Vast majority of us are “ALIVE” and not “LIVING”. In the modern era, common man is “Alive” and lives like an android. “Living” needs a conscious effort to know where we are now and where we are going. The famous CEO coach Marshall Goldsmith says that we need to have a compass attached with our brain which constantly shows what we are doing in this planet and what we should be doing. Just imagine a ship without a compass; it is unlikely that it will reach its destination.
In human life, Success is measured by how much wealth one has accumulated. In the common man’s point of view, we measure the same by checking whether he/she has “settled in Life?” During the protected economy days, parents wanted their children to take up a Government job which they felt was a secured one and hence their off-springs will be settled in life soon! Alas, what is the fate of a Government institution where people are “settled” and have no accountability!
Let’s now explore a little more.
Making a living
From our childhood days we have been conditioned to compete to survive. We have been told by our parents that we should study well, score good marks, get a good degree, secure a good job and settle down in our life. The concept of 'settling down' is so deeply ingrained in our consciousness which means that we should get a good job, get married, have children, buy properties and pay the bills forever! Vast majority of us have settled down to this routine in life, working for someone, earn and make the financial institutions rich by paying the bills for acquiring the properties. This is the mundane aspect of crowd behaviour. Osho Rajneesh used to say that the crowd behaviour is always average and the arithmetic average is always lower than the best performance.
Just to site an example of the average crowd behaviour, once myself and my son went for his BE admission where we had a specific time slot allotted for each student. While we entered the college premises, we saw a big queue standing. Out of sheer habit, we also went and stood in the queue. While the names were announced, people were going into the interview room which meant that the queue has no meaning! In spite of this happening, still people stood in the queue without going and relaxing in the lawn waiting for their time. While no one thought of this, my son suddenly asked me “Dad why are standing in the queue as it is not first cum first serve basis?” Yes, I saw a merit in what he was saying and we went and relaxed in the lawn while all others were blindly standing in the queue! This is a good example to show how the average human being behaves without any rationale following the CROWD behaviour.
We have seen in the recent past that every parent wants their children either to become an engineer or a doctor! Even among the various branches of engineering, people considered computer science as the only branch worth studying! This is due to the fact that, the software engineers are paid the highest salary as compared to engineers in engineering companies. This crowd behaviour shifted the entire engineer’s from engineering to software companies draining away the brain for the hard core engineering, resulting in imbalance in the economy which got automatically corrected by the recent debacle in the software industry. Examples of the crowd behaviour can be multiplied.
The important point I am trying to make is, the average man is keen on “Making a Living” and least interested in making this planet a better place to live. Strangely, among all creations, human beings are the only species which takes more from this planet than it gives; the plants take carbon dioxide and gives oxygen, the cows eats all junk and gives milk and so on.
Making a difference
Let us look at a few who have made this planet a better place to live; may be Henry Ford who gave us the automobile, Michel Faraday who gave electricity, Edison who gave electric bulb and so on. Just imagine our modern life without automobiles, electric bulbs and electrical appliances! Is it not frightening? Edison conducted approximately 1500 experiments before he could find how electricity can be converted into light and he has almost spent his life time to invent the electric bulb. The interesting point is, these great people who have made this planet a better place to live, had never concluded that they would make the invention in their life time. They had pursued their investigation with a mindset “Nothing matters” – which means “if they find success, it is fine; if they don’t, then also it is fine!”
It is evident from the statement Edison made when his friends cautioned him that he was wasting all his life in the laboratory in fruitless pursuits. He is believed to have said “By the time I die, I would have proved how in 1200 ways electricity cannot be converted into light; and this will help the scientists in the future to avoid these experiments!” This is what I mean by “Making a difference”
What is the main point?
I am not suggesting that every one of us must shift from a common man’s way of life to a scientific enquiry. Even when we are “making a living” still we can “Make a difference” This is possible only when we shift our focus from surviving to pay the bills to look forward to a self actualization in whatever we do. Many of us work for a company purely for the “belly sake” and virtually not feel like going to work in the morning. Swami Chimayananda used to compare a farmer who works in the hot sun for 12 hours and still very fresh in the evening where as an employee in an urban area is already tired when he reaches his office! The farmer feels he is “playing” and the employee feels that he is “working”. Every one of us has an equal opportunity to make significance in the job we are doing. It is possible only when we love what we do.
Shri. Rishi Prabhakar used to say that “Life is like a bridge which can be used to cross over and not to stay permanently” It implies that Life is a transient phenomenon; a collection of experiences which can neither be stored nor transferred. Every one of us have two choices namely “Be a reason for change” or a “Victim of the Change”. In the former choice, we are the few who made a contribution to the mankind and in the latter we become one of the crowd who is a victim of the changes.
There are three drivers that make us achieve better things in life:
One of the motives that drive the human beings is Contribution. We all feel happy when our ideas are implemented and the company achieves some results. I used to be amused by seeing people donating a tube light to the temple by writing their name on it. All of us want to leave something for the legacy so that we will be remembered after our death. May be this motive is coming from the human desire to be immortal. This may be the reason we wish to engrave our name in the rock believing that it will remain even if we depart from this planet to a new abode. Very strangely, some of us don’t focus on this basic ingredient which helps us to make a difference and we end up becoming a rebellion of new ideas and draw attention by opposing them.
Dr Viktor Frankl, the founder of Logo therapy in his famous book “Man’s search for meaning” dealt with the need for finding purpose for human to remain sane. Logo means purpose. Just imagine a life without a purpose, is it not frightening? I guess the society has created the system of marriage, family, off-springs etc to create a sense of purpose so that only sane people will roam in the society! In one of the art of living sessions which I attended a few years back, the master asked the question to the aspirants “what is the purpose of your life?” One of the youngsters sitting next to me said “It is 3 M’s”. The teacher asked him what did those 3 M’s stands for? He said “Money – Mansion – Mercedes”. The young man explained that his purpose of life is to achieve these 3 things which he believes will make him happy. Alas, if you read the book “The monk who sold his Ferrari” written by Robin Sharma, you will appreciate what this 3 Ms would do in terms of happiness!
The human beings at the lowest rung of maturity feel that the purpose of life is to aggrandize wealth and physical indulgence. The people in the middle rung of the maturity, feel that making a contribution to mankind is the purpose of life. The people in the highest rung of evolution feel that realizing God to avoid rebirth is the purpose of life. Never the less, the purpose is one of the active ingredients of human life and higher it is, better is the quality of life for the individual and the mankind as a whole.
As per the scriptures, our true nature is – Sat (Truth) – Chit (Eternal) – Ananda (bliss). By default we should be happy! The unhappiness is our making! In other words, there is nothing called unhappiness, but when we fail to recognize and enjoy the happiness which is prevalent within us naturally, we create the state of unhappiness in us. Looking at the two motives we have seen namely Contribution and meaning, they are the means to make us happy. In another words, human beings aim to contribute and find purpose (meaning) to achieve happiness. Hence happiness is the end result. There are two schools of thoughts; one is happiness is a “state of mind and does not depend on any stimuli” and the other is “happiness is the effect which needs a cause to make it happen”. If we accept the latter paradigm, we need 3 M’s to make us happy. The data shows that the people who have achieved all wealth are the unhappy people and this proves the point that material pursuits are not causing happiness. If you agree to the former paradigm, you don’t need any external stimuli to make us happy. It is just our decision to be happy. Please read more about Happiness written by me which you will find below or by clicking the archive button in this blog.
- Making a Living is a mundane aspect of life which has no greatness.
- Making a difference needs courage and different mindset to leave a legacy behind
- The Crowd behaviour is always average and if you follow it, you will be an average human being at the most.
- Contribution, Meaning and Happiness are the three drivers that provide fuel for our life; use them well to draw energy to go beyond.
- Happiness is a state of mind and needs no inputs to make it happen.
- Material pursuits can never have a lasting happiness as the data shows that it is incapable of causing happiness.
- Great achievers have always lived with the paradigm “Nothing matters in the ultimate analysis”