Recently, I met an old man on a long journey. With a shaven head and long robes, he looked like a renunciate. I started talking to him out of curiosity.
When he learned that I am an electrical engineer, he became enthusiastic and started conversing about the latest developments in the field. Surprised, I asked how he knew so much about electrical engineering. He replied he was an electrical engineer for a European firm before he became a renunciate monk.
Something he said before bidding farewell made me think a lot.
“Everyone considers me a failure because I gave up a high paying job to become a sanyasi. But the truth is, I have never been so happy and content before”
Our modern world is obsessed with success. Society evaluates someone based on her achievements. Its response to a person depends on the outcome of this scrutiny. People hail an achiever and scoff at the less fortunate ones.
This trend may have evolved out of the habit of equating success to happiness. An achiever gets all the respect because people blindly believe that she is the happiest person. But is this idea true?
The Black and White Thinking
I believe this binary thinking is wrong and should be changed. We tend to think in black and white, 0s and 1s. This makes us believe that there are only two categories, successful people and unsuccessful ones.
The categorization based on accomplishments has created a great ridge in society. People value their relationship with an achiever and happily relinquish that with an underachiever.
The binary thinking has tainted our outlook towards life. When we think too much about winning, everyday becomes a struggle. The fear of failure can suck out the enthusiasm within us and life becomes too drab.
An Unnatural Concept
When we look around in nature, man is the only being concerned about winning. Every living creature other than humans enjoy their life and live according to natural law.
Consider your dog for instance. What is success for him? Unless you enter him into some kind of man-made contest, he has no intention to win. He may even have no idea of the concept either.
All living things, similarly, exist without such pressure. Maybe that is why they live so freely and happily. We also knew this when we were children. We used to enjoy our life without getting concerned about whether we were winning or not.
Looking through the clear glass
If we are willing to change our perspective, we can see that life is not a collection of success stories. It is more about how much we learn and how much we have loved.
Considering every moment in our life as experience can indeed bring us out of this duality. Our success and failures do not bring much change in our life but what we learned from them truly matters.
The valuable lessons that we have imbibed from our experiences can make us grow. Hence it is more important to enjoy and learn from the events than trying to compete with those around.
When we become unconcerned about winning and losing we start to take life much lightly.
A non-judgmental approach to life can bring in great changes in ourselves. It takes away the stress that has imprisoned us, unlocks the chains of jealousy that binds and breaks free from the selfishness that confines us.
Judge not, and you shall not be judged.
The emancipation from the wrong attitudes can give us a new perspective. Everyone undergoes success and failure at some point. Ultimately, they do not make much difference in the journey to the grave.
Life is not to be won, but to be lived
When we realize that happiness is a state of mind unaffected by achievements or losses, we will quit over-emphasizing them. We will then be free of the stress that society has brought upon us.
Those who enjoy each experience without judging live life to the fullest. For them, life is a long journey filled with mysteries. They get to enjoy childlike curiosity and excitement throughout their lifetime.
Can’t we give up binary thinking and make life an adventure?
Thank you for reading. I would love to hear your opinion. Please post them below.