Give up such petty weakness of the heart and arise, O Arjuna, chastiser of the enemy.’ – Bhagavad Gita (2.3) I have learnt an effective method of handling boredom while doing my daily duties. Instead of grabbing my smartphone and watching meaningless videos to entertain myself, I have come up with two action plans. First, I pause and just breathe, and tell myself that it is okay to be bored. Then I ask myself this question: What do I really want in life?
Although I do have a clear sense of purpose for my life, I tend to forget it at times, especially when intense administrative issues plague my mind and I get lost in the myriad details of various projects I am involved in. However, as soon as I remember the intent I have for living, I come back to life; I am excited.
If an activity that I know is aligned to my purpose appears dull on a certain day, I ask myself again what my purpose is: Why am I doing what I am doing? How will this specific activity help me?
I have composed a two-line rhyme that best describes my intention. As soon as I hum it in my mind or even aloud, my life in general and the moment in particular are invigorated, and I find myself raring to go. This is a simple way to improve awareness and help reconnect with my intention for doing that task. As a result, I return to my work with a sense of resolve.
Let’s say you go to work daily and have set a goal of earning a million dollars. It’s entirely possible that on some days you might forget your goal, or find your job unattractive. Or you might find yourself agreeing with a colleague who is moaning about how life sucks. At that time, your mind could regret your decision to earn all that money; you might even feel despair. It could happen that one morning you wake up and find yourself wondering what the hell you’re doing with your life. The last thing you want is to go back to a soulless job. But your mind tells you there is no choice because you need to earn money or get that promotion.
Thus, your day has begun with you feeling helpless, and you are now ready to avoid taking responsibility for your situation. Irritability sets in, your relationship with your family or spouse is under strain, and you feel sick going into work. To mitigate the pain, you may then drown yourself in social media, movies, liquor or drugs. The cyclones in our inner world are persistent; you could be thrown off course from happy and productive living because of a little thought that slithers into your mind and then turns into a blitzkrieg. To break this disconnect, you need to become aware of your purpose or remind yourself of it. But it’s best to do this exercise twice.
The first time you ask yourself what your objective is, your mind could go blank or even protest against such prodding. But if you pause and reflect in a relaxed state, your answer could be, for example, that you need the money so that you can buy a bigger house .Come back to the question a second time after you have answered it the first time, and ask yourself this: What is the need/value/principle that I seek to serve by having a bigger house?
In response, you might tell yourself that you seek to make your family happy. So what you realise now is that making your family happy is important to you.This little question-answer session will help you in two ways.
Firstly, on the days you are not motivated, connecting to your vision will make you more resolute and thus help you take charge of your situation. The difference is between feeling empowered and feeling disempowered. Earlier, it was a pain to go to work, but now it’s to please your family.
Secondly, remembering the value of why you’re doing what you’re doing will help you see that there may be other options available to achieve a certain goal, or there may be smaller goals you can achieve while you are on the way to achieving the big one. It is reassuring to know that one has choices available and one’s back isn’t pressed to the wall. Isn’t it that feeling of despair and helplessness that gets us down so often? When we feel like giving up, if we have something smaller or more achievable to encourage us to go on, then we’re more likely to continue our mission.
Working with the example I used above, there are other smaller ways to make your family happy. For instance, you could take them out for a meal or on an excursion to the park nearby. While you give them joy in these smaller ways, you can continue to work on the bigger goal of getting that house you want.
It’s our conscious connection to a purpose that helps us move forward during the dull, pointless moments of life. In fact, it is this that gives meaning and purpose to our lives. After the Indian cricket team’s 2007 World Cup debacle, the media severely criticised the players. Sachin Tendulkar was distraught and planned to retire from cricket. His brother, however, encouraged him to keep playing. His approach was simple. He asked Sachin what he valued most. Sachin said that he wanted to contribute to the game of cricket and win the World Cup for his country. As he reconnected with his purpose merely by voicing it again, he rediscovered his motivation to play. Eventually, four years later, he helped the team lift the World Cup.
Excerpted with permission from Mind Your Mind: Three
Principles for Happy Living, published by Hachette