At the end of the last year I wrote an article titled: ‘Debatable Philosophies of Life’. I gave you five of them that have become obsolete and don’t make sense anymore.
You may be tempted to ask as to which are the philosophies that would help you. In this article, I have listed some that have helped me.
Philosophy #1 Have a World of Your Own
This follows naturally from the first debatable philosophy: We should be selfless.
It is not possible to be selfless. Hence, make space for yourself where you are by yourself, comfortable, and without having to explain to others the why and how.
Two anecdotes shall make it clearer. One is about our cat Minnie. Out of all the toys that we have for her, she likes an empty cardboard box the first. Every once in a while she goes and sits in her box and imagines that no one can touch her there.
The second one was related to me by an ex army officer during the recent Pathankot terror attack. He told me about the time when he was in a unit in J&K engaged in anti-terrorist operations. One evening, after they returned from an encounter in which two terrorists were killed, he looked down from his room to the river bank where some children were playing in the sand. He watched them for sometime and noticed they were totally oblivious of terrorists or other distasteful things of life. It won’t have mattered to them where they were: in India or Pakistan; their play was much more important to them. It was a world of their own.
Now, I am not suggesting that you become a recluse or isolate yourself from everyone. All I am saying is that you should have a world that you can retreat into when you want.
My world, for example, has music (old Hindi songs) and writing. When I am in this world, for the duration of time that I spend here, the other world ceases to exist even with all its seemingly urgent chores, problems and tribulations.
Try it; it is not escapism. Everyone requires a world of one’s own.
Philosophy #2 Train Yourself Not To Have Regrets
I have proved it in my earlier article about Debatable Philosophies Of Life that the philosophy ‘We shouldn’t live in the past or we should forget the past’ is ludicrous, not pragmatic and is against the progress of civilization through knowledge since all knowledge is essentially past knowledge.
I have also discussed in an article called Absolute Virtue that all virtues in this universe are relative; the only absolute is God. It is the same for evils too. The realisation that neither your virtues and evils nor of any other person or persons on earth are absolute (and can only be better than some and at the same time worse than others) should automatically lead us to the pragmatism of the philosophy that I am suggesting.
Indeed, it is not just a question of more or less; sometimes, it is difficult to make out the difference between good and bad, virtue and evil. As the English say: one man’s meat is another’s poison.
Hence, whilst remembering your past (that you cannot get rid of), you don’t have to have either regrets or false pride; you can be worse off than some and better off than others.
It should also fill you with relatively guiltless existence or life. If you have consciously done what you were convinced was right and good and it actually resulted in a catastrophe for people you know or do not know, you don’t have to constantly or relentlessly curse yourself.
In one of my essays, I have brought out that when Christ on Cross said, “God, forgive them for they know not what they do”, He certainly didn’t mean it spitefully or superciliously. He was conscious that human beings will never have absolute knowledge of the cause and effect of their actions; it would be Godlike if they did.
One can, therefore, keep one’s conscience clear.
In case you haven’t trained yourself, it won’t come to you simply because I suggest. Gradually you will learn to be free of regrets and guilt-feelings. It is a great liberating feeling.
Philosophy #3 Have Least Expectations From People Close To You
You are a good man or woman and you have a world of your own and have not many regrets. However, it gnaws you a lot to know that people are both unreasonable and ungrateful. No matter what you do for them, they do not appear to have any gratefulness at all towards you.
A close friend of mine in the last one year, to his utter shock and horror, found out that the person whose career he had nurtured with his own hands for the last two decades suddenly chose to tell everyone that he had become what he had become due to his own hard-work, professionalism and vision. Now my friend is not the one who is prone to say ‘Et tu Brute’ to all those who ditched him. He is a great leader and a great realist. But, it proved to me that none of us are beyond expectations. The least that we expect is for the recipient of our goodwill to acknowledge and say, “Thank you”.
However, the realisation that being selfish is hardwired into man for his survival over centuries and that to expect a person to see things from your point of view is totally unrealistic should help us to gradually calibrate or moderate our expectations until we bring them to near zero.
Good leaders, for example, do not motivate people by just telling them what they (the leaders and the organisation) would get out of following the leaders’ schemes or plans; but, they do tell them what they (the people) would gain from them.
Your expectations of people become more realistic and viable if you are able to align them with their expectations.
Philosophy #4 Train Yourself To Be Filled With Hope
It is a four-lettered word like Life, Love and Time. Many a times when it sounds most unrealistic (a myth), start believing in it, build stories around it, relentlessly think of it and you will see it works. The fact is that the whole world is a myth too. You are what you believe you are; you see what you believe you see (Please read: ‘The Virtual World’). There is a saying that if you think of a virtue repeatedly; it would soon become yours. Hence, it is possible to be trained to become Hopeful.
Now, you are bound to argue with me that two of the failed philosophies, viz, All men are born equal, and ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’ actually do not leave much room for Hope. People who are meant to get better of you will get better of you, you will argue. Very true; however, Philosophy #2 above: ‘Train Yourself Not To Have Regrets’ should, if followed correctly, should fill you with Hope. We never have complete knowledge of causes and effects concerning us. How can we have this about others? Hope is simply about the wellness of the outcome concerning you. It is not lessened by their doing well too. The more you dream it is all working out well for you, the more it fills you with Hope.
Philosophy #5 Do Not Chase Friends, Love And Happiness
All these three are a natural fallout of social existence of man. How can Happiness be a fallout of social existence, you may ask. Agree; but, chasing Happiness is. Amongst all the virtues that are relative, the one where we do most comparison is Happiness. Many a times people feel happy and content but are saddened by comparison with those that they think have more.
My close friend whom I have mentioned above in the article is fond of telling about officers feeling happy about being given Excellent grading in their annual performance review. However, such happiness is short-lived when they discover that some others whom they regarded as good-for-nothing have also obtained Excellent grading.
Chasing Happiness is like chasing a rainbow; anytime you feel it is close and you can almost touch it, it appears far away. I have come across many people who would have been happy but the chase after Happiness has left them fatigued and sad. I must have Happiness at all costs even if that makes me miserable they seem to say like the Manna De song in the 1974 movie Aavishkaar: Hansane ki chaah ne itana mujhe rulaaya hai (the longing for laughter made me cry a lot).
Chasing Friends is a hobby that one indulges in similar to collecting stamps and trophies; the more one has, the happier he or she would be. Various philosophies are thrown in such as Life without Friends is meaningless and No one understands you better than your friends.
Yes, indeed, Friends are important in one’s life. However, making Happiness dependent upon having them as friends is not called for. At the back of one’s mind should always be the thought that another person on earth is as unique as you are. No one can really be selfless; it is not in the nature of the man. People would naturally be your friends of their interests and needs coincide with yours. Chasing them won’t get you anywhere. The opposite may actually be the result.
Finally, even though Love is the best emotion on earth, chasing Love is unrealistic. It is a bird that would sit at your window when you don’t go hunting for it.
I read a poignant piece by a middle-aged lady who awaits her children visiting her in the same fashion as she used to visit and spend time with her parents. She bemoaned how the very definition of love between parents and children have changed; the latter don’t appear to have time for the former. Love demands a lot of time thinking about the loved ones and spending with them. This lady should have realised that the nature of people is always selfish; only the degree of selfishness changes with people and time. If this lady had somehow read this article and paid heed to my usable Philosophy #1 about building a world of her own whilst concentrating on building one for the children, it would have never come to this pass. Chasing Love, now, or any time isn’t going to help.
There, I have given you my short list of usable philosophies. When you do a thing over and over again, it becomes a habit. God has intended the world to be like this wherein like the earth rotating on its axis and revolving around the sun, each one of us is required to achieve perfection by repetitions. So, first time in case the practice of these philosophies do not come easily to you, do them again and again and your mind, like a trained dog, would follow your command of Go fetch it.
Best of luck.
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