About 7 years ago, Anusha was participating in the state swimming championships. There was another girl from Gurgaon, with whom she had a constant fight for the top two spots. Being a decisive race for a spot in nationals, emotions ran high among the contestants. Having topped their respective heats, Anusha and the other girl were pitted in lanes 3-4 for the final event – 100 meters freestyle. And it ended up being almost a photo finish, with Anusha coming in just a couple of seconds behind the other girl.
As I helped her out of the pool, the look of disappointment was obvious on her face. Smiling in order to cheer her up, I gave her a hug and asked her to go ahead and congratulate her competitor. Always ready for a kind gesture, she extended her hand to the winner, but she did not display any warmth and mumbled thanks and went onto celebrate with her friends. I got the sense of dejection on Anusha’s face and I told her, “It’s OK, you did what was your Karma. Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
I was reminded about the topic again when Prahlad recommended the book by Richard Carlson with the same title. And I realised that ever so often, we fret over so many trivial things, that really have no consequence of any sorts in our life, yet we give it importance, as if it’s a life-and-death matter.
Just think about this:
- Average age for a human being is 80 years. So accounting for first 10 years, when we are a child and genuinely innocent and last 5 years when, due to old age, our response or reactions need not be 100% accurate, there are 65 years of our life that we can minutely observe.
- In these 65 years, with an average of 3 meals a day, we are going to have total of 71,175 meals. And if we assume 3 items per meal, then we will be consuming some 213,525 items in those meals.
- Average human mind gets some 50,000 thoughts daily. So in those 65 years, we will have mind blowing 113,750,000 thoughts crossing our mind.
- On an average, if we assume just 2 phone calls or face to face conversations with someone (1:1), we are looking at some 47,450 conversations during our lifetime.
With above context, see the insignificance of the events such as these:
- You had thought of doing something and you could not do it for any reason : you forgot, you did not have time, someone called you, etc.
- You were expecting someone to call you and he/she did not.
- The curry prepared for lunch did not have enough salt in it. The dal prepared for dinner was too spicy. The toast got burnt on the edge this morning, etc.
- You had wished a friend on his birthday, but he did not.
- You were expecting someone to say thank-you for your effort and he did not.
- You were to call someone to thank and forgot and now he’s not reachable.
- You were anticipating a sunny weather and it turned out to be cold and you ended up getting a cough.
- You had told your child to be careful while playing and he still ended up hurting himself.
- You had told your spouse to get the bread from the market and he forgot.
- You had told your spouse that your colleagues would be coming over for dinner and she was not prepared.
.. and so on. I hope you got the drift.
As humans, we are emotional by nature. This trait, which helps us stand-out from other living creatures, in reality is not an outstanding quality. People who are very emotional are either admonished and told to ‘be practical’ or are avoided due to the ‘drama’ they might create at times. And the reason for that, is everyone gives great importance to their own emotions, but when it comes to managing other people’s emotions, its a quite tasking.
If we analyse our lives, there are just these key objectives/phases of life that are worth worrying about:
- The start point. – So we are born.
- We need to gain knowledge and wisdom, to understand our purpose in life, apart from other reasons. – So we study – school/college/university/homeschooling, whatever works, the intent is to become ‘learned’.
- We need to earn a living.. So we work – business/entrepreneurship/professional, etc.
- We need companionship in life.. So we get married
- We need to continue our lineage/family .. So we have children.
- We need to give back to our children what we got from our parents – so we educate them, help them get employed, get them married (if asked help for!).
- We retire and ultimately .. we die.
This is all. These eight major events of our life is what really matters. Everything else, is just small stuff. It’s just not worthwhile to take umbrage of trivial things every now and then. In the larger context of life, they hardly matter. Time is too precious to be wasted in trivial pursuits, focus on the big picture.