Tag Archives: wisdom

If All You’ve Ever Known

I was stuck in traffic. In 20 minutes, my car had moved barely 5 feet – and I was getting frustrated.

Curious to see how others were reacting, I looked around.

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What You Can’t Have…

drink

“Mom, can I have Bournvita (a malt drink) from tomorrow, please?”

My wife was a little shocked by her request.

For years, the refrain at breakfast had been, “But why can’t I have coffee?”

Our response – “Coz you’re not old enough!” – was countered by impassioned arguments, some quite creative, that tried to make the case that she really was.

Fast forward to now. When she’s offered coffee, the little one no longer wants it.

She prefers Bournvita – the same drink she had dismissed with scorn for years!

What’s going on here?

A simple case of “being human”.

You see it play out everywhere. Across all ages. And over years.

In everything.

  • College courses and careers.
  • Jobs and friendships.
  • Entertainment, travel or recreation.
  • Partner or spouse.
  • And anything else.

When you can’t have it, you want it – badly.

When you can have it, though, you don’t want itat any price!

P.S. – If you don’t even know what you want, then read my book.

Our next article is about stress, pressure and competition – and how they forge you into your very best version. To get notified when we post it… join our email list.

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When Do You Stop?

“It’s my son’s graduation this evening. But I’ve so many patients waiting!”

To see the chairman of a hospital, who healed thousands every year, so despondent and mired in angst over a self-created dilemma was heart-breaking.

For the next five minutes, I was at my persuasive best. I argued that he must stop putting patients always ahead of family. Before I finished, he came to a decision. He picked up the phone and spoke to his secretary.

“Tell everyone they’ll have to wait for a couple of hours.”

And then, he slipped out of hospital through a backdoor.

The next morning, he said: “Thank you for helping me decide to go last night. It was a special moment with my family. I won’t forget it for the rest of my life!”

A favorite blog post, written by my friend Derek Sivers, begins with this story:

Two friends were at a party held at the mansion of a billionaire. One said, “Wow! Look at this place! This guy has everything!” The other said, “Yes, but I have something he’ll never have: ENOUGH.

So… When do we stop? Where do we draw the line?

Take money, for instance. At first, we set out to make some of it. And two things can happen. Either we fail – when we keep trying other ways, until we make it. Or we succeed – when we start thinking of ways to make MORE of it!

With food, it seems easier to know when to stop. After all, our stomachs impose a physical limit on how much can go into it. And even if revelers of Roman debauchery did vomit to free up space to return to the banquet, most of us remain sated… for a while.

But that’s temporary.

A couple of hours later, temptation returns. The craving grows stronger. And pretty soon, we’re back at it.

Getting some more!

It’s the same with other drives as well – sex, work, reading, coffee, drugs, or any other form of seduction.

The desire for more creeps up slowly, grows all-consuming, and drives behavior towards achieving it.

Over and over and over again.

No slowing down.

No pausing to think.

No stopping.

Just keep going!

A friend once told me he wanted to work until he had 10 million rupees in the bank. Another friend has 3 BILLION – and is as driven and excited about making more.

As college students, we’d enter a buffet hall at any conference, determined to at least sample every dish on the huge tables – never mind how stuffed we felt.

An acquaintance of mine remains rapaciously indulgent well into his sixties – his flagging sexual performance boosted by little blue pills!

So WHEN do you stop?

When it begins to damage your health?

Or destroys your relationships?

Or affects your balance?

I see people my age stuff themselves at a restaurant the way I used to as a teenager, and wonder if it isn’t just a heart attack waiting to happen!

I see dads (and now, increasingly, moms) put work or other stuff ahead of family, and wonder if they’ll see their relationships sour and strain to breaking point.

I see folks use the soporific of “Just one more time” to justify their intemperate behavior, and wonder if they’ll eventually con themselves into believing their own lies.  After all, practice makes perfect.

There’s a profound saying in Tamil which goes:

“Alavukku minjinaal amirdhamum nanju”
(When it exceeds a limit, even nectar becomes poison.)

churnocean[In mythology, the devas (Gods) and asuras (Demons) together churned the divine Ocean of Milk using Vasuki, the serpent king, to hold Mount Mandara as the churning pole. After a millenium of intense effort, they obtained amirtham, the nectar of eternal youth and everlasting life.]

Yes, even the magic potion of immortality can be toxic – when you overdose on it!

When do you stop?

When you have ‘enough’.

But… when do you have enough?

Ah, to know that is wisdom – and happiness!

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3 Precious Lessons I Wish I’d Learned In My Twenties…

But Am Glad To Know Today!

3 precious lessons I wish I'd learned in my twenties
 

As I cruise into ripe ol’ middle age, I’m growing wiser. Every day. And wonder… what took me so long?

I mean, so many of these powerful lessons are blindingly obvious – once they are learned. I’ll talk about just three of them today.

1. Security is a Myth

I have a diary from the 1980s. On one page of it, I see notations, in rows and columns, of figures, estimates and calculations. They are the fruit of an exercise which took a few weeks, trying to estimate how much money I’d need to save up to live a retired, comfortable life.

The computation factored in inflation, “reasonable” interest rates, income growth, and such like. It didn’t factor in reality, though. Or the scary, roller-coaster nature of change.

In the last couple of weeks, with the Indian rupee plummeting to decades’ long lows and stock prices crashing, the value of my investment portfolio sunk by over 10%, literally overnight.

But that doesn’t bother me too much. Because I’ve learned this lesson.

Security – especially financial security – is a myth.

You don’t scrimp and save today just so that you can live “in peace and comfort” some other day. No. You live today.

Sure, you should stow away a bit for a rainy day – just don’t get obsessed about it and put your life on hold for a tomorrow that never comes. Otherwise, you risk becoming like the captain of a cruise liner who dreamed about retirement all through his career – and on his last trip, had a heart attack out at sea, and died!

2. Control is an Illusion

We engage in mighty struggles and fight impassioned battles at home and at work, just to gain “control”. Nations arm militarily and go to war for the same reason.

We crave control. Authority and influence over others. The dream of having people jump to fulfill our slightest wish is a seductive constant in many of our lives.

Yet, when you consider it in cold blood, just how much control do you really have over what truly matters?

You walk carefully on the sidewalk – and a rotten branch from a tree could crash down and break your neck. You drive cautiously, following every rule in the book, and an angry or drunk maniac, or text-happy teen, might smash into your automobile and put you in a hospital – or in your grave!

Control is an illusion.

There’s one thing you can control, though. It’s not outside. It’s within you. Yourself. That’s who you have control over. (Sadly, too many aren’t looking for that – or want to get better at self-control.) Without it, everything else is a waste.

3. Happiness is a Choice

A ubiquitous and pervasive media advertises the price of happiness as being ownership of a gadget, brand or asset. Mindlessly, we believe the shrill, insistent marketing – and feel miserable.

Until we manage to get hold of what was advertised.

That’s when we realize, for a fact, that it doesn’t really make us happy (It did? Lucky you!)

We don’t learn the first time. Or the second. Even the third, fourth and fifth times are ignored in the heady pursuit of newer, costlier and shinier toys. But sooner or later, it dawns upon a weary mind and body that happiness ought to be different.

It is. Happiness is a choice.

There are people living in hovels that would horrify the most tolerant and broad-minded of us, who still manage to laugh and smile, enjoying their time on earth. And we’ve all known or heard about mega-rich, super-famous, hyper-successful depressives who do outrageous things in a desperate search for happiness. Or even end up killing themselves when they can’t find it.

It isn’t necessary. You can choose to be happy, wherever you are.

Those are three lessons I wish I’d learned when I was in my twenties. I’m glad to have learned them today. You?

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Everything Should Work – But Does It?

Everything works

This could easily be a post about ‘testing’. It isn’t.

It’s about expectations. Or even about how much we tend to take for granted.

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