Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.
What do you gain when you have lost?
A man in his early-50s was sitting in the pub talking with his friends over a drink. One friend asked him how he felt now that his daughter had married and left home.
The man’s face lit up with a broad smile and proclaimed:
“I may have lost a daughter, but I’ve gained a bathroom!”
When we lose something that is very dear to us, it may feel natural to wallow in the sadness of that loss. But shifting our perspective to what we have gained from that loss may be all it takes to feel great.
The inevitability of loss
Over the years, things come into our life, and they vanish. People enter our life and they move on. Situations arise in life, and they cease. All this is natural.
Yet, when something or someone we hold dearly is no longer around, we are filled with a whole set of emotions ranging from bursts of anger, to teary sadness, through to relief.
- Losing a job may raise worries about how you will be able to afford to pay the bills.
- Losing a car as a result of an accident may take you longer to commute each day without the car.
- Losing an argument may make you angry and bitter.
- Losing a husband or wife may make you feel lonely and find it hard to take care of day-to-day tasks.
- Losing a child who goes off to university may make the house feel empty and far too quiet.
So what is there to gain from any particular type of loss?
Gaining from loss
It is not often easy to see at first what can be gained from a loss of some sort, but is certainly worth exploring.
- When you lose a job, perhaps you have the opportunity to explore an alternative career path.
- When you lose your car, perhaps you discover a love for walking everywhere.
- When you lose an argument, perhaps you develop the art of humility and care towards others.
- When you lose a child who goes off to university, perhaps you delve into a new hobby that enriches your life.
- When you lose a loved one, perhaps you gain independence and have the opportunity to develop self-sufficiency.
It is often said that when one door closes, another one opens. What door is opening for you at a time of loss?
Gaining the ultimate from any kind of loss
Beyond what you think you may gain from a loss, there is one thing you gain that is certain. The loss keeps reinforcing within you the reality that all things, whether good or bad, must come to an end.
By knowing this at the onset of any activity you undertake, or before welcoming any person into your life, it makes the separation that much easier at the time when they naturally have to go.
This is the art of detachment, something that you can cultivate through the various losses that you naturally go through in life.
But you needn’t wait till a significant loss to develop detachment. Through daily contemplation and introspection, it is possible to let go, even before something has arrived in your life.
As a result of detachment from desires and aversions, turbulence in life settles down. As detachment increases, each day feels calmer and calmer.