or their reaction. That does make it all sound shallow and futile! So, since our existence is so dependent on others, it is the foundation of expectations and disappointments and, therefore, the cause of all problems.

To that, I believe since human beings have been blessed with ambition, aspiration, and emotions, even if nothing existed, we could have felt there was a problem depending on our primary disposition and nature. Therefore, there is no perfect way to live life and no way to avoid all the emotions we have been born with. It may be best to be aware of how much we let them control our minds. Disappointments emerge from expectations, and the latter arises from our relationship with ourselves and others. Therefore, being self-aware, realistic, and having some self-control may be a better way to gain balance and sail through life. Well, I know it is easier said than done.

What is your take on this? If you were on an island… I am eager to know.

Hold That Thought!

Hold That Thought!

Photo by Nixx Studio on Unsplash
Photo by Nixx Studio on Unsplash

A few months ago I saw the movie, The Founder, from which one sentence has stayed with me to date. It was a long quote, but the last bit said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. Or, as Ralph Waldo Emerson declared, ‘A man is what he thinks about all day long’.”

I wasn’t aware of Emerson’s quote, but when I heard it in the movie, it got me thinking about how meaningful that statement is (a man is what he thinks about all day long)! I can remember so many instances in life where just changing a bit of my thinking, and giving the thoughts a new direction, made a big difference in eventually the way I acted on those thoughts and the impact of those actions. Shaped by everything around me, my thoughts have motivated me to be curious, pursue varied interests, and make important decisions such as career choices.

The quote doesn’t tell us what we don’t know but rather what we tend to forget. In the 1600s, English poet and intellectual John Milton drew our attention to the power of our mind in the most famous of his writings, Paradise Lost, where he wrote, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Throughout my childhood, I learnt to admire this powerful line, courtesy of my mother, who made me understand its meaning and reminded me at different times how not to let the mind be a devil’s workshop. The quote from Paradise Lost is similar to a quote attributed to Buddha, “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.”

So, if we are what we think all day long, I wonder how many of us consciously train our mind to be good, to do good, or attain a desired outcome. Probably people who follow their passion are good examples of the lot who put this into practice because they think about their interest all day long (how to pursue it, study it, try and be better at it).

Becoming conscious of my thoughts, I am training my mind into taking life a little easy, and become more focused on how I want to live. I am thinking a lot more about how I can do good at my new job, be positive, and leave a long-lasting impact. And these thoughts keep me motivated to read more, learn more, and work better. While these are the thoughts that keep me going, there are also the ones I have no clue how to deal with, such as aging, unfulfilled travel plans, the books unread, the interests that are yet to be pursued but are on my mind. I can see how constantly thinking about a few things has helped me achieve them as I become more prepared to spend my energy on reaching that goal, so the uneasy ones do not bother me much now.

Is this true for you too? I am keen to learn what you think of this and how you are using the power of your thoughts.

In Darkness We See That Hides In Light

In Darkness We See That Hides In Light

Photo by Marcus Dall Col on Unsplash

Recently, this potent expression, “In darkness we see that hides in light”, by Mr. Mukesh Kwatra in the recent Times of India Coronasutra entertainment section got me thinking hard. The last line of Mr. Kwatra’s poem on the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak was brought to my attention by my mother, a poetess herself, so she can help me understand the depth of it. And when I did, the essence of it remained with me through the day.

This year has been so different. I, and I am sure many of us, have never witnessed anything like this before where the world, with all its faiths, technology, and might is brought to a halt and is unable to cope with the challenge that nature has presented it. While it has been a relief to slow down a bit and consume less in many ways, it has also been tough in recognizing what we are going through in terms of our existence vis-a-vis our relationships, career, health, contribution to society, etc.

My generation has learnt how to get from being busy to becoming busier with all the technology that has evolved in our lifetime. Now when we are forced to use all of it by staying indoors, one realizes that technology cannot fill the emptiness that is caused by lack of access to nature and people one loves. However, one can hope to get some relief by looking inward and by counting our blessings, by appreciating what nature has given us and that which we haven’t had the time to appreciate thus far. And in these times of aloofness, darkness, see that we never really see – search soul, acknowledge the treasures we own in terms of relationships, friends, health, and the treasures we must seek such as peace, trust, goodwill, knowledge, compassion.

Today is 107th day of being at home and I have been thinking of all these things over the last few months. While life has been extremely hectic, I have utilized this phase to thank the cosmos for the innumerable good that exists around and that has kept me going. Here are a few things I am grateful for:

  • Having means to earn a living, and sustain
  • Having a family that’s always there for me (spouse, parents, inlaws, cousins)
  • A secure, peaceful, ventilated abode
  • Being fit enough to carry on
  • Friends that are there, yet are absent : )
  • Being able to provide sustenance to the house help
  • Having access to walkways I can use daily to connect with nature
  • Plants I can care for
  • The ‘giving’ sentiment God has blessed me with
  • Opportunity to read books that I have been wanting to read
  • The revival of nature, reduction of pollution
  • Learning to be empathetic
  • Being blessed with decent will power
  • Experiences that taught me patience
  • A fulfilling life thus far.

I will add to this as I focus more on counting my blessings. If you want, share your list in the comment and we can together realize how much we have to thank for!

Why Always Bad News?

Why Always Bad News?

It’s been quite a while that I have been observing, and have been disappointed as well, about the manner in which news in India is being reported through different channels, such as, television, online apps, Web, print, etc. Why always bad news? Is India only about sad issues? No. Since the purpose of journalism is to report noteworthy information as is, and perhaps at times validate or criticize it with a viewpoint, shouldn’t good and bad news be equally reported? I feel increasingly Indian media/news channels have become a medium to promote and propagate bad news, and bad behavior.

Whatever news medium you access, the channels are either reporting bad news (murders, rape, torture, theft, accidents, deaths, crises, violence, deceit, abusive behavior, corruption, lies) or they are reporting community/interest-specific news (about NGOs, sports, business, science, relationships, debates, indifferent view of incidents, travel, etc.). After consuming news for years, I have begun to question this now because I am observing that reading and listening to news now makes me feel as if more and more people in India are turning into bad people, with sad attitude and zero values.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Why not report good behavior, children’s positive actions, good news, courteous gestures by governments, the brotherhood between communities, actions made by love and affection, positive impacts made by people in small and big ways?

I believe Indian media plays a big role in shaping the country’s culture and the next generation’s thinking, and hence behavior. I am sure subconsciously we feel different when we watch bad and good news. Are we not making people too comfortable with all kinds of bad behavior by feeding them 24×7 with negativity? Also, whenever such things are reported, there is no follow up with positivity where a person can see right/good behavior and how it can make the world a better place or positively impact someone. For example, while a news medium reports a theft, supplementing such news with two positive ones where people have helped someone, or created something good, would neutralize the shock/apathy generated by the former article and rather would infuse a positive sentiment with the latter.

India and Indians aren’t as bad as we read/see about it in the news. There are several people in the country who are contributing in meaningful ways in making their surroundings better, in elevating lives, and in spreading positive actions/thinking. Several such efforts are made even though these people go through their own struggles of life. But the spirit remains positive and that’s something that needs to be acknowledged and promoted. Positive behavior will bear positive results only when people are trained to see that effect. With constant evil feed, people in India are increasingly forgetting how to behave nicely and how a smile needs to be responded to.

It’s time media becomes a medium to shape India’s culture into a highly positive, good, healthy, spirited one. It’s time for a goodnews.in.

To Err is Human…

To Err is Human…

Do you feel that the power of tolerance and patience in people is reducing at a great speed? We all play so many roles in our lives on a daily basis – that of being a daughter or a son, wife or a husband, a friend, a colleague, a sibling – that it is undoubtedly tough to give a stellar performance in all or any of these roles that we all play all the time.

As I observe, I feel when people make personal remarks, or judge others too soon, they forget that others too are like them, struggling to get somewhere or achieve more with less.

I agree that at times this is not as easy to be patient with an irritating lot, but even then there is always a little scope for patience before declaring the other as entirely unworthy of positive thought. After all, are we not all the same at some level and yet different? And as Alexander Pope said, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” A bit of patience here, an ounce of understanding there, and an open mind can make a better day, for everyone.