To give up. To let go

We give up a battle. We let go when there is no battle.

We give up in defeat. We let go in peace.

We give up desire. We let go of attachment.

We give up in abstinence. We let go with equanimity.

We give up in tolerance. We let go with respect.

We give up in inadequacy. We let go in contentment.

We give up what we have. We let go of what we are.

To give up is discipline. To let go is freedom.

To give up is to sacrifice. To let go is to love.

When and only when

When and only when old muscle fibre is destroyed does a person build strength.

When and only when there is a change in the audience does art get created.

When and only when there is potential for conflict does a leader arise.

When and only when there is a chance for failure can something lend meaning.

When and only when it feels like a struggle can there be growth.

When and only when the status-quo is altered can there be life.

The fuel

Our suffering from discomfort is fuelled by our attachment towards comfort.

Our suffering from pain is fuelled by our fear of pain.

Our suffering from boredom is fuelled by our aversion towards boredom.

Our suffering when the status-quo shifts is fuelled by our denial of this change.

Our suffering in reality is fuelled by the suffering in our imagination.

Our suffering is a fire that is of our own kindling.

Everything to lose

A poor person may suffer for the want of wealth. Yet, a rich person suffers more when they turn poor.

An oppressed person may suffer for the want of power. Yet, a powerful person suffers more when they are deprived of power.

An unsuccessful person may suffer because of wasted potential. Yet, a successful person suffers more when faced with failure.

A person in pain may suffer. Yet, an indulgent person suffers more when pain takes the place of their pleasure.

The larger the object of your fulfillment, the larger is the shadow it casts.

An ode to discomfort

To discover something new, you need to lose your way. Confusion, uncertainity and some frustration are part of the process.

To learn something new, it needs to feel effortful. Your brain and body needs to hurt from the effort. That is what forging new neural connections feels like.

To build new muscle, you need to push yourself into pain. Only when old muscle is destroyed can new, stronger muscle take its place.

A meaningful pursuit is also one that might not work. A chance for failure is built into the very kernel of whatever we consider meaningful.

In our worship of comfort and convenience, we forget the value of embracing discomfort on purpose.

Untrue, but helpful

What if we believe that every human being is born with the potential for genius?

What if we believe that every person in the world could be a close friend?

What if we believe that every one of our problems is of our own making, and therefore, can be solved by us?

What if we believe that we could choose to be happy regardless of whatever happens in our lives?

What if we believe that every person was built around a kernel of inner goodness?

What if we believe that we can master any skill that we set our mind to?

Even though certain beliefs may not be true, they can serve us in wonderful ways.

What if we lived our lives as though these beliefs were true?

Begin with doubt

Francis Bacon said, ‘If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.’

This principle lends itself to extension.

If a person will begin with answers, they shall end up with questions. If they will be content to begin with questions, they shall end in answers.

If a team begins with too much order, they shall likely end in chaos. If they will be content to begin with a little chaos, they shall settle into order.

Certainty is built around a kernel of ambiguity.

The road not taken

We know that the sun is about 150 million kilometers away from us. Yet, on a hot summer’s day, we imagine the sun to be a lot closer than that.

We know that it is good for us to exercise regularly and eat healthy. But it feels a lot better in the moment to curl up on the couch with a packet of chips.

People often act in ways that don’t favour us without any intention of harming us. Yet, the first narrative that pops up in our heads is one where we are delibarately wronged.

Our feelings and our imagination have a stronger grip on our behaviour than does reality. As a poet once wrote, ‘The better path, I gaze and approve. The worse, I follow.’

Ask not and you shall recieve

You are most likely to secure a loan if you can prove that you don’t need it.

In a negoatation, the strongest party is one that is most prepared to walk away from the table.

To be knowledgeable begins with knowing (like Socrates did) that you know nothing.

To be sophisticated you need to accept that you are not so.

It is only when you don’t care about your reputation that you tend to have a good one.

Happiness is reserved for those who do not actively seek it.

The elegant alternative

You could move a block held between two springs by forcing the block one way or the other. Alternatively, you can subtract the tension in one of the springs.

You could lose weight by adding a hard exercise regimen to your routine. Alternatively, you can subtract the calories you consume.

You could add pressure on somebody to behave a certain way by force, nagging, harassment, pleading, and exhortion. Alternatively, you can subtract the obstacles to make the desired behaviour easier.

You could grit your teeth and preserve your focus through sheer will-power. Alternatively, you can subtract your sources of distraction.

You could become rich by adding other sources of income. Alternatively, you can be rich even with a modest income by subtracting your needs to a bare minimum.

You could cope with a disease by overpowering your symptoms with medication. Alternatively, you can subtract the factors that cause the disease.

You could stay happy by making tremendous effort to preserve and amplify your positive emotions. Alternatively, you can subtract negative emotions – the sources of your unhappiness.

The second time around

The first time I walk somewhere, I am too intent on arriving.
The second time around, I notice the trees and the birds.

The first time I watch a movie, I am too intent on following the plot.
The second time around, I grasp the director’s genius.

The first time I read a book, I am too intent on finishing it.
The second time around, I read between its lines.

The first time I meet somebody, I am too conscious of myself.
The second time around, I can listen to them.

The first time I do something, I go farther. I go wider.
The second time around, I go deeper.