Cockroach Theory

Hi there, I know it’s been a while since my last post, and upon my sudden return, I’m sharing a post with borrowed words. I promise it’s good though. A beautiful speech by Sundar Pichai – an IIT-MIT Alumnus and Global Head Google Chrome:

Sundar Pichai

Sundar Pichai

The cockroach theory for self development

At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady.

She started screaming out of fear.

With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.

Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.

The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but …it landed on another lady in the group.

Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.

The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.

In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter.

The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt.

When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior?

If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?

He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos.

It is not the cockroach, but the inability of those people to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach, that disturbed the ladies.

I realized that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it’s my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me.

It’s not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.

More than the problem, it’s my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.

Lessons learnt from the story:

I understood, I should not react in life.
I should always respond.

The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.

Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of.

A beautiful way to understand…………LIFE.

Person who is HAPPY is not because Everything is RIGHT in his Life..

He is HAPPY because his Attitude towards Everything in his Life is Right..!!

[sic]

(Source)

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Minimalist Habits II: Trust People, Especially Yourself

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but early on in my life, I’d decided that life would be easier if I didn’t have too many people around. In my mind, people inevitably brought drama and mess, and there was nothing I wanted more than to just have a simple, drama-free life. It seemed like a good philosophy for a while, and soon enough it became standard policy: avoid getting close to people as much as possible; as a matter of fact, avoid dealing with people as much as possible. And as I sat on my ivory white soapbox, keeping my hands sanitized at all times, I watched with pity as those around me fell victim over and over again to the whims and frenzies of other people. Hah! I’d scoff mentally as I congratulated myself on being so practical with my heart and with my life.

It was not until recently, as I was going through my emotional baggage that I realized one of the heaviest things I was holding onto was this innate distrust in people. It was the root of a lot of my stress and unhappiness. How? Well, I did not trust people to really love me because I didn’t really want to love anyone back. Isn’t it so much easier to not seek the approval of another person or to have to sacrifice ones’ own satisfaction and comfort for that person? I didn’t trust people to not use it against me if I let any of my vulnerabilities show. It felt neater to just let people think I was one type of person (easy-going, professional, introverted, has no weaknesses), rather than getting into the nitty-gritty of who I was and then also getting into the nitty-gritty of who they were. Let’s keep it clean and impersonal at all times, right?

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Minimalist Habits I: Do Less, Better

“If you seek tranquility, do less.” Or (more accurately) do what’s essential – what the logos of a social being requires, and in the requisite way. Which brings a double satisfaction: to do less, better. Because most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, “is this necessary?” ~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

To me, one of the philosophical purports of the minimalist lifestyle is to have more quality and less quantity in all aspects of one’s life. Just as I have been eliminating and avoiding adding things that are not beautiful or useful to my home, I have been trying to rid myself of timesucking habits so that I may spend more of my time doing what furthers my larger life goals and less of it doing small tasks that can only get me one day to the next.

Below, I list a few of my newly developed habits that I find to be very effective for my life. You may find them useful in developing your own minimalist habits. Continue reading

Minimalist Mind IV: Evict Your Ego and Its Baggage

If you find your mind cluttered, there’s a good chance that it is so because you are selfish. If you are struggling to find peace and quiet within yourself, it is probably because you are filled with selfish thoughts. This is a realization I’ve continuously come back to on my journey into manifesting mental minimalism. Though I don’t often allow myself to display it outwardly, I am and have always been a person of low self-esteem; and it’s not uncommon, in my experience, for people like myself to possess a neurotic mind. I could be sitting quietly, doing nothing, with only a neutral expression on my face, but in fact, my mind would be teeming and racing with thoughts and questions. In addition to the usual blips of human life thoughts (I gotta pee, I gotta pee soooo bad. Need to remember to buy milk and butter. Did I lock the front door??), perhaps’es, why’s and what-if’s would spawn into and fizzle out of existence, in no particular order. Why did so and so do this? Perhaps they don’t love me. What if I deserve something better? These are obvious examples, but, wow – selfish, right? 
 

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Minimalist Mind Part III: Meditations to Quiet the Mind

Remember I had said something about going to some Buddhism/meditation courses? I’ve been learning a lot and taking quite a bit away from these sessions. The other day, I just sat down to write and the following meditations flew out of me. I see them as simple self-reminders to not let my ego continue to increase my suffering (or dukkha) any longer. Perhaps you will find it helpful. If anything I’m writing is coming off cryptic or far-reaching, be patient with me, because I am just beginning to learn. My intentions with this post is so one may read it and it provokes thoughts that help to shake off some of that perceived reality that is causing us all so much suffering.
Today, I am not afraid, because there is nothing to be afraid of. Nothing is scary in and of itself; its scariness is the result of infinite cycles of causes and consequences, filtered through many layers of perception. I cannot be afraid of what is not – and what is not here and now certainly is not: it is either a memory of the past or an imagination of the future. 
 
Today, I am not stressed out because nothing warrants that stress. Nothing is required of me. And I require not of anything. Because my self is not a real thing. In fact, I am composed of an indefinite number of microorganisms, cells, and atoms – living beings that contain other living beings within them. I am just a concept; a perception that I am different and separate from all that is around me. I am no more responsible than a tree or a mouse for this project or that appointment. 
 
Today, I can enjoy my life to the fullest. It is no better of me to be making $100 sitting in front of a computer than to be spending $100 sitting on a lake fishing, should I feel compelled. There is nothing wrong with being driven, but there is also nothing wrong with being the complete opposite. I am not obligated to anything or anyone. I can do as I please – drift with the wind if I please, sit among the rocks if I please. But at the end of the day, what pleases me matters not, and what pleases others matters not. At the end of the day, what has happened has already happened, and what will happen is already on the path to happening. 
 
Today, you do not need to worry. You do not need to apologize. You do not need others to apologize to you, simply forgive them, simply free yourself of any anger or irritation. Today, you can be free of stress. Your responsibilities – these things that you go about doing day in and day out – are nothing but amorphous moments that blend from from one to next, simply another cause and effect in an infinite chain of causes and effects. 
 
Today, I embrace myself and my complete ability to be free. 
 
How will you enjoy your day today? What about it are you grateful for? 
 
 

Minimalist Mind Part II: Setting Intention

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about sorting through one’s mind’s clutter. One way to the minimalist mind is to pick up each and every item within our head, and decide whether or not it’s necessary to keep. Another way we could go about this would be to decide upon the few thoughts and feelings we wish to keep close to us, to drive us in life every day, and then disposing of the rest without differentiation. This is intention setting.

A way of mind that I am actively seeking:

You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire, so is your intention. As is your intention, so is your will. As is your will, so is your destiny. But you have to know what your intention is, and you have to seed it in the fertile ground of your consciousness. (Source)

It is similar to something I read a while back about “The Way of the Samurai”. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I read it, but it inspired me enough to create this meme with the words:

First, you must have a purpose and then you must know what that purpose requires to be achieved and then you must decide that you intend to achieve it and then you set about achieving it and in the process you will become focused and then you will be able to apply that focusing to anything.

First, you must have a purpose and then you must know what that purpose requires to be achieved and then you must decide that you intend to achieve it and then you set about achieving it and in the process you will become focused and then you will be able to apply that focusing to anything.

 

(If you know the source for either the image or the quote, do let me know. I created this as a self reminder, so didn’t think I’d have to attribute to the sources, sorry!)

These two quotes have very similar messages, and both struck me very hard as I realized that I have been feeling so empty because of a lack of purpose. When I sat down to start contemplating what my current purpose in life is, I found my thoughts to be fragmented and stretched in all different directions. It wasn’t until a conversation with my dad a couple weeks ago that I began to realize what I was missing. My dad asked me whether I’d been praying and going to church, and when I replied that I practiced spirituality but not religion, he told me, as he always has, that it’s important to have some sort of religion to guide one through life – no matter what it was.

I’d heard those words so many times that I dismissed them quickly at first. Just Dad saying Dad things, I thought to myself. But those words kept coming back to nag at me in the days that followed. First, I thought they kept surfacing in my brain because I was irritated by Dad-ism, my ego was whispering, “How dare he say that to me? I’m a good person, I don’t need a preacher or teacher. I’ve done fine up until now without any help.” Then I happened to arrive at a Meetup last Friday night, thinking it was a class on meditation; I quickly learned that it was actually an advanced Buddhism workshop focusing on studying, contemplating and meditating on emptiness.

Eventually, I’ll likely go over what I’m learning in that class, but that lesson was not the point I am trying to make today, which is – in attending this course, my thoughts finally clicked into place. I realized that I had such a hard time setting authentic intentions that were true to myself because it’s almost impossible to find a purpose if there is nothing that I believed in strongly enough to make It my life purpose, or to make my life purpose defending It or perpetuating It.

Though I’m still unable to name It, I’ve already obtained so much clarity from this realization. I now have a purpose – which is finding It, what I believe in.

Do you have A Purpose in life? If so, what beliefs motivate your pursuit of attaining your It?

Minimalist Mind Part I – Sorting Through the Clutter

Minimalism is not just a lifestyle, it is a state of mind. One could downsize their material possessions and still not experience the mental, emotional, and spiritual freedom that a clean, uncluttered house would seemingly offer. This is a whole new class of first world problems – “I got rid of all of my stuff. But I am still unhappy.”

In my personal journey, one of the greatest life-changing realizations I’ve made was how much unnecessary baggage I was carrying around mentally and emotionally. Though thoughts and feelings cannot be weighed on a kitchen scale nor take up shelf space in our cupboards, either can weigh our souls down with a heaviness that is capable of sinking one into depression.

It’s not uncommon that our mess of unnecessary thoughts translates into physical clutter –  jealousy, insecurity, inadequacy, etc lead to bigger TVs, shinier cars, and lots and lots of shoes. However, unlike things, thoughts and emotions are far harder to sort through. It’s easy to decide that I only need one pair of hiking shoes, but how do I decide which thoughts and beliefs I should hold on to, and which serve no purpose? After all, the root of the problem is not that you have too many shoes, it is that you might think unless your shoes are matching your outfit every day, people will judge you, think you’re poor, ugly, unfashionable etc, and you worry about being perceived as ugly or poor because…? As our society evolves, the act and emotion of worrying has devolved from a necessary evil into a whole different beast. Google “common things people worry about” and the query returns millions of different little worries that plague everyday life – from money to appearances, from death to other people’s opinions.

Sorting through your thoughts and feelings is a daunting process. While most of us are not hoarders of material possessions, I think that upon sorting through one’s internal monologue, we’d probably notice that many of us hoard our thoughts, emotions and beliefs with a fierce defensiveness. Though the unnecessary thoughts and emotions I am speaking of are not always negative or ugly, the ugly ones are the ones we should aim to rid ourselves of first (like getting rid of the trash first in a hoarder house). Most often, negativity stems from bad memories and experiences, is stored in the form of insecurity, then manifests itself as meanness or insensitivity towards others. Something I’m coming to learn is that getting rid of negative thoughts and tendencies is not so easy as “well, who cares? I don’t care.” It’s more about understanding the whole picture and then knowing that what has happened does not matter now – being at peace with the past.

Take some time for yourself tonight and sit with your thoughts in silence. What kind of unnecessary thoughts – negative or positive – come to your mind? Unnecessary thoughts do not always seem harmful on the surface — thinking about something sweet your lover said to your last week could be considered an unnecessary thought. After all, why overthink or give more to that moment than you already have? As Marcus Aurelius points out in Meditations:

The present is the same for everyone; its loss the same for everyone; and it should be clear that [in death,] a brief instant is all that is lost. For you can’t lose either the past or the future; how could you lose what you don’t have?

27 Going On Infinity

Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off.

Build your wings on the way down.

~ Ray Bradbury

 

A couple days ago, I turned 27. Today, I decided it’s time for a new blog. I hope that this blog will contribute to the betterment of the internet universe by providing well-articulated information that is either useful and/or beautiful. Like me, this blog will probably be a constant work in progress. This is its humble start.