By Megha Bajaj December 2007 We want it. we even know what needs to be done to have it. and yet we don’t do it. find out why there is a gap between wanting and having, as several seekers speak of how they got all that they wanted out of life, and more Self-help books crowd bookstores. Health tips are offered for free across all newspapers and websites. Spiritual masters are available in scores. There are examples of rich and famous people all around, who began at a lower step on the material ladder than even us. Stories and gospels from the lives of legends like Buddha or Jesus Christ, and pearls of wisdom from these great masters are scattered around us for the picking. And yet, why is it that so many of us lead mediocre lives, chasing peace of mind, health, money, fame, and spiritual evolution – which seems to be just beyond our reach? We can see it, long to reach it, but somehow we don’t always attain our goals. Why does a long, uncertain … pause come between what we want and what we have? Scenario 1Twenty-two-year-old Yamini Sharma works for an advertising agency, and is doing well for herself; in fact, she recently won an international award for an ad campaign. However, Yamini is unhappy. Her dream is to get an MBA degree from one of the top universities in America. Even after scoring a brilliant 790/800 in GMAT, she met with rejection from all the universities. “So what’s stopping me from having what I want, to live a better life, is external. I want to be in a college which has rejected me in spite of my best try. I feel depressed.” Scenario 2“I want a good, healthy, long life and what’s stopping me is the fact that I have rheumatism. I am in pain and anguish, and I often wake up in the middle of the night crying because it feels like my bones are crushing. I didn’t do anything to get this disease – yet it came to me. In fact, as far as possible I have tried to help others, yet this is the fate that God has chosen for me!” said Ramila, almost trembling with rage. Scenario 3Forty-four-year-old Akhil Mirchandani has dreamt of finding an ideal life partner ever since he was in college. He wants a girl who can be his best friend for life. And yet, this woman from his dreams has always remained just that: a dream. He says with a defeated shrug, “I have tried everything. Matrimony sites, meeting girls who friends and family suggest, and even random chatting on websites to find her, but it’s just never worked out. I have lost hope.” Scenario 4“What I want is different from most others. I don’t seek fame or money or health. I want to feel one with God. I seek a spiritual union. However, the harder I try to feel divine, the further divinity moves from me. The more I try to feel love for all, the more anger arises. It’s a hopeless situation to be in. There is actually nothing I can do to get what I want,” says a Calcutta-based seeker. As I heard the above responses, I realized all of our desires can be categorized in four broad groups – wealth, health, relationship, and self-fulfillment. Also, I learnt we often operate as victims of situations, moving the objects of our desire even further away with negative emotions. The Secret, a movie for self-empowerment, clarifies, “Whatever it is you are feeling is a perfect reflection of what is in the process of becoming.” You constantly feel sad because things aren’t going your way, well, more not-okay things are just coming your way. You keep feeling dejected because your spouse isn’t understanding your emotions? Stay with this thought, and it’s guaranteed your partner will become even more distant. Between want and have, if there are a lot of negative thoughts, followed by unhealthy emotions, be assured that the process of reaching your desires will be elongated and painful. Dr Minnu R Bhonsle, a well-established psychologist/counselor from Mumbai, says, “One can broadly divide the challenges people face into three categories: physical, psychological and social. For instance, taking the scenarios mentioned above, not finding a spouse or getting into the college of one’s dream can be viewed as a social challenge, ill-health as a physical one, and not finding divinity within one a psychological one. However, to feel like a victim in these situations is the individual’s choice alone.” These challenges are real. They exist. They come suddenly, and stand as hurdles in the walk of life. But although we cannot always control what happens to us, we can control fully, what happens within us. Said Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, and survivor of the Holocaust, “The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance. ” Even before we understand the various roadblocks we face between wanting and having and ways to bulldoze through them, we need to realize that the first step is to choose a positive state of mind, irrespective of the current situation in life. Only then will we even begin to bridge the gap between the two posts. Scenario 5“Sometimes I feel I am living Bollywood,” says 36-year-old Shalini, with a chuckle, “Just a few years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. While I was going through the treatment, expecting my husband to be my pillar of strength, he filed a divorce against me. “Just when all that sorted out, my sister and I had a major fight over property, and ultimately she took it all. I was left with Rs 20,000 in my bank, no place to stay, nowhere to go as both our parents had died long back. Somehow, even through it all, the one thing that didn’t leave me was a smile. I would weep to distress once in a while, but most of the days I was smiling, cheerful, excited to be alive. I had little, but I had life. And that seemed enough.” Admittedly, it seems rather tough to remain cheerful through it all: tempers and tantrums, travails and traumas. However, I realized for the first time as I started writing this article that anyhow I have to cross the bridge between wanting and having. Either I can do so hopefully and happily, or I can do so depressed and dejected. So why not choose the gladder option? Having armed ourselves with optimism, we next come to five of the greatest challenges that most humans face on their way to attain anything: Lack of ResponsibilityThe minute the word ‘but’ appears after any positive sentence, the goodness nullifies. “I would have progressed but for my selfish colleagues”. “I would have been healthy but for my busy schedule which gives me no time for exercise”. “I would have been a great father but for my recalcitrant child.” And so on. In all cases, you have reached a dead-end because you believe the solution to a problem is not with you; try as we may, there is only that much we can change another, or control an external situation. The entire business of achieving goals is useless if, in the first place, you don’t believe you, and only you, can make that life of dreams a reality for yourself. The minute you leave that responsibility in the hands of another person or a situation, you have let go of your infinite power to create all the things that you want in life. The biggest challenge that most of us face between wanting and having, is believing we can have so and so only if he/she/the situation is agreeable. Once this belief is shattered, and one takes responsibility for everything – the good, the bad and the ugly happening in our life – we can start taking action towards our goals. The best way in which one can take responsibility towards our life is by believing in the precision and absolute order of the Universe. We tend to see things from our limited vision, asking God why I was born with this disease, why I must suffer as a widow, why I was born poor. However, the Vedanta Society in California explains, “Vedanta takes the problem out of God’s court, and places it firmly in our own. Nothing happens to us by the whim of some outside agency: we ourselves are responsible for what life brings us; all of us are reaping the results of our own previous actions in this life or in previous lives.” “As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” said Christ. Said Buddha, “All living beings have actions (karma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is karma that differentiates beings into low and high states.” Believing in karma does not mean you don’t exercise at all, fall ill, and then claim it was karma. It’s simply an understanding of how the universe works so you may accept all that comes to you as your responsibility, and then actively respond to create a new karma for a desired life. Says Ramila, a few months after she went to a discourse where the theory of karma was explained beautifully, “I started looking at rheumatism as my responsibility. I started eating better food, doing my exercises without complaining, and being more positive about it. Can you believe the pain has already lessened by about 25 per cent? I now believe I can make it go down to zero, and even if I don’t, I feel like I have a good life already.” Lack of Goal Setting/ PlanningMost of us want to be rich. However, rich is a subjective word. For a beggar Rs 500 could mean abundance, for a billionaire even a core could seem a pittance. So many of us fail to achieve what we want, because we don’t set clear goals for ourselves, with clear time lines. A study shows that approximately 80 per cent of people never set goals for themselves. Even more surprising, of the 20 per cent of the population that
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