“I hate Mondays,” someone said to me the other day. “And, if there’s anything like a Monday depression, I have it.”
This person contended that while he made a lot of money and so on, he wasn’t living his ideal life. He did everything because he had to. “If not for my responsibilities,” he said, “I could be wearing a robe like you and roaming around freely.”
“Oh!” I chuckled. “That’s the Facebook Trap.”
He looked at me quizzically and I said, “I mean, when you look at someone’s pics on social media and think they are having the time of their life.”
“But you are doing what you love!”
“I’ve learned to love what I do and you can do the same.”
“I loathe getting up in the mornings and going through five days of drudgery every week,” he said.
“And, what would you rather be doing?”
“Retire and be stress-free, maybe vacation more frequently, take it a bit easy. I’d love to get up or work whenever I want, maybe write a book or two and just go with the flow.”
It’s so innate in us that I wonder if it’s hardwired in our brains. Many among us feel that our current life is not the best kind, that we are working towards something else, some moment after which we won’t have to do things we don’t like. The day we reach that shore, life will be all sunshine and rainbows and we’ll spend every second of our time doing things we fancy, love, or dream of.
As if happiness and fulfillment is a certain stage where we’ll only be surrounded by people who love us and whom we love when there’ll only be abundance, no stress, conflict or diseases, only joy and bliss, only peace and happiness. Some say that’s enlightenment.
If you ask me, that’s not just a far-fetched idea but downright ignorant and preposterous too. I am not sure how we arrived at the conclusion that liberation means freedom from work in our daily lives or zero-resistance in the pursuit of our dreams. I read a nice little story in Celebration by Jaroldeen Edwards:
Several years ago we were invited, along with several thousand others, to the opening of the first Great America amusement park. What an incredible experience! As we stood with our twelve children waiting to be admitted to the park, our twelve-year-old son said, “I can’t wait for the gates to open, Mother. I think when those gates open, it will be the best thing that has ever happened in this world.”
You see, for that one night, it was going to be just like Pleasure Island in Pinocchio. Everything was to be free.
My son and his cousin, who was the same age, begged to be allowed to go at their own pace, wherever they wished. Because the amusement park was powerfully lighted and fenced, and everyone present was a guest, we gave them permission. Two happier boys have never run into a wonderland. Before them lay every ride, all the food they could eat, games, sights, and splendor.
The party lasted from eight in the evening until midnight. We had arranged to meet the boys by the merry-go-round at quarter-to-twelve. Of course, we saw them many times during the evening, always running to the next ride, their hands full of food, their eyes bright, eager, and a little greedy.
At the end of the evening, as we watched tired families stream toward the exit gates, our two exhausted little boys, their faces stained with chocolate and mustard, their feet dragging, and their heads almost lolling with weariness, walked up to us. My son looked into my eyes.
“I’ve learned something,” he told me. “You know how I said I thought the best thing in the whole world would be when those gates opened? Nothing but party and fun!” He pointed toward the large gates at the entrance. I nodded. “Well, now,” he said, “I think that the worst thing in this world would be if those gates closed and I couldn’t leave.”
It was absolutely one of the best evenings of his childhood, but he had also learned that pleasure has a timer, and when the timer rings, it ceases to be fun. It is then time to return to those basic things that give fun its meaning. Work gives purpose and importance to life, and that sense of purpose in all that we do is what turns fun into something more meaningful — into celebration.
Wiser words couldn’t be said in a better way. The joy of falling asleep on a soft bed after a hard day’s work is far greater than procrastinating all day and binge-watching Netflix till your eyelids droop. Staying up late into the night, for example, doing useless things that may entertain you but do nothing to challenge you or help you grow as a person, just notice how you feel when you get up the next morning: groggy, a bit heavy headed, with that earthy and astringent taste in your mouth.
You don’t wake up fresh and energetic. Instead, you find that you have even less willpower today than you did yesterday. It’s very simple: the delight of a fulfilling rest can’t be experienced without first earning it. And, you earn it by working through things you’d rather avoid, by balancing your life between have-to-do’s and want-to-do’s.
Dreading what we must do in our daily lives creates oppressive and negative feelings in our minds says Jaroldeen Edwards and she goes on to narrate it beautifully, further in the same chapter:
For many of us, just opening our eyes in the morning brings an instant and oppressive realization of all the jobs that are waiting to pounce on us. Before our feet even touch the floor we are feeling overwhelmed and under the gun… Our lives feel like a too full basket of laundry we are trying to carry down a steep stairway, and things are just slipping and sliding and leaving a trail behind us.
I have found I need to do two things to control those oppressive feelings. The first is to look more consistently at what I have done than at what I have not done. No one else has to recognize what I have accomplished — it is enough that I do.
The second this is to realize that I have power over my own work. It is my opportunity to decide what needs to be done, and when, and how. I am the planner and the doer — and if things need to be changed or done better or differently, I have the power to think it through, to use my own initiative and decision.
There is no one who never worries about anything. None among us is always happy, no matter what. Optimistic, positive, hopeful, yes; without challenges, conflict or difficulties, no.
If you haven’t yet found your purpose in life then let me tell you, my friend, that before that can happen, one must understand that resistance training is the foundation of building strength. The strength to take it on the chin, to find your happiness in what you must do, to be patient comes from working to your optimum potential.
The other day, I had the chance to observe a 15-year-old athlete swim his laps like a fish in water. He gets up at 4 a.m., goes to school during weekdays, swims a total of 5 hours every day 7-days-a-week, spends 2+ hrs on the road to go to his training and practice sessions, and devotes whatever remaining time he has in playing his piano. (To appear human, yes he sleeps too.) He’s not missed a day of practice in the last five years. Not a day.
I am sure there must be times he didn’t want to get up when it was still dark outside, let alone jump and swim in the cold pool in harsh Canadian winters (as is required for high-performance athletes, I was told). He could have just snuggled up in his bed on dreary mornings when the skies were grey or it was snowing heavily, but no, he pulled himself together leaving behind the warm quilt, and did what was needed to fulfill his purpose as he saw it. That’s the kind of stuff champions are made of.
Living a life of purpose is more a matter of habit we cultivate through self-discipline and sacrifice than any chance discovery. If you care to observe, you will notice that the happiest people in the world are usually very hard working. I don’t mean that they work eighteen-hours every day but that you won’t find them showing any laziness in what needs to be done.
Mulla Nasrudin’s teacher asked him, “What do we call someone who can’t hear?”
“Call him whatever you like,” Mulla replied. “It’s not like he can hear!”
Opportunities are knocking on your door all the time, presenting you with your purpose of life, if you choose not to hear them and instead be fixated on, or keep waiting for, some grand, big-bang, unrealistic event, you’ll be disappointed.
If you wish to live your ideal life, first devote every ounce of energy and enthusiasm to your present one. Before long, you’ll know your purpose in life which in turn will lead to a deep sense of fulfillment. When you put your heart, mind and soul into whatever you undertake, it liberates you. A liberated soul alone walks through the journey of life effortlessly and gracefully, like a master swimmer pierces through water. It’s a sight to behold.
To make your life a grand affair is entirely in your hands; shake them carefully.
Please note that waitlists for the Bangalore and Pune camps are closed. Chennai Kundalini camp, however, still has plenty of spots, so you are welcome to join me there.
Chennai. 12-13 Jan.
200 128 spots left.
Also, we still have some room for youth and children in the youth camp at the ashram. I’ll be interacting with kids daily in the camp. Details here.
What is the ideal life? Does everyone have an equal chance at leading an ideal life? Some Q&A’s below to give you much-needed perspective on the so-called ideal life.
How much money is enough for an ideal life?
Simply put, I’d like to quiz you on the difference between being rich and being wealthy? What comes to your mind when you think of being rich? Usually, when someone drives a flashy car or wears an expensive watch, we assume that the person is rich. Their dresses or suits, their gadgets and handbags, the houses they own, project a certain image which gives us a curated peek into their social standing. Curated because the owner controls what aspect of their life is visible to the world. But being rich is taxing, for you have to make an effort to appear rich, plus, and more importantly perhaps, richness comes at the expense of wealth.
In my mind, being wealthy is more empowering than being rich. It’s wealth that’ll come in handy during your rainy days. Wealth allows you to live your life on your terms whereas richness requires that you maintain a certain facade at all costs. Read more here.
What is the foundation for an ideal life?
So, while there’s no secret of happiness, there are some guidelines. Here’s my two cents’ worth; five principles of happiness:
1. Be Sincere
4. Stop complaining
5. The Fifth Principle
The fifth principle is something no one can tell you. It’s your personal guideline or commandment you set based on your own nature, circumstances, and goal. Your fifth principle could be to pray, to meditate, or go fishing, for example. Whatever it may be, it’s something you’ve discovered for yourself.
Write down your own principle. Read more on each of these principles here.
How do I find my ideal life?
Every single happy person, and every successful person, without fail, has a sense of individual purpose, almost a sort of passion. Look around, and you’ll know what I mean. Often, it’s not even a grand plan or a gigantic goal; it is merely something they love doing. Whether that’s feeding the poor or following the stars, ice hockey or scuba diving, coding software or writing books, dancing or doodling, soccer or stitching, it doesn’t matter. They are passionate about something.
Their passion in life keeps them busy, keeps them engaged. This passion and their aspirations make them feel wanted; make them feel worthwhile, meaningful and fulfilled. When you find your passion and purpose, this empty feeling stops haunting you. It’s almost like gaining boundless personal freedom. Read more here to discover the purpose of your life here.
How do I create my ideal life? A life beyond worries!
The focus of my writing today is the third dimension, an alternative approach to life that can help you rise above your worries. It begins with the acceptance that adversities, challenges and undesirable incidents make up a significant portion of our lives. A lot of what we wish to avoid in life, whether people or circumstances, is mostly unavoidable. Take it as a given that resistance is an aspect of progress. There’s a Latin word for this: amor fati which means love of fate.
Amor Fati doesn’t mean that we lead a life of resignation and dejection. On the contrary, it means to be upbeat and bold in accepting things about ourselves and our lives that we have no control over. This understanding brings about great calm and peace. Read more here.
What is the path towards an ideal life?
Life is like the sky, sometimes cloudy, other times, very clouded. The same sky offers a completely different view depending on the time of the day. At night it is full of stars and the waning or the waxing moon. During the day, it is full of light. Artificial lighting of cities make the beautiful star-studded sky hazy.
Your true nature like the blue sky is unaffected by all internal and external phenomena. If you always find it cloudy and muggy, you are merely looking at a photograph depicting that weather. Removal of that picture (read thought) from your sight will unveil a new one. It is merely your conditioned self that you do not experience the pleasant tropical weather all the time.
When you turn inward, the sky is beautifully blue with a pleasant temperature. You can be by the seaside or the Himalayas anytime you wish, absolutely at will. Read more here.
Which should you prefer - an ideal life or real-life?
The truth is, happiness is our natural state but, more often than not, most people feel they have to have certain things in their life to be happy, to be at peace. It’s not entirely their fault; we are programmed to believe that happiness depends on our success, on bank balance, on others’ approval of us, on the volume of our material possessions. There’s absolutely no doubt that a degree of material richness can make living a worthwhile experience, but, at the same time, it’s absence doesn’t mean we can’t be at peace, or be happy.
The way to redefine, reshape yourself, your present, and consequently your future, is to first take complete responsibility of your choices and your actions. This will help you to be comfortable with yourself. The second step is to prioritize between things you have to do and things you want to do. Third is to invest some of your time in what really matters to you, your passion. And, if you don’t have any passion, purpose or a constructive pastime, well then, ideally, one of your top priorities should be to discover one. Read more here.
What is an ideal life after marriage?
A newlywed couple asked their master, “What shall we do to make our love last?”
“Love other things together,” he replied.
This is the secret of successful relationships: love other things together and don’t lose sight of the good you have. When you are able to love not just the person you love but what they love, your relationship reaches a whole new level. If what matters to them starts to mean something to you, living together becomes a great deal easier.
Loving and living together at the same time is only possible when two people care about what the other person loves. Read more here.
An ideal life belongs to those who live in the present (someone who is comfortable living with oneself)...
What miraculous pair of pajamas!
I hope you know what is happening behind the scenes. You are feeling free and light because you are being yourself. You do not have to pretend to be someone else. Mostly that someone else is not a person but a role. It may be the role of a competent worker, a kind boss, a friendly peer, a team player at work, a disciplined driver on the road, or a good listener on the phone, a caring mother, a loving partner, a compassionate fellow, a fine daughter and so forth.
You are not given the chance to be in your pajamas. You always have to wear the garb of the role. The guise you put on also as if automatically, brings about some changes, however subtle, prominent or temporary, in your personality. Because now you are “playing” a certain role, you have the invisible burden of getting and doing it right. Read more here.
How does gratitude help in leading an ideal life?
If you believe that in order to be grateful, you must have certain things in your life, you will always find it hard to be thankful because no matter how much you may have, there will still be just as much more you will want to have.
Work towards what gives you joy, but be grateful for all that you have.
When you are grateful, an invisible blanket of peace covers you; it makes you glow, makes you happy, makes you strong, makes you warm.
On the path of emotional transformation, the first and foremost emotion is gratitude. Read more here.