Happy he who learns to bear what he cannot change! J.C.F. von Schiller
While it is perfectly alright to attempt to improve and change, it is often quite a tough task to accept that some things can’t be changed. If we were to attempt to rewind out lives, almost all of us would want to make drastic changes in the way we grew up and the way we lived. Alas we don’t lose much sleep over the impossibility of changing the past because we are reconciled to it. We may have a few regrets though, like occasional lamenting that we should have studied harder or that we should have expressed our love for our parents and siblings more often or that we should have followed our hearts desire in our career choice and not have been pressurized by family and friends.
Our problem invariably starts with the recognition that there are a few imperfections in us that we would desperately love to iron out but some of them are near impossible to change. If we are not blessed with a silky voice, it would be impossible to acquire one now. Similarly you would come across so many people seeking miracle cures to improve their height, their looks or nonexistent talents. What is more difficult to accept are what we perceive as our strengths being run down or criticized. While every student who enters the portals of Harvard or Stanford or the IIT’ and IIM’s would visualize themselves as natural leaders and possible business tycoons, the reality is that quite a few of them will have to somehow reconcile that despite their academics and special talents they still don’t have the critical competencies that will catapult them into the orbit of their dreams.
Ironically there is booming business ostensibly promising changes that people crave for. Beginning with quick fix solutions for balding men which spans the entire range of creams, lotions, oils and culminating in hair weaving , there is a whole range of beauty and fairness therapies targeted at ladies. The fashion scene is not too far behind and the battle of the bulge and the size zero craze have panned out as booming business propositions. Health food, spas, massages are the new life style miracles promised to one and all. The education sector is more blatant promising to make toppers out of dunces and extending their magic to getting admissions in premier institutions and promising astronomical salary packages for their graduate students. What is typically left unsaid is that everything is relative and subjective. Eg. The hair weaving works on just a few and the battle of the bulge requires a lot of discipline, strict diet and regular exercise. As for education there are limited seats so it is just impossible for everyone to make the cut.
Amidst this chaotic cacophony of false promises, impossible dream peddlers and fantasy seekers, the person who steps back and does an objective reality check and accepts the results is the winner in life. Even if we are excellent in certain areas of life, the reality is that only the extraordinary can make it big in those fields. So there is nothing unfortunate or humiliating about being prudent and giving up our chase of what we realize is an elusive dream and instead focus on harnessing the best out of the existing resources we are blessed with. Look around and identify the happy people and it should not surprise you to see many a housewife falling in that category. They are happy not desperately trying to balance career and family. Surprisingly there would be many a career woman too who has resourcefully balanced career and family perhaps at the cost of putting their career plans slightly on the back burner but delighted that they are enjoying both a successful career and a quality life. If you are not enjoying your life, pause to ask yourself if you are chasing something will always elude you and instead focus your energies on some of your passions and you will experience a calmness and peace that invigorates and energizes you.
Remember: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr
- Make a list of 5 changes that you want to bring in your life. It could be personal or lifestyle changes and at least one of them should be a change that you hope to bring about in the next 1 month. Jot down the changes in some tangible form eg. Don’t say I want to lose weight but say I want to lose 2 kgs in 2 months. Start working on those changes immediately.
- Make a list of changes you wanted for over 3 years but have not succeeded. Analyze each of those failures and identify if the goal was wrong or the method faulty or the change sought was foolhardy or preposterous. Do you want to still pursue those changes?
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