The Why & How Of Life…

“At the center of your being

Self discovery

Self discovery

you have the answer;

you know who you are

and you know what you want.”
― Lao Tzu

My question when I read this quote was, “Do I? Do I really know who I am?” Then I realised that it is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question ‘who am I’ except the voice inside herself.

Life's path

Life’s path

This journey of self discovery is one of the most interesting and profound journey one can ever take. I took my first step…and I continue on that journey every day of my life.

It’s a wild ride. But, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: our perspectives about our selves and this life shift tremendously and open the doors for some miraculous opportunities, love, and peace.
I’ve learned some of these lessons the hard way, but once I learned them, life became a lot clearer and the road to wherever I’m going is becoming more and more effortless and enjoyable. There are still times that arise which aren’t so picturesque, however, right now, I’m just better equipped to ride that rocky wave and can remind myself to settle into what I know.

Finding bliss

Finding bliss

The key here being aware of “what I know”. This awareness comes in layers, doses and never at once.  It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives. I can assure all of you out there, that initially, the pain was because I was so conditioned to discovering my weaknesses, warts and wasted life. The more I focused on those aspects, the more suffering I inflicted on myself…without even realizing it.
Till such a time, when I was told by my dear friend,  Suzy, who helped me create an emotional platform for myself, wherein the first step was to start loving me for myself. What a relief it was to finally peel the first layer and I took the first step of accepting myself, warts and all, and love myself as I am. In that process, I kind of died inside in order to rise from my own ashes and believe in myself and love myself to become a new person.
Identify My Calling

Identify My Calling

Suzy, my “Wise Woman” told me, “Prepare yourself to take a journey. One that will help you remember who you are beneath all the clutter of everyday life.””The clutter of every day life?” though I had heard the term before, it  somehow made sense to me , once I took a moment and thought about how my life had being going recently. Then the gloom set in! The gloom because as I examined my life, it seemed more like a merry go round without any stops, where I could get off and just catch my breath. There were so many things I had filled into my life…and that day I was forced to think of the purpose of doing so many things at one time. Was I happy?”That is what you get when you think gloomy thoughts,” Suzy’s voice penetrated the gloom like the flare of a torch gleaming through a fog.  Passion

“When you think gloomy thoughts, you are calling for gloomy weather that will further dampen your thoughts and change the environment around you. Make it a habit, and it will eventually change who you are.”

“How can my thoughts change who I am?” I asked. That sounded impossible.

Love life“It is simple really. Your thoughts determine what you believe is possible for you and train your expectations so that you see what you are trained or expecting to see. Think about red cars and that is all you notice on the drive to work. Focus on how much you hate your job, or how boring school is … and that is what your brain will present to you .. the evidence to back up your beliefs. And if you do that long enough, you change your world view and limit what is possible for you to achieve.”

“Okay,” I said, not quite sure that I could argue with that, but not sure I totally believed it either.

“The point is not to swallow what I say. Question it, test it out in your own life, bounce it off of your life experience and see if what I say rings true for your life.” That did surprise me as I realised that while we grow up, we are conditioned to accepting & absorbing a lot of  ideas and superficial reasoning mixed in. When we are young, we are taught to listen and not talk back. And so we develop the habit of thinking that everyone knows more than we do — which is true when we are very young and lack life experience.  No regrets

Ideally, after this, I was to have progressed from child to adult, from caterpillar to butterfly…go through my own chrysalis. Did that happen? I thought I did…:). Here are some of the things that I should have done while my metamorphosis was taking place:

1. Instead of just listening & following, I should have led and questioned.

2. I had to think for myself and make my own decisions.

3. I had to break my shell and the limitations set by others on my life.

4. I had to start discovering myself and what I was to do with my life.  Define your life

Often this is a vision quest — and what you discover about who you are resets the expectations of those around you regarding what life tasks and life path you are meant to follow. Clearly, not all of the above happened effectively in my life. Yes, I could make decisions, which allowed me to break my shell every once in a while. However, I could not battle the collective limitations that were set on me by others around me. It was frustrating to say, the least.

Dreams come trueSo, after understanding all this, I had to think about the following for myself:

Did I really want to discover who I was?

Was it too late for me?

Would knowing who I was to become, change me?       Dreams

Did I want that change?

Was I willing to risk what I had for something better?

Would these answers leave me worse off?

Would I be able to live the life of my dreams?

My vision quest led me to ten basic building blocks that support my life today. I am happy to share that with everyone around me. These I have shown as pictographic representations across my writing.

Finally, the bottom line is, even if you see ’em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are. The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.

As for me…life begins anew everyday !!!

Understanding My Calling….

The past couple of weeks I have met a lot of youngsters…in the 17 to 22 year age bracket. It was as part of youth entrepreneurship workshop that I met them. Some were clear about what they wanted to do in life, a sort of road map, but came to the workshop to see if the network of people could help them further.

While talking to this enthusiastic lot, a thought that struck me over & over again was, I hope the dreams & clarity these youngsters have continues in their lives and they don’t let go. On the other hand, there were a lot many of them, who were seeking…seeking answers because they did not know what to do.

That leads me to write today about how do I understand my calling in life. How do I look for that elusive something…these are somethings that have personally helped me.

1. Deal with the present

A lot of us keep thinking only about the future…”what should I do when I am doing my graduation, post graduation or what kind of a job should I get or which company do I work for or what sort of business do I start?” While it is good to have a big picture first, think about what you will do today, to get to the big picture. Remember, people become fat one bite at a time, and we become adults one hour at a time, so what we do today matters.

2. Look, browse & shop around

Unless you try on the outfit, you’ll never know if it fits. Do the same with vocations, avocations, hobbies and skills. You’ll need to sample every flavor to know your true favorite taste. However, you need to be smart about this also…keep in mind your pocket and budget.

3. Go for odd opportunities

Look around people who have achieved what they want to achieve…whether it is a recognized person or an unsung hero…they have all done something different. Why be one among the herd when you can lead the pack… 🙂

4. Burn your plans

Life doesn’t go according to the blue print we create. Nobody’s life has ever…so why should yours? So don’t worry if you get off track. The track was imaginary anyway. It’s perfectly alright to get on to another track.

5. Do not follow someone else’s dreams

Everyone will have expectations of us. What is my expectation of myself…is a question I need to answer constantly. You can’t please everyone, but if you do what YOU think you should, at least you’ll be able to sleep at night.

6. Blend your talent

All of us have a variety of talents, only if we allow ourselves to discover them. Mostly, we end up working on only one skill…and become a super specialist. Nothing wrong there…the only thing I can say is a person who has developed a variety of skills is far more interesting than the other! 🙂

7. Seek out people you actually like

It’s fun to work with people you like. Creating something different with a bunch of like minded people can be amazingly productive and satisfying…not to mention the fun part! I work my business with friends & family and we have a great time not only earning…also the relationships!

8. It’s ok to change your mind

Most of us decide on a career when we are in the age group of 18 to 20. We learn a lot things as time goes by…about the world & about ourselves. So, if you discover something different and want to work on it…please do so. It can bring more satisfaction & happiness. I changed tracks after 18 years of human resource related work. Today I have something more important in my life…time to spend with my family & friends because of this change. And am definitely not complaining about the money 🙂 🙂

9. Read, read, read…

Roam a library or a book shop frequently. Books have always been my best friends. You never know which book, author, or topic will speak to you from the shelves. You might just find what you didn’t even know you were looking for.

10. Spend time before you spend money

Invest in reading and talking and finding out before you put down a ton of money on a degree or a certification or a relocation. You might find that you don’t have to write a check to compose your future.

11. Your purpose & your job may be different

If you are working to support your family, they are your real bosses. If you are working to further a goal or idea, don’t let your paycheck (however plump it is) become an obstacle to it. Prioritize what you want in life, but, do not lose focus of the end objective.

12. Be genuinely uncool

Stick with what you love, even if others sneer at it. This is also referred to as integrity. We all tend to do things because our peers consider it cool…is that really what I want? What I want maybe be considered uncool, but if I am genuinely uncool, people will respect over a period of time.

The dozen pointers are things I have done myself in my life…so it’s easy to write about these. However, a couple of other lessons I have learnt in life…very few people are the very best in the world at anything. What helps me is when I do my best and push myself a wee bit more. Unhealthy competition with others leads to anxiety, collaboration leads to assets.

Today, everything I do in life is based on one question…”What I’m doing now, will it contribute to my epitaph or only my resume?”