My sister recently forwarded the writings of Chitra Jha, a life coach doing great work in India. I connected with Chitra and we have been exchanging some wonderful, thought-provoking emails. She blogs at http://mylife-mysuccess.blogspot.comShe is challenging me to grow and stretch! Here is a sample of Chitra's writing:
Many of us have been taught to believe that we are valued for what we do, not just for who we are. Doing' is important, but to keep life in balance, we also need time to just be.
Henry David Thoreau expressed this so well in Walden Pond: "There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hand. Sometimes, on a summer morning, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumacs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been."
Between Blackberry's, cell phones, traffic jams, soccer games, and Lists, our lives get lost. Our time is destroyed and our purpose clouded and diminished. May you pause to enjoy life.
We all know that change is the only constant in our lives. Many of us even welcome change in our lives. Still when unexpected change happens to us, it becomes personal and depending on the magnitude of the change, it can even be difficult and traumatic. Unexpected layoffs, loss of a loved one, financial setbacks, health issues, and other such events can derail our best laid plans and cause a great deal of anxiety and stress. At times such as this, it becomes important to practice the timeless principles of hope, faith, courage, and resilience. In addition, there are four strategies that have proven to help people get over the difficult times in their lives.
- The Power of Optimism: Research shows that an optimistic outlook, even in the face of insurmountable challenges, helps people overcome the setbacks in their lives. Optimism generates positive energy, reduces anxiety, and as a bonus has great health benefits. While some may consider optimism as “soft, touchy-feely stuff,” there is both anecdotal and evidence-based research that shows the extraordinary benefits of optimism. It is the greatest gift that one can give to oneself. Be optimistic that you will get through your difficulties. Remind yourself that life is full of ups and downs. As Wayne Dwyer said, “Even God cannot make a storm last forever!”
- Be action-oriented: It is easy and tempting to engage in self-pity and cuddle up in a dark corner when we find ourselves in a tough spot. We feel the weight of the world on our shoulders and sometimes there seems to be no way out. It is temporarily comforting to withdraw from the world. However, this approaches long-term damage. Stand up. Act. Move. Connect. Engage. Do your part. Reach out. Believe in yourself. Accomplish small things. Be biased toward action, rather than inaction. Action generates energy. Inaction destroys even existing energy.
- Focus on your Strengths: In times of difficulty, people tend to focus on their weaknesses, rather than their strengths. The strengths that took you to the top of the mountain are still yours and yours alone. Traumatic experiences may sometimes make these strengths dormant, but you still have them. Tap into your strengths. Work on your weaknesses, but do not make them the focal point of your day.
- Revisit your concept of happiness: We live in a society which continues to perpetuate the notion that happiness is tied to materialism, corporate titles, and fancy houses and cars. Revisit your concept of happiness. Stay true to yourself. Research shows that happiness is rarely tied to external things, but often is a state of mind, a firm determination to capture and live in the present moment.
Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the President and CEO of Global Cube Consulting, a consulting firm that focuses on leadership development, communications, and project management. She blogs at www.umagupta.com and can be reached at email@example.com
Unwearied and ceaseless effort is the price that must be paid for turning faith into a rich infallible experience.
-Mahatma Gandhi, 1936 (www.beliefnet.com)
We tend to focus on the great accomplishments of great leaders. We know of their struggles and sufferings, but what we remember most are their accomplishments. History has a way of focusing on the end result, and not always on the journey. Yet great leaders also endured great suffering. They persisted in the face of great odds; odds that a weaker human being would have concluded as insurmountable. So what kept them going? In the case of Gandhi, it was his incredible faith in humanity – that people will eventually gravitate toward good, rather than evil. More important, he was always focused on the journey; those little steps and the giant steps that would lead him to his destination of freeing India. But the journey was equally important – sometimes more important than the destination. He suffered a great deal in private and public when his dreams died or got derailed, but he persisted. I suppose another word for that is faith – the ability to perservere against all odds, when even reasonable people declare it time to quit – faith and the faithful persevere.
Wikipedia states that the great poet Kalidasa was to the Indian literature what Shakespeare was to the Western literature. Famous for his work called Shakuntala, an epic story about a maiden who falls in love with a King, the name Kalidas or Kalidasa is synonymous with beauty, intellect, and superior intellect. He wrote in Sanskrit, a language that has existed for more than three million years – an extremely challenging language to learn. Kalida wrote many inspiring poems, one of which is listed below. The challenge, as always, is to honor the present, the moment called now – and Kalidasa, who lived somewhere around 1 BC captures it beautifully in his poem. Some challenges are indeed timeless!
Salutation to the Dawn
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth;
The glory of action;
The splendor of achievement;
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision;
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
– Attributed to Kalidasa
I was recently sharing with a friend that at my age (old enough – let’s put it this way!), the road ahead is shorter than the path left behind. "What do you mean?" he asked. Well, hopefully, I won’t live as long as the years that are behind me. Statistically, it is a small probability. Realistically, I am hoping for zero probability that I will live as many years as my age reflects. So what about it, he asks.
What this means is that each day from this moment onwards is precious – very precious. The illusion of immortality that comes with youth is now replaced with an acute awareness of mortality, a genuine acceptance of my mortality, but even more important, a certain joyousness one feels with knowing, accepting, and living one’s life as mortal human beings. The fact is death may knock on my door today, tomorrow, or years down the road. Some may consider this morbid. I look at it as an opportunity and reminder to live my life the way I want to live; to be joyous; to be generous; and to have a deep connection with one’s spiritual side; and to know life’s important truth: This, too, shall pass.