The Sky isn’t Limit Enough When I was very young, I wanted to be a teacher. I used to spend most of my after-school hours teaching in a makeshift classroom at home, with a blackboard that my grandfather made for me, teaching my imaginary students whatever little I knew. Then, when I was a little older, I wanted to be in an exotic profession, maybe a pilot, an astronaut or a scientist at NASA, no less. On finishing school, my main aim was to graduate from a good college. That done, by logical progression, a post graduation followed. And finally, my ambitions took on a different and more mature angle. I felt the need to stay out of the professional rat race and to follow my heart to the career that would give me immense personal satisfaction. Subsequently, I decided to pursue my hobby itself as my profession, good sense prevailed, and I became a writer! Ambition is a very versatile entity. It shapes itself according to the situation. After I became a writer, it moulded itself to suit that field. Ambition goaded to me start writing for a local newspaper and a few websites, then gradually it sent me searching for larger avenues such as national dailies and magazines, and now, at 23, with God’s grace, I am happily writing for a few publications with International circulation too. Dreams won’t let go of me, nor will I let them go. Next I will want to write for the Reader’s Digest, National Geographic or The Economist! But where does all this lead me? How long will ambitions keep progressing? Maybe I will go as far as winning the Nobel Prize (just kidding) but what then? In the final analysis, what do I really want? Mindful Insights While thinking on this line, it struck me that maybe there is one thing I want to achieve ultimately. Mine is a very complicated wish and difficult to achieve, especially since I am very far from it. In fact, I’ll have to positively start working towards it today if I want to realize it at all – For, beyond explicit and short-term goals my deeper and more permanent aspiration is to have a beautiful mind (in case you are wondering, I have not yet read Edward De Bono’s book ‘How to Have a Beautiful Mind’). In a dictionary, you will find ‘brain’ first, then ‘heart’ and only later the word ‘mind’. Was it meant to convey a logical progression? Think - It is easy to reach a person’s brain and it takes a little more effort to reach their heart. But understanding and reaching one’s mind is a tougher task because, in my opinion, the mind combines the power of the brain and the heart into one entity. It augments the power of knowledge, experience, thought and feeling into one great, limitless force. Obviously, to control, contain or condition such a force is difficult. And I feel it is not worth trying either, because such efforts will not take us closer to a beautiful mind in any way. It will probably result in a caged mind, certainly not a free and beautiful one. So, what is a Beautiful Mind? If ‘controlled and conditioned’ does not describe a beautiful mind to me, then what does? Powerful yet simple, free, light, uncluttered, non-judgemental, generous, equitable, peaceful, happy, contented… these are the kinds of words that do justice to a beautiful mind, according to me. A mind that can look at life objectively, one that can praise, bless, love, apologise, celebrate and dream without restraint, a mind that can pray, meditate and sleep effortlessly, a mind that can confidently say, “I am beautiful.” Beauty Secrets I have conjured up an image of a beautiful mind. That is the first step towards achieving it. What next? How do I start beautifying my mind? Honestly speaking, I don’t know! If I had known, I would have had a beautiful mind by now. However, there is one thing I know and I’ll let you in on that secret – the mind won’t become miraculously beautiful overnight, it is a slow process but we can make it happen with conscious effort. What kind of conscious effort? A lot of times we realise that our mind is behaving in an odd, rather un-beautiful (not ugly or bad, just not beautiful) way. When we find ourselves in such situations, we must stop for a second, give our mind a breather and try to disengage it from the tense situation. Say time out. Just stop. If required, retreat. Go back to a freer state of mind, even if it means you are back in square one. Being happier in square one is better off than being unhappy in square ‘n’. Let me try to cite examples of some situations which make us revaluate the beauty of our minds… Ever so often, I find myself arguing with somebody, trying to arrive at a consensus about the right or wrong of situations I have not been in, places I have not seen and worst of all, even about people I don’t know. More often than not, I worry about past events despite knowing that worrying can’t change anything. Sometimes, I give undue importance to what others might think even when their views might not really matter. Many times I tend to forget the larger picture and look at the immediate moment as the be all and end all of life. Often, I behave too human, letting pangs of anger or even jealousy overtake my good sense. We all find ourselves in such situations. We realise it later during a flashback, when we mull over what happened, but at that moment we do not comprehend that we are in a toxic situation. We let ourselves to be drawn deeper and deeper into the quagmire, till we hurt ourselves and others. I think the secret to a beautiful mind is in consciously making an effort to understand and stop, when we are in such undesirable situations. That is when we have to pause and let our minds unwind. Give it a moment to free itself of contaminating notions. Maybe the time-tested ‘Count till ten’ principle would work here. Devise ways or alternate routes to let your mind escape from ugly situations. When you are worried, try to concentrate on some constructive or creative activity or hobby – music, painting, books, carpentry, anything that will divert your mind. When in a fight, try to look at the situation from the other person’s position; if that doesn’t work, then assume an impersonal, third person viewpoint. When you are feeling jealous or angry, try thinking about the more beautiful aspects of life. Remember how Wordsworth realises, in his poem ‘Daffodils’, that the beautiful sight he saw did not offer just fleeting joy but rather gave him a delightful memory to fall back on whenever he was feeling low. By consistently avoiding or overcoming such traumatic situations, we will ultimately free our mind of preconceived notions, unjustified judgements, dissatisfaction, biases, jealousy, anger, and worries, making it more and more beautiful. Let’s Make a Conscious Effort I am planning to start working towards a beautiful mind from this Diwali onwards. Why don’t all of you join me in this voyage towards happiness? I am sure you will enjoy the journey and the destination. After all, beautiful minds collectively result in a beautiful society. Reviews and comments are welcome.