It is Monsoon season. In Ahmadabad it has become hot and sultry. Some days it rains and some days it is humid and hot. One day early morning I was walking along the road. Early morning there have been good showers so the road was wet and there were poodles of water at many places. I was walking near a poodle and saw a car moving forward which would have splashed water on me while passing through the poodle. Immediately I tried to distance myself away from the poodle as far as possible, but to no avail as the speeding car splashed some water on me. To move away from the poodle was an instant reaction. We are conditioned to see , how the events happening around us impact us. This is a trait needed for survival when humans were still a part of the jungle. Now in the civilized society that we live , still we continue to behave in the same way. Evaluating events as how they impact us. Is it not? Have you ever thought of this?
Let us say your spouse gets big promotion. What is your instant reaction? How this is going to affect me? Will she be required to travel more or locate to a new place? How I will manage family in her absence? What should I do to achieve more success in my own career? And so on and so forth.
Your son, who is excellent academically in school decides to pursue an off-beat career say Bharat Natyam Dance. ( a form of ancient Indian Dance) What reactions you feel? How this will be seen by society? What will people say and how can I answer them? How he will be able to earn money? Do I need to support him even in my old age? And so on…
You are at checkout in the supermarket. An old woman is ahead you who is checking out. She fumbles while keeping the things on the desk of clerk and also fumbles when taking out money and making payment? Her slow movements bother you. Is it not? What you think? Oh again it is going to be delayed. You feel restless and would like that the woman should move fast so that you can also check out fast.
There are innumerable things/ events happening in your daily life which you evaluate as how they impact you. You behave and expect others to behave as if the world is revolving around you. You think you should be given importance. It is always me and mine. Is it not?
Prof. Srikumar Rao says “ Even your altruistic intentions are frequently tainted. You want to do “good in the world” and to “give back” but it is important to you that you also be recognized for your actions. You want your jokes to be laughed at, your contributions to be acknowledged, and your advice to be solicited and acted upon.”
This is what Prof. Srikumar Rao says living in a me centered universe. To know how much you are me centered Prof. Rao suggests an exercise. You are calling a colleague/ customer/ partner to explain something or talk some important matter. When you set up a call, record the conversation. After the conversation is over, count how many times you have used, I, me and my. This will give you an idea what we are discussing.
You may say nothing wrong in that. Yes. But once you expect that world should behave the way you want, you set up yourself for stress, frustration and anger. We all know that results of the action we perform are not in our hands. You do something and expect A to happen but many a times B, C ,D E ,F happens. Yes there are certain times when A happens. And then you feel good but this lasts for miniscule time and you are again back on your tread mill.
Prof. Rao indicates “ All of the stress in your life results directly from your fixed notions of how the Universe should behave and from your inability to accept the merry diversions that the universe takes from your agenda….All of us want the people in our lives -spouses, ,children, siblings, relatives, friends, neighbors, bosses and co-workers- to behave in particular ways that we determine. We have specific- though often hidden -expectations for them all. We even want our pets to behave in expected ways. But they don’t conform to what we want.”
So what should you do? Drop all expectations about the out come of your actions. Is it possible to drop the expectations? Oh! This will rob you of motivation to live. What can you do? If you see carefully, the stress, the frustration, the anger is caused due to attachment with the desired out come. We should drop the attachment to the outcome. We should try our level best and see what happens. If out come is as we desired, we can celebrate and if not, we can learn from the experience and move ahead.
How do you do that? Assume that the pandemic has made you jobless. You are now actively searching for the job. You have prepared your CV and shared it with job hunters. You get a call for an interview. You think the job is a good fit for you. You search the information about the company on net, get your self as much information as possible and prepare for the interview. You appear for the interview in hope to land the job. But somehow you don’t get the job. What you do? You may feel bad for sometime but you forget that and start your search again. Is it not? What did you do here? You were perfectly aware that the outcome is not in your hands and you do not ruminate on the result but learn from it and move on. Can we do this in all our activities. Is it possible to maintain this attitude of dispassion about the result? In Gita Krishna has exhorted that a man does not have the right to fruits of his action. He has right only for his action. Which means actions are within the control of man but not the results. If we can follow this in our life we can work without stress, a joyful life. Are there any hacks for this? Let me know what you think, how can we practice this?
This philosophy has also important underpinning of present moment awareness. We can do what we can in the present and forget about the future. If we focus on the process/ activity with all our might, chances are we may achieve what we want to achieve.
“ At some point you just have to let go of what you thought should happen and live in what is happening.” Anonymous.