Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Are You Happy As You Are – Or – Do You Want To Be Someone Else?

Are You Happy As You Are – Or – Do You Want To Be Someone Else?
Musings
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Are you comfortable with yourself?

Are you happy and content as you are – physically (your body, your looks) etc – materially (money, possessions, career, “success”, “achievements” etc)?

Have you stopped striving for “more” (of anything)?

Are you living the life you always wanted to live?

If this is so  then you do not need to read this article  because you are happy.

True happiness lies being comfortable with yourself – in being content with what you have and who you are.


COMPARISON AND COMPETITION

Have you have reached a blissful state where you have stopped “comparing” and “competing”?

Comparison and Competition are two evils which are detrimental to happiness.

I have learnt that if you want to be happy and content you must live a non-comparative and non-competitive life.

Now  the converse is also true.

If you want to feel unhappy and frustrated  all you have to do is to live a comparative and competitive life.

It’s that simple – you can take my word for it.

Tell me – what is the best way to feel miserable?

“Compare” – yes  compare yourself with someone who you feel is “better off” as compared to you.

This comparison will create a sense of inferiority complex in you.

This inferiority complex due to comparison will, in turn, arouse envy which will urge you to “compete” with that person.

So – Comparison leads to Competition – and this spiral can go on and on endlessly – yes  “comparison” and “competition” are inextricably intertwined.

I don’t understand why people keep comparing with others.

Some parents even compare their own children with others’ children.

When I was in the Navy  I observed some careerist officers indulging in ruthless competition due to this comparison virus.

Even Navy Wives were afflicted by the comparison virus.

One Navy Wife was unhappy because her neighbour’s husband acquired a car.

(Those days  most Naval Officers had scooters/motorcycles and could not afford to buy a car).

Another Navy Wife was unhappy because her friend’s husband was doing extremely well in his Navy career and he was deputed abroad for a prestigious course.

Many “laid back” officers were spurred into overweening unbridled careerism by their wives who had become competitive and ambitious after being infected by the comparison virus.

Even the root cause of the current One Rank One Pension (OROP) imbroglio is due to defence services/military veterans comparing themselves with civil services/retired civil servants who get a much better deal.

Comparison can also make you try to become someone else (the person with whom you are comparing).

You see someone with 6 pack abs  and you want to have 6 pack abs (though you are quite fit and healthy).

I have seen so many persons, men and women, who get obsessed with their external appearance due to comparison with others.

Comparison happens at work, at home, in society, in families, in daily life among friends and peers – people are comparing everything  animate and inanimate  people compare their jobs, their salaries, their spouses, their children, their homes, their cars, their possessions, even their pets.

You compare  and you want to be like the other person – you may even want to be in the other person’s shoes.

You compare  and you want something that belongs to that person.

You compare  and you stop being happy as you are.

You compare  and you are not content with whatever you have got.

Once you are infected by the virus of “comparison” – you will not be comfortable with yourself – you will not be happy with yourself as you are – and you will try to imitate and be someone else.

Do you want to be yourself?

Or  do you want to be someone else?

Here is a fable that illustrates the dangers of trying to be someone else.

THE STORY OF THE EXOTIC GOAT
A Fable
Narrated By 
VIKRAM KARVE

Once there lived a Goat.

He was an ordinary looking goat who lived wild and free in the mountains.

One day while grazing in the forest  the Goat saw a Giraffe  and the goat said to himself: “I wish my neck was as long as the giraffe.”

Lo and Behold!

The goat’s neck suddenly became as long as the giraffe’s neck.

Delighted  that he could now see far and wide  the Goat saw an Eagle flying high in the sky.

“I wish I had wings like that eagle,” wished the goat.

And instantaneously  wings appeared on the goat’s body.

Thrilled  the goat flapped its newly acquired wings  when he suddenly the Goat spotted a Tortoise.

The goat admired the beautiful hard shell of the tortoise  and the goat to himself:

“I wish I had a strong hard invincible body like the shell of the tortoise.” 

Instantly  the goat’s wish was granted – and – the goat’s back turned into the shell of a tortoise.

The goat felt ecstatic and impregnable – till suddenly – the Goat saw a sleek Cheetah – speeding across the horizon running at high speed.

“I wish I had legs like the Cheetah,” the goat wished.

And miracle of miracles – the goat’s legs immediately became like the Cheetah.

Now the goat was truly overjoyed – he was on cloud nine – till – one day – the Goat saw the enchanting sight of a beautiful Peacock – with his majestic feathers – dancing magnificently.

“I wish I had gorgeous feathers like the peacock,” the goat wished.

And in a jiffy – the goat’s wish was granted – and the Goat now had dazzling copious plume of colourful feathers like the Peacock.

Adorned with the neck of a giraffe – wings of an eagle – shell of a tortoise – legs of a Cheetah  and – feathers of a peacock – the Goat looked exotic – and the goat felt jubilant, supreme, regal.

The goat felt on top of the world – and he strutted around grandiosely in majestic pride.

A Hunter passing by suddenly saw this unique stunning creature. 

He looked at the marvelous creature.

The hunter could not believe his eyes.

The hunter stared in fascination and gawked enthralled at the sight before him. 

Was this an animal – or was this a bird – or was this a reptile?

What a fantastic creature!

The hunter was totally mesmerized at this bizarre, exotic and fascinating creature which he had never seen before.

After looking spellbound at the fantastic “Goat” for some time – the hunter recovered his wits – and he decided to capture this exotic priceless gem.

So – the hunter cast his net – and he caught the exotic “Goat”.

Then – he sold this amazing “never-seen-before” unique “one-of-its-kind” exclusive creature at an astronomical price to the zoo.

Large crowds gathered at the zoo – and everyone gaped in awe at this astonishingly exotic creature – and everyone was fascinated by the awesome sight.

The exotic “Goat” spent the rest of his life in captivity locked up in a cage – weeping and crying.

The exotic “goat” was filled with agony – when he saw some ordinary looking goats wandering freely – and eating grass outside the cage.

He looked wistfully at the ordinary goats – his erstwhile fellow brethren. 

These ordinary looking goats were wandering about freely and unnoticed in the zoo gardens – while the exotic beautiful goat was locked up in a cage.

The exotic goat wished that he too were free to roam around like the ordinary goats.

The exotic goat wondered why the ordinary goats did not recognize him. 

Depressed at having lost his freedom – the exotic goat spent the rest of his life in captivity filled with sadness and remorse.

Yes – the simple carefree goat lost his freedom and became a captive in a cage – owing to his desire to be someone else.

Yes – the exotic goat lost his precious freedom – and he had to live the rest of his life in captivity – while normal goats wandered around freely.


BEWARE OF IMAGE MANAGEMENT 

Tell me – aren’t most “celebrities” in the same situation as the exotic goat – trapped in their image?

This apocryphal story of the exotic goat – a fable – metaphorically highlights the dangers of trying to be everything and exemplifies the ramifications of ensnaring yourself into the Beauty Trap (or Perfection Trap) of your own making.

Dear Reader – tell me – isn’t it better to accept yourself as you are rather than chase elusive dreams of “perfect beauty”? 

Why are you not happy with yourselves as you are?

These days everybody wants to be “perfect” in all aspects, physically and intellectually.

Everyone wants to have a “picture perfect” body – a shapely figure “perfectly sculpted” in all dimensions – and look “perfectly beautiful” – and have a flawless complexion – and be absolutely “perfect” – and to achieve this goal some are ready to do all sorts of things, exoteric, even esoteric, maybe even go under the scalpel.

Even spiritually, you are constantly chasing elusive dreams of happiness and enlightenment, becoming a “seeker”, trying to “improve” yourself, when the key to self enlightenment is inside you, waiting for you to look inwards and discover for yourself.  

Why are we are not satisfied with ourselves as we are?

Why do we want to have all possible qualities and attributes, intellectual and physical?

Why do we try to “fake it” and try to wear a mask of pretence and develop “social graces” that are in conflict with our inner nature and basic personality?

Why are we obsessed with the quest for perfection?

Remember that whenever you don't feel happy about yourself, you will get obsessed with improving yourself just like the goat who tried to be everything.

In his quest, the goat lost his own identity and, most importantly, lost his freedom.

If you fall into the perfection trap (or beauty trap) this can happen to you too - you will lose your unique identity and you will be trapped forever and lose your freedom.

Let me give you a very simple example: 

Once you use hair dye to colour your graying hair to black colour  you are trapped forever in the hair dye trap – and you will have to colour your hair for your entire life.

It is the same with all image management techniques  you will have to fake it all your life  and you can never be your natural self again.
 
It is always best to be happy with your own unique identity  albeit not so perfect  rather than try to be everything.

Sometimes – in the quest for perfection – you will lose your own identity.

Remember the story of the exotic goat.

BE YOUR NATURAL SELF  AND BE HAPPY WITH YOURSELF AS YOU ARE

To sum up  the moral of the story is: 

Be Yourself. 

Yes – Be Your Natural Self.

Be Comfortable with Yourself. 

Be Happy as you are

Do not compare with others.

Do not compete with others

Do not try to be someone else.

Do you agree?

Do comment and let us know your views.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Disclaimer:
1. These are my personal views. Please do your own due diligence while selecting a philosophy of life.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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