The Maths of Life

When a man marries his girlfriend, he immediately creates a vacancy.

Okay, this is not my quote. It is from James Goldsmith. But it doesn’t matter whose quote is it because the point is – it highlights an unpleasantly interesting truth.

The truth is, you like something when there are no strings attached. When strings get attached, you start disliking the same thing!

We observe it all the time, but we don’t pay attention to this pattern much. Here is a story that affirms this observation.

In 1999, I met with a person called Milan (name changed for privacy).

He had a clerical/administrative job in a school. His work hours were 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and his salary were more than enough to take care of his needs.

But Milan hated his job. His passion was teaching maths to children.

Milan was excellent with academic maths and loved teaching. A lot of students used to come to him to learn maths.

Frustrated with his boring job, he quit his job. Soon he rented a space, ordered some furniture, and open his maths coaching classes.

He got the first batch within just a week of opening the classes.

Within just 3 months, he was running about 4 batches in a day. He was happy with his work and he rented more space, partnered with a couple of other teachers and hired a few more teachers.

They were four people running their coaching classes and gaining a good name amongst young children and their parents because of their quality maths coaching.

More and more students started joining his maths classes. And he was almost compelled to start more batches.

Now, apart from teaching maths, he also had to look after the administrative and operational aspects of running a coaching class business.

It turned out that he just loved teaching maths, not running a coaching class business.

His operational costs were increasing day by day – and the revenues he was generating through fees was not enough to take care of the costs.

His “hobby” shifted from teaching maths to share-market day trading. He started hating maths and started spending more time at a sharebroker’s office.

To make a long story short, after a few months, he shut his classes down because he could not sustain it and got an administrative job again with some organization.

His life went on but certainly, it was not something that Milan and his near ones would have wished for him.

The Math of Life Utpal Vaishnav

Lessons:

  1. Don’t turn your hobby into a business (especially if you are not up for understanding the business aspects of converting your hobby into a business).
  2. Your boring looking job gives you time and money to pursue your hobby, be aware of that and find peace with it.
  3. In business, there are a lot of things that you do which you may not personally like but you still need to do. That’s normal. If you don’t know how to lead yourself on the face of unpleasant yet important activities of your business, you will be out of business soon.
  4. The maths of life is not 1+1 = 2. Its answer could be different in different situations. What people do not get is that both the digits (1) are defined passively – by a lot of external factors. In other words, in business, 1 does not represent a constant, it is a variable!

Your relationship with the hobby will remain healthy if you don’t try to convert it into a job – or a business.

The Tao of Understanding

The Tao of Understanding

When you understand kindness as kindness, mercilessness arises
When you understand love as love, hatred arises

Thus Happiness and Unhappiness produce each other
Right and Wrong bring about each other
Light and Dark reveal each other
Health and Illness reflect each other

The words have limitations
The written things have limitations
The said things have limitations
The understanding has limitations

Therefore the key
is not to “understand” such things

But to “experience” them …

Understanding goes away; experiences do not.

The Tao of Understanding is
not to try to understand the things,
but to experience them.

Concept Inspiration: Lao Tzu

Is that so – a modern Zen Story

Alex, an intelligent, detailed oriented and calm Computer Programmer was praised by his colleagues for his ability to solve complex problems without getting stressed.

He was working with a Software Development Company and he was so respected that many clients used to put a clause in the contract that the company would get the contract only if Alex is part of the development team.

One day a young and attractive software developer, Lisa joined the company. She was to be the point of contact for the company’s biggest client account. What’s more, she was hired based on a strong recommendation from the same client.

Few months passed and the client discovered that the software version they received had a business-critical bug. It made the client upset and they asked Lisa about who was responsible for causing the bug. She would not confess initially but after much questioning, at last, she named Alex.

With great anger, the client went to Alex. “Is that so?” was all Alex would say.

 

Is that so?

“Now you will need to work on the day and night and fix the critical bug within next 24 hours or your company will lose the contract and also the legal battle.” The client demanded.

“Is that so?” Alex said calmly as he accepted to fix the critical bug.

Few months later when Lisa could not stand it longer, she told the client the truth: the real bug was caused by her and not Alex.

The customer went to Alex and asked for his forgiveness, to apologize at length and offer them praise and bonus and express their gratitude.

This time also, Alex was calm and peaceful. All he said was: “Is that so?”

Lesson: Whatever the problem, keep calm and always focus on the solution.

Whatever the problem, keep calm and always focus on the solution. #hackyou Click To Tweet

Happiness and a Small Town Tea Stall Owner – a Short Story

A Tea Stall Owner from a small town was absolutely satisfied and happy in his life.
small town tea owner on happiness
One day he got to know a bit more about his regular customer: a Car Driver of a well-known business tycoon.

The Car Driver used to stop at his stall every morning and every evening with different expensive and luxurious cars.

“This Car Driver gets to drive different, expensive cars every day. He must be the happiest person in the world,” he thought.

The Car Driver

the car driver on happiness

“Well,” said the car driver, “I felt I was very fortunate to drive different and cool luxury cars every day until I met Mona, my boss’s personal secretary.”

“She is well educated, good looking and career oriented woman. She also gets to drive almost all the cars that I drive, but she is treated more respectfully and attentively than me. Maybe with more affection too ;)”

The Tea Stall Owner then approached Mona.

The Personal Secretary

personal secretary on happiness
Mona explained, “I lived a happy life until my boss got married to Kate, the popular film actress.”

“I only get to be with my boss for a few hours a day, I get his attention, I learn a few things from him and if he is in a good mood, I can get little cozy with him. You know what I mean. I also get to drive most of his expensive cars, but my boss’s wife, Kate, being a very popular actress and more beautiful than me, enjoys an abundance of his attention and wealth. Kate is a big name in the film industry, earns millions, and also enjoys attention and love from our country’s most handsome man, my boss!  I was really happy before my boss’s marriage with Kate but not anymore. I feel jealous of Kate …”

The Film Actress

kate on happiness
The Tea Stall Owner then approached Kate, “Hey Kate, you’re so beautiful, rich and famous. Every day thousands of people come to see and greet you. People come to me for having a tea. I do not get any attention from them. They just care about their tea. Sometimes they even don’t care about the quality of tea I make. They come to my place, talk about everything on the earth with other people and leave. I don’t get enough love, richness and wealth though essentially God has created both of us as human beings. I think you must be the happiest person in the world and I’m not …”

Kate replied, “I always thought that I was the most loved and happy person on the planet.”

“But because of my popularity, I feel trapped. I cannot live the life I want to. I have to wear the mask of the “brand” I have become.  Sure, I have an abundance of money, fame, and a loving husband, but I am not free.  I ‘have to’ behave specifically so I can maintain my brand image.”

“But you know what, for last several years, I have been consciously seeing you selling the tea at this corner. I am seeing that you are really enjoying your work as a tea maker. Often, you’re singing a song or you’re having fun along with those college students who come to your stall to take some tea on credit. Whenever I see you, I think perhaps you’re the happiest person on the earth because you’re free and you can do whatever you want!”

“For past few days, I have been thinking if I were a Tea Stall Owner like you, I could really do all that I want to, without wearing any masks!!!”

Conclusion

hort Story on Happiness

That’s our problem too.

We look for happiness everywhere else but not from within.

We make a comparison with others and create an abundance of unhappiness in our lives.

We don’t value the present moment that God has showered us with.

We plunge ourselves in the vicious cycle of unhappiness: I am unhappy than him. I am less beautiful than her. My cousin has 2 bungalows while I am staying on rent.

How our life would become if we value our present state?

How our life would become if we choose not to compare ourselves with others, for better or worse?

How our life would become if we just live the present moment?

How instead of writing that above is “easier said than done,” we start making it easy – for our own self – and others too?

Happiness has no relationship with the profession you are in. It emerges from within.

If you look forward to the next moment of your life with equal or better enthusiasm, then your present moment is well spent. If not, then … you need to make some changes.

What changes you will make will depend upon the type of expectations you have from your life, but ask yourself this: a life full of accomplishments is worth at the cost of happiness – or a life full of happiness is worth at the cost of accomplishments?

There is no right generalized answer to this question but I am sure there is an answer that is right for you. That answer will determine the course of your next life. Choose it consciously so you don’t have any deathbed regrets.