Six Nuggets Of Wisdom To Begin The New Year
I am always looking for opportunities that will bring my focus back on the pursuit of knowledge, especially in subjects that I am a novice at. Take spirituality. Even though I made a beginning a few years back with the Chinmaya Mission in Singapore to reflect on life lessons from The Bhagawad Gita, I have not really continued at the pace I would ideally like to have.
My mother who began her spiritual journey when she was in her thirties, celebrated with me when I began mine.
On my own, I have continued to discover inspiring life lessons through upanyasams by Swami Velukkudi Krishnan and Dushyanth Sridhar. These Gurus have simplified Vedic texts into understandable lessons that one can appreciate and use back in the way we live life.
On the 1st of January 2019, I had the opportunity to be at a gathering that Velukkudi Swamy addressed. He has, for the past several years, committed three hours of the morning on January 1st of every new year, to address a community of interested participants. While there may have been others who were present there to enjoy the familiar, clear, engaging delivery of a Vedic scholar (He described Sri Srinivasa Kalyanam, if you are keen to know), I picked a few valuable lessons from the talk that I could relate to and has the potential to inspire you as well.
Disclaimer: These are entirely my take always from the talk
Whatever you want to do, do it today; do it now; do it well
This is for all procrastinators. How many times have you put off something you must do for another time?
My Gmail inbox, at one time, had over five thousand unread mails. No one was writing to me and yet! I found out that most emails were subscription mails, social network updates or promotions. When I finally made time to address the clutter, it took me a whole, uninterrupted day to get through the mails, but at the end of it, I had a clean Inbox.
Another habit I am trying to break is the urge to get my cupboards and drawers in order just before I leave for a trip away from home. If you know me, you know how many times in a year that happens. I use so much time clearing up bills and paper work, when I should be packing my bags. And it is so stressful! I have begun to address my habit of having to clean and organize the cupboard spaces before my travel, by using some part of my day, every day, to get them in order.
The Golden Age was not the only time when everything was perfect
Have you met people who are ready to discredit anyone and anything because they have seen greater tasks accomplished? The quality of air, food, raw ingredients, water, milk, cotton, roads, relationships, children, maids, drivers, voices in concerts, actors and what have you.
‘ Those were the days’ they say.
It is essential to acknowledge that the way we do things today is different from how it was done then. We bring up kids in a different world, our agricultural environment has changed, younger artists have evolved and they experiment with newer techniques. In a globalised world, people are exposed to other cultures and that influences the way they think and act.
I am willing to accept that it was not just the years gone by, but even NOW is a perfect time to be alive. Make the best of it!
Use knowledge and not emotions to assess
Truth be told, I have never been able to put this piece of advice to practice. I could save myself many hours of unnecessary stress if only I knew how to disengage my emotions and look at situations based on what I know alone.
I have mindfully begun to make changes in the way I evaluate situations or people.
When I know where and with whom my daughter is, I don’t fret (emotion) when she is late.
When I know that I have not been disciplined in the meal choices I make, I don’t regret (emotion) what my bathroom scales show.
When I know why someone is upset, angry, disappointed, sad then I am able to empathise (emotion) without reflecting their emotional state.
I am a work in progress. I hope to get better everyday.
Never lose focus on the why
This is sound advice that I have put to good use this past year. I was advised to go low carb and choose it as a lifestyle to counter my metabolic syndrome. For someone who ate carb rich meals, it wasn’t easy to put the advice to practice. One of the many podcasts on the benefits of going low carb said that one must never forget the reason one has chosen to stay off carbs. So long as you know why, you wouldn’t feel denied.
I have been on track with my chosen low carb lifestyle over 75% of the time, because I have focused on the why.
If you know why you are committed to stay fit, why you must complete a project, why you want to set aside time to read, write blogs, paint, tend to plants, travel, be nice to people who work for you, be punctual, reliant, truthful, not gossip, not procrastinate, then you will never need someone else to remind you to do what you want to do.
Don’t stake claim on what is not yours
The swamiji talked about how we all have this innate habit of owning what we use, even if it belonged to someone else.
We don’t just claim ownership but also misuse things that don’t belong to us.
Think rented homes, borrowed furniture, school property, office supplies. We forget that we are only temporary owners of the space and property. My mother recalls incidents from my childhood when I would bring back bottles of craft gum every week when she had bought me only one bottle for the year. She would make me take them all back and turn it in saying they didn’t belong to me! I know of several people who take home reams of paper, stapler pins, pens and pencils and other small items from their place of work.
In the apartment where I live, the most frequent complaint on the residents group is of someone parking their car in a slot that didn’t belong to them!
Understand advice before acting on it
Advice is never ‘one- size- fits- all’. What works for you may not work for someone else. Parenting is a great example. I once got into a discussion with a group of people I went to school with, on the ubiquitous Whatsapp, on why some teens were rebels. One parent in the group, who had lived in the same city her whole life, shared her opinion about how well adjusted her teen son was and how it was largely to do with a specific style of parenting she had used with her son.
She completely disregarded the fact that living in different countries or being exposed to other cultures had any impression on a growing child’s thought process or beliefs. The advice she shared may have worked for her son but may not work for other parents in the group.
Diets and exercise regimes are often misunderstood too. People begin new ways of eating or embrace new lifestyles without evaluating if it is a choice that they can or want to sustain.
I am truly blessed to begin my new year with an opportunity to reflect on a few simple truths that help me align my habits.