I was recently looking at old pictures of my days in India under the shadow of some kind of sadness. I have watched many movies. It was one of those countries that always “spoke” to me. I remembered how I wanted to be there, to experience its culture, to meet its people. I pictured my first day and how its reality surpassed any movie or book read. It was shocking and it hurt. My first week was a non-stop battle between my duties and powerless feelings. How could such an amazing country live in so much struggle? Why the extreme poverty, the hundreds of children roaming the streets barefooted, and a society that seemed indifferent to them?
Over time, and through my conversations with people, I came to understand the magic that envelopes this country. For some reason, poverty hasn’t touched their souls. Instead, I found compassionate and spiritually filled men and women to whom every day was a gift and it was celebrated with joy.
What makes them so special? What makes them so happy under their circumstances? How do they find peace and a reason to rejoice in every day even when most of the population call cardboards their home and sit on bare ground? Today, I remembered.
1. Attitude of gratitude: “For every day is a gift and if you’ve been given another day is because you have a purpose to fulfill.” ~ Indian colleague quote~
2. Willingness to change: There’s no point in resisting what you can’t control. “We have been through so much that we don’t resist, we don’t think about the impact it could have, and no longer fear the possibility of suffering,” ~ Market vendor~
3. Abandonment of the defensive mode: Nothing is to be taken personally. Actions can’t seem as a personal attack. "One should not be happy or distressed over desirables and undesirables, knowing that such feelings are just created by the mind," ~A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada~
4. Compassion over-reaction: They live from the heart, in harmony with life and it surroundings; accepting it as it is and giving with an open heart. "The more we come out and do good to others, the more our hearts will be purified, and God will be in them," ~Swami Vivekananda~
5. Leaning into Life: “A spiritually illumined soul lives in the world, yet is never contaminated by it.” ~Swami Bhaskarananda~ They take action and show up no matter the circumstances.
I’ve visited other places after my days in India. I have met new people, with limited to non-resources. I have seen the same qualities in most of them. Their lives make me wonder about our own limitations and how many things we take for granted; how much we could learn from them if pride, fear, or preconceived beliefs were not in the way of our humanity. Maybe we would be able to find happiness where it truly resides.