Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Life is All About Attitude

In his teachings the famous Stoic Philosopher Epictetus talked about the importance of your ATTITUDE in dealing with the trials and tribulations in your life:

What happens to you does not matter much. It is how you react to it that matters.

When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude towards it. 

You are disturbed not by things, but by the view which you take of them.

It is not external events themselves that cause you distress, but the way in which you think about them and your interpretation of their significance that excite your emotions. And your interpretation of an event depends on your attitude.

It is your attitudes and reactions that give you trouble. 

You cannot choose your external circumstances, but you can always choose how you respond to them. And how you respond to external events and stimuli depends on your attitude.

Sometimes it may be apt to have an attitude of acceptance:

Don’t demand or expect that events happen as you would wish them do. Accept events as they actually happen. That way you will have inner peace and contentment.

Remember, your attitude is all in your mind whereas the events (or facts) are real and happen in the physical world. 

Therefore, you must learn to distinguish between facts and your attitude towards those facts. 

The famous parable OLD MAN AT THE FORT illustrates this concept:

An Old Man was living with his Son at an abandoned fort on the top of a hill, and one day he lost a horse. 

His fellow villagers came to express their sympathy for this misfortune.

But the Old Man asked them, “How do you say that this is a misfortune? The fact of the matter is that one horse is missing and there is one horse less in the stables. That is the fact. Whether it is good luck or bad luck – well that is a matter of judgment.”

A few days afterwards, the Old Man's horse returned with a number of wild horses.

The villagers came again to congratulate him on this stroke of fortune, and the Old Man replied, “How do you know this is good luck? The fact of the matter is that there are more horses in my stable than before. Whether it is good luck or bad luck – well that is a matter of opinion.”

With so many horses around, his young son began to take to riding in a big way. 

One day while riding a wild horse the Old Man's Son was thrown off and broke his leg and the accident made him lame in one leg. 

Again the neighbours came around to express their sympathy, and the Old Man replied, “How do you know this is bad luck?”

A few years later a great war broke out. 

All the able bodied men were forcibly conscripted into the army and all of them were sent to the battlefield to fight in the war.

The war was so terrible that all the young men of the village were killed fighting in the war.

Because the Old Man’s son had a broken leg, he was not conscripted into the army and he did not have to go to the battlefield and his life was saved.

Almost all the villagers had lost their sons in the war and all the villagers were envious at the Old Man’s good fortune”.

But this time they did not say anything to the Old Man as they knew what his response would be. 

This parable drives home the lesson that there are no such things like good luck and bad luck.

What disturbs you are not events but your attitude towards them. 

Like the events in the story, sometimes what you think is “misfortune may be a precursor to “good fortune 

You must learn to distinguish between facts and your attitude towards those facts.

Destiny, Fate, Luck, Fortune - it is all in the mind.

Facts are the truth.

Facts are ground reality.

But the way you interpret those facts depends on your attitude which in turn is governed by your mental map” and accordingly you call it good luck or bad luck, or become happy or sad.

This mental map is formed due to your valuesbeliefs and experiences and you tend to view the actual facts or events (territory) through mental filters based on your values, beliefs, biasesprejudices and experiences which form your mental map. 

In a metaphorical sense, FACTS are like Physical Territory whereas your ATTITUDE determines how you see this physical territory on a Map.

The same physical territory will look different on different maps, depending on how the map is drawn.

Similarly, the same fact will look different depending on the attitude through which the fact is interpreted - you view facts through the lens of your attitude

Just like the actual physical geographical territory exists on the ground and its map is drawn on paper, similarly in real life, the actual facts and events happen in reality but each one of us interprets them depending on the different mental maps” prevalent in our minds. 

That is why there is a saying: THE MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY

Events, by themselves, don’t hurt you.

It is your attitudes and responses (due to your mental maps) to those events that disturb you and give you trouble.

It then becomes your paramount duty to introspect and continuously redesign your mental maps to develop the correct attitude and responses towards external events.

When something happens the only thing in your power is your attitude towards it.

We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.

The secret of inner calm resides within you.

Once you have the proper mental “maps” you will develop the correct attitude in your mind.

And once you cultivate the right attitude you will not be disturbed by the vicissitudes of external events. 

Yes, life is all about ATTITUDE

Once you have the right attitude - all problems will become small problems and a small problem is no problem. 

A positive attitude will make you see the brighter side of life and will change your life forever.

So, Dear Reader, close your eyes, think of the story of the Old Man at the Fort and reflect on the moral of the story, and may you cultivate the right attitude which enables you to enjoy the feast of life.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Did you like reading this article? 
I am sure you will like all the 27 stories in my recently published book of short stories COCKTAIL
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Foodie Book:  Appetite for a Stroll (a Book of Foodie Adventures)

About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a large number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile Vikram Karve: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve
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Email: vikramwamankarve@gmail.com

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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