The feel-good factor

10 07 2009

How I Taught My grandmother To Read And Other Stories” by Sudha Murthy is a beautiful book I’ve read recently.  This is my first book of hers and I liked her simple style. Actually, I heard a lot about her other collection of stories, “Wise and Otherwise” and have been trying to find it for a while. When I was browsing through the Landmark store inside the Rajiv Gandhi International airport at Hyderabad, I could not find it, but grabbed two of her other books: Dollar Bahu and the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Here, I would like to talk about the author’s “How I taught …” book. It’s a collection of real life stories, which leave you inspired once you are through them. The language is simple and the incidents are taken right from her life. This adds to the worth of that book. But these are not all. In addition to inspiration, I felt something totally different too. I can’t name that feeling but it has to do with the feeling we experience when we encounter with so much “good” and only “good”. In these stories, you’ll  come across so many such incidents and persons: The down-to-earth Dr. Kalam, the inspirational JRD Tata, a successful businessman who help set up schools in his hometown, a child laborer who grows to own a garage inspired by the stories told by a customer (Ms. Sudha herself) etc.  All these stories in turn reflect the compassionate nature and simple-mindedness of the author.

The author provides many thought provoking quotes and life-lessons in the course of her story-telling. Here are the ones I liked most:

  • It is better to be worn out than to be rusted.
  • Excellence does not come by accident but by practice.
  • Whenever you want to give something to somebody, give the best in you, never the second best.
  • Donate without expectation because it is not a gift. It is a duty.
  • Never start with diffidence. Start with confidence. – JRD Tata
  • Your best friend is yourself and your worst enemy is yourself. – Bhagavath Gita
  • Doing what you like is freedom.
  • When you come across difficulties, you have to grow bigger than the problem.

As I was mulling over the good feeling these stories invoked in me,  I recalled one another time I felt the same so long ago. It was when I read a short novel “Karmayogi”. It’s a novel accompanied my Swathi monthly magazine. All the characters in that novel are really good people exhibiting only the positive behavior. In that story, “fate” is the only villain. I felt a sense of tranquility engulf me as I finished reading it and was already looking forward to read it again.

To take this concept a bit further,  I feel the same tranquility and experience that “good” feeling, when I contemplate about God. This correlation is not surprising at all because I manifest God with everything “good”.  I perceive God as the only perfect being in this imperfect world. God is often my retreat during difficult times.

These experiences made me realize, more strongly than ever, the healing and soothing effects of positive things – positive feelings, positive emotions, virtues, ideals etc., in sharp contrast with the negative things and emotions – violence, crime, jealousy, anger, which seem to be everywhere around me and within me.

When you fill your mind with good thoughts and do good deeds and try to be in good surroundings, you’ll feel very light and acquire that peace of mind, which every person continuously tries to achieve.  On the other hand, any negative feeling or thought you entertain would burden you and you become restless.

You often have to spend more time and effort to tell a lie, which is not the case if you choose to speak the truth. It’s easier to love someone than to hate. I tried it, and I tell you:  hating someone really drains your energy, affects your health and of course your peace of mind. Jealousy hinders your progress and does nothing constructive. If anything, it only results in wasting your time and energy.

All this reminds me of Gandhiji’s three monkeys: “Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil”. You can obviously gain so much when you practice it.

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