It was a cloudy morning in Ahmadabad. I woke up and decided to go for my morning walk. The sky was overcast with Monsoon clouds. Atmosphere was hot and sultry. It could have rained at any point of time. I walked out of my society campus on the road laden with trees on both sides. At the corner a milk parlour was doing brisk business. I walked on. Suddenly I remembered an exercise from the book E Squared by Pam Grout- The Volkswagen Jetta principle. The exercise tells that if you start looking for a thing you will see it. Pretty obvious . Is it not? I decided to look for a car “ Nexon” on the road and count how many of these cars I can see during my morning walk. “ Nexon” is a compact car made by “TATA” which has got the highest safety rating in the crash test. Because of its safety features the car has got my attention and sometimes I dream of driving a “ Nexon”. But this fondness drove me to look out for Nexon. The moment this thought came to my mind and at that instant an olive green Nexon drove past me. What a coincidence? I started counting the cars on the road. Being a morning hour the traffic was meagre and very few cars were on the road. During my walk of nearly an hour I could spot 8 Nexons on the road. How wonderful? Was it pure coincidence or something else I don’t know but I proved to myself, that whatever you start focusing attention on, starts to increase. How wonderful it would be if we start focussing on the good in people, in the happenings around us.
I remembered the Law of Increase from Prof. Srikumar Rao’s book. Law of increase states that” whatever you are truly grateful for and appreciate will increase in your life”. Many people tell you to be grateful. There are lot of apps, journals available in the market so that you can record things you are grateful for. I also had downloaded an app for noting down the things I am grateful for. But the initial euphoria faded away within few days. The process started becoming mechanical. There was no emotion of gratefulness while noting down the things. Have you ever experienced this? How can we bring that emotion, that feeling of gratefulness in our lives?
On one morning I was listening to rag Brindavani Sarang sung by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. (Can be heard here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrJHLHNvbN8) The song is prayer for the supreme lord. Panditji’s divine, full male voice and the raga created an ethereal effect on me. I was transported to a realm where it was all blissful. The experience lasted for nearly an hour. I was full of serenity, calmness and joy created by the music. At that point I became grateful. Grateful to the universe for it has given me this wonderful body, these ears through which I can listen to such a divine music. Here the emotion of gratefulness was so full to the brim that it made my eyes moist. Then I started recollecting things that I am grateful for. The list started really increasing and with it my feeling of gratefulness also. I found a trick for being grateful.
My suggestion will be if you want yourself to be in that grateful emotion- Listen to your favorite music, eat a dish which you like when you are hungry, see that mesmerizing sunset or listen to the waves of sea. And feel those beautiful emotions. And in that start feeling grateful for your life and little things that make you happy. This will make your practice alive and free of mechanical boredom which sets in if you try to push yourself to feel grateful for things in life. The feeling of gratefulness should emerge from bottom of your heart and should envelop you completely. When you start feeling in such way you will find that the day and life is really wonderful.
How can you become more grateful? How can you smoothen out your daily interactions? When you are having a casual conversation with someone, are you there fully? Or is it that your mind is occupied with certain other things to do or are you in rush? How can you make such interactions filled with happiness? Prof. Rao suggests a way out. He suggests that the next time you are interacting with anybody wish that person good silently. When you are in the hallway for a washroom break in your office, someone greets you. Look into his eyes and genuinely return back the greeting. Wish him good silently. You are purchasing a newspaper from a vendor wish him good silently while paying him his money. This is the extension of gratitude practice. If you do this deliberately throughout the day you will find that your emotional tenor has improved and you start feeling good about yourself.
Do you have a toxic boss in your life who pushes your buttons all the time? Or anybody else in your life who makes you feel bad, every time you meet, so much so, that you start dreading, meeting with this person. Our instinctive reaction is to avoid as far as possible such persons. Of course if he is your boss, then you can’t avoid him but you see that the interactions are business like and are at minimal. Every time you have a meeting with such person you feel drained, frustrated or angry.
Follow here the strategy given above. Wish that person good silently and sincerely. I understand it is very difficult to wish good to a person who is making you feel bad.
Why should we do such practice? Every time we are the ones who are feeling bad after the meeting and not the other person. This exercise is for us to feel better. If we try this thought experiment before meeting the person, we will feel different. Try it out and see for yourself what happens.
Some time back my colleague from the office where I worked met me. While chatting casually he mentioned about a forthcoming meeting where he was supposed to meet another officer from a different department with whom he felt he was not comfortable. He felt that the other person is judging him unnecessarily and harshly and this impression he used to carry in the interactions with him. I suggested the above exercise to him and asked him to try this sincerely. He did follow the advice and to his astonishment he found that the interaction that followed was very good and he did not feel anything which he used to feel early. After some time, both of them became good professional colleagues.
The only requirement is that this exercise of wishing the person good should be done silently and with a sincere heart.
“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life” Rumi.