Joy in the Face of Adversity?

I know joy quite well; I’ve experienced its ecstasy, I’ve written many poems about joy and happiness but when the Book of Joy was recommended to me, I was intrigued by it, as it is based on the conversation of two renowned spiritual masters and friends – the Dalai Lama XIV and Desmond Tutu, (and reported by Douglas Carlton Abrams.)

So I am reading ‘The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World’ and must share my thoughts about it. When I started reading this book, I thought I know all this – I know suffering ennobles us, I know pain is essential for our emotional and mental growth, I know struggles make us stronger but this book made me ponder, followed me at my walks, haunted me with a number of questions and humbled me beyond words. The hubris of knowing and only knowing, not practicing, melted like thin air around me.

Living with joy even in the face of adversity! Doesn’t it seem outrageous? Only exalted souls can make such a statement and I read with added interest how one could find joy in difficult situations. 

Is it possible to be joyful in the face of our daily troubles? The answer lies within us, says the Dalai Lama, “The ultimate source of happiness is inside, not outside. Even the source of physical health is inside, not outside.”
We know that happiness is a state of mind, an attitude that needs to be cultivated but the “source of physical health too is inside?” I was bewildered by this thought and have been trying to figure out the ways to understand this.

When asked that “nothing can be more devastating than being exiled from your home, from the things that are really precious to you and yet to have wonderful serenity on your face and wonderful compassion in your heart,” the Nobel Peace Laureate enlightens us that fleeing from Tibet gave him “more opportunity to learn, to experience life.” He further says, “If you look from one angle, you feel, oh how bad, how sad. But if you look from another angle at the same tragedy, that same event, you see that it gave me more opportunities.” 

Perspective matters.
This book inspires us to “ take a holistic view” of a problem or a situation to respond to it in a more constructive manner. When we have a wider perspective, we have a natural understanding of our place in the situation. “We must look at any given situation or problem from the front and from the back, from the sides, from the top and the bottom, so from at least six different angles,” says the global spiritual leader. “One need not depend on religious faith to educate our inner values.” 

The conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu is most light-hearted, exuding with love and friendship; realistic and humorous at places yet it touches the core of your heart. I was stunned by the positivity of these observations: 
“When you become a refugee, you get closer to life.” 
“Torture and hard labor tests your inner strength. Some lose hope, some keep going, education has very little to do with survival in such circumstances. It is the inner spirit that matters.”

Personal experiences are cited to emphasize that “the depth of our suffering can also result in the height of our joy.” If there is no way to overcome the tragedy, there is no use worrying too much about it. We cannot control the inevitability of occurrences but we could influence their effect in our life by adjusting our attitude toward them. So it is all about the perspective.

You must remember that “there are eight pillars of joy: four are the qualities of mind – perspective, humor, humility and acceptance.
Four are the qualities of heart – forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity.”

This book is neither religious nor spiritual yet it could be a life-changing book for those who wallow in self-pity, who can’t think beyond self, who seek happiness in material things, who chase success and contentment. It is not about some “abstract or aspirational theory of joy;” it talks about life in a simple way. It discusses fear, grief, frustration, anger, loneliness, envy and self-centered attitude, which create most of our suffering. Don’t forget, says the Archbishop “you are a masterpiece in the making. You are not yet perfect.”

Joy in the face of adversity comes with resilience, it comes when we learn to move beyond our suffering, when we train our mind and develop “mental immunity,” when we learn to “avoid the destructive emotions and develop the positive ones.”

Have you trained your mind to this level?

One reading of this book may not be enough!

Thank you.
Balroop Singh.

Raining Opportunities

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Rain and clouds – a poet’s delight but they bring in gloom for some. It’s the way we look at things! Perspectives mold us into the kind of individuals we want to be.

Rain brings in some beautiful memories of the distant past, of childhood paper boats and weeping trees, of opportunities to slip out and splash in the transitory pools, which beckoned us to see our delightful faces.

Life passed by, robbing us of those thrilling moments. When the real meaning of opportunities dawned on us, we learned some profound lessons…

Opportunities are like drops of rain…you have to welcome them, harvest them and make them turn around! If you carry an umbrella all the time, you will miss the fun of soaking in their grandeur. They make you the person you would like to be, one day!

If you want to pick up the right opportunity,

  • Have faith in yourself.girl-1438138__340
  • Banish fears.
  • Follow your dreams.
  • Take initiative.

Sometimes opportunities come in the form of blessings, most unexpected but they also come in the form of misfortunes, with hidden possibilities and we may fail to comprehend what they have to offer. Dig deeper!

Mist of circumstances blocks our imagination, stops us from making new beginnings. Sometimes we don’t take the initiative due to lack of support, money, resources, health and sometimes family commitments seem more important. There is a silence within us, which responds only when the opportunity connects with our passion.

Having an open mind toward all the possibilities is the right approach. If we have a positive attitude, half the battle is won. Disappointments may disillusion us but an optimist would call it a blessing in disguise; thinking there is something better waiting for us!

I have always felt horizon is better than the sky because it keeps moving away, hence giving an impetus to our dreams and goals! Let the horizon be your inspiration. Clouds shield the light. Be patient!

“Create the world you want and fill it with the opportunities that matter to you”—Alicia Keys.

What stops you from making new beginnings? Do you have the determination to create your own opportunities? You can share your valuable thoughts here.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

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Why Is It Important To Have Opinions And Communicate Them?

Opinion

‘Don’t be judgmental’

Who, me?

The comment hit me like a hurricane!

I have been learning for almost 8 years not to be judgmental.

I have tried quite hard to restrict my opinions.

Do I have to make such an effort even in case of my own sister?

She is one of the few persons with whom I speak out my mind, without thinking. She too?

‘Well, where did you pick up this word?’ I tried to tease her. She didn’t like my question. She reacted sharply as if I had assaulted her intellect!

Why are people so obsessed with words of appreciation all the time? Even our own dear ones, the nearest ones dislike an honest opinion!

Isn’t it good to have your own opinion? Many people resent that!

They want to hear what they think is right, thereby trying to change your opinion. The meek ones accept and learn to subdue their voice.

They want you to be guided by their own choices, their own likes and dislikes and may even stall your growth by keeping you away from forming your own views.

Is ‘judgmental’ a synonym of opinion, another question that cropped up instantly in my mind.

I went to thesaurus (so easy when it is just under your fingers) to understand this word better and found 42 synonyms of opinion.

Then my fingers danced over to dictionary and I found:

Synonym Study

  1. Opinion, sentiment, view are terms for one’s conclusion about something. An opinion is a belief or judgment that falls short of absolute conviction, etc., are probably true or likely to prove so: political opinions; an opinion about art; In my opinion this is true.)

I have been trying to understand why an innocent and candid opinion is also construed as ‘judgment.’ Why are we so touchy about receiving opinions?

“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” – Paulo Coelho

Opinion Molders:

An effort has always been made; in all ages by all societies to mold opinion yet there have been independent thinkers and revolutionaries who refused to be cowed down by fanatics, conformists and conservatives.

Social values, friends, communities and families control our thoughts.

While teaching students of an impressionable age, when they are struggling to break free from the unwritten decrees of society, I observed that 99% of them are guided by the opinion of their parents and cultural compulsions. They believe what is told to them.Opinion Quote

Only few dare to form their own opinion, which gets molded much later in life and that too if they are not prejudiced.

Pre-judged assumptions of political and religious leaders reach us through media and advertising and they feed on our emotions, which can be easily swayed.

In an era of digital world where advertising barons and group discussions shout at us, it is easier to get influenced by what people are saying.

Why is it essential to nurture our opinion?

  • It defines us and our personality
  • It makes us an independent individual
  • It sets us apart from others
  • Society evolves with opinions or new beliefs
  • Opinions have always ushered change

Many times we are encouraged to keep our opinions to ourselves. I could never be guided by such well-wishers!!

If you don’t have an opinion, you can be easily manipulated. Some people love to do that.

Have you met such people? How strong is your opinion about people and issues?

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.