Why People Believe in Illogical Things?

Beliefs and logic

We live in a complex world, driven by galloping technology that has opened vistas beyond our imagination yet the vice-like grip of mythology, superstitions, religion, and mysticism has not waned.

Why do we believe in the empty words of spiritual gurus who talk in circles, entrapping people in their words?

Why are we fascinated by paranormal world of fairies, mermaids, werewolves, ghosts and dragons? Why do we read books that take us into unknown realms, which we know don’t exist?

Why do we derive pleasure out of irrational movies and shows?

Why do people bow down to so many deities, offering flowers and money to get their prayers answered?

You may be having your own answers to my questions but they may seem illogical to me.

It all depends on the way you have been raised.

If you were allowed to ask questions, if they were answered convincingly; if you could dig deeper to satisfy yourself; if beliefs were never imposed on you; if your critical thinking was encouraged and nurtured, you would never believe in illogical thoughts.

How beliefs develop:

We tend to believe what we are told by our parents and peer group. All children don’t possess discerning thoughts; some can be easily led and molded. In a class of 40 students that I taught, 39 raised their hands when they were asked whether they went to a place of worship every weekend. Why? The answer was that their parents took them along. One student who didn’t raise his hand was the one who was never told to go.

Belief in Santa is created till we grow up to realize the truth of the magic that fascinates children.

Self-beliefs are created by our own mind, depending on the kind of treatment we get from friends, family and society. Once they get embedded in our minds, they become a part of our personality. We refuse to change them unless something drastic compels us to reconsider.

Books
Fantasy that carries us away…

Books we read:

Books leave a lasting impression on our minds. As children we get carried away by fantasy and believe each word we read till we start questioning the authenticity of the worlds created in those books. I have often wondered how could Alice go down the rabbit hole and find so many friends and potions there! When we grow up with such books, we think everything is possible.

Respect for others:

We don’t want to hurt the sentiments of those who believe that Feng Shui could bring harmony in our relationships and peace into our homes. I have never told cat lovers that a black cat is considered to be inauspicious if she cuts your way. The superstition of never calling a person from behind when he is leaving his home has always been respected for his wellbeing and security.

Fear of repercussions:

Many people continue the traditions, which serve no useful purpose for fear of upsetting the elders of the house. I know a friend whose grandmother had placed an idol in one auspicious corner of the house and just because she showered and worshipped it every morning before entering the kitchen, the belief had to be followed by everyone. No one could think of moving the idol to another corner. Even the direction of the beds could not be changed, however illogical it may seem!

Political beliefs too can be illogical but they can cause serious rifts between friends and partners. So it is better to keep them out of discussion.

Do you know such people who harbor illogical beliefs?

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Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

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What is Success?

Success is looking forward
All aspire for ‘success’ – the magic word we hear the moment we are introduced to our goals. It is only when we have accomplished some of them that we tend to ponder over this question – what is real success? Is it what people around us define for us or is it what the world thinks or most importantly – is it what we think, and believe it to be?

Sometimes this question never comes to our mind. We get so engrossed in the perpetual race of earning money, more money and fame that any other aspect of life doesn’t just occur to us. Till we get tired of running and rushing, till we yearn for some peace, till we realize we need a break!

It is only at such a time that we let our minds wander to these irrelevant but most significant questions. There is no specific age for such reflections. It all depends on the maturity and the hard work, which we have put into our aspirations and how successful we have become.

So we come back to the question: what is success for you? Is it money or fame? Is it how powerful and popular you are in your arena? Is success measured by your purchasing power or the influence you can cast on people around you? Have you ever pondered or even thought about all this?

If you haven’t, now is the time to do so. If all you want is money, then, keep on pursuing it but I am sure you will get tired of your wild goose chase in a few years. If you want power, to influence people—this kind of illusion vanishes soon because our minds are very supple, they are easily influenced by change and new faces.

No single person can hold the attention of people for a long time and successful people know it very well. Once you have achieved some level of success, you have to take care of other aspects of your life. You can’t afford to focus on more money and more influence. There is more to success than just practical goals.

No single definition: 

Success is subjective; it can be defined in as many ways as you wish. To my mind, it does not refer to just arriving at your goals and then basking in the glory of those accomplishments. There is no end to goals. They keep on multiplying with each achievement.

Yes, it may be completing one part of your journey, which you started, to build a career of your choice but you have to continue that journey to satisfy your needs. It is at this stage that you have to define your limits. Are you satisfied? Are you making a constant progress or do you need to make a new beginning?

Success is being happy, being at peace with yourself; being able to look after yourself and being content. If you are not happy after all the efforts you have been putting in to earn money, then it is time to pause and redefine your success.

Money is no doubt an important component of success but it is not the only one. If success does not add compassion to your life, if it expects you to become mechanical, if it consumes all your time, if you have no time for your family, if your children dislike you…would you call this success?

Let’s try to understand it in a different manner – success can be defined at two levels: personal and professional. Which one is more important to you? I know all of us give a lot of importance to professional part of our life and in the process personal aspect gets pushed into background.

Sometimes it is difficult to slow down our pace and by the time we realize we need to look back, we could have missed the best part of our life, the precious hours, which we could have spent with family. Success is redefining your goals

Success does not just mean a lot of money and power or the house of your dreams, filled with lovely faces. It also means bringing a smile on those faces with your own presence. It means spending quality time with your spouse and children. It also means glowing in their happiness and feeling that much sought after peace of mind.

Success is not just money:  

Young and ambitious may equate success with more money, more comforts and enormous purchasing power. They are too immature to understand why rich people are not happy and how their money has failed to bring that stage of life, at which they can say – ‘I have nothing more to ask for.’ That stage never comes because money is never enough and it cannot buy health, contentment and peace.

You may argue that health should not be the priority for those who are just at the brink of hitting success, who are about to accomplish their goals and they have to put that extra hour to push ahead and to prove themselves. No longer so! The stress of modern life and the demands of galloping technology may affect your health in various ways.

Success in itself should be a long-term goal, which involves values we live for. If we equate it just with money and stop doing so after we have accumulated enough, it would be very difficult to change our expectations at a later stage.

Success is taking control of your life the way you want it to be. Many times the situation gets out of our control; the paths may diverge, we may not see the same kind of results we hope for and in disappointment, we may get pushed toward an unwanted way.

Success should definitely be following our passion and refusing to accept what we don’t want.

Success is:

  • enjoying our work
  •  being happy and making others happy
  •  upholding the values you believe in
  •  contributing something positive to the society
  •  bringing a smile to the faces of few
  •  earning love, respect and appreciation of people around you.

Success is leaving your footprints behind, so that others could remember you.

What does success mean to you?

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Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

Do You Strive For Perfection?

Chasing perfection?

Do you strive to be perfect? A flawless skin, a curvy model-like body, a project that could win you accolades, a loving and understanding spouse, a perfect home with smiling children. Do you think it is possible? If you do, you are following a mirage, as nothing is perfect in this world.

Why perfection? Who creates this myth? How do we start believing in perfection? Probably people around us impel us, expectations of our parents and challenges of our peer group sow the seeds of this illusionary idea of chasing perfection. We want to excel, accomplish all our aspirations and self-belief propels us towards putting in our best efforts and time.

You may reach the zenith but life is much more than just being successful, as no success is eternal and no life is perfect. Relationships go awry, marriages hit unknown boulders, unforeseen circumstances throw you overboard, and stress tells upon your health.

That perfect score of your child might be hiding a deep grudge against you for pushing him into academics. That zero size model might be starving herself into depression. That perfect moment of love loses its significance with time. That nagging habit could be alienating your spouse.

The wizard of perfection rests on ski slopes, smiling at us only till the snow melts.

I too, was fascinated by the perfect home settings shown in movies, magazines and advertisements and even tried hard to keep my home in perfect shape, yelling at my children to keep their toys and books where they belong. Any book left here and there carelessly was confiscated, and returned with the promise that they would be more careful in future…till they flew away to accomplish their own dreams and nobody spread things around!

My endeavors of creating a perfectly organized home robbed me of many moments of joy with my children. I am more tolerant with my grandchildren, never coaxing them to pick up the things they love to scatter around their house. Sometimes they clean up but most of the time they just walk off to their next activity and that is perfectly okay with me, now.

Do not seek perfection, as:

  • It encourages unrealistic demands
  • It fosters frustration
  • It creates stress and unnecessary arguments
  • It wastes energy
  • It derails dreams

Please don’t confuse perfection with excellence. You may try to excel, which leads us to better avenues and inventions. It also fills our heart with contentment but putting in your best efforts should be in coherence with self-love and personality building. When we try to accomplish something at the cost of relationships and health, when we ignore the core values of life in our pursuit of excellence, it could eventually prove detrimental for us. “The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection,” said George Orwell.

Haven’t you heard that legend about Draupadi, (of The Mahabharata fame) who wanted a perfect husband and asked Lord Shiva to bless her with one? She was told that all the five qualities she wished for in her husband couldn’t be found in a single man. Her wish was granted but she was destined to marry five brothers.

Quest for perfection culminates at weird destinations! What do you think?

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Balroop Singh.

How to Disengage from Gossip

Sunset Sky with dark orange hues

Gossip ushers in a lot of fun into conversations. All that frivolous talk about who wore what and why it didn’t suit him/her, the way she carries herself and what an odd couple they make, the way she laughs and how much he drinks…people have written novels, which center around gossip!

Light-hearted gossip may be harmless to some extent but it could be hurtful too. It has alienated many friends and created grave misunderstandings within families.

Why do people gossip:

  • They could be jealous of your talent
  • They want your attention
  • They want to ruin your relationships
  • They want to damage your reputation
  • They want to grab your position
  • They could be playing into the hands of others
  • Their own insecurities speak through gossip

It is very easy to say: “stop gossiping” but quite difficult to do so, as the pressure of peer group is so compelling that you don’t want to displease them, you don’t want to look “philosophical,” and later become their victim. You can’t distance yourself from gossipmongers, as this is an age-old practice. Even bosses like to listen to such persons.

So how to tackle them?

Just smile: It is better to refrain from adding any ammunition to the topic and just smile to convey an indirect message that you don’t want to be the part of a gossip group. A smile is worth a million words in some situations. Don’t even nod to unpleasant talk and don’t carry it forward.

Give a benefit of doubt: I have learnt this from Mr. serene, my dearest husband who chooses better words even for the person who has wronged him or taken him for a ride. He believes in the dictum: “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” The compulsions of a gossipmonger could be greater than his goodness.

Believe in yourself: Don’t get influenced by negative talk when you can’t avoid it. Tell yourself that there are various kinds of people and we have to tolerate them if they happen to be colleagues. I have never changed my seat just because of a toxic gossipmonger around me. My positive vibes often reach them.

Don’t get upset: Now this could be quite challenging if the gossip is about you. There are two ways of handling this situation. One is better to ignore. Two – confront the person calmly. He may deny, she may throw the blame at you but they would get the message that you know their mentality. You wont even have to clarify your position, as people would get another topic of gossip – your boldness! People have gossiped about my boldness too.

Be transparent: Honesty and truthfulness may have lost its significance in today’s world but those who uphold these values are revered. Hypocrisy can be discerned even from a distance. It is better to be transparent in your interactions especially at your workplace. If you are a boss, clarity of thought and action should be discussed candidly. Saying something but meaning the opposite could make you a butt of ridicule.

I am sure we have tried all these ways of disengaging from gossip but it continues to flourish. Reason – most of the people take pleasure in listening to juicy stories and adding their own reflections. Some people use gossip to gain popularity. Some pour it in their stories. I have read more than one book in which author has filled many pages just with chatter, without focusing on the story.

I came across gossip in school, which is a common place for friends who try to snatch each other through backbiting. It did hurt but my introvert nature didn’t help at that time. Slowly I learnt to disengage from gossipmongers and allowed myself to be a better person.

What is your favorite gossip? Do you engage in gossip? What memories do you have about gossip?

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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

Expectations and Attachments Define Life

 

expectations

Recently I came across this statement, “The best way to get what you want is not want it.” The cynicism embedded in the above statement kept me awake for many hours. I had to pen down my thoughts to calm them. How can you call self-denial the “best way”? How can you quell your desires?

Expectation is a natural human instinct – a child expects attention, love and care. If he doesn’t get the basic care, his expectations don’t end there. He seeks them elsewhere.

Those children who grow up in misery and penury don’t get immune to expectations. Their eyes are always at the sky, anticipating all that they yearn for!

Our expectations flow like a stream that keeps widening as it touches the plains. The seeds of expectation are nurtured at a very early stage of life by our parents, teachers and friends.

This so called positive assertion of “giving up what you want” may have some spiritual connotation attached to it but tell that to a child or an adolescent and you would get the real looks! They may call you cynical; scoff at your advice and consider you too old to even interact with. Buddhist philosophy appeals only to the elderly.

Wants and desires are innate. They make us human. They are those streamers that inspire us to hang out despite the windy weather. They push us toward our goals, ignite a fire of excellence and lure us toward accomplishing more. Some of them lie dormant, waiting for the right opportunity.

Life would become meaningless and hollow without desires. True, they keep on multiplying; they may even disappoint us but without them all fun flies out of our lives. Expectations and attachments define life for us.attachments

Why attachments are essential: Initial attachments introduce us to people, they underline love for us and acquaint us with the basic values of bonding, care and respect. As children grow out of those attachments, ready to face the world, they feel connected with friends; they learn the value of love and nurture relationships to live a meaningful life.

What would life be without any attachments? All human emotions germinate from attachments, which may bind us emotionally but they keep us grounded to ennoble us. Only when we feel attached do we learn compassion. Solitude seems good only after having experienced all that human beings can offer to each other. Detachment is a mere word that has failed miserably despite its valuable aspects. When we try to detach, we have to snub what our heart says. Who would like to do that?

Needs have a profound connection with attachments. Why do you need a smart phone? Our grandparents could do without it yet somebody thought of better connections. Needs, however absurd they may seem, lead us to progress, to a better society and fulfilling life.

Desires keep us motivated; they encourage us to strive, to keep going despite all the odds. They shape us into better human beings. They add fresh dimensions to mundane aspects of life.

Giving up expectations and attachments is like giving up your hold on life. I am sure all of you would agree. Please share your reflections.

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Balroop Singh.