Saturday, October 11, 2008

Practicality & Meaningfulness of Life

The motivation for this outburst was a discussion with two dear colleagues of mine. The discussion was a wide ranging one that covered almost all aspects of life; career, money, life, philosophy, family etc…. There was a divergence of views on the question of practicality of ideas and what can be considered a philosophical approach to life and a practical one.

I personally consider all those people successful who spend more time happy than worried or scared. I consider a person successful if his or her work makes any difference to anybody, big or small. I consider that person successful who has the courage, conviction and the opportunity to follow his or her own heart.

If you are successful, then the debate on whether your ideas are practical or not will never even arise. Read on but be warned, it is more of an outburst than a literary piece.

·         Who am I?

·         What do I want?

·         Is there my meaning to my life?

·         Am I doing anything for anyone?

·         There is a lot of pain in this world. Am I doing anything to lessen that?

·         Every minute people are dying of hunger, disease, violence. What am I doing that will help them?

·         Am I creating something new?

Have you ever wondered on these lines??? Or are you “sensible and practical” therefore are busy working hard to become “successful”???

After all most of us are so busy in the day to day issues in real life, we rarely have the luxury of debating what we consider is “philosophy”. In a country like India, we actually train and prepare children to think in a “socially acceptable manner” and stay away from “impractical ideas”. Most children are brought up with a scarcity mentality and are discouraged from dreaming big. Even today parents will motivate children to go for safe government jobs and even if one wants to do something out the place and risky, he or she will be discouraged. The training to “fake it” is intense that you have a nation of people who are so comfortable with pretensions that it is unbelievable.


Add a good dose of judgmental attitude, tendency to stereotype and hypocritical out look, you have the perfect recipe for an average Indian.


Is it a mere coincidence then that most people are least aware of themselves? Most people have so easily accepted the widely held views on life that they do not have one of their own. On the surface everyone appears happy and “successful”. Scratch a little and out erupts a volcano of fear, regret, ego, insecurity and hurt. This is true irrespective of the person’s socioeconomic or educational standing. In fact I submit that the more educated and “successful” you are, you will be forced to live according what “others” will consider right.

To illustrate the point, I have worked in the glitzy world of media for sometime and I have seen and have worked many of the so called celebrities. Imagine a well known actress who was in Delhi for a shoot was craving to have her morning green tea sitting in the balcony but could not do so because her “brand managers” did not allow her to. Why? How can a girl who is supposed to be a diva appear on her balcony with hair undone and without that two mm thick layer of make up. So her day to day life is spent in maintenance of the “image” others have of her. In a way she has sold her life.

We are all like that. You wake up when you are feeling sleepy, you go to sleep when you want to do something else, you do not laugh loudly in public, why? Because it is not considered “good”……… Now imagine……. If after so much effort, I cannot even stand the way I want to, sit the way I want to, eat, drink, laugh the way I want to…… What is the point of such an effort? Then my lack of freedom in such simple things will pour into more important areas like not having the freedom to marry who you want to, not having the freedom to pick a career you want.

The self imposed sensible guardians of the society say that is the way “practical and real people” live and I beg to differ. I say that is how “sheep” live. In a herd, eat what is given and others are eating, go where others are going, do what others are doing, think the way others do.

Then what is my prescription for life? Ans: Follow your dreams and do what you really want to do. Have enough courage and conviction to live life the way “you” want to live not the way “others” wanted you to. Do not do anything only to earn money, look inside first, ask yourself, then decide. Yes, if your passion is earning money, go right ahead and do it. But if you passion is something else, find a way to that. Doing that you truly want and are passionate about will bring excellence in your work and money is always a by product of excellence.


Career is very important. After all without money you really cannot do much. But decide what cost are you willing to pay for it.


Practicality is very good but unfortunately life does not remain one. We are slaves to our thoughts and to our relationships and neither thoughts nor relationships are truly yours if you have owned them only because of practicality. Tell me what is the practicality in looking after your old financially unviable parents? Tell me what is the practicality in faith? After all god won’t appraise you, at least not this year!!

What matters most is whether you are at peace with yourself. Who matters most are the ones who live for you not the ones who live with you. Money and society are important but more important is “you”.

Until and unless you know yourself and are doing what you want you will never be able to achieve anything significant.


Look back in time…… All those who made a difference were all dreamers. Look back in time…….. Bhagat Singh, Gandhi, Nehru….. they had all one could ask for then left all that and the gave all that away. So according to the sensible people these people would be called foolish……… Right??? Were they?????


Look back in time……… Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Ambani….. How dare they dream when they had nothing?


Look back in time…………… Ramanujam, Einstein, Galileo, Hawking………. Could they not just have concentrated on their careers rather than running after ideas which have not been proven till now………..


Now look at people around you…… What do those “sensible”, “practical” people do? Crib most of the times……. Against their job, the system, the economy and maybe their destiny………


Where do you want to see yourself? With the ones we discussed earlier or with the “sensible and practical” people around you??????


So to be successful go out and enjoy……….. go crazy, do something you always wanted to do………. Take a trip……….. Dance, hug someone you love…… Get a pet……….. Scream….. do anything that sets you free!!!!

1 comment:

ankita said...

i know m late, but jut can't stop from publishing this quote m reminded of after reading this entry....
"The problem with rat race is that even if you win, you are still a rat"!:-)