Gain from loss

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.

What do you get to gain when you have lost? Share your thoughts on what you gain from loss at Google+

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+

One calming word

Written by Suraj Shah, inspired by greatness.

What one word will always fill you with calm?

We live in a busy world, with much to do, many people to see, multiple personalities to deal with and of course money to make.

In itself all that can be the cause of enough stress, but adding on the curve-balls that life throws us (health issues, someone close to us passing away, a fire at home, etc), it can really knock the wind out of us.

We get frazzled, overwhelmed, panicky and desperate.  We struggle to breathe, to think clearly, to talk or perhaps even eat.

During an overwhelmingly turbulent day, just one word is all it may take to bring peace to our minds.

The power of just one word

My friend Sharan (her name means ‘shelter’) recently introduced me to a marvellous word from the Sikh tradition:

“Waheguru” (pronounced waa-hee-gu-ru)

One way to translate it is if we break it down: “Wahe” means wonderful, awe inspiring Divine Force, “Gu” means spiritual darkness and “Ru” is the ray of light, brought to eliminate the darkness.  So “Waheguru” translates to “A Divine Light eliminating spiritual darkness”.

From my perspective, this one word takes on multiple additional meanings which all contribute to calmness:

  • One God (i.e. I see God in everything): God is within me and in everything around me – I have nothing to fear or lose.
  • Wonderful Lord: A deep appreciation for the qualities and virtues of God.  It is an affirmation of sorts, like reciting “Amen!”  This genuine appreciation of virtues would help to cultivate these same qualities within me.
  • Surrendering thoughts, words and actions to Guru: The fortunate position that this moment presents me with is all down to the compassion of a great being.  So let me bow to his greatness, let go of my negative emotions, and appropriately respond to the situation I’m in.

“Waheguru” is a word that my friend recites daily, in the morning and the evening, commuting to work and back home, and any other opportunity that she gets.  Her grandma even uses it as a greeting towards other people.  Many others in her community do the same.  You may consider it a relaxing soothing meditation mantra (YouTube link).

This one word “Waheguru” could set you up for the day, give you bouts of strength and equanimity throughout the day, helps you reintegrate with family life after work, and then helps leave all the problems of the day behind as you gently drift off to sleep.  How wonderful indeed!

There are numerous phrases from other faiths, religions and traditions that bring about a similar sense of balance and peace.

What is your one word or phrase that consistently brings an immediate calm to any turbulent day?

On Google+, share your one calming word as well as your own thoughts on the above.