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.

Five life lessons from the movie Fight Club

Fight Club is one hell of a movie. It not only has a gripping story, but also contains many life lessons hidden in the story. If you have not yet watched the movie, stop reading this article and go watch it..

Fight Club contains great messages about life and its never ending desires. It tells you to live a life without fear and distractions. It is certainly one of my favorite movies for many reasons. Here are five top life lessons one can learn from this movie –

1. You are the cause, not the fault
Whatever happens in your life, it is no accident. You are at the cause of it, and not at fault. There is no point blaming yourself or anybody else or any situation for your life. It takes a moment to take a decision, to take responsibility of your life and start working towards what is important to you. You can sit around and do nothing and cry about how you have no power, or go out in the world, and start making a difference. You might not have control over the situation, but you always have control over how you react to it, and that is the only thing that matters.

I say never be complete.  I say stop being perfect.  I say let's evolve.  Let the chips fall where they may

I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say let's evolve. Let the chips fall where they may

2. Get rid of fear, doubt, ifs and buts
Whenever you decide to do something, you will always find excuses if you want to. There will always be ifs and buts, and fear of stepping into the unknown. Get rid of these doubts, overcome fear and keep a clear focus as Tyler Durden does in the movie and get it done. Whether you want to get a new job, or start a new business, or remove hunger and poverty from the world, you will face challenges. The only way you can overcome them is to have a strong will, ability to persuade others to your cause and to stay on target despite all problems which life throws at you.

3. Best time of life is when you live in the NOW
Life is ending one minute at a time. Either you can ponder, worry over the past and the future, or you can choose to live in the NOW. Believe it or not, the only moment you have is this one, and this one, and this one. This is how life passes by when we are busy making big plans for it. Start enjoying the small things in each moment. Hear the drops of rain falling on the floor, let the smell of the wet mud capture you, feel and cherish as you see people smile and laugh, listen to the birds perching, and so on. You are going to die one day. Don’t wait for someday to start living life, instead do amazing things right now.

4. Do something for someone else
There is a scene in the movie where Tyler Durden takes a young store clerk behind the store and puts a gun to his head.  He scares the shit out of the young guy, then he asks him what he wants to do with his life.  He ends up saying that he would like to be a veterinarian.  Tyler then tells him he is keeping his license and he is going to check in on the young man, if he isn’t on his way to becoming a veterinarian in a few weeks… Tyler will kill him.  A bit drastic agreed, but as Tyler Durden explains… ”Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted. ”  We should try to have an impact on someone else’s life.  And believe me, if feels awesome when you do so.

5. Materialism is a trap
To be truly happy you don’t need more stuff, you build what people or nature can’t take away from you. Stuff like knowledge, memories and inner strength. Hanging in hip cafes smoking cigarettes doesn’t make you creative. Your job, the money in your bank, the car you drive doesn’t define you. You are defined by what you accomplish and create. I am not saying give up everything you have. But I am saying don’t let your stuff own you so that they don’t allow you to live the life you want to.

Never sacrifice happiness for achievement

Life is a journey which starts and end with birth and death, respectively. It is the same for everybody, irrespective of which country you are born in, or what color you are. Then why is it that some people are happy and others not? Lets explore it a bit more. Happiness normally comes from achievements. A fulfilled goal, a task accomplished, a job done well are all achievements and we get happiness out of it. More so if the task or goal was difficult or hard to complete.

If we introspect our lives, we will see that life is a journey and setting goals and milestones makes it meaningful. However, most of our time is spent preparing or working towards that goal or milestone rather than being happy when it is over. Because once a task is over, the happiness is only temporary as we have new goals and tasks to go after.

What I am proposing is that we should never sacrifice happiness for achievement. Let me explain this rather ambiguous statement. Happiness and achievement are two different things. No doubt we need goals to challenge us, to inspire us and take action, but we need not be happy only on the successful completion of the goal. Happiness is more of a choice rather than an outcome of something. When we are doing small daily tasks towards a bigger goal or a milestone, we can be happy and enjoy our best in each of these tasks, no matter how small they may be. These tasks will lead us to our goal, and if we find happiness in them, we are ultimately bound to do good in our goal too.

Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.  ~Margaret Lee Runbeck

Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling. ~Margaret Lee Runbeck

Now, when you work towards a goal, you might have to do things that are tedious and boring, you might have to meet people you don’t like, or you might have to work very hard to achieve your goal. Think of this toil as the penance for the goal and seek happiness in it. Remember gold needs to go through a furnace before it starts to glow and shine. A diamond is nothing but carbon. It has to withstand enormous pressure for many many years before it becomes a diamond. Similarly, for any commendable achievement, everybody has to make some sacrifices, do some tasks which we don’t like, or sometimes we have to just hope and wait for the results of our efforts. All this is ‘part of the game‘. It is not something which was not supposed to happen. So there is no reason to be unhappy. It will only make us stronger, better and eventually lead us towards the milestone. In simple words, Achieve Happily!!

Another important point to take note is that overcoming fear is the real achievement. The final outcome is only a tangible proof of your success. The real cause for celebration is the daily small tasks we do, irrespective of numerous fears we might have. So every small task, every small step of ours is a reason to be happy. Every moment along the way is the real source of happiness, and it is a wonder how many of us miss it.

So start living NOW. Enjoy what you are doing. This is the only moment you will ever have. This is the moment to celebrate. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is knowing that it is there and still dreaming to be bigger than your fear. I will end with a simple but very powerful quote –
“Have the courage to live. Anyone can die.”

4 Lessons from the movie “Groundhog Day”

There are movies which are good, then there are movies which are wonderful, and there are a few movies which touch and move your soul. You can watch these movies any number of times and find something new each time. These are movies which aren’t just movies, they have deep lessons buried in them, only for the viewer to find out. Some of such movies (on my list) are Groundhog Day, Pursuit of Happyness, Rocky, Peaceful Warrior, etc. Today, let me share with you four lessons I got from watching Groundhog Day. But first, lets recap what happens in the movie.

In the movie, the main character, Phil Connors is trapped in a recurring day — a freezing February day in Punxsutawney. The town never changes; the events and the people never change. Only Phil can change. It is impossible for Phil to have any control over the external world. Every morning he wakes up and it’s the same day again. He is compelled to find how best to survive and prosper, and decide if this is a curse or maybe a blessing. Now for the lessons –

Living in the Moment
This movie, more than anything else, shows us how to live ‘every‘ moment of our lives. Living every moment means not worried by what happened in the past neither by what is going to happen in the future. Living in the moment means giving yourself totally to ‘this‘ moment, the ‘only‘ moment you actually have, whether you are doing your job, playing with your kid, or washing dishes. And this movie shows that the same moment keeps repeating unless he totally surrenders to it. In a way, that is true in everybody’s life. Same experiences, of repeating moments kind of get stuck with us unless we surrender to them and “get it“. Totally living every moment of our lives is the ultimate act which will lead us to beyond anything we have ever imagined.

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Unconditional love and compassion for ourself and others
When Phil ‘got it‘ and started to live his never-ending day as the best he can, he starts giving his unconditional love and compassion to himself and to others around him. He didn’t bother to see people as friends or strangers, good or bad, and so on. What he realizes that while whatever he ‘actually’ wanted and have been striving for all these years have never given him the kind of happiness living one day out of compassion and love has given him. Similarly, in life, we too often tie our efforts with results. We say “I will put in more effort if you pay me more”, “I will help you if you help me” or “I don’t trust you because you don’t deserve it”. All our actions are driven by some past results or future expectations. When we learn to give our love unconditionally to others “now“, without waiting for the right moment, we will realize, like Phil did, that the life we were waiting for all this time will actually come and knock at our doors.

You have to change your view about the world, not the world itself
What has been shown so beautifully in this movie is that every day, the world is exactly the same. The only difference that is there is because of Phil’s own actions, because his own actions are the only thing he has control over. If we pause to look at our lives, every day is not ‘literally’ the same, but it is almost the same day after day. The only thing that can change is our views about the world, how we look at it and how we act. Groundhog Day shows how we can all change the world outside into a wonderful one, by just changing our thoughts and attitudes. Inner change is the key to happiness and personal growth and this movie is the best example of this.

We all live like Phil’s first Groundhog Day
In the movie, when Phil lived through his first Groundhog Day, he was just waiting for the day to get over. He was tired, indifferent, angry, and bored at different times. If we look at our lives, that is how we live. We wait for something to happen, a new job, or an important milestone or goal in work, thinking at after that life will be happy and fulfilling. But in doing so, we miss the current moment. Any happiness we tie to some goal or moment will give us some satisfaction for a few days at best, then we come again to the same phase, busy for the next goal. Going from destination to destination but missing the journey in the process.