Archive for the ‘fate’ Tag

Secrecy, In Fact, Is Our Only Salvation

Don’t whine about life. Accept where you are, the people around you, and the events of your life as divine gifts. You are where you should be, in the era and society that is best for you, chosen by the Divine. The spiritual part of a human being is like tuning fork; it vibrates to truth as a tuning fork vibrates when its pitch is played close to it. Trust that God put you where you are, when you are, and with whom you are, for a reason. Believe that there is a plan, that your life is not random, that it matters where you are, when you are, and with whom you are. Recognize that because it was God who decided these things for you, you have a purpose to fulfill or a special accomplishment to achieve that can be done only because you are where you are when you are, and with whom you are. I am a very religious man and believe in predetermination; that our lives are guided by the God who has a plan for every human. Trust your first instinct, do not try to change who you are, do not try to change the people around you, and accept your fate. There exists one’s true self, buried beneath the false image we try to convey to other people. Peel that false image away, and we are all the same at the core. Society is always moving forward against chaos and darkness. You cannot just expect to learn self-reliance in one day and without self-reliance, you will not get very far. Any work done in God’s name does the greatest good. No work can be accomplished without the help of others. Believe in your work and ignore the criticism of others. Every heart vibrates as its own guidance, not the direction of others.

We can talk about our troubles to those who can give us direct help, but even in this case, we must come to a carefully thought out conclusion before the consultation. We have to be perfectly clear to ourselves about our own limitations. Most of us have a foolish trick of applying for help before they have done anything whatever to aid themselves. We try to talk to our self into clearness of insight and intelligibility. The only way such people can think is by talking and their speech consequently is not the expression of an opinion clearly thought and formed, but a manufacture of it. One should be very careful when we speak about our pained emotions. The expression is apt to carry with it exaggeration. By being reserved, we are able to attach less importance to that which is not worthwhile to mention to others; therefore, secrecy, in fact, is our only salvation. Keeping one’s problem to oneself will lessen the severity of its impact on us.

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Be Resilient and Successful

Positive thinking is so firmly enshrined in our culture that knocking it is a little like attacking motherhood or apple pie.  Many persons swear by positive thinking and quite a few have been helped by it. Nevertheless, it is not a very effective tool and can be downright harmful in some cases.  There are much better ways to get the benefits that positive thinking allegedly provides.  Perhaps the statement that best exemplifies positive thinking is "When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade." It seems so self-evident that this is a good thing that we never question the wisdom of the adage.  But it does not take a whole lot of digging to unearth the flaws in this reasoning. 

First, did fate really hand you a lemon or was this merely your initial, unthinking response? Second, is a lemon really a bad thing, something that you would rather not have, but now that you do have it you will somehow salvage something by making lemonade? Finally, it is quite stressful to be handed a lemon until such time as you figure out how to make lemonade.  Do you really have to go through this phase? 

No matter what happens to us in life we tend to think of it as "good" or "bad". Most of us tend to use the "bad" label three to ten times as often as the "good" label.  When we say something is bad, the odds grow overwhelming that we will experience it as such and that is when we need positive thinking.  We have been given something bad, a real lemon, and we better scramble and make some lemonade out of it and salvage something out of this "bad" situation. 

Now think back on your own life.  Can you recall instances of something that you initially thought was a bad thing that turned out to be not so bad after all or perhaps even a spectacularly good thing? Like the time you just missed a train and had to wait a whole hour for the next one and it was horrible except that your neighbor also missed it so you talked for the first time and a beautiful friendship developed.  You will find many instances in your life, some of them very significant such as the job you desperately wanted but didn't get only to find that a much better one came by and you would not have been able to accept it if not for the earlier rejection. 

Now let us propose something radical and revolutionary.  Let us propose that, no matter what happens to you, you do not stick a bad thing label on it; no matter what.  You are fired from your job, your mortgage lender sends you a foreclosure notice and your spouse files for divorce or whatever. This seems so far-fetched as to be laughable. Of course these are horrible tragedies and terrible things to happen. Or are they? Is it possible, just possible, that you have been conditioned to think of these happenings as unspeakable tragedies and hence experience them as such? 

Viktor Frankl in his book Man's Search for Meaning narrates the tale of the beautiful girl of privilege who was grateful to be in a concentration camp because she was able to connect with a spiritual side of her that she never knew existed.  Observations like this led Frankl into his life's work of determining why, when faced with extreme adversity, some persons positively flourish while others disintegrate.  Those who rise so triumphantly never label what they go through as bad and lament over it, they simply take it as a given as if they were a civil engineer surveying the landscape through which a road is to be built.  In this view, a swamp is not a bad thing.  It is merely something that has to be addressed in the construction plan. 

If you never label something as bad, then you don't need positive thinking and all of the stress associated with getting something bad and experiencing it as such till you figure out how to make lemonade out of it simply goes away.  That is the huge pebble in the positive thinking shoe. This is bad, really bad is a lemon.  But somehow I will make some lemonade out of it and then perhaps it won't be so bad.  First you think its bad and then you think you will somehow make it less bad and there is a strong undercurrent that you are playing games and kidding yourself.  Some people succeed, many don't. Those who don't are devastated that the model they were trying so hard to build caved in on them.  That's why positive thinking can sometimes be harmful. 

Can you actually go through life without labeling what happens to you as good or bad? Sure you can.  You have to train yourself to do this.  You have been conditioned to think of things as bad or good.  You can de-condition yourself.  It is neither easy nor fast but it is possible. 

Let us say you break your leg. There is stuff you have to do like go to an orthopedist and get it set and go to therapy when the cast comes off.  But all the rest of the stuff you pick up like: Why did this have to happen to me?  Bad things always come my way.  I am in such pain.  Who will hold the world up now that I am disabled? is simply baggage.  You don't have to pick up this load and the only reason you do is because you were never told that you didn't have to. 

I am telling you now. Don't pick up that useless burden.  Don't label what happens to you as bad.  Then you won't need positive thinking and much of the stress in your life will simply disappear. Poof! Just like that.

Unwelcomed Life Tax


When life is unfair, how to deal with fines for being alive? How do you best respond to life's unjust setbacks?  You're minding your own business. Taken all due precautions.  You have not had any mental lapse, been responsible and conscientious and certainly, haven't hurt anyone, or done anything wrong.  In a word, you're innocent…. 

Then, out of the blue, someone at the supermarket abruptly turns into your aisle, sneezes in your face–and you end up with a bad case of flu. Or dutifully following a traffic signal, you stop at a light that just turned red–and are promptly rear-ended. Or you meticulously plan a family re-union picnic–only to see the special occasion ruined by a most unseasonable, and never forecast, storm. Or jogging at twilight, listening to your i-pod, you trip on a barely visible sidewalk crack–and fracture an ankle. Or your broker who came highly recommended from your most trustworthy friends designs for you a portfolio of equities, almost all of which turn out to be duds. 

Get the picture? Although I've yet to encounter the term, I've come to view all such mishaps, or setbacks, as simply "fines for being alive." They're fines you can pretty much count on having to pay–if only by virtue of occupying space on planet Earth. From time to time, and without advanced warning, life will deal you a slight, an insult, an undeserved blow of some sort that you can hardly help but experience as totally unjust. It's like suddenly being relegated to a penalty box, without having committed the slightest foul. 

Why do I find this concept so intriguing? Simply because, personally and as an Emergency  Department Critical Care attending physician, I have come to believe that discovering how to accept the bad things that gratuitously happen to you–that is, to take them in stride–is absolutely crucial if you're to achieve a steady, virtually unshakeable, state of well-being. 

Let's face it. There are an abundance of things over which you can exert only limited control. So if you're to overcome the various barriers that temporarily block you from objects of your desire, it's critical to learn how to maintain emotional poise in the face of them. Even though these obstacles may temporarily deter you, you still need to hold onto your composure and doggedly continue to pursue your goals. Sure, your progress may be impeded, but it doesn't really have to end. Although your destination may be reached later than you'd hoped, as long as you don't falter you'll get there all the same. When, through no fault of your own, things just don't seem to be going your way, it's essential that you figure out how not to lose your way. 

There are times in our life when we may feel besieged by events seemingly contrived, almost demonically, to overwhelm us. Nonetheless, our capacity for control during these times–our ultimate power–is to expand our space to include such disappointments, challenges, provocations, and demands and, despite such adversity, to hang tough and resolutely adhere to our life path. 

How easy–or difficult–is this to do? In general, I'd say the ability to adapt to life's frustrations varies in proportion to your personal evolution. Adjusting or accommodating to below-the-belt blows of "outrageous fortune" hardly hinges on some inborn personality trait either. For the most part, it simply reflects how much you've been able to learn from painful lessons in your past. And being able to make allowances for–and come to terms with–all that interferes with your desires doesn't really come naturally. It's something that requires conscious cultivation. So when something blatantly unfair happens to you, be ever-mindful of how between your ears you process it. 

You need to carefully mull over how you're going to respond to anything keenly felt as an injustice. Succumbing to the temptation to react with impulsive anger may offer the immediate consolation of feeling righteous, self-righteous, or morally superior. But the associated costs of taking this low road to “re-empowerment” are that it inevitably sacrifices your inner tranquility, your peace of mind. The more you invest your vital stores of energy in getting back at whatever you perceive as having harmed you, the more likely you are to turn immediate setbacks into chronic limitations and constraints. In which case your choosing; however unwittingly, not to "get on with it," not to move forward in your life's journey, becomes no one's responsibility but your own. Inadvertently, it's you yourself that have blocked the way to personal satisfaction and fulfillment. 

So, when you're suddenly taken aback by one of life's periodic fines, how can you best respond? 

Here are my three "A's" for quickly moving beyond the unwelcome obstacles that, fortuitously, may have landed squarely on your path: 

Assess: Ask yourself just how serious this particular "fine" is. Might you be exaggerating its importance? In the moment, that unwelcome "tariff" or "life tax" may feel awful–perhaps even catastrophic. But, upon painstaking reflection, is it possibly not that much more than an annoyance, or inconvenience? Finally, how much of your life; if any, do you actually want or need to devote to it? 

Accept: Just acknowledge that you've been fined for, well, nothing. Remind yourself that it makes little sense to stew over whatever misfortune you've unexpectedly been subject to. Make up your mind not to let it bother you any more than absolutely necessary. 

Act:  Now that you've decided not to waste your mental and emotional energy by obsessing upon or brooding over your bad luck–or by ruminating about how you might retaliate–what's the best action to take? How can you best cope with this setback? Might you work around it? Do you need temporarily to put something aside to effectively deal with it? Would it help to get a friend, or professional, to assist you? . . . Or might it suffice simply to let out a single, extended, self-compassionate sigh–and then, life-affirming, begin to put it all behind you? 

Once you've become proficient in implementing this fairly straightforward problem-resolution procedure–go ahead and give yourself an "A," too (!) 

Note: If you can relate all-too-well to this piece (sigh), and can think of others who might also, please consider passing it on.


 

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