Stop Unreal Expectations

(Published in The Daily Guardian August 3, 2020)

We all expect things in life. Whether from other people, from ourselves or from situations. It is normal to have hopes and expectations. However, giving too much importance to unrealistic expectations is a recipe for disaster and should be avoided to have a peaceful and happy life. There is a popular definition of expectations. It goes like this. “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” When we have expectations, it is like we are pre planning the future resentments that are bound to occur. But whether it is expectations from others, from yourself or expectations others have from you or whether it is expectations from life and situations in general, the good news is you can learn to minimise them. Not having unrealistic expectations is a great way to grow spiritually and we will discover why.

We all have experienced it. You expect your loved one to say or do something that pleases you. It doesn’t happen and you feel dejected and disappointed! It starts from childhood. Kids expect parents to spend time with them. But parents are too busy. Disappointment. You expect your best friend to like something you do, but they don’t. Disappointment. You expect your spouse to like the same kind of food, TV shows and movies that you do. They don’t. Disappointment. Or you expect them to express their feelings more often and they don’t. Disappointment. You expect your children to always think the way you do and automatically think that they will live their lives the way you want them too. They don’t. Disappointment once again. 

You are not alone. We all have had these moments in our lives and felt disappointed with other people. The reason is not about good or bad, or loving or less loving. The reason is because of unrealistic expectations. If you do not expect, you will not be disappointed. Unmet expectations can lead you down a very dangerous path of thinking that you are not loved or that you are unworthy in some way. But that is not the reality. 

Every soul that is born has a history of multiple lives before. Each incarnation leaves certain imprints on our souls. Those imprints from previous lives and from this current life as well has an effect on the way we think about and perceive the world, ourselves and others. We often forget that even the ones we love the most have a spiritual and karmic history that is different from ours. We all have our own individual journeys. We can not expect that anyone else will be exactly the way we expect them to be. 

Unrealistic expectations aren’t always about other people. Sometimes we expect too much from ourselves. We always try to push ourselves too hard or are overly critical of ourselves. Often the cause of this is two fold – comparison with others and understanding our own limitations. 

It is natural to desire things that others have. We see someone in a fancy car or a fancy house and we start to compare ourselves to them. We start to expect things from ourselves in relation to that comparison. We need to remember that everybody has a different situation and looking at other people’s lives should not change our own life plan. You can learn lessons from the lives of others but remember that your goals in life, your dreams in life are yours only. Expect from yourself only what you think you can handle and not because someone else is living a lifestyle that you desire. When you compare yourself with others you will never be satisfied. 

Learn to give time to your inner self through meditation and creativity. Take a breather and enjoy the moment! It is OK to take a break in life. Just because you expected your life to be a certain way which did not happen does not mean you have failed or that you need to be upset or disappointed. Remember no matter how much we plan, life has its own plans for us. There will always be some new opportunity for you to explore and always a new lesson to be learned.

The same applies to other people’s expectations from you. Remember that your thinking and actions should not depend on what other people expect from you. Your dreams and goals and the kind of life you want to live should be lived only because you want to live it like that. People have a tendency to want to control others. Many people must have experienced this in life. It could be a parent, spouse or boss. These people need to manage their own expectations and your life should never be about fulfilling the expectations of others. 

We all expect things from life itself. As kids we probably expected to be millionaires by the age of 40. Some expected to be famous and powerful. Everyone must have had certain expectations in life. This is natural and normal. Having an expectation which is in the form of hope and desire is fine. It is when we allow our expectations to rule our happiness that problems are bound to occur. Remember that life has its own plan for us. We could call this karma or destiny. But the trick is to live in the moment. Strive to do the things you enjoy. Let the joy of doing it be its own reward. Once you do it, don’t expect people to praise you or don’t expect that you will suddenly become famous or powerful. Keep on doing what you want to do without expectations of the outcome or the accolades of achievement. Life is about the journey and not the destination. Take each day as it comes without expectation.

Acceptance is an important part of spiritual growth and not having unrealistic expectations is a great way to achieve this. Learn to let go. This does not mean that we have no boundaries. Not expecting things from others does not mean that you become a pushover. Self respect and self love is the most important thing. If you are not happy the way someone is treating you, voice it and do not accept. Communication is necessary. Do not expect that the other person will know your problems and what you are not liking. Accept others for who they are. Everyone is different. That is what makes life so wonderful.

Not having unrealistic expectations helps you on the spiritual path. We are all on an infinite journey across multiple incarnations in a variety of dimensions and worlds. We should always be open to learning lessons and understanding that our happiness is within us and can never be gained by expecting anything that is beyond our control. We can only control ourselves and our reactions to external situations. This will teach us to accept and forgive ourselves and others. These are among the most spiritual of all virtues.

So while some expectations are natural, we must avoid unrealistic expectations from others and from ourselves and from life itself. Enjoy the journey. There is something waiting for you that is better than your wildest dreams or expectations!

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To Love And To Create

(Published in The Daily Guardian July 20, 2020)

Prashant Solomon

Being creative is one of the most important reasons we are here on this Earth. Many people question the reason they are born. Is it just a coincidence you are here? Are we only a statistic or a mere blip of insignificance in human history? Nothing can be further from the truth. There are basically two things that are important about life and everything else is a derivative of these. To love and to create. 

In many books about ‘near death experiences’ or NDEs there is an interesting similarity that many people experienced. They were asked two questions in common by a Being of Light or a Higher Power when they were declared clinically dead and their souls returned to the spirit world briefly before returning to their bodies. The questions are – what did you learn about love? How did you use your God given talents to help the world? That’s pretty much it. Of course, there are other things that happened during the NDEs but that is something for another article. 

Here we are going to look at the second question in more detail. 

Each of us comes to this earth with some inherent talent. Everyone has heard the phrase ‘hidden talent’. A talent is always connected to some creative quality in a human being. Whatever it is. Writing, painting, singing, music, business, politics, diplomacy, philosophy, acting, love, relationships, parenting, cooking and the list goes on and on. 

Many times the real ideas or creative bursts come to us in moments where we are logged out of this virtual world. Endless sessions on WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Netflix, etc. etc. are entertaining for sure and if used properly can be a source of new ideas and information. But they need to be used in moderation because too much of these stifles our creative pursuits. 

This means it is important for us to have periods when we switch off our phones, TV, computer and Internet. Reestablish our relationship with our creativity and with nature. The mind and heart need to be at peace for creative imprints to be made upon them. Creative imprints often come from higher planes of consciousness and higher dimensions. Many of the worlds greatest artists, businessmen and inventors say they got their ideas from dreams or from what seemed like a coincidental ‘idea’ that just randomly popped into their minds. Many of these enter the mind during the hypnagogic state of mind when you are just on the verge of falling asleep. 

The hypnagogic state can provide insight into a problem. Many writers, artists, scientists and inventors such as Beethoven, Salvador Dali, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Isaac Newton have credited hypnagogia and related states with enhancing their creativity. So remember to pay attention to this state of mind just before sleeping and if possible keep a notebook and pen near your bed.

Other states of mind like when you are not focussing on your thoughts such as  during a shower or driving are also times when ideas frequently come into our minds. 

But simply having ideas is not being creative. Creativity is a marriage between ideation and innovation. These words are often used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing. Ideation is getting ideas, but innovation is executing these ideas in a practical manner. Both are needed for creativity to be a successful and game changing force.

Every product you see around you or that you use in your daily life is the result of somebody’s creative action. It is not enough to merely have an idea. What if Steve Jobs dreamt of making a cool mobile phone that had a camera and other things and then just forgot about it? What if the Wright brothers had an idea of a machine that could fly but did nothing to make it into a reality? These are just two examples. The world is a better place today because of the creative entrepreneurship of many people. 

This is also what will give people the ultimate satisfaction in life. Not just money, power, position or fame. These should never be the goal. The goal should be to do something that helps the world in some way. A book you write could change lives. A movie you make could stop wars. A song you write could increase compassion. A business you start could employ thousands. A product you manufacturer could change the way the world works. It all starts with an idea for something new or an idea to make something better. But action is needed to make it a part of people’s lives.

The recent global pandemic and lockdown which is still going on is a reminder that looking inwards and becoming more compassionate and creative can and will make our own lives better. In the process, new ideas have emerged already. Online meetings and online education have become the norm. But there is still a lot of ideation and innovation that is yet to come. Creative action will come that will change the way we live, work and play. New industries will emerge and the world will become a better place ultimately. 

We now recognise that we are all in the same boat and that global problems affect everyone. This is a great opportunity and a great awakening – spiritually and creatively. Most great periods in human history were preceded by either pandemics or wars or both. This period is no different. If new creative action is taken by more and more people, the world that emerges from this cocoon of creative and introspective opportunity will be better and brighter.

Now briefly let us look at the first question that was asked to NDErs. 

What did you learn about love?

It is said that to “swim in a sea of love” is the source of creativity and that love is the creative dimension and creative energy that surrounds us and binds us. Love becomes us. Life’s a journey to realise and remember that truth. When we give and receive love in its divine form which means an unconditional love that is when magic happens and our creative action becomes more effective and is able to touch not only the mind and the heart but also the very soul of everybody that comes in touch with that creative action. 

Love is a strength and power that resides everywhere but needs to be tapped into and when combined with our creative action the world will become better, happier, wealthier and stronger in every way.

Prashant Solomon is a Delhi based author and businessman

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The Changing River of Life and Its Meaning

(Published in The Daily Guardian July 6, 2020)

Prashant Solomon

One of life’s most powerful ironies is that the only constant in life is change! This is perhaps best described by the philosopher Heraclitus in the 5th century BC in the following way – You can never step into the same river twice. Because neither the river nor you are the same. 

This indeed is one of the ironies of life and at the same time one of the greatest dynamics in the universe. There is a universal flux which exists throughout all of creation. A flux that ensures that nothing is immune to change. Even physically, we may not realise it, but we are constantly changing with each and every breath. The food that we eat becomes us and so does the air we breath. The inhaled and exhaled breath causes quadrillions of atoms to be exchanged. So even physically like the river analogy we are always changing and never the same. 

Just as we are constantly changing physically, we are also changing mentally, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. Are we the same person we were just a few years, months, weeks, days and even hours ago? Every moment that we are alive we are experiencing something new. Even if it looks like the same monotonous life, it is not. We are reborn with each new breath. Our bodies, minds and souls have evolved to some degree. 

The universe is constantly moving and everything is changing. The earth is moving around the sun as the sun is moving around the center of the galaxy as the galaxy is expanding further into the vastness of space. 

But in our absorption in this space time continuum we do not realise how far we have moved forward. In the same manner we do not realise how many things life teaches us every day. Every moment that we spend on this planet is different from any other moment in the past and is different from any other moment that will be in the future. This is the nature of change. Not only is change the only constant, everything is constantly changing.

And what exactly is the lesson we can learn from this? 

The fact that everything can and does change also implies that everything and everyone is like a variegated shade of gray. There is no purely light or dark or black and white that lasts forever. Everything keeps changing and this applies to everything we think or hold in our minds and opinions.

There is nobody who is totally good or totally bad. Everyone is a shade of gray in these moral and ethical values as well. So this is what is the lesson to be learned? Never judge and be prejudiced towards anybody or anything because everything and everyone changes. 

Sometimes change is for the better and sometimes for the worse. Not being judgmental and being forgiving is very important because nothing is permanent and even the worst people can and will eventually be redeemed. Sometimes the so called ‘best’ people can and will be tempted and challenged and fall from grace. And then after another cycle they will again be redeemed. And thus it goes on.

Change enables you to be the person you want to be. It is also a valuable life skill. Being able to change your approach shows a commitment to progress and confidence in your own ability. Internal changes should be made constantly to ensure that no stagnation takes place.

Some changes are beyond our control. These changes, whether good or bad, will teach you something new. These make you more flexible and understanding and prepares you for the future. 

Everything in life is changing all around you – technologically, politically, economically and socially. Life is more exciting, rewarding and enjoyable when things around you always change. This also keeps you in the moment and open to adapting.

Change creates new opportunities and experiences which some may consider risky. But taking risks and managing failure is what life’s all about. Some kind of a risk is necessary for progress and facing risks and moving ahead is what builds confidence and enables progress. There are many benefits that new experiences can bring as well.

Change is a ticket out of bad situations. As long as you embrace change, you will find that your situation need not last forever. Something bigger and better is waiting. If you reject change, experiences and opportunities are likely to pass you by.

Sometimes the past can hold us back, but moving on should be a slow and steady process and not rushed. Little changes that occur every day stimulate progress and put you one step further away from the bad situation you have left behind. Don’t let your yesterday dominate and dictate your today. Personal growth happens when you look ahead and learn from the past but with the intention of making the present and future better. 

Seasons change, rivers flow, technologies come and go, the years fly by and people will grow alongside you. Your life is counted by the changes you have been through and not by awards you won or money you earned. You will never forget the opportunities you embraced, the chances you took or the times you failed and picked yourself up again. Those milestones are all a part of the journey of life and are significant in their own way.

Your personal development relies on the changes that have happened in the past which have led you to where you are now. And what you learn and experience today will help to carve your future path. 

The times we live in today is a great example of how quickly and definitely life can and does change. We can not change our external situations too much but we can control our attitude and reaction towards them. We can also learn from these changes and use them to change and grow from within. Life is an eternal voyage of change and we are all eternal voyagers! As Heraclitus mentioned, “we can never step in the same river twice”. But don’t worry, there are many rivers to enjoy in this universe!

Prashant Solomon is a Delhi-based businessman and author

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Be Your Own Best Friend

I have started writing a fortnightly spiritual column in the Daily Guardian newspaper. My first article ‘Be your own best friend’ was published on June 22, 2020.

I am posting the content of the column below:

Are you your own best friend?

When we are alone with ourselves, instead of feeling bored or lonely, that time would be much better spent by looking inwards and introspecting. If this lockdown has a silver lining, this is one of them – it has given us a chance to slow down and look inwards. It has given us a chance to think about what truly matters in life. Our family, our health (physical, mental and spiritual) and our happiness.

But we have also seen and heard lately about the growing problem of depression. People are feeling lonely and lost. There is a simple solution to this. Love yourself and become your own best friend.

Loving yourself and being your own best friend is as important as breathing. Now this does not mean that you become selfish, self centered or narcissistic. On the contrary, it makes you more loving, attentive and compassionate towards others. Unless you love yourself first how can you spread love to others?

Physical life is a journey that our souls are experiencing. It is a journey to evolve through experience, to learn through feelings and relationships and it is a chance to work out and balance our karma created in other lives and some from this life. The importance of self love cannot be understated. For our soul to complete its mission effectively it is important to be happy. It makes life a lot more pleasant to traverse through. Self love is the quickest and most efficient route to true happiness.

When you fall in love with somebody or something you want to cultivate that by spending time with the person or thing you love. A new hobby you cultivate often feels like it is the best thing in the world. Now here is the secret to ensure that you are always happy in any situation that life brings you to.

Do not get attached to the point that you can not be happy without it. Some attachment to our loved ones – family, friends, etc. is natural and necessary. Love is never meant to be indifferent. Love is meant to be unconditional. 

However the reality is we have no control over anybody else. We can only control our own self and our own reaction to others or outside events. That is where the whole concept of self love and being your own best friend comes in.

You are your own only eternal companion. If we learn to love ourselves and be our own best friend, life will be a lot easier. From the time we were created in the great bosom of the Cosmos, we have travelled far and wide from lifetime to lifetime encased in different bodies but in each lifetime we were our own true companion. Others are there and then go away. 

In physical life we become attached to material things and to people. The idea of being in love is a great thing and is something that we should all do. But the feeling that we can ‘not live without’ someone else (whoever it is) is not correct. 

Why should we be our own best friend? Why should we love ourselves? Well the answer is simple. When you love yourself, only then can you truly love others unconditionally. The kind of love that is divine love is unconditional in nature. It is not reserved only for somebody in certain circumstances. Of course as human beings in families and society we all get attached to our family and friends and this is normal. But our happiness and love should not be dependent on others. 

When we become emotionally dependent on others it is the beginning of potentially disastrous consequences. Why do we hear so many cases nowadays about depression and people living miserable lonely lives and even taking their own life? This is because people are becoming too attached to external things to make them happy. 

The idea that you can be happy only if so and so is in your life or if you get X or Y thing is one of life’s delusions and fallacies. It is a part of the facade that this world is designed to make you believe. We must overcome this by looking inwards and remembering that we are our own only true eternal companion. When we learn to love ourselves first in a non selfish way that is when transformation and spiritual evolution progresses. 

When you are your own best friend and love yourself, you will never be lonely. You will be able to enjoy your own company and be able to communicate with yourself. Self communication is very important. Talk to yourself – out loud. Go somewhere where you can be alone for a few minutes every day and talk to yourself out loud – just like you talk to other people. Discuss your thoughts, fears, ideas, worries with yourself as if you are talking to somebody else. In time, you will be amazed by the answers you will get. In truth, the positive, loving and powerful ideas you are getting are coming from your Higher Self – that part of your soul which is always in the higher spiritual realms. ‘You’ as you know yourself in this physical human consciousness is only one tiny aspect of your full self. 

When you love yourself you are loving God (Creator/Source) for we are all small parts of God. Invest time and energy into building a solid loving relationship with yourself. This will make you happier in your daily life as you soon realise that true happiness is dependent only on one person and that is – you! Nobody else can make you sad or happy unless you want it! 

Love everyone but know that everything is in passing. ‘This too shall pass’ as the saying goes. Channel the love of the cosmos through you and build it up. Then spread it outwards. Be the love. Be the receiver, transformer and transmitter of that divine love. Know that you are your own best friend and nobody can make you sad, lonely and unhappy unless you permit it. If people are there in your life good, if they are not, well that is Ok too. You are the only one who will always be there with you within God. This is not a possibility but a fact. 

Be your own best friend!

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