The elder brother I never had

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

Sometimes I think about the elder brother I never had.

My parents had a son before me, but he had died in a car accident as a baby, before I was even born.

If he was alive today, it would have been his 34th birthday and perhaps we’d have all been out as a big family celebrating this day.

But he’s no longer here. For me, he never was. Isn’t it strange to miss something you never had in the first place?

Over the years I’ve had some great friends and family, but I wonder what life would have been like if my elder brother was still alive.

When I sometimes feel this way, I take it as an opportunity to reflect on and question how good an elder brother I am myself.

Then I think about my younger brother and how he has looked up to and looked out for me all these years.

I am reminded that within my younger brother lives what I would expect from an elder.

It’s at that point when I am mesmerised by the magnificent nature of my bro.

On the days I feel weak, that fills me with both strength and comfort.

Wishing to be left alone

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

Do you wish that the world would just leave you alone?

From the moment you wake till the time you lay your head on the pillow at night, your day, each and every day, is jam-packed with demands left, right and centre.

For some it’s the demanding boss, for others the nagging wife, perhaps the house to clean, the bills to pay, the groceries to buy, and so on and so on.

When the world becomes just too much to handle, all I’ve wanted is for everyone and everything to leave me alone. I bet you have too.

Retreating to the cave

Sometimes I just need to sit in a small room and close the door, or hide under the duvet for ten minutes and shut myself off from the world.

Perhaps it’s a man thing, from back in the stone age when men had the luxury of the cave. You know, that cosy dark place where a guy can think things through and emerge with strength and clarity.

But we live in a different world, where there is just far too much begging for our attention.

Actually, we are always alone

Even though we may crave being left alone, it turns out that actually we are always alone. Truly alone.

All situations that we experience in life, whether pleasurable or painful, will arise whether we want them to or not. Yet they are temporary, and so will only linger for a finite time.

All the people that we are surrounded by, and all the love they shower on us or the demands they throw upon us, will come and go, whether we want them to or not. They too are here for just a finite time, whether for just a few seconds or over eighty years.

Nomatter how hard we try, we can never truly change the situations that we are experiencing. It will end at its own natural time. In the same way, we can never truly change anyone and force them to behave differently — they will change or go at their own natural time.

Equally, nobody can change a situation for us — every situation we are faced with, we have to endure ourselves. Other people can offer their love and strength and support, but they cannot change what we are experiencing in that present moment.

So for that reason, we are always alone.

But we’re not wired to keep this fundamental truth at the forefront of our mind. If we were always aware of it, then we’d giggle at the futility of placing all our happiness in what will inevitably change.

So what can we do to remind ourselves that we are always alone, and to use that to cope with any situation?

Becoming alone in the midst of a turbulent world

Regardless of what is happening in the world around us, or who is coming or going, it is possible to find solitude, to find peace, to regain strength and clarity.

It is possible to take care of matters you are faced with, tackling them head-on with a clear head and a warm heart.

Here are some steps I take to develop alone-ness to support me with any overwhelming situation:

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Accept that it is meant to be this way, that this present moment cannot be different.
  3. Let go of trying to force it to be something else.
  4. Shift focus onto the greatest virtues of the majestic people who live around us and have lived among us.
  5. Immerse into the feeling of joy when thinking about those qualities and virtues.
  6. Carry that joyful feeling into the task now faced with.
  7. Respond to that situation with calm and purpose.

Once you start to discover the alone-ness in any situation, it becomes easier to cope with the day-to-day demands of the world. In fact, it makes it easier to feel good in any situation.

If you wish to be left alone, what helps you to cope with overwhelm? Share your alone-ness tips and thoughts on the above at Google+

A father’s day note if you miss your dad

Written by Suraj Shah, inspired by greatness.

Do you know of someone who misses their dad?

In the past year, several of my friends have had to deal with the loss of their father. Some fathers had suffered through a long-term illness. Others have died suddenly.

This father’s day, I prepared a note for my friends who miss their dad.

Feel free to download the note (398KB PDF) and send it to someone you know who is feeling at a loss as a result of their father no longer being around. It may provide a source of clarity, comfort and strength for them.

Also, it could be that your friend’s father is still alive, but they’ve fallen out of touch as a result of distance, busy lives, a degenerative condition such as alzheimers, or perhaps differences in opinion. It may help with this kind of loss too.

» download the Father’s Day note for friends who miss their dad (398KB PDF)

Here is the text from the downloadable note, in case you cannot access the document.

If you miss your dad…  by Suraj Shah | | June 2012

How are you coping with the loss of your father?

Chances are that you’re thinking of your dad.  Perhaps you miss him.

  • It may be the date of his birthday or some other important date.
  • It may be that you’re attending a family occasion where he’s not present.
  • It may be that he’s not around to celebrate a major accomplishment with you.
  • It may be father’s day where many other sons and daughters are connecting with their fathers.
  • You may be facing a difficult situation and could do with your father’s guidance and support.

Whatever the reason, you miss your dad, and that’s understandable.

Fathers are incredible people.  They have worked hard their whole lives.  They have done whatever they think is best to give us, their children a good upbringing.  They have taught us how to stand on our own two feet.

Your father was a source of immense strength.  He had been through so much and yet continued to tap into a deep reservoir of love.

He may not have said much, but was quietly waiting… waiting to give support, to always be on hand when you needed him the most.  And you knew it.

For this reason, and this reason alone, you will always miss him.

Father’s values

Although your dad may no longer be around, there is something that will stay on forever: the values with which he lived his life by.

These very same values are growing stronger in you.

When you look deep within yourself and think about the values you aspire to live your life by, you’ll discover that many of them are the very same ones you’ve absorbed from your father over the years.

Everyone’s principles and values are different.  Here are some I’ve gained from my dad:

  • Have a positive attitude to handle any situation.
  • Face the world’s challenges with a smile.
  • Think hard about what’s important to you and make time for it.
  • Cut out all distractions that take you away from what is most important.
  • Family duty comes first — care for your wife, care for your children, care for those who depend on you.
  • Nothing is more important than your peace of mind.
  • When in a conversation, listen — listen properly — then respond as appropriate.
  • Talk to people of all ages and with all sorts of backgrounds — there is always something to learn.
  • Great service is more important than a quick buck.
  • Don’t forget to make money too — you need to support yourself.
  • Be fearless in life — no-one and nothing has the power to make you feel scared.

Live with the loss of your dad

On special occasion days or the times when life is sending difficulties your way, use these three steps to help the memory of your dad shape a better moment for yourself:

1. Remember your dad: Remember your father with all your heart.  Recall your greatest moments with him, what he would say, and what he stood for.

2. Recognise these values emerging in you:  These same qualities are within you.  Look deep within, remember times when you too have gotten through situations using those values.

3. Apply these values to your current situation:  Whatever you are currently going through, take those values you hold so dear and apply them to your present situation.  Think about what your father would have done and how he would have done it.  Magnify it.  Immerse yourself into it.

By remembering your dad, recognising these values in you and then applying them to your present situation, you will see yourself glide through the current situation with ease.

Additional resources

Let go of control to feel great

A friend whose father was very ill had found a way to let go and face the reality of his father’s imminent death.  Learn about how certain phrases from our heritage have been instrumental in helping us let go of control:

Getting grief and bereavement support

Upon losing someone, do you feel there’s no-one you can talk to?  Even with loads of people around who try hard to make sure you’re not left on your own, it’s still so easy to feel alone. But there is a way through it:

If you found this note helpful, feel free to forward it onto friends who may also be missing their dads.

With warmth,

If you miss your father and want to share your thoughts with others, head on over to Google+ to write a few words for friends who miss their dad.