7 Small Things that can Make a Big Difference.

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When we wish to improve our life we assume we need to make radical changes. We look for some programme or person who will fundamentally change our life. However, with this attitude we forget that we can radically change our life just by making a few small changes.

Try these suggestions and consider what impact they have.

Be patient

When you are standing in a line waiting for slow customer service, instead of getting frustrated see this as an opportunity to remain calm and peaceful. Many people regularly get upset and angry because of small defects in the quality of a good / service. However, becoming upset does not help in any way; all you do is to try and spread your unhappiness. The next time you are victim to an unavoidable delay, don’t lose your equanimity, but be patient. If you can retain peace of mind in these situations you life will benefit immeasurably. All we are trying to do is change our habitual response and perspective to these unavoidable events.

Smile.

A smile costs nothing, but it creates a powerful positive vibration. When we smile we are offering our good will to the other person. Furthermore, this good will is much more effective than anything we can say. We should not just smile at our friends, but also at those who cause us consternation. If our smile is sincere it can remove many negative feelings and defuse tense situations. People will unconsciously respond positively to us when we smile. Whatever the situation, smiling will help. Research also suggests that smiling helps ourselves.

Smile, my heart, smile.
Your smile means so much to me,
Your smile feeds my reality within,
Your smile liberates me from world-clamour and
world-din.
Smile, my heart, smile.
Smile at least once in a while.

– Sri Chinmoy
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The Power of Simplicity

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In Modern Life there are a seemingly endless series of options and avenues. At each turn, life seems to present numerous complications. It becomes hard to resist the allure of doing more things and trying to solve a myriad of problems. However,  we are often, consciously or unconsciously, yearning for a more simple approach to life. If we can make an effort to bring more simplicity into our lives, we will find many benefits arise.

  1. Peace of Mind.
    Simplicity doesn’t necessarily involve living in a Spartan hut. Real simplicity begins in the mind. If we have numerous anxieties and problems it is not possible to have peace of mind. Simplicity means we learn to clear the mind and not allow ourselves to be bombarded by an endless stream of needless thoughts.
  2. Living in the present.
    Complication in life often arises because  we are worrying and planning about the future. We can become so concerned about what may happen tomorrow or next year that we forget to enjoy the present moment. To have one’s focus on the here and now, is to encompass life as it is supposed to be.
  3. Less Planning and Thinking
    When we complicate life through our endless planning we bring tomorrow’s problems into today. Yet it is always worth remembering that our worries and fears about the future often prove to be groundless.
  4. Avoiding Judgement.
    It is part of human nature to criticise and judge other people. It is very easy to make a long list of complaints and suggestions about other people. But does it help us when we highlight the faults of others? We should feel that we are not responsible for other people’s thoughts and behaviour. If we feel it is our bounden duty to change others, there can be no simplicity and peace in our life. Rather than try to change others, let us just try to focus on changing ourselves. Our own weaknesses are probably more than enough to deal with.
  5. Focus and Achievement
    Simplicity enables more to be achieved. Simplicity means that we are focused on one thing at a time. Simplicity means we can put all our concentration on just one thing. If we perform an action with no distractions then we can fulfil it quicker and more successfully. Often, when we simplify our life, we find we can actually achieve more than when we juggled several things at once.
  6. “The simpler we can become, the sooner we shall reach our destination. A life of simplicity is a life of constant progress. It is in simplicity that we can make the fastest progress, progress which is everlasting.”

    – Sri Chinmoy

  7. Simplicity and Beauty.
    Simplicity is often synonymous with beauty. For example, Zen gardens are uncluttered and simple, yet in that simplicity there is a beauty which appeals to our soul. It is the same with Mother Nature; the essence of nature is its unspoilt beauty. Has man ever been able to improve on the beauty and simplicity of nature?
  8. Happiness
    Be happy with what we have. As George Bernard Shaw aptly said

“There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire; the other is to get it.”

The nature of desire is that the more we get the more we want. When we get a new car, often after a while we are not satisfied and want to get something better. However real happiness comes when we are content with what we have and are free of desire.

Photo by: Ranjit Swanson, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries (from Nepal)

Is Old Age the End?

Is old age a time to collect your bus pass, curl up with your horlicks and serenely await your impending exit from life?

Many people, including the retired themselves, see old age is a negative way. They see their declining physical abilities as a reason to draw back and retire from many activities they used to enjoy. However, does old age have to be the embarrassing left overs of life? There is no reason why old age can not give as much inspiration, enjoyment and newness as our formative student years. Perhaps they can be even better, as we have probably learnt by bitter experience, that happiness does not come through drinking 10 pints of beer and trying to impress our friends.

Do Not give Up.

It is true that in old age our faculties will not be as good. Our hearing, eyesight e.t.c will be a little diminished. Yet, even though we may be a little slower than before, this is no reason to stop doing things that we used to enjoy. The first thing we should do is not to compare by the same standards as in the prime of our youth. If we are a keen runner, our times will invariably slow down compared to our youth. However, we should not feel bad about slower times. Rather than comparing from 20 years ago, we should seek to do a seasonal best each year. What is important is that we get a good feeling from our running or other activity..

Young at Heart.

Old age is as much a state of mind as it is a physical deterioration. In our attitude we can feel old at the age of 40; by the same token a 90 year old can feel young at heart. If we constantly think about age as a barrier then we allow the negative effects of old age to influence our mind. However, if we do not place importance on age, we can look on the world with the eyes of a young person. To be able to do this, we should live in the heart and not in the critical mind. The nature of the mind is to welcome negative, restricting thoughts. It is the mind which will over-exaggerate the importance of physical age. If we live in the heart we remain at the source of spontaneity and newness.

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How To Change your Life in One Hour

Quite often we feel that we are victim to external events. It seems like life is predestined and, no matter what we do, similar problems keep appearing to create suffering and pain. Yet, the secret to life is not avoiding these problems, but in how we view these problems. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

“People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”

Therefore, rather than seeking to change the world we should seek to change ourselves and the perspective we have towards the world. You will also find that changing yourself is the most effective way of having a positive effect on other people around you.

These are some suggestions for enabling a new perspective on life.

1. Don’t be quick to judge others.

The human mind finds it easy to find faults in others, yet we are much less quick to judge ourselves. When we judge others, often we have a subconscious feeling of superiority. By pointing out the errors and misdeeds of others, it makes us feel better. Yet, it is a great irony that when we judge other people, these faults are actually part of ourselves as well. However, the important thing is that when we judge others we gain no real happiness. In fact what we are doing is giving greater importance to the negative quality of others. If we are not careful, by judging others we lower our own consciousness. Be tolerant of others bad qualities; ultimately, you are not responsible for the thoughts and actions of your friends

2. Look for people’s good Qualities.

If friends or families are causing irritation, then we can try to focus on some of their good qualities. When we appreciate their good qualities they will really appreciate our concern and good nature. Surprisingly, we may find that by strengthening their good qualities, their bad qualities diminish without even mentioning them. As a second benefit, when we recognise the good qualities of others, they will be inspired to reciprocate our kind words. This does not mean we should flatter others in the hope of receiving praise back. However, the nature of kindness is to spread.

The very nature of kindness
Is to spread.
If you are kind to others,
Today they will be kind to you,
And tomorrow to somebody else.

– Sri Chinmoy

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