Thoughts Sans Boundaries


Posted in life by Aditya Moorthy on July 6, 2007

I was on my way home and in the train I was thinking what could make one’s life simpler, happier and contented. I can image what you are thinking after reading this line, that there is no one single solution to this requirement, that these states are a perception and not tangible reality etc etc.

But we all in some sense seek them in our life. We want our life to be simple, happier and contented among other things. Let’s for a moment set aside the argument that these are mental states and they morph depending on the environment and situation. To explain this better, a person trying to summit a difficult mountain is not thinking about simplification of life, happiness or contention but his mind is completely occupied by the sole aim to reach the summit. But doesn’t reaching the summit give him the satisfaction which in turn results in one or more of these states? Let’s also take into account that there is no single solution which yields these results. Having given credit to these and other doubts that you might bring up given my first statement, I now propose one way by which we could give a shot at achieving these. The magic formula that I propose is Priorities.

I come from a very traditional background with a significant ‘baggage’ of tradition and culture in my formative years. My culture has a very fuzzy way of answering life’s conundurms. It never offers a clear path (or answer) to address the situations in life which baffles us most of the time. The solutions are very nebulous, open for argument and not conclusive. So it is left to the interpretation of the listener and the choices he or she makes. It is in direct contrast to the western philosophy which is precise, logical, assumption-less and mostly limited only to the problem at hand. As I grew up and had the opportunities to compare and contrast the two perspectives on a given problem, it started to dawn on me that neither is right or wrong. Now, many of you can quite quickly come back and tell me that this is not rocket science as no path is absolute and in fact the concept of absolute is in itself debatable. I agree, but do put this in perspective when I tell you that it ‘dawned’ on me. First I was very young when I realised this and I come with a belief system that encourages and coaxes me to accept that the path laid out in front of me is absolute and the only way to lead a life. So it is indeed quite a feeling when I realised that everything is up for debate and nothing is in fact the total truth.

Along my path of learning (which I am still in), I took all possible effort to try to understand the different perspectives and make sense of it and figure what applies best given a specific situation. Among the possible answers, I realise that making priorities in life can first simply it, offer happiness when the simple life objectives are achieved and provides a sense of contention. Now how does this help? Simple, I apply a certain dimension of western philosophy. Make a list of things that are currently important for you and which you think is important to achieve. This is not nebulous since what you are currently doing is obviously important for you. Like your job, your education, relationship, etc. Thinking about the future is always very hard as everything about it uncertain. So, the easiest thing to do is to simply take what you are doing NOW. Let’s take for example you just finished your education and starting a new job. Now, it is obvious that the job is important for you as if it is not, you would be doing something else. Having taken job as one of the priorities, look again and see what else you are doing. Maybe you are engaged with one of the local social organisation about keeping the environment clean. Why you put that in your list of priorities – because you are doing it and you are doing it because you like it and you like it so it is important enough to be put in the priority list. So, keep adding all the things you are currently doing. You might be doing somethings which you may be forced to do, like for example you are forced to organise a picnic for your office colleagues which you have no interest in doing it. The question now is do I put it in the priority list or not. How do you decide? Simple, look at the reason which prompted you to take up the responsibility – the answer could be that doing it gives you better leverage among your peer group and puts you in prominence or you are doing it becuase no one else is doing it etc. Once you find out the reason for this, then the solution is quite easy, does it have a bearing on any other things that you are currently doing and will it affect those things in the existing priority list. If the answer is yes, then put this in your priority list as well. If the answer is no, then simply don’t bother and ignore it.

Once you have this priority list, the next is just obvious – what is the most important among them. Put that in the top of the list. Put the second most important next to it and so on. There you have your life’s priority list! Now how does this give you the stated objectives viz., simplicity, happiness and contention. This is the tricky part. In order to achieve the stated objectives, it requires you to do a very important thing – ACT.

Act on it. It is simple to read and assimilate, but don’t take it that way. It is not. Action is one of the most complex part of any problem because it not only requires you to move your butt off the couch and do something but it also involves gazillion variables that you have no control over. If you are studying and that is on the top of your list and you are willing to put the necessary hard work to perform better and you find that the book you need to prepare for the exam is not available. Now such variables can throw a spanner in your works. But even before you hit those external road blocks, the key thing here is to ACT. That way you clear one of the biggest road block – YOU.

One may never achieve the said objectives in the priority list even with all the above steps, but the simplicity of the priority list is such that you still achieve the life’s goals – being simple, happy and contented. How? Because you removed the single most difficult variable – which is you. You now know that you can act and you know you gave your best shot and you know within yourself that you left no stones unturned. This in my opinion gives you the greatest happiness and contention and the process of perceiving life this way makes it very very simple.


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