February 2014 By Suma Varughese How can wemaximizeour life,realizeour highest potential and achieve all that we are capable of? How can we live with zestandpower? In short, how can we learn to seize the day, asks Suma Varughese A former editor of mine once told me that as a youngster she was high-spirited and full of fun; and her parents often tried to curb her spirits. Once, she and her friends planned on going for a picnic. Her father imposed a condition. First, she had to stitch a certain number of pyjama sets before setting off. Nothing daunted, she sat up all night, made those pyjama sets, and next morning was off for the picnic. That, for me, is a small example of what it means to seize the day. It means to be in control. To not allow circumstances and situations to deflect you from your chosen goals and objectives. To steam ahead regardless. To triumph, conquer and succeed. To be able to do this and that. To leave one’s imprint on the day, and on life itself. We are talking of a dynamic mindset here. A mind that has both confidence and capability; a mind that is imbued with a burning sense of purpose, and is gifted with an invincible will and determination. High achievers seize the day. And in doing so they often write history, and steer the progress of humanity. At the least, those who seize the day lead successful lives; they execute their duties and responsibilities impeccably, have enough and more time for their own personal interests and joys, and to follow their dreams; have plenty of time for their loved ones and friends, and are at peace with themselves and life. While the rest of us struggle futilely with tyrannical time, they seem to live in a timeless void – where everything gets done with minimal effort and struggle. What stops us What is it that stops most of us from seizing the day? Truth be told, we are unable to rise above the ordinary. Most of us get dragged down by the inexorable forces of daily life – get up, bathe, cook, go to work, come back home, take the children’s homework, spend time with family, and watch TV. Routine has us so firmly in its grip that we can’t go beyond it. In the process we cease to feed ourselves with the important things of life – the things that matter – staying in touch with friends and family; doing things that nourish and nurture us, taking steps to achieve the goal that matters to us, or realizing our dreams – learning to salsa, going for a yoga retreat, learning scuba diving, travelling the world and so on. Life passes us by, and we are left languishing. Rabindranath Tagore poignantly expresses this experience when he says, “The song that I came to sing remains unsung. I have spent my days in stringing and un-stringing my instrument.” In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, Stephen Covey echoes this thought, “We’re busy – incredibly busy. We’re going through the motions. But we never seem to reach the level of life where the music happens.” All too often, we do not even know what we want or who we are. We get so overwhelmed by the rigours of handling our everyday routine that we often forget to look at the big picture. We plug away dutifully at work for many a weary year before it occurs to us to question if this is really what we want to do. We follow parental ambitions, and settle for that engineering or MBA degree, until one fine day it dawns upon us that what we really love is history or philosophy. Even more fundamental is low self-esteem. As long as we are riddled with doubts and fears about ourselves or our capabilities, we will not be able to focus on the tasks on hand. Our energies will be too bridled, too dissipated. Self-doubt and diffidence will pour water on our personal power and effectiveness. Only when these clear up, will our sense of competence and capability increase. Our energies will then be released and we can move into action mode. In a sense then, seizing the day entails moving from the deadweight of tamas to the more energetic rajas, though as you will see, satva plays a huge part in it too. If these are the forces that hold us back, there are other forces we need to employ to move triumphantly into our centre of power. Passion The first, I believe, is passion. We must want to maximize our lives – we must want to achieve the things that lie just outside our comfort zone. We must feel zestful about the process of growing. While I am far from being in seize-the-day mode, I am getting glimpses of that state of mind which shows me that sometime in the future, I will get there. And what I did experience during those brief moments was a powerful sense of joyful purpose which invested me with a determination to make what I wanted happen. There was a zest that drove me to do whatever it took. When we are thus motivated, achievement is easy and almost effortless, because the driving force of determination gets us safely through. Jamuna Rangachari, the head of our Life Positive website, testifies that it is determination that enables her to achieve her goals. These include writing articles for Life Positive and elsewhere, writing a number of books, running a house, bringing up two children, and also doing social work. All this despite the fact that for the last seven years, she has also been waging a battle against multiple sclerosis. Vedanta explains this by saying that whatever our desire, we will also be given the energy to fulfill it. As our desires become more purified, and move into the area of achievement rather than merely sensual satisfaction, the energy at our command is greater, and therefore our capacity to execute our goals increases. Covey says, “Until that deep priority connection is there – and a commitment is made to it that is stronger than all the other forces that play on our everyday lives – we will not have what it takes to prioritise (what we want to achieve).” He further adds, “The place to start is with the recognition that (achieving the goal) is non-negotiable.” I recognized the importance of this quality while participating in one of the workshops at the recent Mumbai Life Positive Expo, Thought Yoga by Krishna Iyer. The facilitator was talking about how to achieve our goals, and he mentioned a few factors, which included passion. He asked each of us to take on a goal using each of the factors he had taught us. At that time, I was having difficulty remembering to take my homeopathic medicines three times a day. I recognized vividly that the reason I was not remembering was that I simply did not care enough to do so. Reminding myself of the crucial importance of taking my medicines, I put into place some strategies to achieve them, and am happy to say that I have hardly missed a dose since. Without this driving passion, almost nothing will be achieved. Would Alexander have conquered the world, or the Buddha become enlightened, or Mahatma Gandhi won the Freedom Struggle if they had not been driven by an overwhelming passion and commitment that sublimated everything that stood in its way? It is passion that will cause us to overcome the million lower desires and needs that stop us from achieving what we want. Watching a movie on TV seems so much more enjoyable and effortless than completing that project. Who would not want to go through Facebook, rather than cleaning up the cupboard or writing a book? It is passion that gives us the momentum we need to power through the initial inertia that locks us into status quo. Passion breeds commitment and determination, which is what we need to achieve what we want. Megha Bajaj: Action driven by love is the keyto her dynamism Megha Bajaj, Life Positive’s popular columnist, has been an achiever since a very young age. At 30, she has written four books, including Thank You, Cancer, a book on how to cope with cancer which has motivated thousands of people. It was nominated for the best book in the non fiction category for Crosswords Book Award, been translated into two languages, and has sold over 10,000 copies nationally. Her company Wonder of Words has developed several exciting books and teaching aids which has benefited over 25,000 children. Recently, she established a holistic growth center called Miraaya which has managed to get around 350 members in less than a year. For her, investing love into all her activities is what makes it happen. She says, “I somehow see everything I do as an act of love. When it is not possible to see it as an act of love, I see it as an act of bliss. If even that is not possible, I either don’t do it – or if it is unavoidable – I tell myself, in any case I have to do it – I may as well do it happily.” Almost all the ones interviewed said that they woke up with a sense of purpose and a willingness to plunge into the tasks of the day. No wonder they are high achievers. Unlike the rest of us, their engines are purring and ready to go, while we still have to warm up ours. So how do we achieve the passion and commitment we need? For many on the path, passion comes as a natural corollary to the inner work we put in. As we shed our conditioning, as we become more aware of the laws of life and how to lead it, as we become more aware of our infinite potential, as we work on our self-esteem, as we discover our life purpose, we become invested with more and more inner power that converts into passion and commitment. Says Chitra Jha, “My turning point was the realization that we create our own reality.” Says Megha, “For me it is very clear. B.G and A.G. Before Guru and After Guru. I was a lost teenager with no sense of confidence, purpose or direction in my life. Much like wet clay just lying around. It is in my guru’s expert hands that I have begun to feel some form, some structure, some i
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