Harmony does not only mean music. It describes the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole. Across spectrums. Apart form the commonly known harmony in music, we can have harmony in art, in colours, in architecture, in schematics, in spoken words, in the jostling senses of your body. Harmony is balance, symmetry, consonance, coordination, blending, correspondence and compatibility. Harmony is also concord, agreement, peacefulness, amicability, co-operation, understanding and unity. Harmony is a noun that describes an agreement, such as in feeling, sound, look, feel, or smell. It’s necessary for roommates to be able to live in harmony in a small space. Harmony is when one feels happy. Harmony is getting along together. Harmony is being nice others. Harmony is the flow of life.
We tend to feel annoyed when something undesirable happens. In such situations, first, we have to learn to be aware. And to acknowledge how we are feeling. Second, we ask why exactly are we feeling annoyed? Is it really because of what someone said, or is it because they did not say what we wanted them to? Is our anger really due to what someone did, or the false belief that others should do as we want?
A big ‘virus’ that causes us to experience the disease of anger is the lie that others should do as we want them to do. If we did not think this way, would we get angry if others did not act as we wanted them to?
There must be harmony in our thoughts, speech and deeds. What we think, we do not speak. And what we speak, we do not perform. We think and utter words of virtues but do not have that courage to implement them. Harmony is when there is no contradiction in actions.
The truth is that we are all free spirits. We do not control others, nor do they control us. We need to recognize that like musical notes we are all different. Only then we are able to create harmony. And with others, we can create a beautiful tune.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi
To strongly wish for or want something is Desire. According to the Rig Veda, the Universe began, not with light, but with desire, ‘the primal seed’. Desires constantly arise in us, only to be replaced by other desires. Without this continuous stream of desires, there would no longer be any reason to do anything: life would grind to a halt, as it does for people who lose the ability to desire. An acute crisis of desire corresponds to boredom, and a chronic crisis to depression.
We were born from desire. But cannot remember a time when we were without it. So consumed are we to ‘desiring’, that we lose consciousness of our desires. And only realize when they clash with other desires.
If desire is life, why should we desire to control desire? —For the simple reason that we desire to control life, or, at least, our life. Paradoxically, our ancient religions almost always warned us that ‘Desires’ are the cause of conflicts.
In Hinduism, Desire is referred to as the ‘destroyer of knowledge and self-realization’. The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism states that the cause of all suffering is ‘lust’, ‘coveting’ or ‘craving’. Even Christianity, presents that four of the seven deadly sins (envy, gluttony, greed, and lust) directly involve desire. Rituals such as prayer, fasting, and confession all aim at curbing desire.
Suffering can be traced back to desire. Fear and anxiety can be understood in terms of desires about the future. Whereas, anger and sadness relate to desires about the past.
Desire is not only hurtful, but its outcome even more so. The accumulation of material wealth – houses, cars, and other riches rob us of our time and peace. You think that acquiring things will make you feel secure, but the reality is that the more you have the more fear for losing it. This continually drags you further and further away from the peace your soul is yearning for. An excess of desire is called greed. Because greed is insatiable, it prevents us from enjoying what we already have. The greater problem of greed is that it is all-consuming, reducing life to nothing but an endless quest for more. To want something and not get it leaves you feeling frustrated. Learning to be free from desire is learning how to be peaceful. Desire causes peace to disappear.
No sooner is one desire fulfilled, people formulate new desires. The problem is that our desires evolved ‘merely’ to promote our survival and reproduction. They did not evolve to make us happy or satisfied, to ennoble us, or to give our life any meaning beyond them. Today, survival is no longer the most pressing issue. Yet here we still are, chained to our desires like a slave to his master.
“Our desires always disappoint us; for though we meet with something that gives us satisfaction, yet it never thoroughly answers our expectation.” – Elbert Hubbard
To feel anxious when one attempts something new is natural, it becomes a problem though when it stops us from achieving our goals. When it grows into a feeling that we just don’t seem to be able to shake off.
Mistakes are a big cause of anxiety. We all make mistakes. It is natural. The trick is to learn from them. Ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this? How can I learn from this?’
‘Make Mistakes’ might be a goal worth considering. At the least, it deserves to be called a New Year resolution. Why? As Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Mistakes are the essence of learning. As people encounter new things and develop new skills, they will make mistakes. Mistakes or failure must not be seen as incompetence but as growth challenges – necessary for learning.
Mistakes must become opportunities to learn and grow. Have the courage to say to yourself – ‘I am going to practice thinking differently’. Although, learning from mistakes cannot be automatic, we can teach ourselves that they are an important part of the learning process. How many things you know were actually invented by mistake – Penicillin, Fire-crackers, Velcro, Potato Chips, X-ray images, even Plastic and Ice-cream!
Having some fear of mistakes might be a good thing as it may actually help performance enhancement. But excessive fear could cause problems. Avoiding fear-provoking situations, social meetings – dating, presentations, etc., and procrastinating about not being able to complete a task.
A helpful tool to overcome mistakes is – Repeated and frequent practice. Over time, you start to feel more comfortable with making mistakes. Don’t be discouraged if your anxiety doesn’t lessen right away, this is normal and expected. Keep trying and repeating as frequently as you can.
Never think that you cannot conquer your anxiety. You can. Just imagine a life without anxiety.
“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” -Charles Spurgeon
Although, stepping out of a comfort zone raises anxiety and generates a stress response, this also results in an enhanced level of concentration and focus.
Inspirational quotes encourage you to get out and do something strange – something you wouldn’t normally do – as getting out of your routine takes so much work. With a little understanding and a few adjustments, you can break away from your routine and do great things.
Why is it that we tend to get comfortable with the familiar, but when we are introduced to new and interesting things, the glimmer fades so quickly? Pushing too hard might cause a negative result, and reinforce the idea that challenging yourself is a bad idea. It becomes our natural tendency to return to an anxiety neutral, comfortable state.
So, what do you really get when you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone?
• You will be more productive. Comfort kills productivity. In the absence of deadlines and expectations, we lose the drive and ambition to do more and learn new things.
• You will have an easier time dealing with new and unexpected changes. By taking risks in a controlled fashion and challenging yourself to things you normally would not do, can prepare you for life changes.
• You will find it easier to push your boundaries in the future. Once you start stepping out of your comfort zone, you become accustomed to that state “Productive discomfort”. As you challenge yourself, your comfort zone adjusts so what was difficult and anxiety-inducing becomes easier as you repeat it.
• You will find it easier to brainstorm and harness your creativity. This is a soft benefit, but seeking new experiences, learning new skills, and opening the door to new ideas inspire us in educative ways. A positively uncomfortable experience helps us see problems in a new light.
The benefits you get after stepping outside of your comfort zone can linger. There’s the overall self-improvement you get through the skills you’re learning, the new foods you’re trying, the new country you’re visiting, and the new job you’re interviewing for. There’s also the soft mental benefits you get from broadening your horizons.
Now, a few quick tips –
Do everyday things differently. Take a different route to work. Try a new restaurant without checking the reviews first.
Whether the change you make is large or small, make a change in the way you do things on a day-to-day basis.
Take your time making decisions. Slow down, observe what’s going on, take your time to interpret what you see, and then intervene.
Do it in small steps. It takes a lot of courage to break out of your comfort zone. Identify your fears, and then face them step by step.
The experiences you have may be mind-blowing or regrettable, but that doesn’t matter. The point is that you’re doing it, and you’re pushing yourself past the mental blocks that tell you to do nothing.
Trying new things is difficult. If it were not, breaking out of your comfort zone would be easy and we would do it all the time.
It’s not a good idea to live outside of your comfort zone all the time. You need to come back from time to time to process your experiences. The last thing you want is for the new and interesting to quickly become commonplace and boring.
So, get out of that armchair or couch you are lounging in. Challenge yourself. to try something different. Anything that makes you a better version from what is today. Unlock the power and energy that comes from getting out of your really comfort zone.
“Who are you?”
Asked the same question ten times in a row, one is nudged to the realization that we all have more than one identity. Some people tend to identify at first with their name, nationality, gender, profession; others define themselves through their relationships (I am a mother, a friend) and some think of themselves first and foremost as human beings, a ‘soul’, a ‘force of energy’ or as ‘seekers of wisdom’. This exercise also brings the awareness that beyond these layers, there exists a mysterious ‘inner core’ or ‘essence’ that defies definition but shines through all our different identities. We are always ourselves, whether this be at work, with our family or on our own. In each environment we express different aspects of ourselves, but deep down we are still the same mysterious ‘centre of awareness’. In short, we are both one and many.
Are we just born with an identity? Is it ‘God-given’ and we have no choice but to accept and bear it as a kind of destiny? Or is identity something that can change and even become a choice? Most people would say that there are certain aspects of our identity (sex, cultural roots, etc) that we cannot change. Others, however, are the outcome of choices we made at some stage. We were not born to be ‘computer programmers’ or ‘mothers’ – but we chose to become them. And, most importantly, we can always choose how much priority we give to each of our different identities, even if we cannot change some of them. What do we prioritize: Our gender? Our nationality? Our status? or Our inner qualities?
For society to function and cultures to evolve, we need to learn how to transcend our differences. To consciously choose an identity that enables us to connect more with others and to empathise with them. Life is a journey from unconsciousness to consciousness. To be unconscious means to be impelled by inner or outer forces or circumstances. Whereas to be conscious means to be aware that we have a choice. Amartya Sen says: “To deny choice where choice exists is not only an epistemic mistake, it can also entail a moral and political failure through abdication of one’s responsibility to face the fundamental, Socratic question: ‘How should I live?’”
Choice is inescapably associated with responsibility. It seems much easier to say, ‘This is how I am, I cannot change it’. But history is full of atrocities that were committed because people felt compelled to act in line with a perceived and fixed identity. Amartya Sen’s message is that we should choose our identity of our own free will.
To quote Kofi Annan – “To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.”