Contentment

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Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life - Omar Khayyam

We all seek happiness. Most regard is as an illusive sentiment and hence the search continues. Often people are happy only when they have a target or project to keep busy; or when relationships and life is going as they want; or when on vacation; or when they make others happy. Are we able to be happy with life per se? As soon as life is off schedule or plan or unable to keep us occupied, we start looking for entertainment from the world. We are one of the most miraculous creations of nature. What prevent us from enjoying ourselves? Are we so inadequate?

We resist taking responsibility for our sense of contentment and instead make ourselves dependent upon goals and targets and people to keep us occupied and numb our senses to feel occupied and create a false sense of contentment. We have been gifted with creation and creativity. It is up to us to take responsibility to be content with our life rather than be dependent upon circumstances and objects and constantly look for life to make us happy.

In my experience, the acceptance that everything is transient and change is the essence of life is the first step to taking responsibility for life. Every time there is change, we need stability at some level. If we have no internal stability, we keep looking for external means for stabilizing our life and given that creation is dynamic, there is no hope. Our sense of inadequacy or dependence arises from our inability to take responsibility for our emotions. Emotions or thoughts in the mind can be controlled only through a disciplined lifestyle. A child needs school routine to learn the format or concept of self discipline. Similarly, as adults we have jobs to structure our life. Now, the problem arises when we have neither to act as an anchor and we need to create our own anchor. As adults, it is critical for us to understand that we need to develop our own mechanism to structure our life. Society cannot be our guardian forever.

Emotions are designed to run amok and create havoc with our thoughts. We have the capacity to rein in these emotions but once again we have to take responsibility for our emotions rather than expect the world to keep satisfying our emotional needs.

As a child my parents and school were my anchor, then my job and after I got married, my family became my anchor. As everyone got busy with their routine, the fear of being rudderless pushed me into seeking to create my own anchor. I was scared of being this nasty old nagging woman and losing the love of people near to me. As we grow old, we often feel lonely because suddenly our responsibilities towards our family diminish and we have limited avenues to occupy our time or to make us feel valued. The family is then going through their stage of growth and independence and conflict of interest arises.

I had been a fairly disciplined person. However, with the responsibilities of life and changing circumstances, there was need for further rigor and adaptation. With rapidly changing circumstances, I had started to complain about feeling out of control. Although I had repeatedly been advised to start my day early and give my self time for spiritual reading and exercise, I kept putting it off that I will do it when I get the time or when I am less tired or when I am ready. It was a chicken and egg situation. Some time ago, I decided to take charge when I found myself unable to hold my head in place. I changed my routine and instituted it upon myself to wake up every morning, weekend or not, at 6am to read scriptures, listen to devotional songs and then exercise. I started noticing the stability that this discipline granted me. My mind started learning who was the master. There has been a definite lifting of the clouds in the head and surge in creativity. I am being able to manage more work with efficiency and am less fearful of circumstances. There is a sense of empowerment that has clearly arisen out of taking responsibility for my thoughts.

I still enjoy my emotions but they control me less than before. Life is falling more into perspective. I observe and enjoy miracles of creation more. When a surge of emotions hit me, I am teaching myself to wait for the flood to recede because I know it will. We shall overcome!

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content - Helen Keller

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CEO & Country Head India, Investment & Corporate Bank, Barclays Capital India

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MD & Regional Head - Origination and Client Coverage & Co-Head - Wholesale Banking, South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank

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