Tag Archives: Life Lessons

Joy and Sorrow | Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

Joy and Sorrow

Then a woman said, “Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow”.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s over?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed out with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow”, and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Extract from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet from CBSE 10th English Textbook.

A Guide to Coping with the Death of a Loved One

Martha is having difficulty sleeping lately and no longer enjoys doing things with her friends. Martha lost her husband of 26 years to cancer a month ago.

Anya, age 17, doesn’t feel like eating and spends the days in her room crying. Her grandmother recently died.

Both of these individuals are experiencing grief. Grief is an emotion natural to all types of loss or significant change.

Feelings of Grief

Although grief is unique and personal, a broad range of feelings and behaviours are commonly experienced after the death of a loved one.

Sadness. This is the most common, and it is not necessarily manifested by crying.

Anger. This is one of the most confusing feelings for a survivor. There may be frustration at not being able to prevent the death, and a sense of not being able to exist without the loved one.

Guilt and Self-reproach. People may believe that they were not kind enough or caring enough to the person who died, or that the person should have seen the doctor sooner.

Anxiety. An individual may fear that she/he won’t be able to for herself/himself.

Loneliness. There are reminders throughout the day that a partner, family member or friend is gone. For example, meals are no longer prepared the same way, phone calls to share a special moment don’t happen.

Fatigue. There is an overall sense of feeling tired.

Disbelief. This occurs particularly if it was a sudden death.

Helping Others Who Are Experiencing Grief

When a friend, loved one or co-worker is experiencing grief- how can we help? It helps to understand that grief is expressed through a variety of behaviours.

Reach out to others in their grief, but understand that some may not want to accept help and will not share their grief. Others will want to talk about their thoughts and feelings or reminisce.

Be patient and let the grieving person know that you care and are there to support him or her.

This is an excerpt from CBSE 10th English Textbook.

What a single migration by Elephants can teach you about life

A journey of a year, repeated until eternity. Elephants in central and east Africa take a migration from their homelands to islands in the east during the summer. To save themselves from the scorching heat and find water they travel hundreds of miles over weeks to reach a place for stay during the difficult times. Once the season changes and monsoon arrives in their homelands they take a return journey. Amidst the travel and return they go through various difficult terrains, hurdles, dangers and challenges. They overcome all of them one by one by sticking to the herd and following the Matriach, the leader of the group, often the eldest female. By going through various aspects of the journey undertaken by the Elephants every year, we can understand about life more than we would in our own life time.

The journey that begins before birth. Every year Elephants take migration from their homelands to other greener areas during the summer. This journey is one of the firsts for many while it is one of the so many for the Matriach. Elephants stay in groups like us. They follow a hierarchy and family system. The group is led usually by eldest female elephant called as the Matriach.

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Initial days. Early on the Matriach guides the herd to move on from their homeland and follow her. As the water in the sanctuary starts to dry off, it creates puddles of mud and Elephants love to play in the mud. So as they arrive it’s a clean source of water and by the time they leave it becomes a slumpy muddy ground. But only the Matriach knows the difficult of starting late and being stuck in nowhere. So she ends the party and asks them to follow.

No water. Scorching heat. Little green. The herd follows the Matriach. The group is made of many female elephants and young elephants. Some elephants are born during this Exodus. Grown up male elephants leave the group to start their own life. They are the bull elephants. They fight to mate and live. Living without a group is a difficult experience in wild for some animals. As they continue their journey and move out the sanctuary, the green cover goes on reducing. Matriach makes some stops at places she feels there is some shade and good source of protein and little water in the leaves or plants. But the stop is not for long. Soon they have to continue walking one behind the other.

Memory map. Survival of elephants depend on the leadership of the group. The herd with an experienced Matriach has safety net. Elephants have strong memory. They remember the landmarks, path and faces. By locating the landmarks the Matriach continues to move ahead in the journey. And by training the other elephants about the important spots. Often the eldest elephant has gone through various experiences in life and is aware of every water hole in the vicinity, sometimes of the only water source in the season is known by them.

Danger of crossing the river. When you are travelling as a group together, you must consider your weaknesses. To cross a river, you must estimate the depth before reaching the middle of the river and also look for any predators like crocodiles around. You have to safe guard your young ones and swim them through the river. Moving across different terrains is one of the eminent challenge in migration. Matriach has taken various trips in life and has experience of crossing rivers during different times of the year. She decides when to cross and if there is a need to hold on. Such wise decisions in our life comes through experience and having a vocal family and community which shares learnings and knowledge with transparency can help us repeat the same mistake of our yester generation.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Reaching the greenlands. Price of migration. Once you cross all the hurdles in your path, your reach your destination. The land of the green with lots of trees and plants. You choose to stay here for the next few months until the summer is about to be over. During this time Elephants enjoy eating and resting in the lush. Young elephants play in the surrounding. Life looks like a heaven. But it only lasts until it’s time to move again and go back to the place you have come from. This is like you going to a foreign land or a different city for work or business and thrive there. But you choose to come back often to your hometown.

Elephants are known to take care of orphan elephants as their own. Female elephants milk the young ones of a distant relative who is no more.

After enjoying the lush and green, it’s time to go back. It may seem when we are in a state of Bliss that there is nothing more to life then enjoying it to the fullest. But as the Matriach knows, so must you, when it’s time to move. If you start late you will not make in time for monsoon. If you start too early then you will risk losing someone of dehydration. The critical time to move lies in the times when you are completely lost in the fun. And only the leader will guide through the critical decisions.

Danger of the predators. The return journey is accompanied with its own challenges. You may go back the same route but things are never going to remain the same. By the knowledge passed on by generations of migration, it becomes clear which path is safer and appropriate as per the time of year. In past, there might have been encounters of lose or mistakes, the survivers become the leader and they improve upon the previous journeys and decisions. Hence the eldest female of the herd, is the most knowledgeable and compassionate of them all, because she has seen all kinds of challenges, troubles, loss, happiness and encounters. By taking a path through the territory of the Lions, elephants risk themselves, but it seems to be the closest way to reach home.

Arrival of death. Many a times during such journeys through the wild for migration and teaching their next generation, comes with a price. The price is losing some of your own kind. Sometimes it’s the young killed by a predator or being washed away in river. Even though elephants are deeply protective of their young ones, they do have their fair share of remorse. Elephants are known to take care of orphan elephants as their own. Female elephants milk the young ones of a distant relative who is no more. Far supersedes the deeds of us humans in many cases. We must learn to be compassionate and kind like elephants with no selfish motive.

Photo by shy sol on Pexels.com

After death. Life goes on. New Matriach. If the life cycle of a Matriach comes to an end, she lives quitely while performing all her duties. Sometimes while protecting the herd while other times when she can’t walk anymore because of her age. When elephants encounter death of family member or distant relative, they mourn over the loss. They gather around and pay respect to them by touching with their trunk. They grieve over the loss. They are believed to shed tears for long time. Elephants recognize each other well. They also identify other species like humans and remember them for many years. The loss of a Matriach, means the rise of a new female. She has to take up the responsibility of the herd. Often she is accompanied close to the Matriach since many years for getting trained in taking care of the herd, making the decisions, keeping an eye on the young as well as confronting any dangers that come in their way.

Leadership continues. Being close to one another, elephants learn from the old and pass on the knowledge to one another. They are perfect example of strength in group. When a new female takes over the charge of the group, she has already been trained for the job. In unfortunate conditions this may not be the case, but in usual situations, elephants are preparing next Matriach in the calm, wise, smart and capable female. When it’s time, she takes the role of leader and protector. She takes decisions just like her elders. She learns by her mistakes too but quickly bounces back to better at what she does. And the Matriach continues.

They are just like us or may be we are like them, yet to become good at what they are like.

Return to the homeland. Arrival of monsoon. When the herd reaches homeland just in time for Monsoon, it is the best time for them. They feel the energy, vibe and excitement to run. They follow the wind and rush as fast as they can. It is like the child running home after school. It is like a youngster coming back to his hometown from hostel. It is like a parent coming back from foreign land after years. You cannot stop yourself. Home is calling you and you want to be there soon. When it rains, they jump in the water, swim, play, bathe and drink until their hearts fill. They experience the feeling which is same as climbing a mountain and getting water at the top.

By taking migration every year they go through so many things over and over again with some new members joining the group, while missing the old who have left them. Going through the journey of migration by 🐘 is like going through over own. It is a journey of love, survival, leadership, decisions, difficulties, dangers, resilience, knowledge and family. They are just like us or may be we are like them, yet to become good at what they are like.

If you like to know more about 🐘 then watch following episodes about Elephants and migration.


You are poor in your thoughts and not by money

Stacking things one over the other. When you are poor or not well off, you often live in houses that are small and made of 1-2 rooms. In such cases you end up using each room for multiple purposes like your living room, bed room and guest rooms are the same place even your study room. So based on the time and arrival of new members the structure of the room is changed to accommodate people or make space for some task.

You may have a small house but you can have big heart. Such rooms are often the size of around 150sqft. They are not even wide enough. In such scenarios you will to be having a habit of organising or moving your things around almost everyday. Stacking your clothes, bed and books becomes a norm. When you have to study you take out all books spread out and study often without a study table. Then when you have to carry on with other work or its night to sleep then you stack all the books and keep it in a corner usually covering with a cloth to avoid dusting. You have 3-4 chairs that are made of plastic which can be stacked on over the other or made of iron or steel that can be folded into flat piece and kept side by side.

Typical Matress in India

Multidimensional house. With the habit of stacking when not in use and pulling out one by one when guests arrive or many people have to sit in chairs, you end up making it your lifestyle. Doing such things over and over again you kind of train yourself to become someone with a stacking habit. In some households when there are people in large numbers then the chairs, they are made of sit down on the mattress made of plastic.

With times things change or do they. Over few decades new generation comes in and wealth is accumulated. Cities transform, houses transform and life is transformed. Now houses are big and you have enough wealth. You have space in each room and there are multiple rooms for each purpose. Some houses have multiple floors, increasing the variety of rooms. But you still end up using the same kind of chairs and end up making people sit in matress. What is more shocking that when you have enough space in the house, yet you end up stacking the chairs.

Plastic Chair

I do it because I was doing it. Similarly you never essentially make any major change in stacking books, clothes or bed. You have some assigned place for keeping things and multiples cupboards or wardrobes to keep things but you never actually get a hold of organising things in their optimum and the purpose of having place for each thing and keeping things in its designated place. You lack the functioning model. Often you end up misplacing things and searching in your rooms.

Your behaviours tell a lot about your inherent thoughts and beliefs. The idea here is not about the chairs, books, matress or stacking. It is about the habits we develop over time and make them our part and parcel of life. Even though people say change is the only constant they don’t seem to complete accept and apply it. We don’t embrace the change completely. We become part of the change willingly or unwillingly but we don’t adapt to the conditions as per how it is and how it is meant to be. This is seen for many things in life and across many classes of life.

You are poor in your thoughts and not by money!

One may have been trained to manage things well. Given a proper environment a child learns and thrives to face things well. Due to the reluctance to embrace situations we often end up confused and tired in dealing with new things. Certain times they make us feel depressed and drained. By consciously choosing to make small changes everyday within us, things that we feel must change, we step towards a smoother healthier life. There can be changes we want to make about our food habits, fitness, career, work style, interiors of household and many other things we come across in our life, sometimes very small while other times very important.

Step up to become the best version of yourself. Always try to embrace things as they are and work towards uplifting yourself, your family and your surroundings. Small changes and efforts when done collectively can introduce a lot of transformation in its true sense. By organising things, decluttering our surroundings and keeping things in their designated place, we free up our mind and surroundings. We develop a sense of freeness and openness. A smooth flow of thoughts without any stack or hustle.

Make small change in you often to bring about a big change in your life.

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Having a bad day ? Going through bad mood ! Try this

Breaking the chain of anger and bad mood.

Beautiful start of the day. Early morning he wakes up and gets ready. He kisses his wife morning, hugs his daughter and eats his breakfast. He takes a ride to office via cab. He wishes good day to the cab driver. He reaches office. He makes his way into the canteen, grabs his coffee and joins morning meeting. Everyone takes note and go back to their desk to complete the assigned work. He joins his colleagues for lunch.

The chain reaction is triggered. Post lunch in a meeting with delegates he is put on spot by his manager and gets a trashing from higher management for incompetency. Since he believed he was not at fault, rage built in him. He went to grab a coffee at canteen. He was mad at the server for the coffee seemed cold. He went to complete his work and found some pending work with his colleague, so he ran into an argument regarding that. Further during evening meeting with his subordinates he was picking everyone for their mistakes and scolding unnecessarily for no apparent reason. Wrapping for the day, he catches a cab towards home.

How it spreads during the day. The cab driver doesn’t accept card and doesn’t find any change with him. He fights with the cab driver and abuses him. He enters home and finds his daughter playing on ground. He scolds her for playing in dirt and shouts at his wife. She tries to cool him down but instead they find that he has forgotten to bring eggs for dinner. They manage something for dinner. He gets into an argument with the neighbors for loud noise from TV. He scolds his parents over phone for not taking care of them. He doesn’t meet his friends for late evening walk.

Day ends in a bad mood. He is in bed. His day has gone from beautiful start to a tiresome dreadful night.

Looking back at how it all started. By continuing with the experience of meeting over the day, he ran into multiple encounters which kept worsening as his outlook, energy and mood detoriated over the day. He kept on flowing that anger onto other persons, who in turn based on their own emotional level get angry on others. Early morning managers wife made a burnt sandwich, which got worse for him by a flat tire in his car, unable to find a ride for an hour and so on.

Negative emotions are our enemies. Everyday we all spread different emotions around us based on our encounters. Most often that not, when triggered by some negative emotions, we drag it for the entire day or sometimes for whole week depending upon it’s gravity. In process we hurt some people along the way, some whom we love and care for. We get hurt or upset on our own. Things might not be so worse often but even a spur of moment and anger bursts out like anything. By words or our actions we cannot undo, we create a scene. This amplifies certain times.

Shifting the flow of thoughts and emotions. We cannot choose what happens to us every moment. We are humans. We react to things. But we can improve. We can choose to observe what is happening around us. We can train ourselves to become more observant and calm. When we notice how our emotions are shifting over the day, we can tell ourselves what went wrong. If we can develop the habit of consolidating actions over the day and identify where things could have been damped down. We can train to respond in a more calm fashion.

Practicing to respond and being mindful. By frequently choosing to respond instead of reacting to situations and events during the day, we can make our normal response model to be a more generic, joyful and cautious one. By practising mindfulness in small things we can become calm, cheerful, delightful person over the day, over the week and when continued for years, it becomes over inherent nature to be mindful, calm and less angry.

Lessons learned. By breaking the chain of thoughts, encounters and events over the day, we help ourselves from experiencing prolonged negative emotions as well as assist in curbing the spread to people around us especially our loved ones.

Upcoming posts

Breaking the chain of corona-virus
Breakings the chain of tightly-coupled system

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