If you don’t act on life, life will act on you

“Why do people work?” a text message I received from one of my close friends. He was actually doing his college assignment in Human Resources and was taking a poll with his free text messages. I simply replied ” To make their lives better (which never happens actually)” I had no idea whether he was asking generally or in some particular context. So I also sent a general reply only.

Later on, it made me ponder for a while, it’s true. We all dream of a perfect world for us. We even plan for a beautiful house, a fulfilling job, a complete happy family and a comfortable life. But with each attempt we make and each step we trudge, comes some new problem, some new complication. We strive and resolve one problem and the other one begins. Like, when a friend of mine joined her office, she found it difficult coming by rickshaw as it was too much of trouble negotiating with them just when you begin your day. So she went for a scooter. But then started the issue of safety while riding two wheelers in the maddening traffic of Gurgaon, then pollution, extreme weather etc. So she finally purchased a car on EMI. With that started the concern for fuel consumption, its maintenance, long queues at traffic lights and much more. This is just a mere example of how things keep progressing and with them, their problems too.

So this is the real world where nothing is even close to the Fantasy world. As we keep on living more and more, many of us accept the things and get used to them. They adapt themselves and start moving with the flow. And many others, keep struggling against the wicked ways of this world, trying to alleviate the things but finally end up frustrated. In such a scenario, all the philosophies and theories related to life seem too clichéd.

No one can hurt you without your consent.

Your attitude determines your altitude.

Live in present and stay happy.

You are responsible for whatever you are.

I had heard a lot about the book by Stephen Covey “7 habits of highly effective people” ever since I started working. And last year, I somehow managed to read that complete book (there are very few books I have read till date, because frankly speaking, reading was never one of my interests). Many of us, those who have read it, might be knowing that it is all about promoting ourselves from dependence to independence to interdependence. The very first habit mentioned there is “Be Proactive”. And somehow I too feel, perhaps this is something that can help us in this uncertain world where we are so vulnerable.

It states that all that comes to us is only 10%, the rest 90% depends on how we respond to the things. There is a short story I read somewhere that can further explain this statement. A man is getting late for his office, he has a very crucial business meeting today. He heads fast for his breakfast so that he can leave and suddenly his little son, who is having his breakfast too, accidentally spills his milk over his shirt. Madly, he slaps him hard and rushes to change his clothes and in the meanwhile, the son starts crying and misses his school bus too. The wife is busy persuading the little kid and angry with the man for behaving so impulsive. Now he has to drop his kid to the school and then go to the office. He gets late, gets a scolding from his boss and with all his upset mind, ruins his presentation at the meeting too. Now whom he should blame-his son, his wife, his boss or himself?

Our basic nature is to act, and not to be acted upon. But here he’s being acted upon by the sequential incidents. Had he not slapped and scolded the kid badly and went in fast to change his dress, he could have saved his whole day and could have avoided the things from getting aggravated. This ability to subordinate his impulse to a value, could have made him proactive and the First Habit could have worked.

The issue is not how others treat us or how much problems they cultivate for us, the issue is how we choose to respond and what we actually do. Our days are our life in miniature. As we live our days we create our hours, so we create our years. Hence, as we live our days, so we craft our life.


3 thoughts on “If you don’t act on life, life will act on you

  1. I think I read the 7 Habits a LONG time ago … actually through a work program at a long-ago corp. job. Parts of it must have sunk in, though – based on your synopsis – I could do with a re-read. What did stick with me, however, for YEARS was the Franklin Covey time mgmt system. I’ve moved on (I no longer have a To Do list – I’ve moved to “calendering”), but my Franklin Covey planner was my “bible” for a long time.

    Thanks for the insightful comments about the concepts behind the book. Enjoyed the refresh!

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