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Tag: gratitude

ig to IG

Here’s something that struck me and which I’ve been thinking about and trying to practice off-late.

I’m trying to consciously move from ig to IG. From instant gratification (which is everywhere in this digital age) to Instant Gratitude.

A few examples:

  1. When I feel like insta-ordering home delivery on Swiggy / Zomato, I try to replace the craving with a thought of gratitude for having a kitchen at home with loving family members who would happily cook a meal for me. Or even just having a kitchen, where I can cook for myself (rare, I know)
  2. When there’s a wish to get promoted quickly or to make a big bonus pronto followed by an inevitable loss of enthusiasm, one way is to be grateful for even having a job
  3. When wanting to desperately travel someplace just because I’m bored of home, I try to be extra grateful that I even have a home in the first place

Everything in life is about enjoying the process, unworried about the outcome. After all, the outcome of life itself is clear yet inescapable. Enjoying the process will happen automatically once we are grateful for what we have.

If I could have my own app, I’d call it Instagrat 😄

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Miraculous (escape)!

We were sound asleep. Blissfully unaware of the goings on of the night. A sudden loud crash jolted us awake. What was that?

A slab of granite making up the top of the window sill had just crashed to the floor. No announcement, no warning. Through the darkness, we could see some more slab, hanging precariously.

We tried to go back to sleep. Hardly a few minutes passed, or was it an hour? Another deafening crash, a bigger slab fell this time.

This was a place where we would normally be sitting under in the daytime? Or certainly walking past at least – many times a day. But the slabs never caved in then. How infinitely lucky were we?

A sheer miracle, if there ever was one. Not just tonight, but every night and every day till today. Who knows what all unspeakable things could have happened, but by some divine grace, didn’t?

Life certainly seems to be crumbling around us from time to time, all the time. But if it doesn’t knock us out, and allows us to keep moving ahead, that is nothing less than a blessing and a miraculous escape.

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Habitual

There is always a lot of discussion about gratitude. People try to ‘do gratitude’, ‘show gratitude’ or temporarily ‘have gratitude’ for some specific person or event or thing. That’s a good start. But gratitude is not something that comes today and goes tomorrow.

Gratitude is a habit, and a way of life. If we can practise gratitude 24×7, that effectively means we are happy all the time. Happy about what? It doesn’t matter, but every second every instant we are able to find something or the other to be grateful about, and hence happy about.

Imagine how powerful that could make our minds? All negative thoughts would be banished forever.

Gratitude is important for both good and bad happenings in life. Why? For whatever good happens in our lives, we of course know how to be grateful. But if we practise gratitude in such good times, then our ego will always be kept in check. Whatever bad happens in our lives, we can be grateful that it wasn’t much worse than it could have been. Also, all bad experiences in life offer us a chance to learn and grow. Sometimes that is better that outright success.

The easiest way to start is by writing a gratitude diary or a miracle journal. Over time, writing will not be required anymore, and being grateful will become an integral part of every waking moment.

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Lessons from a wildebeest

Human babies are pretty much useless at fending for themselves. They can do nothing more than suckle and cry at a really loud volume.

But wildebeest babies? Man do they have it tough!

A new born wildebeest’s mother – for many hours after the calf is born – doesn’t even let it suckle. The reason? Safety from predators who abound.

The wildebeest calf must first stand up on its own. It’s mother keeps moving further and further away from her calf, forcing the latter to start following her – first by walking, and then by running. Only when the calf is able to run properly after a few hours, does the mother allow her baby to have her first milk.

Three things struck me, as I watched this on a BBC Earth show.

  1. How lucky we are – despite having no ability to run or walk at birth, we are kept safe.
  2. There is no room for crying or cribbing – run, or die.
  3. If we struggle at the start itself, in anything we do in life, this would form the foundation for future success.
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Gateway to serve

There is no dearth of rich people in the world. But the number of poor, far outweigh the rich. If you are one of the lucky ones to be in the ‘rich’ group (or at least in the group where you do not need to struggle to make ends meet), then what can you do with your money? Our scriptures say that the only thing one must do is to serve others selflessly. As my Guru notes often, it is easy to find rich people – but very hard to find rich people who are also noble. Money is such a thing, that the more we have, the more it can control and corrupt us. Even the noblest of people can unravel in the clutches of money. The only way to remain noble then is to stay steeped in our scriptures, and consciously apply everything we learn in them and in satsang.

There are of course many rich people who are doing great work for society. One example is Bill Gates. Indeed there may be naysayers or those who feel he is doing this to benefit himself in some way – there is no way for me to know. However, his work has surely impacted poor people’s lives for the better, and he talks about this in his new book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”. He and his wife Melinda began working on global health many years ago, and experts would tell them often about how many kids were dying of diarrhoea. But they didn’t know the source of this diarrhoea. The couple were unable to figure out how to save these kids without knowing the underlying cause. Being rich, and having the ability to spend money as necessary, they were able to fund a variety of global studies to figure out the exact cause of this diarrhoea – which was then identified as pneumonia. And then Mr. Gates was able to further fund a much cheaper pneumonia vaccine than one that already existed and used only by developed countries, which in turn led to saving the lives of millions of kids.

Many times, those who get onto the spiritual path feel that they should not bother about earning money anymore. But money is one of the best ways to help people at scale. Hence a noble person shouldn’t shy away from becoming rich. But one must become rich and not hoard the money, but selflessly help those around in need.

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Luckuidity

Here’s a short story that I came across (surprisingly!) in two different books within just the past week. The first book is called The Great Mental Models by Shane Parrish, while the other is the recently released How to Prevent a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates.

The story goes thus. There are two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

There could be different takeaways for different people from this. To me, it is a simple yet profound reminder of all the good stuff that I’ve got in my life that I’m constantly and almost unknowningly taking for granted. If I would only stop to smell the roses along the way…

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Wake up

In their 2001 hit song Chop Suey, American band System of a Down crooned “Wake up wake up, grab a brush and put a little make up. Hide the scars to fade away the shake-up”. The song was intense to say the least, and while the rest of it is irrelevant, this portion well summarizes how many begin their day – stressed, anxious, shaken-up and somewhat empty inside.

“How do I get rid of stress and anxiety?” is the title of a YouTube video I recently watched. The question was asked by Indian Bollywood celebrity Suresh Oberoi to Shivani didi of the global Brahmakumaris movement.

Her response was crisp, simple, practical and immediately actionable.

  1. Our thoughts and words manifest into the reality around us, albeit with a time lag.
  2. Therefore, we must think and speak positive, not negative.
  3. This positivity can only be generated from within, as we do not have control over what goes on outside.
  4. Do not look at your phone for the first 30 to 60 minutes after waking up. This prevents us from falling into the clutches of the world, which tends to send all sorts of negative ideas and emotions.
  5. Start with gratitude. Before even opening your eyes, feel grateful for your life, healthy body, family, money, opportunities etc. This will over the course of a few days significantly reduce our complaining / criticising behaviour.
  6. Choose and repeat a few affirmations relevant to you. Like “I am enjoying my work, and am very successful”, or “I am very healthy and healed” or “I have amazing relationships” etc.

That’s it. Easy to practise? Found it useful?

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Green and brown

Since time immemorial, man has searched high and low, for the promised land, also known as heaven, paradise, swarga or elysium.

This search is no different from that suggested by the proverb “the grass seems greener elsewhere”. We are all looking for a heaven to go to, where our problems will be magically transformed into soft fragrant rose petals. But what if the grass were not green, but actually brown and dying weeds.

What if we were born in a country with no freedom, no rights and no voice? Or born in a concentration camp or a prison? What if we were age 1 and the only survivor in a plane crash that decimates an extended family of 12, all returning from an overseas vacation? What if we were age 4 and told that a rare medial condition would give us just 1 year to live? There are millions of kids with such conditions! What if we had no limbs, or had no eyesight? What if we were not born a human, but as an animal? No, not the pampered pets on Instagram – but those that have to be culled after suspected exposure to a virus?

We could have easily been any of the above, but by some quirk of fate, we are not. Is that not something to rejoice over and over? Even living beings put through the hardest and harshest of conditions, find a way to be happy. So why are we sad? Why are we constantly looking for a mythical land of magic and perfection?

We are already in heaven. We have the power to make our own heaven. Right here right now. We must open our minds and embrace it.

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MJ can change your life!

No MJ is not Michael Jackson, or Michael Jordan, or even Mary Jane.

MJ stands for Miracle Journal. And MJ can indeed change your life – because it certainly did mine!

The concept is simple, but the magic is in the doing.

Pull out a notebook, either a physical one, or an online note-taking app, like Evernote.

Start listing down all the miracles that have happened in your life. Just one line each.

Irrespective of how tough our lives may have been, we have each had those magical moments. Like the time a friend saved you when you were in trouble. The time when you went on your first date with your partner. The time when ate your most favourite food. Or when the delivery guy came just in time as you were leaving on vacation. The vacation itself. The visa for the journey, that came through despite you not meeting all the criteria. Or the job you got when you needed one so badly. Or the promotion. When a stranger helped you with directions in an unfamiliar city. That one teacher in kindergarten who was extra kind to you. Getting a taxi just when you need it.

Yes, these are tiny almost unnoticeable events in our lives. But taken together, they are a gargantuan force that has shaped who we are today. On any day when things aren’t going that well for us, all we need to do, is to open up MJ, and relive what life has given us, and how gracious it has been.

Trust me, we will feel lucky instantly, and the rest of the day will be fantastic. Try it – MJ will not disappoint!

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Just starting to pray

When we just start to pray to get time off for our fourth vacation of the year
Let us pray instead for the front-line healthcare workers that get no time off in a pandemic

When we just start to pray for more time to spend with a loved one
Let us pray instead for the soldiers that keep us safe with no guarantee of a return to their own families

When we just start to pray for a bigger and better house for ourselves
Let us pray instead for the destitute living on the pavement

When we just start to pray for a better education or degree
Let us pray instead for that underpaid teacher in primary school to whom we owe much of our success

When we just start to pray for a promotion or bonus at work
Let us pray instead for the family that lost its sole breadwinner

When we get through all these prayers
We will have forgotten everything we wanted
All our troubles will melt away
And we will be left only with gratitude for everything we have

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The Happiness Toggle

No better way for me to start, than by being grateful to everyone and everything that has brought me to this point. If you are reading this, you too need to be grateful. Why? Because we are lucky to even be alive! So many babies didn’t make it past the fourth month in the womb. But here we are. Our organs are working, and limbs are fine, and we can see and hear and talk and laugh.

Sure, this is common across most other human beings you say – so what? So this, that the more we crave for something we don’t have, the more the anxiety and unhappiness.

Flip that around. Where does the happiness lie. In the object? Or inside us? If chocolate (the object) makes us happy, then why does that happiness not linger?

We do not need anything else. We are already complete. Let us strive to help others, instead of focusing on ourselves all the time. This happiness toggle is in our minds.

As the Buddha said, we don’t need money, to give. We can give compassion with our eyes, sweet words with our mouths, warmth from our touch, a listening companion with our ears and serve with our bodies.

Forget what society wants us to be. Let us be ourselves. If we want to be great, let us start by being grateful – let us be forever happy now!

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