A few days back someone, a worker at the lowest rung of the corporate ladder, told me that he’d always had tough time with people at work. “I always seem to attract the opposite,” he said. “No one likes me.”

“But then one day,” he continued, “I heard something beautiful on the radio. It said, ‘naukri hai toh narazgi kyon?’ (why be upset or take it personally if it’s your job?) This one line changed my entire perspective and I stopped caring if others actually liked me or not. I just have to do my job.”

I marveled at his wisdom and made a mental note of this phenomenal nugget of wisdom: naukri hai toh narazgi kyon? So true. I have little reason to be upset if it’s my job. I just have to do what I’ve been hired for.

“Yet, I’m still curious,” he added, “why don’t people like me? Despite my right intentions, why do I attract the opposite?”

It’s not just his plight but many people I meet end up doing (or getting) the exact opposite of what they actually intended. This question deserves our attention, I feel. Let me share a little story first.

In a small village lived a learned brahmin, a pandit. He always dreamed of being called Panditji in recognition of his scholarship. He dressed traditionally, talked intelligently, spoke Sanskrit, but no matter how hard he tried, no one addressed him as Panditji. This lack of respect gnawed at him continually.

Distraught he approached Birbal, the wisest man in the court of Akbar, and asked him if there was any possibility that people could start calling him Panditji.

“That’s easy,” Birbal said. “If you are willing to play along, in a matter of a few days everyone will be calling you Panditji.” And he shared his plan.

As decided, the next day the brahmin was taking a stroll in a park where kids were playing. Birbal approached him from behind and called him Panditji. Mad with rage, he lifted his cane and ran after Birbal to give him a beating. The kids were amused to see this reaction and deduced that this man disliked being called Panditji.

Soon all the children began teasing him by calling him Panditji. Every time they called him Panditji, he would exhibit the same violent reaction. The word spread like wildfire that a man dressed as a pandit hated being called one. Before he knew it, everyone was addressing him as Panditji.

A couple of months later, he stopped reacting and yet people continued to call him Panditji. Irreverently at first then as the norm, and eventually, as time passed, out of respect.

I suppose this is how we attract most things in life. Whenever we show a violent, abrupt or strong reaction to anything, we naturally draw our attention to that situation. The more attention we pay to negativity the more energy we channelize in cementing (and not diffusing) our adversities and disturbing emotions.

In a party, where everyone is loudly talking over each other while music blares in the background, simply shatter a glass with a loud report (just a figurative suggestion, you don’t have to act on it) on the ground and you’ll instantly have everyone’s attention. That’s how mind works: nothing attracts it as instantly as fear does. The day you learn to direct this attention towards the goodness around you, at the positive aspects of your existence, you will no longer attract the wrong people in your life. That happens when our own limiting self-beliefs (along with a lack of selfless living) propel us to seek our happiness from others.

Our fulfillment, however, does not come from how many people like us. While that can have an impact, it’s actually impossible that everyone will like you. You can’t win if you worry about whether people like you. No thoroughfare, that. Most people are too busy to care about anyone else.

How fulfilled you feel in your life is directly proportional to where you invest your energy. You put your energy in negativity and destructive thoughts will consume you. You invest it in creativity and positive thoughts will enhance your sense of well being. This is the law of attraction in a nutshell.

I’m not talking about the grand ideas of realizing your dreams and all that. I’m simply alluding to the art of attention. That is, you draw energy from whatever you focus on. That is why, even though science negates any notion of God, billions of people gain strength from praying, from their beliefs and traditions. For, how much and what kind of energy you draw is determined by the quality, intensity and duration of your attention on the object of your focus (or faith).

A world-traveler managed to find a rare and exotic parrot once. This bird could speak thirty languages. He immediately bought it and sent it home to his mother thinking she would love this gift. A few days later he called her to know what she thought of the parrot.

“Really nice,” she exclaimed, “it was delicious!”
“What!” he cried. “You ate it? It wasn’t just any parrot. It spoke thirty languages!”
The mother paused for a few seconds and then said, “Oh, why didn’t he say anything then?”

What good is our wisdom, our knowledge if we can’t express ourselves? Rather than battling with your thoughts, sometimes all you have to do is articulate yourself gently, request politely. Very gently, very politely. That does it most of the time. It is natural that we may have to deal with difficult people and challenging situations. When you must deal with a certain issue, running away is not shifting your attention. Draw your inspiration from your object of attention, build on that strength, communicate and resolve the matter. Reacting violently won’t lead to anything worthwhile.

Enjoy what you love while it lasts. And when you have to do something you don’t enjoy or like, look upon it as your job. Remember: naukri hai toh narazgi kyon.

Just get on with it.

Peace.
Swami
P.S. I’m pleased to announce the 2016 youth retreat. No 75 spots left. Waitlist open. Go here for details.

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