Tuesday, December 9, 2014

कितना खाएगा, फट जाएगा एक दिन… And are you a content greedy?

I am greedy. I am content too. Repeat this 10 times daily when you get up. You may not see any results, it’s not a self help chant.

greed |griːd| noun [ mass noun ]
intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.

content 1 |kənˈtɛnt| adjective
in a state of peaceful happiness: he seemed more content, less bitter.
willing to accept something; satisfied
verb [ with obj. ]
satisfy (someone)

this is what the dictionary has to say about the two words.
Looking from a more radical line of thought, I think content and greed go hand in hand. Rather they should. The more content I am the more greedy I get. As soon as my greed increases, I start on my path towards a higher level of contentment. My greed for quest has taken me far and across.
It would not be wrong to say that I consider myself, as being a content greedy. For everything around me. Some aspects more than others. I am greedy. But I also remain content with what I have till that greed is satisfied. Love, affections, care, Friends, what I already have in life, I wouldn't trade it for anything else, except for maybe more of everything.

But then enough about me. Lets bring this to the table and have everyone in the picture. Greed applies to all. We have traditionally attached such negative sentiment to greed that we don’t want to accept it even when it is good. Greed is a good leveller. It does not differentiate between caste and creed. Rich or Poor. Infact the more we have abundance of something, the more greed too we accrue in our accounts.

What normally happens is we forget to revise the level of contentment in us and eventually start running after greedy aims in order to close then gap quickly.
Confusing? Picture this, there is a contestant in KBC. I hope this is a fair enough example as this is one show quite familiar. It has very simple rules, the entry to it though is still a mystery to many. On the show, answer a set of questions and they give you reward money. They have set minimum fallback levels too. With number of questions answered the fallback amount goes up. Many a times, I have seen people stuck at a question, they can’t answer, have no lifelines too. They decide to quit the show. Accepted. They take their winnings till that point and move on. Content and happy that they have been rewarded for their efforts aptly.
Lets change on small condition in this picture. What if the candidate can only take back the last minimum fall back amount, even if they quit? Right. So the fall back gap increases to alot. People closer to the fall back amount and wanting to quit may still quit, but people higher up with more risk of losing will not. They just have to take the question even if they don’t know it. Why? Because with this clause their level of minimum contentment has gone way down. It does not matter to them, that any amount they get is winnings. Its is now a question of winning more or losing more. The mind gets tricked in to seeing the loss is bigger. This is human nature. When the risk and rewards aren’t equally balanced, we tend to become inclined towards seeing what would be more profitable.

We also have the well read and heard story of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves. Its been told and retold with minor changes here and there. Also been made into motion pictures and cartoon movies. I wonder if the actual learning did ever get carried on?
Ali Baba wasn’t too different from the 40 thieves. He was stealing from then, what they stole from others. He hadn’t been himself ever waylaid and robbed by them. It was his greed to go in to the cave and take the riches and head back home. In a version of the story, there is his brother Qasim. When he finds out of this way to be rich, he compels Alibaba to take him to the same cave. He gets so lost in his greed that he wants to carry more and more back. This is what led to him being taken care of. Taken care of here stands for being put out of his greed and misery once and for all. Alibaba’s level of contentment was far better than Qasim’s. Hence the different end. Though we never know what happened to the riches after Abu Hassan was taken care of by Ali Baba. Abu Hassan - Leader of the forty thieves.

In essence, greed is good. Just like friction, it is a necessary evil. But what is more important is to be content with certain amount of everything. Unless we upgrade our level of contentment, we shall never stop and rest. We will only see the ever widening gap between what was Ok for us sometime back and where our greed wants to take us to.

In the end the choice, as usual, remains in our own hands. We can chose what we want to be greedy for, it could be knowledge, learning, spending more time with loved ones. But at the same time we have to be satisfied too. From this satisfaction stems gratefulness. And unless we are content and grateful for what we have achieved, we will always be sad and unhappy about something.

Monday, December 1, 2014

तू तो बहुत बड़ा शिकारी है… And what do others think of your story?

Picture this: 10,000 BC
You come home dragging a dead boar weighing nothing less than half a tonne. People back then used to be stronger, hence you had bigger and heavier boars. There is no proof of that, but if one assumption is true, the inference can’t be far away.
So back to the scene, there is a lot of excitement 10 caves up and down your lane. You have already attained a demi god status amongst your neighbours.
Here is an excerpt from a dialogue that ensues between you and your wife,
You : “ooga oogga ooga”
Your Wife : “booga boog boog ooga oog”
Wives back then too spoke a bit more than their husbands, or so it seems.
Here is the most probable translation for the above,
You : “I killed a boar”
Wife : “Honestly? You killed it or you just dragged it here?”

Goes a lot to tell the about the status of husbands back then too. Maybe nothing has changed so far, even after all these years.
Further in the evening, during a drink with your other cave dwellers, you confide, that you actually did not kill the boar, it died chasing you all over the jungle. Slipped and Flipped and fell on the very  spear you abandoned in haste. Eyes wide open, face forward.
There goes your chance of free rounds of drinks, your title of being an ace hunter. Anyone even in 10 generations of yours won’t be acknowledged as a decent hunter because of this deed of yours. Lets not even mention the angry wife back home.

Being the descendants of the same hunter gatherers, its still important for us to have good stories. Be it getting a job, be it being successful in any role. Even if it is a product you are selling, you are required to have a convincing story.
If its so important why not have a proper subject in schools where we are taught how to make good stories?
Its just like any other skill, but people who can lie are slightly better off in this. Maybe not outrightly lie, lets just say, creative people.
Now I am not suggesting that we should all start lying about our glorious past and ever conquering forefathers, but then maybe we already do that now and then. Without even realising that we are doing it. Every day we get to see privileged treatment being given to people who have had their past stories all perfectly made up. People with better social standing, people with political clout, people with money to spare.

So then, as of now, what is your story? And why is it for others to feel good about yours?
There is one common thing I noticed, in all human history. History itself is the biggest story telling activity. All the religions too pay a lot of emphasis on you life’s deeds. Well, if you sum them up together in the chronological order, what you get is actually your life’s story. Without this account of yours in place, there is no entry for you anywhere, heaven or hell.

A friend of mine, in our college days, would let us in on the major developments in the software industry. Coincidently all these developments were leaked to him, by his brother, who always seemed to be in the right company at the right time. Sometimes so there also arose a need for more than one brothers, then the cousins would take over. What was missed by most of other listening to these stories, was that they could have read them anywhere in a decent software magazine too. But then he was a good storyteller, that no one could take away.

I believe people connect to you more if they can connect to what you have been through or what you have already seen in your life. We are all on the lookout for one common thread to hang on to, to join us with each other, and our past. Deep down maybe we still have the need to be associated to a closed group.

Ever wondered then how to come up with interesting things to account for the time you have already spent in world? I have and I think it boils down to a few simple steps.

  • Keeping a journal - Pros - You can revisit it from time to time. Try and learn from your past. Its a lot more better if you record important events, in writing. The brain has a habit of deforming memories to suit its mood and emotions. Even if does you no good, your offsprings will have something to talk about from your days.
    Cons - Being exposed over the embarrassing situations.
  • Brag a bit - Exaggerate a bit. For the fun of it. Don’t fabricate all lies. But the magnitude can be made to differ. Maybe increase the intensity here and there. if x is your story, making x+10 doesn't seem so bad. We all do it all the time. Have been doing it since childhood days.
    The old stomach ache excuse for not wanting to go to school on a particular day.
  • Don’t just make stories. Tell them. Share them. Attach a fun morale, learning to them. Spread goodness through them. Spread them the old fashioned way. Not on what’s app and facebooks. Spread them in through the ears of people close to you. Why you have to do this? Unless you are the rare type, who overthrew a dictator, caused a revolution, exploded an atomic bomb, or found any other way to crawl into the history books, you will have to tell your own stories. While you are at it, why not make them contain the correct messages all around.

All this of course does not mean you have to sell lies to everyone, inorder to accept you. You are great as you are. Be honest to that.

What I think to be important is, that when you mention your story of success or failures too, you never know who would be able to learn and move ahead in life because of that. Think about that, and feel content.