Monday, December 29, 2008

Moment by Moment

As the year draws to a close, a mood of quiet reflection sets in. One finds that even the festivities of Christmas and New Year acquire a tinge of melancholy as one grows older.

It is time to take stock and reexamine one's course in life. Where have we faltered? What could we have done better? Hopefully one learns from one's mistakes and resolve to do better in the coming year.

In life, we should never have any regrets. Every experience that comes our way, arrives at the perfect moment to teach us what we needed to learn at that particular point in our lives.

Each experience is a cumulative effect of all our past actions. How we act and react to them determines our future experiences. Pain and pleasure are but feedback signals that nature provides to help us steer our way forward.

By themselves, experiences are neither painful nor pleasurable. They are what they are: stimulus and information fed into our nervous system. It is our reaction to them that determines whether they translate into sometime pleasurable or otherwise. The wise sees them as what they are--data, that are to be analyzed for their informational value.

Why do we experience pain and pleasure? Most of the time we have no control over how we feel. Something happens, and it feels painful to us. You lose someone you love, immediately an emptiness, an ache arises in your heart.

Pain often arises when we are exposed to uncertainty. Can I cope living alone? Who will help me when I'm in trouble? Where can I find solace and comfort when I'm down?

To borrow a phrase from Obama, we have to look at these as "teachable moments". Pain is the teacher, and we must be alert students who are ever-ready to lap up every drop of wisdom distilled.

Do not avoid the truth. Blame and denial are the most common tricks of the ego. Stare truth in the face. That is the only way to learn.

A year ends and another begins. Beginnings give us fresh hope. If we see a new year as a new beginning, that's good. But a beginning by definition is only a moment. It's gone as as soon as it arrives.

If we can treat every moment as a new beginning, then wouldn't we lead lives with so much more purpose and enthusiasm?

How is it possible to have a new beginning every moment?

Every moment is a new beginning if we treat every experience as a fresh lesson in life, ripe with wisdom and possibilities.

Take this moment.

What have your learned from it? Then go on to your next moment. Apply what you have learned from the previous moment. By applying what you have learned from the previous moment, the next moment begins with fresh possibilities. Each moment compounds the wisdom gathered from the previous one.

And that's how we grow, moment by moment.

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