Archive for April, 2016

The second factor

April.24. 2016

Life is about growing and reaching your full potential.

That may sound like a personal life-philosophy, but it’s not, it is actually a law of nature.

Think of it this way.

To be alive is to exist in one of two states—you’re either growing or you’re dying. There is no middle ground.

To paraphrase the great poet-philosopher Robert Zimmerman, “If you’re not busy growing, you’re busy dying.”

Take a rose. During its short life span, it will bloom (grow) and then it will die. (And during its short life, it will fill the world with the most exquisite scent.)

Contrast this to a plastic rose, which stays immutable and unchanging until one day, maybe you get tired of looking at it and throw it out into the dumpster.

Between growing and dying, I think most people will agree that the former is a preferable state of being.

And that leads us to the second critical factor.

To grow (we’re talking about spiritual growth here as opposed to the physical), you need a receptive mind.

And that is the second factor.

A receptive mind is based on the proposition that the job is never done, the journey never finished.

As soon as you reach one state of being, you’re already moving to the next.

It’s based on the simple philosophy that life is a work in progress, that we never truly reach our goal. (Because to reach our goal is to imply that we have stopped growing which means that we’re already dying.)

How does one acquire a receptive mind?

Start with the self-awareness that you’re incomplete, that you can never know everything. And because you’re incomplete, you’re constantly trying to fill in the gaps, which of course can never be filled.

Because as soon as you fill one gap, you realize there’s another gap that needs to be filled too. And so you keep on moving forward, growing as you fill in the gaps in your consciousness.

A realization that we’re incomplete may seem like a form of humility, but to me it’s more like brutal self-honesty.

Because it is a true reflection of things, it is the reality of our existence.

A grateful heart

April.17. 2016

There are two things I’ve found that are essential for a happy and fulfilling life.

Two absolutely critical factors.

You can call them the secret ingredients of life. (Actually not so secret but often overlooked.)

The first is a grateful heart.

(You’ve probably heard of this one before, and everything you’ve heard is true.)

A grateful heart is the source of all joy.

A grateful heart operates on the assumption that you deserve nothing, that everything you have is a special gift. And because it’s so special, you value it, and you give thanks just to have it.

When you think about it, nothing really belongs to you.

Everything you have is a temporary gift, which can be taken away from you at any time.

Perhaps you’ve worked hard to get to where you are.

And you feel (quite rightly too) that you deserve everything you got because you’ve worked hard for it.

But think of a farmer who works hard in his fields. For a while, it may appear that his hard work is paying off, the crops are gleaming golden in the midday sun, but then, one night, a storm comes and floods his fields. The entire crop is wiped out.

So where is that hard work now? Is it still producing the bountiful harvest?

If you think of it this way, every good harvest is a gift from the heavens.

And everything that you have has come to you because the universe was working on your side.

A grateful heart finds joy in everything because it sees everything as a special gift, a blessing.

Whereas a heart without gratitude is one that takes everything for granted. And because it takes everything for granted, nothing gives it joy.

A person with a gratitude-less heart can be blessed with every gift from the gods and he’ll still find something to whine about.

You can say it all comes down to perspective.

A young man blessed with everything in life can still complain he’s bored with his life, while in the fields, his migrant counterpart may be finding joy in the fact he’s made it to this great country and able to work for a living.

So does that imply that we all have to look to the least fortunate among us to feel gratitude?

Not necessarily, but sometimes a little perspective may help.

Next, the second critical factor.