This past weekend has been a very interesting one for me. The pondering question was “What really matters?”.
Doing what we do, chasing what we chase and trying to analyze what we analyze, I was left catching myself put a framework for the thought process.
Everything starts with a thought. If there were no thoughts, there would not be all those elements that tend to get put into motion. It could be activity, conflicts, action, response, reaction, analysis etc.,
It is possible for a human mind to create awareness. More sensitivity we develop, we tend to create more awareness. So a simple thought in our mind can create awareness or awake awareness. Sometimes possibly awareness about multiple things at the same time. Often times, human mind catches on to any one of the thoughts that awakes some significant awareness about something that is tucked away in the mind or occurring around us. Either way, it is the thought that tends to empower the following notions.
Now, human mind has become aware of a a thing or multiple things and decided to orient the thoughts towards it. This enables us to have choices. The deeper we think of a subject, topic or a thing, we are capable of uncovering multiple choices. I believe, in this process, choiceless-ness is also a choice. Just as inaction is also a valid response like action.
In each situation, we are left with multiple choices that create a conflict in the human mind. Which of the choices to act upon? It is important to train the mind in a methodical way to ensure that the process is simple, consistent and encompasses all parameters (applying lateral thinking if need be). Here comes the factor of Choiceless-ness .
Philosophical and Spiritual approaches have a very simple allocation of action at this stage. If choiceless-ness is a choice or leaves with just an alternative choice, accept it as a duty and act with all sincerity. This will lead you to harmony and what we famously call “Peace of Mind”. It is our inability to execute on a thought or lack of awareness of all factors or the guilt of having made the wrong choices (without being able to come to terms with the outcome) that causes grief and dejection.
The challenge comes when there are multiple choices. At this stage, I believe, it would be simple to first figure out what choices are controllable and which ones are not controllable. If any of the choices are not within your control, we must choose to ignore them, work thru them or surrender to them.
However, if any of the choices are controllable, ensure that they are very relevant to your context and act on it. Once we accept the choices we make, we have to learn to abide by it with courage, discharge it like it was our duty with all sincerity and it will lead us towards harmony.
This train of thought led me to put a flow chart that will enable me nurture, condition and moderate my thoughts, actions and deeds to have the right awareness necessary to make the choices I make. Once I make the choices, to come to terms with it and accept the action necessary to be taken as a duty with all sincerity and execute it. The outcome is something not in my control to a large extent.
“Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani
Meaning: Do your duty and be detached from its outcome,
do not be driven by the end product, enjoy the process/the journey of getting there.
– 2:47 SRIMAD BHAGVAD GITA “.
I wanted a framework to ensure that this process will also condition a balanced living and 360 degree development of self. That led me to think of yet another framework – influenced by the book 7 habits of Highly Effective People – mostly the concept of “First Things First”.
Irrespective of what thoughts I get and what I need to act upon, I could broadly categorize it under one of the following buckets.
PHYSICAL : If I believe God to be in me, my body is the temple housing HIM. I will take good care of it by keeping healthy, eating healthy, working out, staying fit etc. (about 8 hours a week)
SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL : I will continue to build the human network of healthy relationships in the personal and professional scheme of things believing that each human relationship is a Gift. (About 6 hours)
MENTAL:I will invest in the relationships that matter to me, read material that will generate wisdom and not just knowledge, keep my IQ and EQ in a healthy range to maintain good balance of the mind. (About 6 hours a week)
SPIRITUAL: I will continue to invest in my chosen path of spirituality to make it the primary purpose of my life and ensure sincere adherence to my practice.(About 8 hours)
Again, taking cue from the framework of First Things First, I would call any activity against these four buckets as the proverbial “BIG ROCKS”. Even if I choose to allocate 6-8 hours against each of the above buckets every week, I notice that I have consumed only 24-32 hours of the week towards hours of activity to myself each week. Most of these get attended to either early in the day or later in the day or weekends. Thus leaving the work hours open to accomplish one’s career goals or aspirations (note not ambitions).
This framework I believe will be a work in progress. Nevertheless, a simple effective framework that can be applied to the various roles we play in our daily lives to abide by. I could easily allocate an activity a week, against each of my roles, to the buckets above and find myself in perfect harmony with myself at the end of a week if they are all achieved. It is possible for us to put extra emphasis on one or two of the above buckets sometimes to achieve a complete balance. However, without this guiding light, we will only be working our lives with a bunch of “to-do-lists” that are mostly reactive, unimportant and causing false urgencies.