Habit and Conditioning

Hi there!

It is great to be able to share with you all yet another exciting blog today. I hope the New Year is treating you well. We are 14 days in, out of 365 days. So now is the time to make the best of it. Since it is a New Year and many of us will be creating new life patterns, I felt I share something in that light. Today our word for discussion is HABIT. As a Kid, I  met an elderly Lady who was friends with my God-Mother. We use to visit her place since she lived alone for the most part of the time. She was quite affluent and I guess business trips kept the husband away a lot.

During one of our visits, I remember she was discussing with my God-Mother and they were somehow talking about habits. The lady then said “Lola (My God-Mothers name), you know habits are very difficult to change. They say even when you try to give up a HABIT, you are still left with “ABIT”. Then you try some more and you are still left with “BIT”, and even when you push further, “IT” is still there. They both laughed at the Pun and carried on with their conversation. I was maybe 7/8 years old at the time, but this analogy struck me and I have had this story in my head ever since. I am in my 30’s now and with every passing day and my various interactions with people, the world over I see what she meant. Honestly, Habits are quite difficult to develop or give up. Cultivating a good habit is just as difficult as giving up a bad one IF there is no discipline.

Habits have a way of conditioning us and when we try to break away from them what we are actually doing is giving up the conditioning. I have quite a lot of examples I can use to illustrate this however I’ll pick one that is both physical and psychological. In my early days of Martial Arts training as a kid, I used to have difficulty doing push-ups with my knuckles. It was hard and very painful. Each time we had to do push-ups, I’ll be like “Oh no, not again”. Over time, and as I grew up doing so many push-ups during my training sessions, we can say I got used to it and it didn’t hurt anymore. Well, let’s look closely at what really happened. First and foremost, my reps increased from barely 10 to 50 straight and sets of as many as I wanted. This was from endurance over time and over the years. My knuckles didn’t hurt anymore and in fact, they were now used in other tougher drills like breaking bricks and boards.

A closer look at my knuckles showed I had developed callouses that were now like a cushion (a tough one I’ll say). These callouses on my knuckles had developed from the constant contact with the concrete floors I used to do my push-ups. It is safe to say, my knuckles had been “conditioned”. So the habit of doing push-ups daily had done two things; increase my endurance and created callouses on my knuckles that were sort of immune to the sharp pain of contact with the floor. This is how habits work. When we have a habit, especially bad ones we develop endurance to good ones and we become conditioned ( that is immune to the sense of what is right). we can say habits create callouses on us that make it difficult to discern what is right and wrong. One of the most difficult habits to give up are those we have picked up of time; say from when we were kids. Another set of habits that are difficult to break away from are those we picked up when we had no supervision in our lives; our young adult years.

Unfortunately, I have come across people with habits that just make you wonder if they had any form of adult supervision growing up. You cringe at the intensity of their habits and simultaneously feel sad at the level of their indulgence in it. One of the most difficult parts of giving up bad habits is recognizing that the habit is bad and should be changed. If one doesn’t see that the gravity of the habit and how it is affecting them and those around then change is but a dream. It doesn’t matter what the habit is or when it was picked up, eventually, you will suffer from the conditioning and those who are around you will either suffer or distant themselves to avoid suffering. Whether it is alcohol consumption, smoking, infidelity, pornography, drugs, hygiene, etc the person involved is first conditioned over time on indulgence, then they suffer, then those around them do.

Okay now we get it, habits that are bad are difficult to break away. So does that mean that anyone with a bad habit is doomed? Absolutely not, as long as they are willing to make a change. To make a change, you must first identify what needs to be changed. If you do not see anything wrong with your habit then how can you make a change. You have to realize that even though family and friends may express that you should make a change, you are doing it for yourself ultimately. You get to enjoy any positive changes you make more than anyone else around you. So do it for yourself! As with anything that requires results, you have to be consistent with whatever change program you have adopted and you have to be disciplined to follow it through. One may see the need to change a habit and even go ahead to adopt a change program however if there is no discipline to stick to it and follow it through the results cannot be guaranteed.

It is a New Year and I know many of us do have aspirations and goals, in other to reach them we have to pick up some new habits while dropping off old and bad ones. Lets us make a conscious decision to change for the better and for ourselves. I hope you all have a great week ahead. Till next week, read, share and follow for more.

Advertisements

Focus on what Matters

Dear readers,

Compliments of the season! I hope you all had an amazing New Year celebration. I hope that this new year brings in all things positive and beautiful in your lives. Since it is the New Year I felt I share something in the light of staying focused on our real objectives.

One important factor about paying attention to matters that are important is that it helps us to weed out things that are a distraction. If there is one thing that slows us down it is being fixated on things that do not contribute to our objectives. To focus on things that really matter is to technically put on “blinkers” that shade out the distractions. One of the many ways to try to focus on what matters is to have a clear objective on what we are really trying to achieve. To have a clear vision of what we are trying to achieve we need to set them in key goals that are specific and date oriented. This concept is so versatile that it is not limited by scope or field.

As a spiritual practitioner, we have to be clear on the goals we need to achieve and then be clear about how we want to achieve them. To be engaged in an activity without a clear goal in mind is to be engaged without a clear destination. To be engaged in an activity without a specific result is to expect no specific results. Thus to focus on what matters is to streamline things that don’t. So in a more practical way, I’ll shed some light with a few examples. Let’s say our objective as a spiritual practice is to find and sustain inner peace throughout our journey, then we have to stick to practices that enable it.

Now inner peace isn’t something we can put a deadline on, however, we can put a deadline on things that reflect turmoil, disturbance or unrest in our lives. So we can say for example, by so and so time, I want to argue less with people about things that don’t have any direct relationship to me. Arguing works me up and when I am worked up, my inner peace is disturbed. This a clear objective and we have put a target on it. Now we go on to engage in an activity like say meditation to assist us in being more centered, as we consciously try to disassociate ourselves from such arguments. The other important factor is we have to check up on ourselves from time to time to see how we are holding up. How many times did we slip into an argument because we didn’t have the resolve to walk away? Or how many times did we start and then catch ourselves midway?

We can look at another example; say we want to take up a more sustainable diet that is cruelty-free. So we establish compassion and love as the objective and the key result is to make sure that our diet reflects that. Then we set conscious dates with landmarks we want to achieve on this journey. We can start by removing red meat from our diet while sticking to poultry and fish. Then watch our progress and then set another time frame to take out poultry and repeat till we are done with any form of flesh in our diet. So whether the goal is material or spiritual, focusing on what matters is an art that saves us time, energy and lots of resources if we have clear objectives set.

In our everyday lives, the results that we can achieve by paying attention to what really matters has become a million dollar industry. Today the principle behind paying attention to what really matters has been developed into books and seminars and is being used by even Fortune 500 companies. One interesting part of this process is the feedback system. As compared with other methods of achieving our objectives, this method enables us to have a feedback system that is less judgemental and more solution oriented. Part of this is because we eliminate a good deal of the distractions when we tie our goals directly to our objectives. This helps us see things as they really are; either helping to achieve the objective or NOT helping to achieve it.

When we take a minute to really look at things, we can see that most of the things we think are important really don’t matter that much. However, because we have given them that power over our lives. I hope this dissertation helps someone in reorganizing what really matters. Till next week; read, share and follow for more.

New Year and all that comes with it.

Dear readers,

I must say it has been a pleasure sharing with you all this year the many thoughts and topics in my blogs. It has also been an honor to be able to have your support and feedback throughout the year, I really do appreciate this. Considering that this is my last blog for this year, I’ll try to keep it short and straight to the point. I want to wish you all a Happy New Year in advance and all that you wish yourselves. May the New Year bring you all blessings in all areas of your lives.

Every New Year, we have many people try to get resolutions and decide that they are going to do certain things, give up certain things, and probably a long list of things they would like to achieve by the New Year. I have written a few blogs on New Year resolutions before and I don’t want to harp too much on the concept of resolutions this year. Each year I try to see it from a different perspective. This year I’ll try to look at the whole concept of resolutions from a perspective of what really separates those who achieve and those who don’t. Let me start by saying I have a few things I’ll like to also achieve in the New Year and the probability of me achieving them depends on how I place myself in ways to do so.

The first things about goals or resolution are that they have to be clear and precise. The clearer they are, the easier they are to work towards. This is a fact that I guess some of us are already aware of. It is easier for example to achieve losing 20 Lbs by a certain time rather than just “losing weight”. The difference between those who achieve what they set out to and those who don’t is a myriad of reasons. It is obvious we can not list them all here however we can at least look at a couple. One major difference is lack of hunger. Yea, I know this doesn’t sound like what you might have been expecting to hear. The hunger I speak of here is not the one that is associated with food, but with a dire need to get something.

When our resolve to get what we want is higher than any other thing then we can safely say our “hunger” for it is intense. When our resolve is not resolute and clear, then we lack the desired hunger. This factor as simple as it may sound is what distinguishes many high performing athletes and successful people from their counterparts. The intensity of our hunger determines how much of adversity we can take and overcome. It is this hunger that gets us up to go to the gym even when it is freezing cold outside, it is this hunger that helps us delay gratification because we know that investing for our future is more important than living a life of luxury now. I once heard a motivational speaker say and I paraphrase; that until our desire to succeed (in whatever endeavor) is as great as our NEED to breathe then we may truly succeed.

One thing that is certain is that distractions are sure to come up as we try to achieve our goals for the New Year. If we have a goal and there are no distractions then we need to ask ourselves if the goal is a realistic one. Nothing good comes easy and if it does it is probably too good to be true. If it were easy, then everyone will be an A-list actor or a top performing athlete. When every other motivating factor fails, there is one that we need to keep; the hunger. Every day when we wake up we need to eat to keep our physical bodies going and without food, our bodies will become weak and eventually shut down. The same applies to our dreams and goals for the New Year and beyond. We need to feed our resolutions daily by doing what we need to achieve it. We need to see our resolutions as a pang of hunger and that the only way to satiate it, is to feed it. Feeding it means achieving the goals set.

I hope this expose help someone who might need some direction this New Year. I wish you all a prosperous New Year and hope you can achieve all that you set out to.

Live fast and die young

Dear readers,

Compliments of the season! I hope you all are having a great time with family, friends and loved ones. Christmas is tomorrow so I guess it is okay to wish you all a Merry Christmas in advance. I just want to say that I pray this season brings you all the good tidings and may we all deepen our faith in our respective practices. This season no doubt comes with a lot of fun and merriment, however, please do remember to exercise moderation as you celebrate. Many lives have been lost due to people indulging in alcoholic beverages and getting behind the wheels.

That been said I guess this sort of ushers in my topic for this week. In my life I have been seen by many of my peers as somewhat “too serious”, “too structural”, “too disciplined” etc. In fact, recently someone told me “live a little, you act like an old Man”. Lol. This was the reaction I got when I made a statement about something that was indecent. I have learnt over the years not to take comments and remarks from my peers too seriously, why? Not to sound cocky, however I must say I most definitely do not operate on the level of most people my age. For most guys in my age bracket, fancy cars, girls, parties and then maybe work will be the thing to do. I have nothing against those who operate on this level, in fact I feel to each his own.

We live in times where every young person, or rather let me say most young people want to be insanely rich, famous and live a flamboyant lifestyle. This has so deeply eaten into the bones of the present generation that, most of them believe if you can’t get it then “fake it till you make it”. I’ll be honest there are two sides to this principle. Fake it till you make it can be a mindset thing; where you daily feed your mind with things that place you in a space you want to be in even though you may not physically be there. For example, I saw an interview with Actor Will Smith where he said in his head he was already an A-list actor way before he even got his breakthrough in Hollywood. Mohammad Ali, called himself the greatest way before he became a Champion. This is one way to use the principle of fake it till you make it.

The other way is to want to live the lifestyle of a successful Actor while having the salary of a 9-5 worker. (With all due respect to those who work regular jobs). This is just an analogy in terms of the paycheck. The result is that most of our youth today want to drive fancy cars that they can’t afford, live in fancy apartments that they use all their paychecks to pay for, buy clothes and accessories that are overpriced and out of their league. It is a no-brainer that what follows is huge debts, anxiety, frustration and emptiness on the inside. Let me clarify one thing before I go on with this, I do appreciate the fine things of life, I do feel people should have the best and live a decent life without having to break their heads about basic amenities. I also do believe that this should be done within one’s means.

If you can’t afford it now, it is okay to pass and then save up for it. Unfortunately and “fortunately” we live in an era of credit and so even when people do not have the means to purchase something, they can still get it on credit and then get some more and the debts just keep skyrocketing. I was brought up differently and the principle was simple; if you can’t pay cash for it, you can’t afford it and if you must get it on credit then it has to be something that appreciates over time, thus your payment on it brings a larger return on investment at the end of the day. I’ll share a brief example, many young people today drive cars that cost 20-30k, most of them are financed and they have to pay a good chunk of money every month. Cars are machines and as such, they start to depreciate the very moment you drive it out of the sales lot.

So over the years one is paying money into something that is depreciating, but has taken a fixed amount of your money. Your payments don’t decrease as the car gets older, in fact it will increase if you are late on payments. Does this mean one shouldn’t drive a nice car? Absolutely Not! One should drive a car that one can afford. I watched an interview with Warren Buffet, a Billionaire and successful billionaire and I was just amazed at the kind of car he drives despite having all that money. It goes a long way to show that those who are really successful don’t feel the need to “show off” in fancy stuff. Where am I going to with all of this? When we decide to live fast, we die young, both literally and figuratively.

Gone are the days when it was “okay” to live our 20’s recklessly and then try to make up for it. People like Mark Zuckerberg proved that our 20’s could be very productive if we chose to. It is okay to make mistakes that come from being immature, we just don’t want to make mistakes that ruin our lives totally, all in the name of being young. So to my friends who feel I am too disciplined, too structured, too prudent, etc. I say I hear you all. This works for me and may not work for you. Do what works for you, but if I have to chose I’ll rather be disciplined and have my life in balance to a large degree than live my life in chaos and disaster, all because I want to live fast and be spontaneous.

I hope this little dissertation helps someone out there to take a look inside and make some adjustments if need be. I am no preacher and definitely do have my flaws like every other human being. However, I daily try to improve and better myself. So to bettering ourselves, I say cheers and have a great holiday. Read, share and follow for more.

Victim Mentality

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another exciting blog today. Compliments of the season! Today I just want to discuss something more of a realization, one I guess you all must be familiar with. This is the concept of responsibility and victim mentality. We must have been in conversations where either we or someone was expressing how they were a victim of certain circumstances or actions of someone else when really the opposite was the case.

It is somewhat ironical that we are quick to tell others to “Man-up” and take responsibility for their actions but refuse to apply the same energy when it pertains to us. Having the privilege to travel the world is a great opportunity that allows one to learn a lot from other people and culture, it is one that also exposes us to different ways of thinking of people in general. In my travels around the world, I have met with a lot of people and I have been amazed at how they all handle different situations. In as much as some of you may beg to differ, I can say in some way shape or form our environment, and upbringing has a lot to do with how we respond to certain issues in our life. 

Those who are raised in an environment where people are taught to take responsibility for their action, often deal better with situations in their own lives and do not try to pass the buck unnecessarily. On the other hand, those who are raised in an environment where everyone plays the victim and scream at others, at how they have been treated unfairly, almost never grow out of that mentality. They act rashly and without reason, and when checked, they are quick to play the victim and complain about how tough their life has been. Truth be told, yes there are situations where people have been disenfranchised in some way, form or manner. However, some people cling on to this narrative as if their existence depended on it. So basically what is the thought process of someone who takes responsibility for their actions as opposed to someone who plays the victim?

  • The victim always has a story while the responsible fellow always has a lesson. When something happens, those who accept responsibility for their actions take a leaf and learn a lesson while moving on smarter. Those who play the victim use it as an excuse to further indulge in their victim mentality.  
  • The victim repeats the same activities that make them “victims” while those who take responsibility step away from any activity that takes away their power of discernment. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.
  • The victim thinks everyone owes them a favor, while those who accept responsibility for their actions don’t wait on favors. The common pitfall of most people who play the victim mentality is that they feel they are entitled to favors because of situations they have been in and will almost always try to prove a point with this. On the other hand, those who take responsibility do not wait for favors, rather they try to make amends to their situations and if a favor comes; fine. if not they are not disturbed.
  • The victim has habits of one who doesn’t strive for growth, while those who accept responsibility for their actions have habits that improve growth. When we take a closer look at how victims live their lives we can see that their daily habits are neither productive nor inspiring even for them. 
  • The victim hardly every shows gratitude except when they are asked to, while those who take responsibility are always beaming with gratitude. The reason is simply that the victim thinks he is “owed” something, no matter what you do for them, they never seem to appreciate. Those who take responsibility for their actions know that gratitude is a strong fort to have in life.
  • The victim thinks that a change in circumstances will take away their “suffering”, while those who take responsibility know that a change in mindset will save you suffering. There is a saying that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. This is a statement that shows to an extent the approach of these two people.  
  • The victim is a spendthrift, while those who take responsibility are better savers. Those who are always in the victim mentality will always find a reason to be lavish with money and feel it is an entitlement they need to have. Those who accept responsibility know that money is a resource that if misused, depletes quickly.
  • The victim feels that happiness comes from how much “stuff” they have, while those who take responsibility for their actions know that happiness comes from within. 
  • The victim makes excuses for their inefficiency while those who take responsibility make amends.
  • The victim feels being regulated is a disturbance while those who take responsibility know that to be successful one has to be regulated in one’s activities.
  • Last but not least, the victim has a “business relationship” with everyone and that also reflects in their relationship with God, while those who take responsibility for their actions have a loving relationship with people and extend that to their relationship with God.  

Since the mindset of a victim is one that is constantly trying to see what they can get out of a situation, they hardly ever turn to God just as an act of fellowship. They remember God when they are in distress and usually they tend to accuse God of being indifferent to their “suffering”. The irony is that even when God makes arrangement for them to grow by putting them in a better situation, they still won’t take advantage of it because they are too busy making excuses.  This concept of playing the victim is not just peculiar to material matters but as we can see, it slowly rubs off on our spirituality and how we handle ourselves as spiritual practitioners.

In a nutshell, if we must grow as viable members of the society and strong spiritual individuals then we must strive to better ourselves by taking responsibility for our actions no matter how small they may seem. I hope this sheds some light on the matter and helps someone out there to make better decisions. Till next week, read, share and follow for more. 

Seasons

Dear readers, 

I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all another exciting blog this week and I hope you all are having a great time this festive season. Today as I sat contemplating what to share with you all, it dawned on me that we were in fall as I saw the entire surrounding covered in yellow leaves. Not that I didn’t know it was fall, but you know it is like one of those feelings where we go through life every day, doing so much and barely notice things that nature does. So in that mood, I decided to write something about the seasons in our journey as spiritual practitioners. 

Winter is known for being cold, dark, wet and sometimes quite depressing. We all want to be indoors, covered up, drinking something hot or warm, and totally covered in warm clothes. We try as much as possible to limit our activities outside unless we really have to. On top of that, we try as much as we can to protect ourselves from falling sick of getting the flu by eating right. This period is similar to the initial phase of a practitioners quest. He is in a “dark place”, searching for the “heat” of knowledge to give him warmth from the cold of material existence. He is desperate for a change, but also somewhat scared and thus remains “inside” and doesn’t share much. He tries to protect himself from the flu of pseudo-spiritualists by covering himself with a defensive approach to spirituality or in extremes, negating the presence of any higher power or Being. These are trying times, but with perseverance, he can get out of it. 

After the cold and darkness, comes Spring. This is a fresh start and new beginning. Dead trees begin to show signs of new shoots, plants begin to blossom again and the cold is much less and there is hope that brighter and warmer days are ahead. In fact, some people start preparing their seeds now in a nursery and even begin to plant some seeds that do well in this season. In all it a period of growth and new beginnings. When we look at this phase in the life of a spiritual practitioner we can see him, taking to a path and wanting to understand it in detail. He begins to take his meditations, prayers, chants, etc seriously. He now understands that dark nights are inevitable in the life of a spiritualist and as such doesn’t dwell too much on his dark past.  He understands that to grow he has to plant the seed of faith and water it daily with practice and discipline. He knows that in order to progress further on the path he has chosen he is definitely going to need some help. He is indecisive for now but is gearing towards making that big step. Last but not least, just like the seedlings in the nursery that are too small to survive outside now, he is also a little to inexperienced to delve fully into the esoteric matters of spirituality, but he is firm in his resolve to grow. 

Summer is one season we all look forward to. The weather is warm and bright, birds are chirping every day, people are in better spirits. There is a lot of fun fare going on and the excitement is very contagious. During this season people travel, visit new places, try out new restaurants, and are basically trying to do more outdoor activities. It is a great time to workout/exercise because thew weather aids sweating and that helps the entire metabolism. Our spiritual practitioner is no different in his experience of this phase too. Now he is more seasoned in his undertaking as a practitioner and has probably even surrendered to a spiritual mentor. He is now under the tutelage of a seasoned spiritual guide who is helping him progress in his spirituality and giving him practical answers to all his questions and clarifying his doubts. 

He is reading more to also broaden his understanding of the matters he is getting into, he spends a lot of time with other enthusiastic practitioners and together they practice fervently. Just as with those looking for new experiences in the summer, he is also looking for new experiences on his chosen path and will do anything to dig deeper. It is during this phase that he goes deeper by taking on more austerities like fasting and praying, more meditations, and deeper spiritual practices. These activities will go on to strengthen him just as the workouts and exercises does for summer enthusiasts. This is a great phase for a practitioner and many people recall the “summer” phase in their spirituality even after they may change paths. The sticky issue with the summer phase is that it is so good and many people don’t want it to end. However, just like every other season it has to come to an end. Many people will jump ship and try to find another “religion, or path” as soon as they get off the “high” of the summer phase. They  may mistake the ushering in of the fall phase, as an indication of lack of authenticity on the path, or even claim to have seen all it has to “offer”. 

It is safe to say we should not fall for this, and be steady in our resolve. That been said, we come to the final phase the Season of Fall.

Fall as a season is somewhat of a border line. The trees begin to shed their leaves, the sun is not as warm as it was in summer. Some days are cold and even rainy. As fall intensifies, the cold kicks in more and many people begin to withdraw to indoor activities, as winter shows its signs of arrival. In the life of our spiritual practitioner, we would notice that as soon as the highs of the summer phase is over, there will be an immediate distinction of those who seriously want to continue on the path and those who are hoppers, or just dabbling. When all the fun fair begins to die down and one starts to settle into a more routine like spiritual activity, many people opt to leave. 

The need for that summer phase high is so deeply embedded in many that it takes a lot of spiritual discipline and maturity to stay put on a path in other to progress to the next phase. Those who stay put on the path will progress to more summer like phases, and those who hop out will begin a winter phase on another path and continue with the circle over and over again. In summary, we have to understand that spirituality is not a path for the fickle minded and for one to make real progress, one has to commit to it. 

I hope this sheds some light on this matter and helps us identify what phase we are in and see how best to align ourselves more in our practices. Till next week, read, share and follow for more. 

Sitting on the fence

Dear readers, 

It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another interesting blog today. I hope you all had a great week. I must admit that today for the first time in a long time, I actually hit the writer’s block and didn’t know for sure what to share. However, while contemplating on a topic that was esoteric enough to share but with a touch of relatability to everyday life, I got something. 
Last night my partner and I were seeing a movie ( relatively recent I presume) about how the Scots fought England to get their Kingdom back. In the movie, we see a guy, in line to be King but opposed by someone else in a family line that had equal claim. His plan was simple; get back the Kingdom from the English and make his people happy. Realizing his plan, on the other hand, wasn’t that simple. In the twist and turns that would occur, he kills the contender to the throne, his wife and daughter are kidnapped, his brother is killed in a very barbaric manner, he loses his castle etc. 

Eager to make things right, he sets out with a few men who pledge their allegiance to him( the throne of Scotland, since he became King), and they begin to battle with the forces from England. Not to get too much into the movie, at some point when he was in desperate need of Men, he meets a fellow Scot, who had some men at his command. This Man, however, doesn’t give him any support neither does he attack or condemn the English, rather he kinda keeps indifferent. Now, I haven’t seen the movie prior, but as soon as I saw this move, I told my partner ” this kind of people are those you should watch out for”. She didn’t really pay much attention to my remark and so we continued watching.  Barely 5 minutes later, we see the Man who was indifferent to the Scot-king, ambush his men and killed them. 

My Partner was shocked and said ” I never expected that to happen”, I replied saying I saw it coming. Then we paused the movie for a while and I reflected on the incidence from Mahabharata, when Draupadi was been disrobed. In that assembly, there was Grand father Bhisma, teachers and preceptors like Drona and Krpa and none of them said anything. They neither criticized the action of the Kauravas, who were trying to strip a married woman naked nor did they show any support to the Pandavas in their time of need. Needless to say, they were “indifferent”. My Dad would sometimes say a quote, which I think is originally from Canakya Pandit ( I stand corrected if wrong). he would say “ Do not be afraid of your friends because the worst thing they can do is betray you. Do not be afraid of your enemies because the worst they can do is kill you, however, be cautious of those who are indifferent, by their silence the world suffers

I know many of you must have been in situations where you needed some type of support and those you thought you could count on just gave you the “indifferent” mood. Either they were been political and trying to save themselves too, or at that moment they just actually showed their true nature. In life, we always have to take a stance, for when we do so, people know where they stand in our lives. I must chime in right here to say that I do understand that “diplomacy” has to be employed in certain situations and that sometimes, discretion has to be used to achieve it. What I am trying to bring to light here is situations where a line is drawn and you are been hurt and those who are supposed to be on your side, refuse to take a stance with you. There are times when we can sit on the fence, and there are times when we need to take a stance. If a mutual agreement is reached to be diplomatic, then it is a different scenario, on the contrary, it is a cold move that actually helps us wake up to the reality of the nature of people. 

So as spiritual practitioners how do we deal with this if we find ourselves in such a situation? First and foremost, even though we may be surprised (especially for those who have never been in such a situation), I must say, try not to be. Next we may feel shock, betrayal and proceed to even want revenge. I say the better path is to move away and create new boundaries with such people and work on ourselves. Move on to greater exploits, win at whatever we decide to do and let your activities and progress be the revenge that you may so badly seek. On the brighter side, see it as a blessing in disguise. The Lord is helping you rid off people who are not true to you before it gets too late. 

We have to work and pray because we are on a battlefield and these situations are a constant reminder that we must not get comfortable. In a war situation, comfort is not the key word but survival. I hope this helps someone out there. Till next week, read, share and follow for more.

What is there to be grateful for?

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It’s been quite a weekend for me as I spent it with family and friends. I had a long trip and drive and as usual, during times like this, I seize the opportunity to reflect and ponder on those things that actually carry deeper meanings to what we do. Thanksgiving day is a day family members come together for reunions and festivity. It is also a period where people take the time to be grateful for everything they have, most especially loved ones. Living in times like ours I feel it is easy to lose sight of things that actually matter and get distracted by those things that don’t. 

It is with this in mind that I decided to write something about being grateful, so I decided to run through a list of things that we should all most probably be grateful for. In as much as I cannot compel people to be grateful, I can at least make positive suggestions about those things which we neglect on a daily basis. Without much ado, please here is my “short list”. 1. If you have a body that is complete and not “handicapped” in any form or fashion, you have something wonderful to be grateful for. There are many people out there who will never know the simple yet profound pleasures of life like sight, smell, sound or being able to move about at will without help. We take these things for granted as if we have a “right” to it.

2. If you don’t have to spend your days in a hospital bed and your health is good, you also have something wonderful to be grateful for. In your spare time take a trip to the emergency ward and see how many people are barely surviving and have to live their lives anchored to one machine or another, not to mention the constant pain and discomfort. This lifestyle usually costs them a lot of money, as if the pain were not enough. So the next time you feel like life is being unfair to you because you can’t get an i-phone, remember that there are people who will trade places with you in a heartbeat if all they had as an issue was a mobile device. 

3. If you sleep every night with a roof over your head and wake up under one, please know that you are more than fortunate and have a lot more to be grateful for. Every night there are millions of people the world over in both “advanced and developing nations” who sleep under the weather and have rocks for pillows and the wind as blankets. We may be worried about the color of our houses or how we want bigger ones, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. However, just before you begin to pull your hair about the size of your house just take a minute and be grateful for the fact that you at least have one. 

4. If you have at least two square meal every day without having to beg for it or even worry about how it will come, you are not only fortunate in fact statistics says you are considered well of. If you can afford three square meals every day, then you are most fortunate. World hunger and starvation is a crisis that is constantly ravaging the lives of millions of people globally. People wake up every day with little or no clue as to where their food or meal is going to come from. They repeat their night like that and this goes into weeks and there is no telling how long till the next meal. Not only should we show gratitude for having food on our tables but we should also be conscious not to waste what we have. My Dad will always say ” to waste is to want”.

5. If you have people who refer to you as a family or share a family relationship with you, be certain that you are fortunate. Life is tough enough when we have difficulties or problems etc. However, one factor that makes life livable or bearable is having people around who see us as a family or treat us with such feeling. The loving exchange that is present in a family is what makes it such a strong unit in society. In fact, a society is but a macrocosm of the family unit. I can go on and on about things we should be grateful and trust me they are free, simple and easily available to us yet we ignore them daily. 

As free and simple as they are, they cost many people an entire lifetime to get them. Last but not least is the gift of life which we all have every day. Every morning we wake up as if of our own power and arrangement and go through the motions of the day with little or no gratitude for the amazing feat of sleeping for hours and waking up without issues. If we know how precious the gift of life is, then every other thing becomes relative in comparison. I hope this helps some of us to reflect and delve deeper to see the things that really matter in life. till next week, do read, share and follow for more. 

Failure; the building blocks of success

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another interesting blog this week. Since Thanksgiving Day is in a few days and I won’t be writing on that day, I’ll just wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving day in advance. Please pardon the Turkeys for the sake of our environment and try a Vegan/Vegetarian feast this year. 

Today I’ll like to just freestyle my blog (which I do most often anyway). I have been contemplating the subject of failure and its different connotations. Despite the harsh reality that comes with failure and whatever consequences it carries, people still define it differently across the globe. To some financial crisis is a failure, while to others it is a blessing in disguise. Others see rocky relationships as a failure while some see fragile health as a failure. There are those who see anything short of what they desire also as a failure and as diverse as the perspective comes, so does the intricacies of it too. To be honest, I am yet to meet someone who undertakes an activity for themselves, with the sole intent of failing.  

Even though this may sound somewhat radical; I must say that failure is actually relative and to measure it with a yardstick is almost impossible. I, and certainly many of you must have heard motivational speeches from celebrities who were told back in the school days that they would never amount to anything useful, because they failed a class or subject. Only for them to become way bigger than anyone could have imagined. So while they may have “failed” at school work, some found their passion and direction in other areas like Music, Sports, etc. One of the greatest minds to be celebrated in the world of Science; Albert Einstein, was described as stupid by his teachers and even some of his early works were called fiction rather than Science. 

Just like any other area in life, spirituality also comes with its own kind of failure. Sometimes we slip on our vows or our practices and sometimes we find ourselves struggling with the very basic understanding of the core philosophy. In different eyes, we could be described as a failure especially if we don’t share similar experiences. It is important to note that before we can call or describe anyone as a “failure”, we need to ask ourselves; do we have the same experience with whomever we are trying to criticize? We only gain experience from what we give attention, and our failures come from our experiences. The fear of failing in anything we do can be used as a great motivation to get things right, and it could also be an invisible gun at our heads if we let it control us. No one is a complete failure and even stones that are cast away as unfit, are later used as the cornerstone or pillars of a building. 

We fail when we decide to stop trying, and we succeed when we refuse to let our setbacks define us. A setback is temporary if we learn from it and bounce back, a failure is a setback that we have allowed to grow roots in our lives. As spiritual practitioners, we are definitely going to have setbacks and the way we handle them will determine if they become failures or successes. While spiritual life is best practiced in a community of like-minded people, we mustn’t forget that it is an individual journey too. We cannot use our failures to judge others or use the success of others to judge ourselves. To each his own race.  We have to be steadfast in our practices and be resolute in our focus. 

We will never be without some iota of “failure” in our lives and the way we process it determines the way we progress or not. The beauty of life is that to be successful we would need to build on our failures. Many people learn a lot more from “failures” than they do from “success”. Usually, when a failure occurs we re-evaluate things, think, go back to the drawing board, we try to better ourselves at whatever it is that we do. On the other hand, when we “succeed” we hardly try to critic ourselves to see how to improve, rather we think we are spectacular and hence growth is stagnated because we fail to look for a room for improvement. 

In a nut shell, any spiritual practitioner who is serious about making some progress must learn to embrace the duality of success and failure. Till next week, do read, share and follow for more. 

Where are we going?

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another blog this week. Last week, I happened to be driving on the high way during a heavy downpour, and visibility was greatly reduced. In that moment of trying to maneuver cars, and maintain a good speed despite being unable to see, I had a few thoughts. Usually, this particular highway has cars going over the limit and driving on this route takes a little more caution.

On a regular day, I remember trying to keep it within the 65 mph limit and having other drivers honk at me as if I was violating some rule. However not on this rainy day, as everyone seemed to be a little more cautious and conscious of the fact that hydroplaning was going to occur if their speed passed a certain limit. The interesting thing about this is that at the moment I didn’t really attach any importance to this occurrence besides safety of course.  It was later on that day when I was reflecting on how my day went that I began to extrapolate the day’s events into life in general. Most of us just go through life like there is no accountability required of us and as such live every day with little or no concern. Life itself being a journey that takes so many years, also has its rainy days and I mean that both figuratively and literally.

As kids growing up, we were told to get a good education, get a degree and finally get a good job. As soon as we secured a job, we were told to save and plan for our retirement or rainy days. We start by keeping aside some small amount every month into a savings account and with time graduate into investments that could help us make more for our hay years. The thing with retirement plans and rainy days is that you need to have an exit strategy or at least a tentative one. So say we start saving and the plan is to retire at 55, then the strategy will be to save up as much as possible before that year arrives. The irony of all this is that we plan so elaborately for an exit strategy in life but fail to have one in place for our time of death. Truth be told, no one knows for sure when they will die and as such, we need to have an exit strategy that allows us to live our lives to the fullest and yet understand that we are on borrowed time. Just as we need to have a clear picture of when we want to retire, in order to put certain things in place to make it happen, we also need to know where we are going after this life.

Thus the big question is “Where are we going?” To those who adhere to some sort of faith or religion, the possible answer may range from Heaven to Paradise. For those who do not believe in the existence of a higher supernatural being, the answer may be different. Irrespective of what our answer is, we cannot have a solid exit strategy if we don’t have a destination. So just as when I was on the high way, and visibility was low and I could barely move due to the heavy rain, at that moment the thought crossed my mind; where am I even going right now? I had to look really closely at the signs in order not to miss my exit. The beautiful thing is that despite the harsh weather conditions, despite it been really difficult to drive fast, I was still able to make it to my destination because I knew my “exit”.  How can we expect a specific result from a situation that isn’t specific? How can we hope to find peace in the “world or life beyond”, if we don’t even know where that is? How can we hope to have a smooth transition from this life to whatever lies hereafter when we don’t even know what happens in the life beyond.

In order to fully appreciate the concept of afterlife or the world beyond, I implore you all to kindly read my blog on Reincarnation. Now I know there may be some division on the practicability of the subject of reincarnation, however, at the moment I’ll let you read it up yourself and draw your own conclusions while I focus on having an “exit strategy”. In order to know where we are going, we definitely need to know who we are, where we came from and how to get out of here. If we do not have answers to these questions, then it is almost impossible to have an exit strategy. The sum total of our activities in this life culminate at the time of our exit and our exit strategy will reflect the choices we made in life and how they have shaped us in preparation for an exit. Just as it is not possible to take an exit on a highway that you are not physically on, similarly it is not possible to have an exit strategy that doesn’t reflect our lives. For example, if my exit is Exit 250 on I-75, it would be physically impossible to be on I-85 and still expect to get off at Exit 250. This is because I am on a totally different highway and as such the destinations are different.

In essence what I am saying is that we may have some idea of where we may want to ‘exit” to after this life, but in order for us to get there, we must live a life that helps in actually getting there. The “exit strategy” or Exit point is literally after a long drive, so our exit plan to the world beyond is literally influenced by our daily lives and choices. I hope this gives us an idea as to how to prepare for a meaningful exit.

Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.