Life's Amazing Secrets ~ Gaur Gopal Das
Perfect book on how to find balance and purpose in your life.
Feeling peaceful, happy and content is not about avoiding challenges in our life, but how we navigate through these challenges to reach the type of life we want to live.
Aldous Huxley said: Experience is not what happens to a man, it is what a man does with what happens to him. Its how we respond that makes all the difference.
We are the authors of our own life stories. The secret of life is finding balance. Just as car balances on 4 wheels, we must balance on 4 crucial areas of our life: Our Personal life, Our relationships, our work life, and our social contribution.
Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, we cannot live without spiritual life. Happiness resides not in possessions, happiness dwells in the soul. As you become successful, do not forget the keys to happiness. We tend to take everyone at face value, equating what they have on the outside to how they feel on the inside. The paradox of our times is that those who have the most can often be the least satisfied. We have mastered how to look successful, but not how to organize our lives sot that we feel successful. Listening to understand is more important than listening to reply.
Having a friend to listen to your problems and discuss them with you is the beginning of finding a solution. The answer to all problems related to the human condition seldom excludes a conscious, compassionate ear. The attitude of listening attentively is equally essential to the solutions we may present.
The steering wheel comprises 4 pieces: Our spiritual practice, the association that we keep, our character, our service to God and to others.
First Wheel - Personal Life:
We must find positivity in the bleakest situations and live by the principle of gratitude. The mind is what we use to perceive the world. We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. When we think negatively of people, we should immediately counteract that energy by contemplating 3 positive qualities they have. Gratitude is a state of being that allows us to see the positive. It comes from realizing that there is good in the world, that some of that good is with us and that those good things are coming from an external reality. That state of consciousness imbibes us with positivity. Even in times of difficulty and sorrow, we can feel inner strength, when we are grateful for the support of caring friends and family.
We must learn to press pause and reflect on what we are grateful for. The ways to start practicing gratitude are: to recognize the good that has been done and say Thank You. To remember the good and mean it, and it reciprocate through actions of giving back and live by the same values.
When things are beyond your control and there is nothing you can do, why worry?
Learning to detach ourselves from situations that are outside our control is an imperative skill to learn for personal growth. The founder of WhatsApp did not get jobs at Twitter and Facebook when they applied, which worked out in their favor in the future. Hence, what we see as bad at one point in time can turn out to be the best thing happen to us.
Spiritual practice is the foundation of our happiness. It guides us in times of turmoil and grounds us in times of joy. Through meditation we become the best versions of ourselves. Meditation transforms our character, develops the best of qualities within us and allows us to experience self-realization.
Second Wheel - Relationships:
We should deal with each other sensitively; our attitude towards life affects how we act in our relationships. Being attentive in our relationships is crucial to our success. How we behave towards other determines the quality of our life. Treat someone better than you would like to be treated. When we are overly familiar with people, we forget how important they are to us and the correct way to behave with them. The bee teaches us so much, they are always looking for the nectar that flower possess and avoid lingering where there is dirt. We should be like bee, always seeing the best in people and choosing to avoid their faults.
Whenever I am tempted to reprimand someone, I convince myself to sit down and write a list of all the good qualities they have. This may not necessarily change my decision, but it helps me put things into perspective and control my anger. To focus on the good and deal with the bad is a principle that can save relationships and help us make the right decision.
We can perceive people in following 5 ways:
1. See only bad and magnify it.
2. See good and bad, neglect the good and focus on the bad.
3. See good and bad, and be neutral to both.
4. See good and bad, choose to focus on the good and neglect the bad.
5. See the good and magnify it.
Ideal way would be 4th way, which would help relationships flourish and require consistent hard work and practice.
Saying things in anger damages our relationships. If we need to give corrective feedback, we should invest tonnes of praise and trust into a person before doing so. Corrective feedback is an art. It has 4 principles. Ask yourself?
1. Am I the right person to give corrective feedback?
2. Do I have the right motive to give corrective feedback?
3. Do I know the right way to give corrective feedback?
4. Is it the right time?
Forgiveness warms the heart and cools the sting. It is a choice that each of us has to make for ourselves to save our relationships and achieve peace of mind. Time heals and with the right association and guidance, time brings clarity. Relationships are tested during difficult times. To accept someone when everything is going right is easy. But when things are falling apart around you and you stick together, that’s the test of a relationship. Love is when we have every reason to break up but we do not.
The principles we should know about forgiveness are:
1. Look beyond the situation: If we are hurt by someone’s words, try to understand why they spoke them. When people act harshly towards us, most of the time they are suffering too. This is empathy.
2. Separate the episode from the person: Rather than being affected by the emotion of guilt by saying, “I am wrong”, or anger by saying “You are wrong”, we should separate I or the You and deal with the wrong.
3. Higher purpose. Forgiveness for the betterment of family and society.
4. Justice: On a personal level, we can forgive the person who may have wronged us, but on societal level, there should be strict justice to create an orderly society. No one should be able to break the law and get away with it in the name of forgiveness.
Watch your thoughts, they turn into words. Watch your words, they turn into actions. Watch your actions, they turn into habits. Watch your habits, they turn into character. Watch your character, it turns into destiny. It all begins with a thought. Our association is powerful; it can uplift us or bring us down. Our lifestyle is affected more by another person’s value system than their habits.
Third Wheel - Work Life:
At work we tend to compare and compete with others, instead of comparing and competing with ourselves. People with a closed mindset want to grow by beating others in their field. Open minded people grow by developing themselves. They know, they are their own competition. We should imbibe this thought pattern of self-competition, rather than feeling insecure about others going ahead. We should be striving to do our very best to realize our dreams about our future selves. Not only will this attitude keep our mind free from envy and insecurity, but it will also help us reach our fullest potential, bringing immense success and a deep sense of satisfaction.
To find your purpose in life, you must go on a journey of self-discovery. We should understand ourselves to know what is meaningful to us and what we want to devote our time to. This can be done by understanding our purpose, which takes dedication and patience. Reaching our purpose in life is a journey, not an event. If we are older and have not yet figured out our purpose, we can follow principle: Love what we have to do and do what we love to do.
Spirituality makes us want to be hugely successful so that we can have the resources to help others. The story of Lord Krishna and Arjun in the Gita explains more: Fight and Achieve to help others but be internally content in your personal life. Spirituality helps develop good character. It is character that shines bright when words fail to do so. Live your life in such a way that those who know you but don’t know God, will come to know God because they know you.
We feel inspired by those who live with the right conduct, character and integrity. The principles of developing character:
1. Vichaar: The life philosophy we follow. We must learn from it.
2. Aachaar: The action based on that philosophy. We must do it.
3. Prachaar: The good conduct that is displayed to the world through those actions. We must practise it.
Fourth Wheel - Social Contribution:
The philosophy of Ice cream is: Enjoy it before it melts.
The philosophy of a Candle is: Give light to others before it melts.
In order to be happy, we should shift our attitude from being an ice cream to a candle, from being selfish to selfless. This is shown through service. We must be wary of compassion fatigue. His means we must have all our wheels balanced as we try to help others. This is the principle of being selfishly selfless. Selflessness starts with our family, but it should not just end there. To expand our circle if selflessness, we should help those outside of our immediate care and affection too. When we expand the circle of selflessness, we can effectively serve our community and nation. This is shown by the heroic efforts of the soldiers who keep us safe and the civil servants who help run our nations.
We have to do the right action, with the right intention and in the right mood for it to be classed as spiritual. Adding spiritual element to our seva can make it more fulfilling.