Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What Floats Your Boat?

You sit in a boat. It is filled with a bunch of positive items that are undeniably yours - happy memories, wondrous moments, encouraging words from teachers and mentors, appreciation from people around you, the quiet, firm, and objective support of your family and friends, and the unconditional love of your child. These keep your boat buoyant.

There is a hydrofoil attached to your boat. It is made up of numerous sources of inspiration, accomplishments, aspirations, creative achievements, learnings, structured thought, and crystal clear perspective. On certain days, the hydrofoil activates and your boat rises above water, speedily headed towards a bright horizon.

You also have a container of fresh water, which has hope, optimism, and determination.

Your boat sits in the ocean. The ocean is made of negative elements – your fears, insecurities, self-doubts, stresses of daily life, betrayal by people you trusted whole-heartedly, unhappy memories, moments you would never want to recall, callous words spoken by close ones, expressions of disapproval from people you look up to, pain caused by the ones you loved because they did not return the kindness you extended them, the hurt you caused your loved ones due to your own insensitive actions, and the shock of dealing with bad outcomes resulting from your good intent. But that’s the ocean. You are in your boat, relaxed and comfortable, and you have fresh water. What’s to worry?

Well, there is a hole in your boat. Every day some water seeps into your boat. You spot it, scoop it up, and throw it out. And everything is fine again. You do this on a daily basis. If you don’t, there’s more water to clear out than you would like. Plus it’s salty water – you cannot drink it. Unfortunately, some people mistake that for fresh water, get used to drinking it, and forget the taste of fresh water.

Occasionally the sun goes behind clouds, and your boat gets hit with storms. The storm scatters your positive items, and it requires some effort gathering them and getting back to your boat. Sometimes the storm is severe, and the boat flips over. But you have the strength to flip it over and the foresight to perform some repairs and expansions so that the boat is more stable go forward.

In your journey, you notice many overturned boats, with people in the process of flipping them over. You also see people who are underwater - some in their boats, others absent their boats. The ones with boats are occasionally able to get back to their boat and make it buoyant again. Some of the ones without boats appear to enjoy being underwater and show no interest in searching for their vessel; some occasionally climb onto your boat and start throwing your positive items out, resulting in your sinking boat and their unavoidable departure; and some appear to be in agony yet weighed down heavily by an invisible force that prevents them from responding to offered assistance, let alone trying to reach for the surface.

And then there are boats that are not even touching water. They are most rare, and something to aspire to.

Negativity appears to be hardwired in the human psyche – it is the emotional equivalent of entropy. Happiness requires conscious effort and housekeeping on a very regular basis, but is totally worth it.

Positivity is an effort, negativity a breeze
Integrity a burden, disingenuousness a tease
No matter how hard life appears to squeeze
The engine of happiness must never ever seize

So what floats your boat?