Original shared on karmyo.com
Imagine, if God appeared before you to fulfill any wish, what would you ask for? We all may have a long list. I first started to think about this, after reading out a story of ‘The Honest Woodcutter’ in an orphanage, where I volunteer. My audience were schoolgirls, many of them unbelievably Happy and Content, even when we may believe they have nothing. The more time I spent with them and reflected on this, the more clarity I got on a simple, yet incredible approach to happiness and personal growth. Hint: It’s not about the quantum of possessions but about our attitude.
There is so much we have received free of cost, like the air we breathe, the water from the clouds, the light from the Sun, the list is endless. And we take all these things for-granted. From the cave man till the modern-day scientists, man has always tried to advance in science and technology to make our lives better. Today we stand on the shoulders of millions of people who have invented things that we use, but we believe that these are all ‘mine’. We start to believe that ‘I’ am the achiever of what I get. This is called ‘Ego’ and as the Ego grows, it takes us away from our real self, away from happiness. Let me elaborate.
Sometimes I feel sad or angry because something that I thought did not happen or I didn’t get something that my mind had been craving for. My friend didn’t ask me to accompany her on her trip to Goa, so I was sad. I was anxiously waiting to find a technical co-founder for my startup and when I found a person, I was happy. So my happiness and sorrows depend on things that are not in my control. In fact, the entire world that I perceive, including its successes and failures, happinesses and sorrows, is just a projection of my mind. It depends on us, where we direct our mind. When I spent time at the girls’ orphanage, I started to relate to them. I was not just teaching, but also learning from them. The scope of my mind had expanded. I was no longer just Deepika, thinking about what she wanted or what she didn’t have, but ‘I’ was a part of a larger family. The 'I’-ness in me had diminished. If we relax and think for a moment, each of us is insignificant, considering the entire universe. We have a small role to play in the larger scheme of things. By developing an attitude of Gratitude we connect with the world, we can expand our existence. We would cease to think as an independent ‘achiever’ but as a team-member who is playing his/her role and is being supported by the Universe. We become humble and better prepared to learn and grow. We move away from Ego, towards our true state of Happiness.
Gratitude is something difficult for me to explain in words. But it’s something very powerful, almost magical, something that you need to experience for yourself. A simple experiment is to start practicing ‘focused Gratitude’ by Thanking people who have added value to our lives. If we just think for a moment, we will be able to identify countless number of people who have directly contributed to our lives. Be it our teachers, mentors, friends, parents, colleagues, doctor and so on. Many of them, we may not even acknowledge or express Gratitude, because we believe that what they did was their job.
While discussing about Gratitude in our Karmyo community, we came up with the idea of organizing Abhar Utsav (15th – 21st November), as a way to start developing that attitude of Thankfulness. A good way will be to send hand-written Thanks postcards to as many people as you can. This small gesture can lead us right up to the state of happiness and success.