Today is a good day (just like any other) to renew my blog presence since today I complete 49 years of three dimensional existence on our planet and what day can be better to prove to my distracters that I am still very much alive. With real friends (not FB friends) hailing from all the 7 continents, predictably the wishes started arriving before I arrived into the day. So the first wishes came all the way from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Korea, Singapore etc then the ones from India, east Asia, Gulf, slowly nudging into Africa and eastern Europe and now as I write this from western Europe. I am sure by evening / night they will be coming from across the Atlantic and then from the Pacific shores. Few wishes have already arrived from beyond the Andes though.
Each one of the wishes contained the word ‘happy’ most of them contained ‘exciting’ and many contained ‘inspiring’ and some contained ‘amazing’ few ‘adventure’ some ‘rock’ some ‘party’ and quite a few ‘smile’ and ‘love’ and ‘kisses’ and one even contained ‘climbing’. As the wishes poured in through the ether and electronic medium such as FB, email, LinkedIn, Viber, Skype etc and as the above words started falling in place I realized that not one of the wishes or words that my friends have sent my way, not only now but even otherwise, contain anything that can be construed as negative or contrary to the way of my life. Though I must agree I do not party much but yes I do treat life as a party. And this brings me to the crux of this post; how does life treat you depends upon how you treat life to begin with. It’s like playing tennis against a wall. What you give is what you get.
Being a motivational speaker and an inspirational icon (I am just stating the fact in my most humble and direct manner here) has its own perils and I have realized that everyone who doesn't know me presumes that every moment of my life, no matter where it is what I might be doing, must be a source of inspiration and I am motivated to do my best even if the task is as mundane as brushing my teeth or tying my shoe laces. They presume that there’s no moment in my life that is lacking in motivation and that every word I utter must and should inspire them. And when such people start to know me better personally and intimately are often surprised to see the human side of me, my failings, my moments of non-inspiration and express their wonderment that how could I be normal like them. But those who know me well and are my real friends, they know that just like every human I have my shortcomings and that I don’t really have to be inspiring every moment. That I can be sad that I can feel lonely and that I can feel the desperate need to be loved. They understand that and they respect that in me yet they find me inspiring since what really inspires anyone is not how motivating your thoughts and actions are but what you do with what you do.
So the important thing is that we all live and that is an action in itself even if you do nothing else; you are always living. Now it’s not important what life is doing to you but what you are doing to life and even more important than mere living is what you do with what you do. So what exactly are you doing with your life; the journey of being alive and the melody of living; how are you playing it, how are you changing it. If my life is exciting and motivating and full of positive energy then that is the way I am treating life so that’s what I get back in return. Even when I am down and out and feel that life is not worth living or striving for, I hold on to my passion for living and my certainty that this moment can never last longer than my hope. I must not give up. That’s all I have done in my life; I have never given up on life, even if I gave up on an event or on a moment. A journey is made up of steps so it is much longer and complete than one single step but if you break down your steps further they are simply the length of your thoughts and if you break down your thoughts then you realize that each thought is a composition of your will and resolve and hope. Thus you can keep dissecting your will, your resolve and your hope to discover what lies at the fundamental of our actions, of who we want to be, or who we think we can never be. Like the quantum physicists when they kept on going deeper and deeper into the fabric of space and time and objects they realized much to their amusement that everything in the universe is actually made up of nothing. We all are essentially a lot of empty space.
I will narrate two anecdotes here and then wind up. During one of my motivational talks, after I got down from the stage and mingled with the audience, trying to balance a much needed cup of herbal tea, a portly lady in mid-fifties cornered me at a real corner from where there simply was no way to escape; unless of course I was spider man. So she pushed me against the wall with her ample bosom, nudged her pince-nez across her beaky bridge, bent forward to make her point and opened her large red lips, ‘that was the most fxxxxg awesome talk I have ever seen young man (I was young then); you must be so fxxxxxg motivated and excited all the time; I need that so bad, give it to me.’
People call me crazy and insane, you should have seen and heard that lady, she was a raving lunatic. While felt seriously threatened I realized that there must be something that I could share with her. So I tried to calm her and said, ‘Madam, I am no more motivated than you are and normally I am excited but right now I am not. Motivation is hard work, very hard work and you have to make it work for you. Motivation does not come from within, you are not born with it, it comes through your deliberate thoughts and actions. To feel motivated you have to motivate yourself just like you have to learn to read to be able to read. Do you think I wake up motivated each day? Of course not! Do you think I am motivated when I go climbing; not exactly; in most of my climbs I am just plain shit scared, scared of not knowing. And I work really hard to convert that into motivation; to tell myself that I must find out what I do not know. Do you think I do not feel sad and break down when a friend dies in front of my eyes, or right in my arms? But in those moments I motivate myself by believing that whatever happens in life happens for a greater good, even if I am unable to realize that. What happens to me when a woman I love dumps me or goes away with another man or just breaks up? I still get motivated since I believe that life is all about change and whatever begins; good or bad, will end one day. And only when you are willing to change and to empty your cup will the world again fill it up with something new and equally exciting.’
And I concluded by saying; ‘my dear lady, motivation is a daily effort just like any daily chore. You have to do it whether you like it or not and if you manage to work up your motivation by the time you are falling asleep, believe me you have cracked the secret of motivation more than most in the world. So go and motivate yourself, you don’t need it from me or from anyone else. You have it all, cook your own motivation since no one knows you better. The very fact that you came to hear my talk proves that you are already motivated and willing to change and you are ready to take up the challenge. Here is your motivation. Challenge yourself each day, each morning that no matter what, you will be motivated and you shall never give up.’
I never met this woman again but I hope that in the vast continent of America there is a woman somewhere who is still challenging herself each day to get motivated.
The second anecdote happened after I did a ‘happiness’ workshop with a group of middle aged people in Europe. I had been invited by a NGO that assisted depressed people in getting a hold back on their lives. These people were not necessarily from any less-privileged class or had any particular illness but they were those who had signed up with this NGO since they felt depressed about life in general. Something like depressed-anonymous group.
I spoke to them about not looking for happiness but opening themselves to the possibilities and letting happiness find them. It was a kind of talk cum interaction cum play acting cum visuals from my climbs plus lot of storytelling and sharing our experiences. Just when I was silently congratulating myself that it had been a success (seeing the smiling faces all around) a lady who had come late for the workshop, sought me out and asked for a private audience.
She sat in front of me and I could feel her negativity like a hard blow. She was so full of anger and hatred that even when she smiled she seemed venomous. She started off right away; ‘Satya I do not believe whatever you said; that’s plain bs, you just said all those things since you are being paid to say, you possibly can’t believe in all this nonsense of letting happiness find you. Look at me, how on earth can I be happy; everything is wrong in my life, everyone hates me, life is full of shit, world is crap, I have never been happy in my life and I so desperately want to be happy. Tell me what can I do?’
I contemplated her as she continued to rant and rave. I had to let her vent her steam. She was pleasant looking, seemed well to do from her clothes and shoes, obviously educated, her body looked alright, she had lovely eyes, and I just couldn't understand the reason for her anger and hatred and lack of happiness. Since happiness was very much inside her. It was right there and I could see how sad that happiness within her was. But as I heard her more and more slowly it began to dawn upon me what she wasn't doing right. She was committing the three fundamental mistakes that we all do when we seek happiness: we do not focus on what we have and we do not feel gratitude for what we have and we think that we do not need to change and it is the world around that is wrong.
When she finally stopped to take a breather I said, ‘is there nothing in your life and this world that you like, which you think is good?’ she nodded sideways. ‘what about this lovely shoe you have on; don’t you like it?’ I asked. ‘of course I do, it’s nice, isn’t it.’ The lady suddenly smiled and sought my approval. ‘It’s a beauty madam, so you do like your shoes, now don’t you like the dress you are wearing?’ and we continued like this for the next 10 minutes or so and I told her to write down and soon her list had 52 things she really liked in her life, for which she should be thankful and from being thankful she could find love and then happiness. Once we had the list, I gave her a task. To go back home and each day stand in front of a mirror with the list and say to herself out loud that: I love my life because I have this pair of wonderful shoes and I thank God for giving them to me; I love my life because I have vision and I thank God for giving them to me; so on and so forth.
Few months later I got a call from this woman, full of excitement and laughter; ‘you have no idea Satya how much the world has changed around me. I am so happy now and so excited. I have joined dance lessons I am taking a trip to Hawaii. I am so happy now and I feel so alive, and all thanks to you.’ And I replied, ‘The world hasn’t changed madam, it’s you who has changed. Happiness was always there within you, you just thought it was sadness and you didn’t allow it to find you. Now you have, so thank you for reaffirming my belief.’
Dear friends, when we begin to acknowledge all that we have and feel grateful for each one of them then that leads to a life full of love and when love happens we change and suddenly nothing is the same as before. So next time when you feel that the world around you needs to change to make you happy, perhaps it is time for you to change and let happiness find you.
Thank you my dear reader for being with me in this wonderful journey of life and your love motivates me further. I am constantly evolving, changing, challenging and allowing happiness to find me. Treat life the way you want life to treat you and always let happiness find you.