Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Finding happiness by letting your partner be

I think the best way to nurture a good relationship, be it with friends or your partners is to let them be—not exactly just watching them do what they want and silently crying inside, but really understanding what they are doing. I have seen a few relationships break and a few marriages fail because of the insecurity sprung from jealousy and possessiveness. I think it is bad in every sense. It doesn’t just take away your partner; if you feel jealous about your colleague doing much better than you it breeds unhappiness in your mind. And that in the end only affects you negatively. 

I think the most important thing is to trust your friends and partners. Why not? If you think you are trust worthy and incapable of committing an act that is not worthy of a good social rating, neither is your partner. I think it simply stands on the platform of this single fact that we are all human; similar in some of the basic thoughts and actions. 

If you are feeling jealous of your neighbor getting richer at a faster rate than you, you will only strive harder to make the same amount of money as him/her and thus tire yourself. I’m trying to project the effect of jealousy in the everyday life of small visible impacts and not from the Buddhist point of view. We all know that it is one of the negative emotions considered as the poisonous emotion that brings ill effects.

The least you can do is concentrate on your life by not concentrating on other people’s lives. You can walk on your path and if you come across someone, don’t think of them as competitors or your enemies. Don’t think of knocking them down. Think of them as just another you. 

Frequency of feeling jealousy is one of the indicators of Psychological wellbeing domain of GNH.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Finding happiness by being unselfish

How often do you experience selfishness? I wish I could ask this question to myself and answer that I feel selfishness none of the time.  I don’t remember an instance where I had been selfish, but I’m sure I have been selfish, for I’m human. I was talking to my friend Karma the other day about selfishness and how that affects decision making. I told him that everyone is selfish and no matter what someone decides to do, they come to that decision only after they have assessed how that decision is going to help him/her. I said that from my narrow understanding of how I have seen people.

People can agree with me or not, but what matters is, I guess, that, feeling of selfishness isn’t really good to our mental wellbeing. If you are often feeling selfish, you ought to have a sense of guilt later, for you knew that you were not doing what you ought to, based on objective reasons. Even when we try to deny, we inwardly know what is actually right or wrong. And if we deny that inner voice and still go ahead with the decision to do what you want to, you are definite to have guilt later. I think we decide to deny that inner voice only when we have a selfish reason; a gain only for yourself.

I am not an expert on mental wellbeing but from my experience I know that if we think of the well-being of others along with ours, forgetting the enormous ‘me’ thought, we have a rewarding peace and good feeling. We probably will not see the instant material gain but the peace we have, the inner good feeling that we get is what will make you happier for that day.

Frequency of feeling selfishness is one of the indicators of Psychological wellbeing domain in GNH.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

GNH in Presence of Mind

My niece complains that she forgets mathematic formulas too soon. Then she complains that she cannot memorize definitions of different terms in Biology fast. She says, even if she has understood something, she forgets it. I always advise her to have her mind present exactly on what she is doing. And by that, I mean she has to be mindful. She has to have presence of mind—right there. 

I cannot give meditation instruction and what aim we must have in meditating. I think, what is more important for us is to know how to remain calm, control our emotions, and thus, concentrate in what we do. Obviously, we won’t understand what our teachers teach us, even if he/she repeats it for the tenth time, if our mind is somewhere else, thinking of where we would like to go after school, or who we would like to meet as soon as the bell rings for interval. 

Calmly breathing in and out, concentrating on our breath probably will not enlighten us, but it definitely calms the inner turmoil that our mind goes through with different emotions. Quietly concentrating on our breath, or simply sitting and concentrating on something will give us time to think of ourselves in a better way; we have time to look at smaller things that we take for granted and thus we have time to take life more seriously than we do. 

I think, doing work correctly, studying right for the exam, avoiding silly mistakes, all comes from being mindful—which to me is a meditation. It is really, “Eating while you eat and sleeping while you sleep.” If you are really where you exactly are or if you are doing exactly what you are doing, I think, you will be a much happier person.

Frequency of Meditation is one of the indicators in Psychological Wellbeing Domain in GNH.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Finding joy in talking to friends

I don’t know when I changed from being a quiet, speculative person. The most I did was talk to myself through words in my diary. But that changed as I started going to college. I was marked as a talkative person by some people as soon as I met them. 

A week back, I sat down in my room and went through the greeting cards and letters I received from my friends over the years. I couldn’t help feel grateful that I had them to fill my days with joys. Even if my friends were not with me, they wrote me letters; sent me greeting cards; remembered me on my birthday; and wished me during my exams, not completely forgetting me because there was huge distance in-between. I used to exchange similar notes with even those friends I had in the same college, living in the same hostel. This always brought us closer, creating more joy and happiness, and harmony and understanding between us. 

Life without friends would be totally hollow—like the sky without stars. Even now, though I have been in job for four years, I still meet my friends more than twice a week. We meet at each other’s houses, cook dinner, talk and then go home refreshed for the next day’s work. We aren’t trying to forget our duties but it gives us time to share whatever new things we have learned, woes, or even secrets, which helps keep our heart calm. 

Socializing with friends may mean different things to different people. It may mean meeting friends and having quiet dinners; meeting friends and going out for movie; meeting friends and going out for a dance party. I think it is a healthy habit to meet friends, talk out your heart and go home with a happy heart. However, like the age old saying, “Too much of anything is not good.” So we have to have a balance of everything—even socializing with friends. We cannot always hang out with friends and forget our home and responsibilities. But bring balance between the two and you will be a much happier person.

Socializing with Friends is one of the indicators under Community Vitality Domain of GNH.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Balancing time in the rush hour

Tourists say that Bhutanese are relaxed people. And I think it is true. Our people walk in a slow, relaxed pace while people in developed countries rush to work everyday.

I am a person who has to get strict eight hours of sleep. When I don’t get enough sleep, I get headache and I cannot think well. I still remember this incident from my first year: The next day was my mathematics exam and I had not studied much. In the last minute, I was desperate to get a pass mark. I could already feel the shame that would come on me if I failed. So I sacrificed my sleep and studied late that night. But the next day, I went to the examination hall with swollen eyes and hazy head. Hundreds of formulae danced in my head and I couldn’t sort them out. I managed to get exactly the pass mark but I had the most terrible time in my entire lifetime as a student; I was anxious and edgy.

Managing time is the most important aspect of life management. No matter whether we are students or office goers, we have to plan our work and divide our time accordingly for the tasks. Last minute rush panics us and has many side effects: visibly, the tension, loss of sleep, loss of appetite etc. which can have long term negative effects on our health. We should have adequate hours of sleep and we shouldn’t overwork.

Working long at the office may bring you faster promotion, appreciation from your boss, and make you more skilled but working longer hours than adequate is bad for our wellbeing. It is like saying, excess of everything is bad.

The best way for us to be in life is to have time, enough for everything: from socializing with friends and family; playing games and sports; visiting religious places; doing prayers and meditation and so on.

A proper time management would mean “A stitch in time saves nine.”

Time use and Balance is one of the indicators/domains in GNH

Monday, November 29, 2010

Living right in the midst of chaos

Life in general is tit for tat. You will see that in every aspect of life. If someone came to see you when you were sick, you have to return that gesture in the same way. However if someone has done you something bad or wrong, you don’t return that with revenge. That is what I have seen in many Bhutanese. Even if, in your heart, you feel so hateful that someone wronged you, you forgive him, because you believe that, exacting a wrong by a wrong will only bear bad karma for you.

My uncle died from surgical complications. He was fine before the surgery. I or any of my relatives could have sought explanations from the doctors for this, but simply because the dead cannot be brought back to life and it will only destroy the sentiments of the living, we didn’t do that.

I was taken aback to see my brother’s helper kill a tiny cockroach walking up the wall in their living room. Before I could ask her not to, her hands were quicker. But I felt pain in my heart. I knew, to that cockroach, life was just as precious as mine. I fear death and I am sure all animals do. I don’t kill insects—I think I cannot think otherwise than that killing them will only accumulate sin.

We don’t necessarily have to think of karma in doing things the right way. We know it in our heart when we do something that is wrong. Don’t do anything that will give you guilt later and you are saved from sowing any bad seed. I would rather not have done much and have a peaceful heart than do so much and be a guilt laden sick soul.

We don’t have to think of life in complicated ways. Do unto others as you want others to do unto you.

Taking account of karma in daily life is one of the indicators in the psychological wellbeing domain in GNH.

This is Bhutan

I moved to Adelaide, South Australia 10 months ago. This decision was driven by my belief that family has to be together and pursuing your c...