Life is not always an easy affair. There
are wars, famines, diseases and calami-
ties galore both man made and natu-
ral. Over 200,000 people die every
day, well over a million a week. And death is only the beginning of our problems. In the city of Mumbai alone there are over five million homeless people sleeping on the streets, in makeshift huts or out in the open.
These kinds of statistics from all over the world could fill pages of this book. But even those of us who are lucky enough not to be a statistic at this moment have our problems. We who in the eyes of society have achieved some degree of success are left with an uneasy feeling, now what? Do we pursue more success and riches; do we try for more security, more excitement, and more distractions? Do we look for solace in the religions, in the arts,in our families, in charitable actions, in fantasy, in power, in inner growth? Just what direction do we move in, and is it really worth moving in any direction at all?
If you are looking for the answers to these questions in this article you will be disappointed. We don’t know the answers any more than you do. And even if we did, and were to tell you, it would possible be the cruelest thing we could do. The mysteries of existence handed over on a plate would probably make life unbearably dull. For one thing does not seem clear; this life of ours is a mysterious affair. It is a kind of school to which we have all come to learn certain lessons. Many of the lessons are similar to each other, and many of the situations we go through are the same again and again.
But the way we respond and the combinations of situations that arise for each one of us will mold us in a certain way that is individual and uniquely ours.
Many great scientists have stated that the more deeply they fathom the mysteries of their chosen field, the more brand-new mysterious things pop up. The mystics say much the same thing. They have explored the mysteries of their inner beings with a rare totality. Some have reached great plateaus of contentment and bliss. And yet they report that the mystery has no end. In fact, life just seems to get more and more magical. Each moment is an unexpected happening, another chance to explore another new mystery.
If this is true and life really is an endless exploration, it implies several things. One is that there is no end in itself that will provide us with perfect happiness and contentment and an ending to the learning process. This makes it impossible to look into the future for some development that will change everything: if only I could win the lottery, or find true love, or fathom the secrets of the universe, then everything will be all right. It does not seem to work that way. This is, however, not to say that we should not seek love, fulfillment, happiness or whatever matters to us. It is more to suggest that within the very search itself we will discover what we are seeking.
Or perhaps it is the way in which we seek, the very fabric of our lives that is important. Maybe it is not the end that is important at all, but the means by which we move towards the end. All the mystics talk about the present moment, right now, right here. That is where it is all happening. Sounds like a nice idea but that is hard to live. Crammed like sardines into a local train, suffocating from lack of air, who wants to be here and now? Let me be anywhere else but in the moment.
Having, said that, the fact remains that while we are on the local train, we are on the local train. It is at this point that we are left with a rather momentous decision: do we do the seemingly obvious thing and suffer though the ride until we reach our destination. Or do we celebrate?
Celebrate what? When this situation is so terrible? Well, that too is something. We can celebrate the terribleness of the moment. The absolute bottom line is: its all happening right now, so why not make the most of it!
Life has its ups and downs, its good days and its bad days. It manifests like two sides of one coin, constantly flipping.
But it appears that both are necessary in order for us to learn all the lessons that we are meant to learn. So why not celebrate the bad along with the good? We have all had days when all our plans have gone so wrong, all our hopes shattered, and we are on the point of despair. And then when it seems like nothing more can go wrong, something else does. And to our great surprise, instead we start laughing, a full, deep and thoroughly enjoyable belly laugh. We laugh for no particular reason except at the whole ridiculous nature of our lives at that moment. The situation need not affect the celebration. And in that moment our whole focus has changed. We are celebrating. Everything that was wrong remains wrong, and yet we are no longer involved, so it does not seem so serious and devastating. The very fact of being alive seems to bring us enough pleasure.
|We can celebrate joy and we can celebrate anger. We can celebrate love and we can celebrate heartache. We are still experiencing whatever it is that we are experiencing — that has not changed. What has changed is the place from which we are viewing things.
This is what we mean by celebrating. And it does seem that we have the choice in each and every moment of our lives to celebrate or not to celebrate. We can celebrate joy and we can celebrate anger. We can celebrate love and we can celebrate heartache. We are still experiencing whatever it is that we are experiencing ?that has not changed. What has changed is the place from which we are viewing things. If life really is a school, maybe this is a very significant lesson we are in the middle of learning. And who knows what the lesson is leading on to? If we are too busy feeling sorry for our misfortune, we may miss the very lesson life is trying to show us and have to repeat the situation over and over again until we get it.
And if as the mystics say, “life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved,” then we might as well celebrate right now this particular mystery and await the next one.
Celebration is a subtle shift in orientation. If we see that when something has gone wrong, we are not being punished by life but rather it is just the way it is sometimes, then we celebrate. And when we are in a mode of celebration we are more open to what is truly occurring in that moment and to what is to come.
Rengetsu was a female mystic in the Zen tradition. While traveling on a pilgrimage she arrived at a village just before nightfall. She went to the villagers, asking for lodging for the night but was refused by everyone. She was forced to spend the night outside under the stars. She was awakened in the middle of the night by the cold. In the light of the full moon she saw fully opened cherry blossoms. So overcome by their beauty, she wrote this poem:
Through their kindness
In refusing me lodging
I found myself beneath the blossoms
On the night of this misty moon
This poem reflects an attitude of celebration. Had Rengetsu been moping and feeling sorry for herself she could not have enjoyed the beauty of the night, nor ever been able to forgive, let alone thank, those who turned her away. Life must have revealed one of its mysteries to this unique woman and she was in the right attitude to be able to appreciate the lesson. She was celebrating.
Celebrating to Win
The theme of this issue is somewhat perplexing. It raises
several questions. Why should we celebrate? What is winning? And more importantly, why should we celebrate to win?
Victory & celebrations go together, one following the other, but the idea of celebrating to win as opposed to perhaps slogging or striving to win needs an explanation and elaboration.
If we look around, we find that amidst rapidly changing scenario, the ground reality as we encounter in our daily life, both, at work & outside work is rather slow to change and is not changing in the direction and manner to improve quality of our lives. This disconnect between rapidly changing macro reality & inadequately changing micro reality causes stress, frustration, anger… and all those negative emotions that sap our energy, inducing apathy and sluggishness… leading to slow change, poor quality of change.
As we require energy and lots of it, to cause the change swiftly, powerfully, irrevocably and in totality to improve the reality as experienced. This alone can lead to enhanced quality of life, both at work and outside.
Where do we get this energy? This energy essentially comes from positive happy emotions and that unknown, not well-understood element called the Human Spirit. Dr. Deming in his last days summed up his entire life’s work as an endeavour to strengthen and lift the human spirit amongst millions for creating a force, world-wide, to improve quality of life for the human race.
To ensure flow of energy at higher levels continuously, we need to engage in activities, which will boost the positive emotions. Celebrating is one sure activity to help us maintain our levels of energy at new highs; which in turn will enable us cause changes, both small and large.
What do we celebrate? Any improvement that we make in process or products. Any sales wins. Cemented relation ships. Acquisitions of equipment, technology and perhaps more importantly acceptance of new ideas and concepts. Passage of time and people. Guests and visitors and so on…Finally celebrate for being here and alive. Celebrate for no reason. The need is to boost energy to cause change…
Business organisations in India have cultures, which are averse to celebrations. They do celebrate but occasionally, coinciding with festivals or annual conferences… The intensity of such celebrations gets diluted with the passing time resulting in low levels of energy during most of the year.
So what we are advocating is more celebrations, however small, throughout the year to keep enthusiasm and energy at high levels. Joy and fun are essential characteristics of any winning organisation. Managers must design work practices, which embody celebrations.
A few thoughts on winning. Normally we understand winning to be a zero sum game:
I win, you lose. I would rather urge you to discard this harmful notion and think about in a new way about winning. It is about stretching, improving continually, adding greater value, being innovative, expanding the ‘pie’, inclusiveness, working collaboratively, being environmentally friendly… It’s about transcending to the next level of performance. It is about striving to meet the so-called triple bottom line criteria. Also it is about a new way of being. Evolving through learning and introspection.
How can an organisation become a ‘winning’ one? The answer lies with its leadership. The leaders must focus on building a culture that promotes and strengthens winning attitudes amongst its members.
Again this would call for dialogue, energy, enthusiasm and change. What better catalyst can we use than celebrations? Do celebrate everything, everyday!
Begin by really celebrating joyful occasions to their fullest. Then let yourself celebrate ordinary things, a sunset, the wind in the trees, the sound of laughter, a good joke. Then let your mood carry over into everyday life. Rushing to work, stuck in a traffic jam, turn everyday activity, even frustrations and aggravations, into celebration. Finally, let yourself experience the so-called bad things that happen to you. Do not run from them; donít feel overly sorry for yourself; try celebration. Of course you will often forget and find yourself running away, or otherwise giving yourself a hard time. When you finally notice yourself doing it, celebrate that too. If you cry, if you feel pain deeply and totally, if you are overwhelmed by occurrences, if you are angry and hateful- celebrate it. It just means you are alive and participating in lifeís lessons. It canít make things worse, but it does have the capacity to make things better.
Why did not I ever think of joy of celebrating earlier?
George Jakab & Harry Peloquin
From: Living in Balance