Have you ever gone to a party or hosted one only to realize you had a stressful or exhausting time? Have you ever enjoyed attending a rocking party till the wee hours of the morning, only to wake up the next day feeling low, morose or sick and hungover wondering why you went through all the trouble? Have you ever organized your annual birthday or Diwali bash with much fanfare, only to end up feeling fatigued and drained? If the answer to any of the above questions is even a partly Yes, then welcome to the 99% club of all humanity!
I, for one, took great pains in organizing lavish birthday celebrations – the best caterer, decadent menus with not one but three ‘live’ counters of pasta, stone oven pizza’s and sushi, exotic flower arrangements surrounded by smoked salmon canape’s and the expensive single malts to impress my friends. Why stick to Natural’s Custard Apple ice cream and Big Chill Ka Chocolate Truffle Cake – let us go all out and get a gold leaf Godiva chocolate fountain – that is sure to have an impact! But I distinctly remember how much stress there would be before hand in organizing the cash, ensuring all the invitees showed up (especially the industrialists and loaded and high-flying ones) and making sure that everything would go as planned. Were the silver vases polished? Was the music playlist ready? Were my staff and bartender all going to be present and smartly dressed and the bar well stocked enough? Was everything inside the house looking spic and span? What about the guy making green apple flavoured sheesha? The To-Do Lists would be never ending…
During the party, I would scurry around like a headless chicken meeting and greeting my guests, ensuring the lights-cameras-and action were good enough to ensure everyone had a blast. My face would have a fake smile from jaw to jaw, there would long hugs, air kisses, emotional banter over galouti kebabs, blue cheese naan’s and fake compliments freely flowing just like the Moët & Chandon’. Cocktail conversations on real estate, stock market pickings, politics, new restaurants and Donald Trump would ensue with much gusto. Towards the end of the evening, promises would be made to ‘catch up’ soon and with I would lap up all the praise and thanks for organizing a rocking, well-attended and happening do. To further impress my friends I would simply state, “This was nothing yaar, just a small get together for us to meet up.” Those were the days!
But the next morning! Oh the next morning would be like a mega depressed crime scene, I for one, would wake up hungover, tired and drained out. Even before the huge bills could shake my wits, the sight of a red wine stains on my silk sofa, broken wine glasses in my flower beds, clogged up toilet and dirty towels in the guest bathroom coupled with the expectant looks on the faces of my staff waiting for their overtime tips would make me twinge with irritation.
However, year after year, it was the same story on repeat. The show must go on, or so I thought.
But slowly, as I ‘grew’ up and learned a thing or two about life, death, karma and Moh-Maya, my party plans were forced to change. The study of Patanjali’s seminal book – the Yoga Sutras made me realise how much power my senses had over my monkey mind whilst Hingori’s book on Aatma Sutra made me pontificate the unique concept of Happylessness. I no longer wished to lead a see-saw roller coaster of a life, with the accompanying highs and lows. It was all becoming too much, too stressful and mentally draining. Besides, the years of hobnobbing with the social elite in my city and hosting the rocking party’s had done little to prevent the onslaught of my debilitating anxiety. Funnily, even when I had trouble sleeping and even that tablet of alprax stopped working – my social calendar remained overflowing. Oh the irony of it all!
A flood of questions permeated and made me question a lot of what all I had been focusing my energy on. The obvious ones being what had I really achieved by putting in all that stress and expense? Why did I have such a strong desire to host glamourous parties, collect people from all walks of my life to make small talk and show-off to them? What if I had simply invested the same time, money and effort into nurturing and nourishing my own self!
Yes, what if I had put the same amount of energy into raising my own self-esteem, inculcate habits which would nourish my very soul and make me comfortable and at peace in my own skin? Sure, some of the parties were great fun and the excitement of uploading pictures on facebook to get 403 likes was fantastic! The envy on the faces of friends not invited (or host similar parties of a similar calibre) was even more fantastic! But as we all know only too well, that with the highs comes the lows and I wondered how did my parties impact my state of mind and well-being today?
So I embarked on my journey of self actualization with both earnestness and curiosity. The former because I felt inadequate and inferior compared to my friends and wanted a way out of that negative rut, and curiosity because I was unsure about whether there would be any success as I foraged into my new avatar.
Concrete steps were taken:
1. I began to invest time and money into doing 5 positive karmic deeds every single day. They ranged from simple and seemingly inane activities like feeding squirrels in my garden or phoning up lonely grandmother to cheer her up with some jokes. Sometimes I would buy samosa’s and give them to the guards on the street where I lived. Whenever the intent to do these 5 positive karmic deeds was there, I always found opportunities to do them.
2. I began to talk to myself kindly. Rather than look at my face in the mirror and call myself fat, ugly, lazy or poor – I began to tell myself, “I am a loving and lovable person. I accept you for the way you are.” Sometimes this would even be followed up by a self hug! Funnily, this made me more humble rather than arrogant.
3. I began to consciously reduce the negative karmic activities I undertook. This started by reducing my consumption of meat every day to just twice a week. And rather than yell at my staff at home and work, I started a specific mental exercise which curtailed my reactivity and hence stopped me from shouting (it worked 7 out of 10 times which isn’t so bad!).
4. I changed my agenda from, what can I extract from people around me and how can I benefit from knowing them to What can I do for so and so person. When agenda’s go you end up feeling so much more relaxed and less burdened.
5. I started reading a number of Self-Help books and visited a therapist with the aim of better understanding why my life was the way it was and how I could make it more meaningful and purposeful. A series of books by Rhonda Byrne, Hingori and Paul Cohelo helped a great deal in this.
Although I feel stronger, calmer and less devoid of fear, I remain a work in progress, and stumble every now and then. If you have any questions on the obstacles I encountered or suggestions on how to live and die in a better way, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org