By Upendra Mishra
WALTHAM, MA—I don’t know who wrote this: “Your journey is unfolding exactly as it should be.” But this quote on a canvass hangs in my office.
Whenever I look at it, it makes me excited about life, things I do or whatever state of mind I am at that given time: no matter how gloomy, how bad, how frightening, how scary, how terrifying, how frightful and how pleasant things are. It works like an electric switch and makes me appreciate how lucky I am to be just alive.
It also takes away all the bitterness, disappointments, complaints, frustrations, hurts, tragedies, struggles (of course, we have accumulated many of them) and puts me on a smooth and beautiful path and a scenic journey that I want to travel. It creates excitement, makes me appreciate everything around me, the things I had in my past, and helps me center my heart and mind on the present. Who cares what will happen tomorrow or even the next hour?
This has also helped me get rid of the so-called gods and goddesses, luck and misfortune syndromes, babas or gurus, institutionalized religion or empty readings of scriptures. When I was growing up in my remote village, almost every corner of my village had a space that was dedicated to worships, gods, religion and some sort of religious ceremonies and activities. The so-called babas will occasionally visit the village and make predictions about people’s future—even when and how should one leave the village if they were planning a journey or a special trip to relative’s home, city or work.
Once we accept our journey or destiny as it is and take full responsibility for it, we eliminate all the obstacles and negative forces, fears and doubts from our life. But this lasting realization comes only when we pay attention to our own inner thoughts, inner feelings and actions and stop judging others, and most importantly stop judging ourselves: sometimes we are too harsh on ourselves. That is a terrible thing to do.
If we continue reflecting upon ourselves honestly, I am sure that light bulb will go on one day. Sometimes it can happen right away and sometimes it may take years, but it will happen. Personally, I have enjoyed reading and learning about the self, but finally I am realizing and reaffirming my belief that everything that had happened to us in the past, that is happening to us right now and that will happen to us in the future, we alone—I mean we alone 100 percent—are responsible for that. No one else has to do anything with this.
Warning signs: Here are a few warning signs that most of us ignore in ourselves and among our friends and family: making others happy, seeking validation and appreciation for every little or big thing we do. When we do anything with the goal of making other people happy, we are cheating ourselves. When we seek validation for everything we do (even for selfless acts), we are telling our soul that we have no confidence in our own inner self, in other words we are not doing it because this is what our heart is asking to do); when we seek appreciation for things we do, we ourselves are not appreciating it; when we think about other people’s liking first, we are ignoring own true liking. Just think: what a fake and hollow life we are living?
With the type of thinking above, we will always remain in the vicious cycle or rut cycle of life. We will always be chasing something that does not even exist. We will always be stressed. We will never have time for anything meaningful. We will always be rushing. We will always complain. We will always be negative because we are competing for something that is outside our reach. We cannot love anyone because our love is just an act or a tool of appreciation and validation of our views and life by others. Under such circumstances and this mindset, we will always fight even with our dearest ones when our self-image will not be appreciated or validated by others. What a waste of a beautiful life!
When we discover ourselves, when we become what we are, everything in our life become exciting, peaceful, fun, energizing and an opportunity. We are not pretending anything anymore. We are not projecting anything. We are just living a life effortlessly. We are absolutely content with whatever we have. This is what I call a life being lived and experienced.
Recently, I came across a poem: “Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life” by Max Ehrmann. Here are a few extracted lines from the poem:
“Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
(Mr. Mishra is managing partner of the Waltham, MA-based integrated inbound marketing and PR firm The Mishra Group. He writes about his three passions: marketing, scriptures and gardening.)