The Top Three Tragic Myths of the Times we Live in

“It was dark and quiet, and it took me a few seconds to stand steady on my feet. Well, that’s what happens when you have to get up at 2am to go to the bathroom. But things were going to get worse.

Just as I began to walk, I suddenly jumped and screamed. Something was crawling on my feet. It felt like a spider and I reached for the light switch. When the light turned on it turned out to be a piece of thread which had been lying on the floor. Apart from the disappointment of jumping for no reason, I was wide awake now!”

Just as it happened to me, we often get scared of an insect or a rat, but when we turn on the light they are just objects lying around. But our senses gave them an illusion of being an insect or a rat. Building up on this analogy, everything else in life – our riches, our troubles, and our possessions are illusions and a mirage created by our mind.

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein.

Taking this notion forward, this article of mine is going to dwell upon why life itself is a myth, and how each one of us is driven by some ‘absolute‘ truths that are nothing more than widely accepted myths. These myths drain the life out of our days and take us onto paths of mediocrity and obscurity.

Below are the three such myths I think we all encounter in everyday life. (Give them some time to sink in, as they very well might be absolute truths for you.)

1. You Have to Work to Survive
The biggest myth of our times is ‘having to work‘ to earn a living for surviving. Right from our birth, everything is setup to create this illusion. Our education system, the economic system, all the news and shows on TV and the movies we watch. As we grow up, this myth becomes very ‘real‘ for us. The only thing from our childhood which we term as illusions are the cartoons we watch. Did you ever wonder why everyone loves cartoons?

There is a common misconception that work is necessary. Over decades and centuries, every rock is chipped away into sand and dust. Work can do the same to our lives and souls. Day by day, hour by hour, our work can chip us away into disintegration.

If someone tells you they are “making a living”, they can’t be more wrong. They are making a dying, and most probably fast spending whatever little time they have doing things out of compulsion rather than the pure desire of doing it.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” - Confucius

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

Instead, what we can all do is PLAY. Go out and do what you want. Find something you love doing, something you are passionate about.

DisclaimerWork and Play doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. If you can find a way to play while at work, nothing could be better.

Many people say they don’t know their passion or hobbies, or they have not discovered them yet. Here is a formula – Look into your life, and the things you do for which you pay others are your hobbies and passions, and for which you get paid and compelled to do is work.

DO NOT spend the vast majority of your life working so that you can play in the end. That end might never come, or which might be tomorrow itself, for all you know.

2. Planning and Living for the Future
We live in a world where insurance and pension policies, investments, education, business, almost everything is done with an objective to achieve something in the future. While planning for the future has its benefits, I believe we often take it too far and miss the only time we really have, which is “now”, or this very moment.

Who gave you the guarantee that you will not die tomorrow, next week or next month? What made you believe that you are going to die at 70 or 80, and not at 20 or 30 or 40. If you don’t believe it, read and watch the news. People are dying everyday at all ages. The average age might be 70 or 80, but ask yourself – Do you really want to live your life based on a statistic?

Instead, LIVE NOW. Enjoy whichever phase of life you are in. Be in each day fully, rather than counting the days. Live your life in a way that you are satisfied even if you die tomorrow, or the next second. Make every breath count. Don’t wait for tomorrow if you want to fall in love, travel to your dream destination, or eat that favourite ice-cream of yours. Do it NOW (or at least pick a date in the calendar and book tickets now).

Fall in LOVE with life, not just with a few selected people, things and ideas. Whether you make 1 grand or 1 million, whether you live in an apartment or a mansion, embrace life fully NOW and don’t let your goals and milestones in life decide the level of your happiness or joy.

3. Control and Consistency
The next big myth we base our lives on is aiming for control and consistency. We plan and build systems, and we make rules and processes to make our lives more comfortable and smooth. But the very fact that we can control life is the biggest lie that we tell ourselves.

Life, by its very nature, is messy and unpredictable. It is not fair and nobody is entitled to get anything out of it. In school, if you study more, you get better grades and vice versa.

The same doesn’t hold true in life, as there are so many other factors at play other than your efforts. The sooner we realise this the better. Good and bad things will happen to you. Your education, job, the country you live in, or any other reason which gives you the illusion of safety, is a very bad armour against life.

Instead, be FREE from these controls. Embrace the uncertainty of life and experience real FREEDOM. Go out and play. Learn a new language. Take a new job, or live in different cities/countries and soak in different cultures. Write, paint, or do anything else that makes you experience life rather than draining the life out of you.

Don’t try to be nice or do what is expected. Don’t live for the gallery. Be authentic. For a change, LIVE for YOURSELF. Let yourself be misunderstood, hated, judged or whatever, but live by your convictions. It is better to be assassinated by another human being than being assassinated by death.

Our thoughts (and perception of reality) shape our decision, and in turn our circumstances. It is like watching the same movie again and again. If we want to play a different movie in our life, we have to change the tape.

And rejecting the above myths might be the first step. Thoughts arise in the mind, and we become aware of them. But over time, we stop seeing them as thoughts and see them as reality. Therefore, we should never stop to question our thoughts and the reality they form.

Life is a mirage. An earring and a bangle are both made out of gold. But our thoughts make one an earring and another a bangle, but in essence both are only gold. Yet we only term what we see while asleep as dreams and not what we see while awake. In essence, both are illusions created by our senses. We must never loose sight of that.

Controlling your Anger, and all about Forgiveness

We all feel anger and hatred at different times, and at different people. Whenever something doesn’t go according to our expected response, or there is an unexpected event like an accident or death of a loved one, the normal human response is to feel anger and hatred towards a person or community. It might also show as resentment towards life in general.

Anger and hatred are emotions which occurs in different intensities on different situations. The anger at someone who just jumped a signal in front of you is different from the anger at someone who just pick pocketed you. Similarly, the anger of being cheated by a loved one or a business partner is different from the anger you might feel towards a man who kills your son or daughter.

According to me, there is nothing unnatural in getting angry and hating someone. It is very human to do so. Shouting, hurting or just blaming somebody else temporarily makes one feel calmer and less stressed. It justifies our own actions and makes us prove the other person wrong. But it is only as temporary as the relief provided by drugs or alcohol. If you must have observed, people who get angry once often tend to get angry again at different people and situations. Venting their anger on someone becomes like a relief or stress reliever.

Forgiveness gives freedom

Forgiveness gives freedom

As with all addictions, being angry at somebody is like throwing hot coal on the other person with your bare hands. As Mark Twain rightly remarked, anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. But yet everybody does it. Why? Because we are unaware (knowingly or unknowingly) of the fact that it harms us, just as an alcoholic or a drug addict is unaware (or choses not to see) the harmful effects of them. Anger is more like a trap that keeps us from living and keeps our mind occupied in something that happened in the past. I have seen many people who have continued to hate others even after the other party is dead or suitably punished by law for their misdeeds. By hating, they are drinking poison hoping that the other person will suffer!

So what must, and what can one do? It would be simple to say that we can control our anger and forgive. Yes, we must forgive our wrong doers and move on with life. We must realize that it’s part of the game. But if it would be so easy, I would not have been writing this article. Forgiveness means different things to different people. Forgiveness is very personal and it is more of a choice, a tough one, and it takes a big man to forgive. It is also a journey, and not an one off event or gesture. We can forgive small or big acts, against a person or a group. It is not acceptance, but a gift from one individual to the other, and to himself.

But there is a time for acceptance and forgiveness. If someone were to murder a loved one of yours, no-one will expect you to forgive that person right away. Soon after an event, a person is in shock. But after a few months, you can forgive if you choose to. By forgiving others, we can be at peace and feel freedom from the trap. It allows us to move on with life and make the best of it. Past events can not make an impact on your future post forgiveness.

There have been many stories of how people have forgiven and loved the people who have harmed them and against whom they have felt anger at one point of time. These stories show us what all is possible, and how big is the human heart, if we give it a chance. It is not easy, and it requires a lot of courage to forgive someone whom you are angry at. It is a brave choice, and it needs a brave man to take that choice. I will end with a quote by Mahatama Gandhi

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

Extra – Let me tell you about a twenty six year old American woman Amy Biehl, who was murdered in South Africa in 1993. Four men were sentenced to 18 years in prison for the crime, but later they pleaded for amnesty which the family of Amy supported by letting go of their anger and hurt. Not only that, the family started the Amy Biehl foundation in South Africa to carry on Amy’s work and even gave jobs to two of Amy’s killers, after their release from prison in 1998. May we all have the reservoir of forgiveness which Amy’s family has shown. And in the words of Amy’s father, Peter Biehl, “It just absolutely sets me free”. Read the full story here.