FEAR and what I learnt from it?

I would like to add this post as a follow up to my earlier post, Faith & Fear cannot co-exist.

This post comes a month after me and my family tested positive for Covid-19. By the grace of God, we were fortunate enough to have mild symptoms that could be treated at home.

In my blog I have always been talking about Being Positive and taking every experience positively. But the last few days came with its own set of challenges. I am sure there are a lot of people out there who faced similar problems, predicaments, challenges (maybe much worse) and handled it in their own way.

I went through a series of emotions during this time. I was the first one to get the symptoms and although I isolated myself immediately, it just wasn’t enough. My son and husband were down within a day, followed by my daughter in the next few days. It was overwhelming. Sometimes the instructions, precautions from well wishers and sometimes the stress and exhaustion that comes with the illness.

These series of emotions included a major chunk of “not being positive” (ironic as it is). Guilt, anger, frustration and most importantly Fear.
I felt guilty as I think I was the one to bring this illness to my family. Anger, irritation and frustration for not being careful enough. But most importantly, FEAR. The fear of the uncertainty that comes along with this illness. Will the symptoms get severe? Will my family’s symptoms get severe? Is this going to have a long term impact on our health? Will we get the medical essentials like a hospital bed, oxygen, remdesvir injections, if matters take a turn for the worse? There were so many messages floating on various whatsapp groups about people losing family members due to lack of hospital beds and the required medicines/ injections. And I have to admit, there were a few moments where this dark fear gripped me.

The immediate counter to that thought in my head was, Where there is faith, there is no fear. Truth be told, I started feeling like a hypocrite. When I wrote my blog that Faith & fear cannot co-exist, it was the truth. And it still is the ultimate truth for me. Then why was this fear gripping me? Why was I suddenly not able to delete this from my head. It kept on creeping up every few hours. I was able to overcome it by thinking about Lord Krishna because that’s who I believe in. That’s where I have put my faith. For others, it could be another God or another form or something else that they truly believe in. Lord Krishna always says, Not a leaf moves without my will. So the almighty is the doer of things and hence no matter what happens, it always has to be for the best although we are unable to justify it with our logical mind bound with its limitations.

It took me about two days to completely overcome these thoughts. After I recovered from Covid-19, I spoke to few people who have shared with me some inspiring yet very simple anecdotes of their spiritual journey and they were kind of enough to explain my predicament to me. The take away from those conversations were, Guilt comes naturally to every human being. That shows you care. Although in retrospect I think its futile, because none of these things are really in my hands. Did I take the necessary precautions? Yes, I did. Then I did my best, and that’s it.
About fear, well that also is very natural. And the fact is, feeling afraid or experiencing fear is not the problem. Not overcoming it, is the problem.

I found this beautiful quote to explain it,

I learned that courage was not the absence of Fear, But the Triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Nelson Mandela

And I think our Faith helps us conquer the Fear. That is my takeaway from this experience. It is Faith which generates positive vibes and helps us overcome our fear or negative thoughts. It may not happen in one go, It may take few days, months or even years to entirely let go off the fear. But with every such experience one moves forward little by little to conquer that fear and move on.

As Aristotle states, “He who overcomes his fears will truly be free!

Today’s conditions, circumstances are such that there are a lot of people out there living in fear. I hope that through this post I can relieve the stress and help them gather the strength and faith required to pass through these tough times.

Persistence is the key to Being Your Best !

There are some highly motivating and inspiring quotes that come up when one searches for Persistence on Google, especially the images section.

The dictionary meaning for “persistence” says, perseverance, tenacity, grit, consistency to keep going. Very inspiring and motivating and we all feel we should do exactly that.

Easier said than done, maybe the widespread opinion. But read this,

“We are made to persist….that’s how we find out who we are.” – Tobias Wolff

I believe this. Simply because that’s extremely evident in the stories of all the successful people in the world. We have been designed in a way that continuing a course of action in spite of the difficulties along the way is the only way to bring out the best in us.
We keep reading that Diamonds are just chunks of coal that never gave up. What makes one give up?

There is a story I had heard a few years ago about a deaf frog. Two frogs accidentally fall in a deep well. All the other frogs nearby gather around the well and start expressing their concern as the two frogs inside the well are trying hard to get out and keep jumping incessantly. Soon the other frogs start shouting that the well is too deep and jumping out may not be an option. One of the frog gets tired of jumping and gives up. The other frog continues jumping. The other frog inside the well and the ones outside keep telling him that it is futile, but he doesn’t listen. Finally, he jumps with all his strength and comes out of the well. Why did this frog not listen to anyone and continued his efforts? Because he was deaf and he couldn’t hear anyone. Well, ironically its a blessing in this frog’s case.
But most of us are not deaf and we keep listening to all these voices and opinions, sometimes its people around us but a lot of times it is also the negative thoughts generated by all the failures of our past experiences. Trust me, our inner voice is pushing us to have faith and be positive. But do we listen? No, the overpowering negative thoughts suppresses that inner voice. We get tired. Fear of failure grips us. And we give up.

Barack Obama once said in his speech in 2006, “Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction. or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.

Why do most of us shame ourselves into inaction ?

Here is another story that touched a nerve,

A well respected speaker began a seminar by showing an audience of 150 people a crisp $20 bill. He asked, “Who wants this $20 bill?”

All 150 people nodded.
He said, “I am going to give this money to someone, but first….” Then he proceeded to crumple the bill up. He asked the crowd again if anyone wanted it.

All 150 hands went up in the air.
The speaker then dropped the money on the floor and stomped all over it. He then raised it in the air to show the crowd. The money was filthy. “Does anyone want it now?”

Every hand went up.

The speaker proceeded to tell the crowd that no matter what he did to ruin the money, people still wanted it because its value remained the same. It was still worth $20.

Life often beats us up to the point where we feel inadequate. We deal with bad circumstances and make bad choices that we have to deal with later. However, no matter what we go through, our value will remain the same.

I would dispute the notion that our value remains the same. No! These experiences actually increases our vigour, our maturity, our capacity to handle pressures and hence gradually increases our value much more. That’s Life’s way of preparing us for the goal that we are meant to achieve, the purpose of our life. Arguably the only way of converting the chunks of charcoal to diamonds! And here we are, doubting our self worth!

Hence I believe that we have been designed to persist and unlock our true potential to actualize our purpose in life.

I would invite people reading this blog to give this a thought. Believe in yourself, realize your value and keep going forward to achieve all the goals that you have set for yourself. Its a path of Thinking Positive and Living Positive!

A positive life in a negative world!

I have been reading a lot about positive thinking and even talking to a lot of people about it and today I came across a beautiful quote by Lindsey Vonn, “Life changes very quickly, in a positive way, if you let it.”

If we let it – being the takeaway from that quote. In the past I have tried to decipher this by saying Why would I not want my life to be positive. Of course I want my life to be positive, but “its not me” is where I was stuck. For instance, I always had difference of opinions with my father at work. I still do. And I always attributed that to being the reason of us not getting along or me being in a bad mood. And hence he was the cause of my negativity.
It was never me. I would never own it up and keep justifying how it starts with one disagreement and then one thing leads to another and it just turns out to be a very bad day.
But I m glad that although I still have disagreements with him, (most times) I am able to shed off the negative thoughts provoked or surfaced due to that.

Another example that I can share is about a discussion I had with a young graduate about his career. He seemed lost. Sincerity and working hard was not a problem for him. His problem was that he had no goals set for himself. He believed he was taking Life as it comes. Further into the conversation, I realized that this was an escape route for him in order to deal with his fear of failure.
I think and again I say this from my own experience that Fear of Failure pushes the most capable people to maintain the status quo. When there is no goal, there is no accountability, there is no reason for anyone to question your achievements and capabilities.

Unfortunately, lot of parents impose their expectations, their aspirations on their kids. As a kid I remember that scoring good marks in the exam was equivalent to being a smart and intelligent child. Not the truth but that’s how most people from my generation were brought up. I am not sure if it has changed a lot.
As ridiculous as it is we all know that every child CANNOT score great marks in every subject in every exam and every child CANNOT bang the most coveted 1st Rank!
I believe this slowly erodes the child’s positive attitude. Constant criticism, constant comparison with an “apparent” brighter kid, constantly competing with peers leads to them forgetting their interests, their originality. They tend to get into a race to prove their worth not just to their parents, teachers and people they look up to – but themselves.

This is just one example of expectations of grades during school times but we can relate with this to a lot of things in life like peer pressure, relationships, outer appearances like looks & weight, social media pressures, earning more money etc etc etc …and its all about proving one’s self worth to ourselves under the pretext of irrelevant and futile things like acceptance from society.

I believe, the root cause of the negative attitude in our mind is a notion that constantly tells us, ‘You are not good enough’. And we start believing it and this is how we live our life.

That negative attitude has to be uprooted but its not a one-time activity. This is a daily constant cleansing process. I am sure each one of us tries their level best to overcome the negative thoughts with positive thoughts. If someone reading this blog has managed to do it, awesome! But a lot of us (including me) get derailed. That little devilish voice creeps in and tells us – There is no point, you are just not good enough. We need to shut that voice completely. To ensure that there is no self doubt and not a single negative thought penetrates into our mind, we need to train our mind accordingly.

Things which seem unthinkable, unimaginable, difficult, complex, hurtful, painful are all to be embraced and assimilated with the same positive energy. It maybe difficult but its the only way to peace and a truly beautiful positive life

I would like to share a beautiful video conceptualized by Rob Dial on Why positive thinking doesn’t work.

I cannot think of a better way to explain this. Its perfect and conveys the exact meaning accurately. Also, its so simple to relate and remind ourselves that we need to cleanse constantly.

I share this with the hope to make a positive impact on at least one person reading this blog. There is a lot of negativity in the world. This is my attempt to help someone find their path to cleansing and eventually peace and happiness.

Faith & Fear cannot co-exist

While talking to my aunt the other day, she happened to mention this, “Faith & Fear cannot co-exist”. So profound! She told me how it had impacted her and every time she had negative thoughts of fear – how she reminded herself of her faith.

So true! I have been fortunate that I got a chance to read the Bhagvad Geeta in the past few weeks. Why fortunate ? Well, the book has been in my house for the past 7 years and I have tried reading a few chapters in the past. But the understanding and interpretation of that holy scripture that I have today is very different and it is making a very POSITIVE impact.
It is very enlightening and rejuvenating.
Bhagvad Geeta shows one the Way of Life! How to live a life which is fulfilling and purposeful. I can talk about the Bhagvad Geeta for hours but I will stick to the topic I have chosen today.

Today the whole world is gripped by the fear of the Corona virus (covid-19) pandemic and in these difficult times everyone is dealing with it differently based on their experiences, circumstances and Faith.

I believe that when one has faith that everything happens for a reason and it is always the Best and that it is designed by some Higher Power or Almighty or as some people choose to call it – LIFE ( as in Robin Sharma’s Book The 5AM club – Own your morning. Elevate your Life). In his book he writes, “Trust – always – that Life has your back – even if what’s unfolding makes no sense”.
These current circumstances are no different. It just doesn’t make sense and is very hard to grasp. We are not sure when life will be back to normal or whether the normalcy of life will be redefined? It is quite daunting. The news and multiple forwarded messages on social media platforms about the death toll and heart wrenching experiences of some patients and their family members adds more fear to the already bewildered and completely wrecked state of mind.

The ‘state of mind’ being the term to emphasize on.

Yes, this is an unprecedented event of our times. There is no documented (or rather adequately recorded) evidence of the entire world being affected by a pandemic for such a long time where the global economy had taken a hit. These uncertainties bring out the fear of the unknown in all of us which spins to a whirlwind of negative thoughts only to be sucked into this dark pool of hopelessness.

What is happening to the World is beyond our control right now. But what is in our control is Only Our State of Mind, as is the case in life with all the adverse situations and circumstances. Faith is the only anti-dote for this hopelessness. The rock solid foundation which makes our mind a fortress knocking out all negative thoughts and not allowing any hopelessness to penetrate.

I had read somewhere that FEAR can be handled in two ways, Forget Everything And Run OR Face Everything And Rise!
Our faith helps us, supports us to Face Everything and Rise positively. It is that strong belief that whatever happens, happens for a reason and it is always the best – which gives us the power to accept and rise positively.

I would like to leave everyone reading this article this positive thought and close this topic for today,
“The struggle that we are in today (no matter how frustrating, painful, unwanted it is), is developing the strength that we need for tomorrow. – Just have faith”

Joy & Sorrow – Are they really two sides of the same coin?

Today, I heard something very interesting and insightful. Someone said, What is Life? Life is a combination of Joy & Sorrows. No one gets only joy and happiness in their life and no one gets only sorrow and sadness in their life. Nothing is permanent but change. And that’s why the conclusion that no one will continue to feel joy or vice versa.

Having said that, what if its only a matter of our perspective. I mean I have read books, blogs and articles where it is prudent to handle both joy & sorrow stoically. And there is a whole lot of explanations as to why and how it helps us in life. No arguments on that. I agree. But there could be a better approach in explaining it. I came across an example and it really touched a nerve, hence I thought of sharing it here.

If a person gets mugged/robbed – the immediate reaction from the victim or even the victim’s dear ones is, Material loss is unimportant right now. We are just glad & thankful to the Lord as the attacker/ robber didn’t cause any harm to your life or physically hurt you.

Here the way I see it – The reason to be happy/ glad is much more important than the reason to be sad. A lost item of materialistic value can be replaced but Life or a physical injury/ handicap cannot or at least will not be simple to replace. If we start changing our perspective this way and see the good in every situation, we will realize that whatever bad happened could have been worse. This is what I believe in and this according to me is Thinking Positive and Being Positive!

It gives tremendous strength as we realize that there is more to celebrate than to worry or cry. Whenever I am down and feel a little low, I start thinking about the good and positive things in life. It literally liberates me. There are so many things in life that one should be grateful for. One of the most important being our health. Secondly the fact that we have been given this precious life – there has to be some meaning to it. Its not worth wasting it by crying. The more chances we get, the more we need to celebrate!

Would love to hear everyone’s opinion on this. If someone disagrees, I would love to give my positive take on that. Always willing and open to see the good in a bad or tough situation.