Living within means


All of us dream to grow and prosper in life.  This is a natural human phenomenon.  It is fair to be ambitious and aim for the moon or even beyond.  We need to set our vision high, evolve our strategy, determine our actions and take the first steps.  Hard work, perseverance with a little bit of luck will definitely take us towards our goal.  We may not achieve what we want in the time frame we set ourselves.  But sooner than later we will accomplish our mission if we never give up.

Let us look back at our own lives.  We start as students in school and then college.  Apart from studying and giving our best in academics, we also strive to excel in sports and cultural activities.   No wonder our parents, friends and relatives are impressed.  Our parents try to give us pocket money for our sundry expenses.  It is here where our ability to balance income and expenditure begins. Living within our means is the first lesson in our lives as a student.

We then finish our studies and get into an employment or business vocation.  We dream to climb the corporate ladder at the shortest possible time.  If our parents reached the peak of their career in three decades, we want to  achieve the same in three years.  I admire this spirit in the youth today.  It is indeed filled with optimism and an appetite to take risks, which my generation did not even dream of.

However, there is one small point to be kept in mind.  There is no short cut to success in life.  Even if we look at the world’s best sportspersons, their successes and accomplishments are visible to us.  We do not see the millions of hours of hard work they put in or the number of failures they face before they succeed in their sport. It is this ability to be focussed and the “never say die” spirit, which accelerates our road to success.

As we reach our first milestone, we tend to believe that we have achieved our goal post.  We want to celebrate even before the ink has dried on our first offer letter.  While there may be nothing wrong in partying on the first night after our first offer, we need to remember that our long and strenuous journey to accomplish our mission has just begun.  It is at this stage we need to learn to become thrifty.  We may be tempted to live beyond our means.  We may be lucky to be brought up in a upper middle class family with all comforts.  It is our ability to realize the world is different now and all the comforts in life have to be earned by us through our own earnings is critical.

We end up competing with friends who come from rich family heritage and want to live a dream life  even before we have earned it.  It is at this stage, we need to get grounded and remind ourselves that life has just begun for us.  We have just run the first few kilometres of our life marathon.  We need to learn to save money every month to build the future of our choice.  It is like the marathon runners conserve their energy in the first few kilometres so as to put in their best foot forward in the last lap of the race.

Life is a journey and it has many facets. My learning in life is that if we can master the art of living within our means, we will always be happy.  Our expenditure should always be  less than our income.  We should never get into the credit trap.  We need to learn to enjoy life within our means.  After all happiness cannot be bought only by money.  Rather, I would say that money buys the least of happiness in life.

As in the photo above, Sikhism teaches you to be grounded, treat everyone as equal and live within your means.

Let us learn to live within our means from today.  After all, it is never too late to begin.

S Ramesh Shankar

Groundedness


I would define “Groundedness” as our ability to keep our feet on the ground at all times  even after we may have accomplished something in life. This is not easy but worthwhile to try.  Most of us strive hard to accomplish success in life.  We study hard, play hard and work hard for success.  The moment we accomplish something in academics, sports or work we believe we have arrived.

It is true that we deserve to celebrate our success.  It is not fair to say that one does not enjoy the fruits of hard work.  If you have put in your best and accomplished something in life, you deserve to celebrate it.  You are entitled to share the good news with your family and friends.  However, it is important to realise that what ever one accomplishes is life is not absolute.  You have achieved something in relation to someone else.  It is worthwhile to remember that we have millions of others in the world, who may have done better than us in the same field.

It is natural to compete with others when we are young and strive to be the best.  But it is equally important to compete with oneself.  We have to remember that whatever we have accomplished in work or life is not the ultimate.  Let us assume that one has broken a world record.  But there is always an opportunity to break one’s own record.  The best never ever rest.  It is critical to remember that the best do not fly in the air but are always grounded.

If you look at the work place, the situation is not different.  One does not respect people who brag about their position or power.  We do not admire people who beat their chests to share what they have achieved at work.  We salute people who give their best at work but always credit others for their success.  They ensure that they are always grounded.  They are fully aware that they have to work harder and smarter to excel at work.  

Human beings are not respected for the weath they accumulate or possess in life.  They are respected for their humility and simplicity.  The people who have their feet on the ground are the people who accomplish more than the people who fly in the air.  It is important to be a realist at all times.  It is great to dream and work hard to accomplish your dream.  But it is vital to be grounded to move on after you achieve your first goal.

If you look back at history, the greatest people on earth are the humblest.  They do not carry their titles on their shoulders.  They do not wear medals on their chests.  They do not rest after accomplishing their highs in life.  They share their success with others and most importantly keep their feet always on the ground.  It is easy to stray and let your feet off the ground.  The chances of slippage are higher than the chances of success in the future.

You could dream sky high but have to have your feet on the ground.  As the photo above illustrates that the tree has grown tall but has its root on the ground.

Let us learn to be grounded always.

S Ramesh Shankar

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 Sangati ( good company)


Do we get influenced by the company we are in ?  May be  or may be not.   We grow up in the family and imbibe the values of our family.  Our parents and siblings become our role models in life.  We learn the good and bad things from them.  We also imbibe the habits  of our family as we grow up.  Then as get into adolescence, we do get influenced by our friends.  Our friends influence us more than our family. 

Our friends mean more to us than our family at this stage of our life.  We study together, play together and sometimes even like to sleep together. In this process, we learn and adopt the good and the bad habits from each other.  We work hard and attend tution classes together.  We also end up smoking and drinking together.  We want to live life on our own terms.  We tend to defy our parents and do not like to be advised on anything in life.

As we grow up as adults, we take control of our life.  We leave our parental homes in search of a dream career.  We live independently and now it is our colleagues at work and friends in life, who make all the difference.  We spend more time at work and with friends.  We learn from them and share our learnings with them too.  At this stage of life, we are influenced by our boss and colleagues at work.  Further, our friends also evolve as our advisors.

Then many of us get married and our spouse becomes an integral part of our life.  We listen to each other more than anyone else in our life.  We share the good and bad news with each other.  We balance each others lives.  We lead our life as partners.  There are times of conflict, where we may fight with each other and even dislike each other’s intereference.  But, that is part and parcel of the institution of marriage.

Now, in all these stages of life, how does good company ( sangati ) make a difference at all.  It is true that our character and deeds are determined by the company we keep in life.  During our school and college days, we learn from our classmates and hence if we spend time with people who are smarter than us, we evolve smarter in life.  Similarly in college, our habits are moulded by the company we keep.  We excel in sports, arts or academics based on the influence of our friends.

On the other hand, it is also true that many of our bad habits are contributed to a great extent by the company we keep.  We end up making smoking or drinking as a habit with the influence of our peers.  Of course, we cannot blame our friends alone for any habit we develop in life.  However, it is true that our company has a huge impact in our life at this stage.

So, we learn as we grow old that yes the company we keep determines our life behaviours and habits.  Some of us realise earlier than others.  But all of us learn along the way and try to change whenever necessary.  It is up to us to decide whom we want to spend our life with.

In the photo above, the company of your colleagues makes you share happy moments of your life.  It is this spirit of fellowship, which energises you to participate and win in life.

Even the famous Hindu scripture “Bhajagovindam” states, that “The company of the good weans one away from false attachments; from non-attachment comes freedom from delusion, when the delusion ends, the mind becomes unwavering and steady and from an unwavering and steady mind comes Jeevat Mukti (liberation even in this life).”

Our company in life is our choice.

S Ramesh Shankar