By adopting some rules for the success of our lives, we will ensure that we move along the track of health, happiness, and harmony, says Suma Varughese
I have just finished a chat with a woman whose life is at sixes and sevens. Her relationship with her parents and sisters is contentious, and she has just left a job that did not fulfil her. She is confused, unhappy, but has no idea how to retrieve her life and put it back on track. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Life can often seem like a maze through which we scurry like frightened rabbits with absolutely no idea of the direction we wish to go in, how to handle the various situations that confront us, how to make the best of what has been given to us, and how to come out into the light. We feel trapped and helpless, unable to take charge of our lives. This is not surprising, because we are not born knowing the manual for life. As difficult and impenetrable as life is, it still requires us to tune in, in order to unlock its secrets. All the great scriptures, all the great poets and writers eloquently teach us how to live. But that knowledge is veiled to us until our time has come. But does that stop us from having to still live? And if possible, live intelligently, in such a way that we minimise our sorrows, maximise our happiness and aggrandise our wisdom and understanding. For that we must adopt some rules. Most of us have rules, but generally speaking they have been handed down by parents and grandparents, or teachers and books, which we cling to even if they are the wrong fit, because we are unable to find our own rules. But if we want a custom-made life, we will need to formulate our own guidelines. Rules are something to hold on to in the hurly burly of life. They can act like a guiding light that will show us the way forward even during overwhelmingly dark times. Many years ago, I attended a success workshop called Breakthru, run by Oneness University. While talking about the importance of having rules for success, the facilitator, an evolved soul called Acharya Samadarshiniji, gave the example of a lady who told her husband on the day of their marriage. “If you have an extra-marital affair, I will leave you.”
Samadarshiniji sagely observed, “She had a rule for the failure of her marriage, but not for its success.” Think about it. Do you have rules for the failure of your life, but not for its success? The great race car driver, Michael Schumacher, once observed that when in the thick of the race, he would never, ever bring into his consciousness where he must not go, because inevitably that is where he would go! Instead, he unfalteringly placed his focus on where he wanted to go. If we don’t want to end up where we do not want to go, let us place our focus squarely on where we want to go. In other words, let us create rules for good living.
Have a vision. The first thing to do in order to create rules is to figure out what kind of a life you want to lead. What are your values? What matters to you? Where do you want to reach at the sunset of your life? So pack into your vision stocking all that matters deeply to you – marriage, health, wealth, possessions, peace of mind, integrity, friendships, and so on. Once you know what you want, you will know what kind of rules to live by in order to arrive at them. That does not mean you will never flout the rules. You will flout them more often than you will be able to recall. But if you continue to return to them, you will eventually reach your destination. In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, Stephen Covey gives the example of an aeroplane. Despite the clarity of destination, the plane is off target 90 per cent of the time, but by choosing to return to its trajectory, it ensures that it reaches the destination. So create a vision statement for your life and keep it where you can see it. Read it everyday so that the vision is clear in your mind. Energise it with visualisation.
Speak the truth. If you wish your life to be simple and free of unnecessary complications, use this principle as an absolute. Yes, it is okay to tell your wife that she is not fat, or your daughter that her drawing is a work of art, or other lies that hurt no one and soothe others. But never ever lie out of self-interest or unhealthy motivation. One lie will spawn a dozen more, all of which you will have to remember each time you meet the person you lied to. How much simpler to just tell the truth, not to mention how much more peace giving and liberating. Many years ago, we had a young advertising executive in our office, who used to get her colleague to say that she was not at work when she got an inconvenient call. I advised her to take the call and sort out the issue instead of using someone else as a scapegoat, and urged her to speak the truth in all situations. I got a call from her about four years ago, reminding me of our conversation and telling me that she had taken my words to heart and had never told a lie after that. In consequence, she was free of fear and her life was an open book. We lie because we wish to escape the consequences of our action. We lie because the truth is not convenient. But we must remember that falsehood is what maya consists of, and the more strongly we abide by the truth, the sooner we will penetrate through the maya of life and attain freedom, and joy.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is one of the rules that Jesus Christ taught and is not called the Golden Rule for nothing. Abiding by this one rule will ensure happiness and harmony in our relationships. If you want others to be considerate, be considerate. If you want others to be polite, be polite. If you want others to be helpful, be helpful. If you want not to be the object of gossip, don’t gossip. All too often, we want from others what we are unwilling to give them. If we can meditate on this rule and get clear on the areas where we falter in doing to others what we want from them, we will be able to have much more integrity. If we do what we want others to do, they will automatically reciprocate the favour. Kind people often receive kindness, loving people attract love, and helpful people usually receive help when they need it.
Use every conflict to strengthen your relationship. The truth is that all relationships will run into heavy weather every now and then. Each of us is a different being with different viewpoints, perspectives, needs and history. We are bound to hurt each other occasionally, or differ with each other on important matters. How can we ensure that this friction will not fray the relationship? Begin by committing to the health of the relationship through thick and thin. It is easy to throw away bonds at the first sign of a difference, but the loss is entirely ours. We human beings are sociable animals and we need people in order to be happy and healthy. So learn the secrets of getting along. An unswerving commitment will ensure that when conflicts show up, you will work on it. The first thing to do is to see where you have gone wrong and to apologise for it. This will usually soften the other, and lead to their apologising too. Often you may need to take other steps. One of them would be to confront. But before you confront, assure the other that you are doing it to safeguard the friendship because you would hold it against them if you did not express yourself. This will help them go past their own fear and defensiveness. Also assure them that you have faith that your friendship will weather it. Loving confrontation will, in most cases, resolve the issues, and leave you with heightened love and intimacy for the other. Over time, the relationship will assume the durability of a springboard. The more you jump on it, the higher you orbit! The fact that your relationship can take even bitter conflict in its wake without falling apart will give both of you the courage to express what needs to be expressed courageously, and so you will build a friendship of a lifetime!
Recognise the end of cycles and learn to let go. How admirable of MS Dhoni to see the writing on the wall and resign as captain of the Indian Cricket team, so that Virat Kohli, clearly the new power of the team, could take over! Can we too learn to recognise when something is clearly over and move on with as much grace as we can muster? Some relationships come to an end. It is pointless clinging to them and pretending that everything is hunky dory. Have the courage to recognise that he or she has moved on, and you must move on too. Sometimes, a job has come to an end, and with it the end of status, wealth and identity. Have the courage to let it go and move on. Perhaps you are blocking something much more marvellous from coming your way by holding on. Our children grow up and demand a new kind of relationship. Can we align to this? As we build up our capacity to sense the end of cycles and courageously take the steps we are being prodded to take, we will become more aware and aligned to life. Instead of being stuck in several time warps, we are available in the now, and can allow the Universe to mould our lives with divine order.
Void your karmas as soon as you can. Don’t defer your learnings, or the consequences of your action. If you have got an illness, instead of simply swallowing a pill and suppressing your symptoms, see what lessons it holds for you and apply yourself to learning it. If you have problems in your job or marriage, strive to resolve your problems instead of looking for another job or marriage. Your problems and issues will accompany you wherever you go. The sooner you void your karma, the happier and freer you will be. Old age is one of the hardest stages of human life and we must strive to have as easy a time as we can. We do not want to enter it riddled with illnesses, laden with conflict-ridden relationships, facing penury, or with an unexamined life. We need to enter it freely and joyously, with enough health and wealth to support us well. There are plenty more rules, but this little compendium will keep you going until you design your own rules. Have a wonderful life. You deserve nothing less.
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