The intensely digital world that emerged over the last decade has been hugely empowering for most of us.
At the same time, it has created enormous challenges in our lives, such as the weakening of human connections, decreased physical activity, excessive mental activity, an "always-on" life with little downtime etc. As we enter the decade of Artificial Intelligence, we can expect the challenges of the last decade to morph into a veritable tornado - a perfect storm. How do we retain our wellbeing while navigating this overwhelming reality?
The time-tested wisdom of ancient Indic knowledge tells us that there are 5 critical tools needed to ensure that we are in Joy (ie. a consistent state of life enthusiasm) amidst a tumultuous world
- Know your essential nature
- Be aware of your life contexts
- Look out for misalignments
- Build your capacities
- Revisit yourself
Indic knowledge proposes that every human being has a unique combination of qualities that make up our essential nature. These qualities can be divined in multiple ways, such as by analysing the five elements (pancha bhuta) that make up the person or by evaluating the impact of cosmic elements at the time of their birth (these are only two of a number of different approaches prescribed in the Indic canon). Knowing our own essential nature is a profoundly useful starting point to building one's own individualised wellbeing journey
As we go through life, we often find ourselves in various different contexts. But most of the time we do not pay enough attention to our context. Life contexts could be as mundane as the weather in the place we live in or as subtle as the degree of curiosity we are able to satiate in our professional lives. But every life context we find ourselves in is a result of a choice we make - either a conscious choice or an unconscious choice. Which means we have the power to alter our life context if we so decide
Which brings me to Misalignment. Knowing our own essential nature combined with a good awareness of our various life contexts allows us to detect misalignments in our life. A misalignment is nothing but a life context that is not congruent to or well aligned to the essential nature of the person. For example, if our essential nature makes us more attuned to thriving in moderate, warm weather and we find ourselves living in an extremely cold climate, this could be a clear misalignment. Another example of life misalignment that I often come across are people whose essential nature thrives on human connections, but who find themselves in a work/professional role that is mostly solitary
One simple solution to a misalignment is to change the life context that is leading to the misalignment. But sometimes, individuals are not in a position to (or don't want to) change the specific life context that is leading to the misalignment. In such a case, the solution lies in building appropriate Capacities
Human Capacities cover a wide gamut and each of them require the presence of a unique combination of physical, mental, emotional & spiritual qualities. A few examples of human capacities include:
- the capacity for resilience (bouncing back from adversity)
- the capacity for dissolution (the ability to forget oneself & be immersed in the moment. Or, as is often mentioned in popular literature - "be in the flow")
- the capacity for immunity (not succumbing easily to physical or other ailments)
Building the right capacities in oneself is a powerful antidote to misalignments
Therefore, knowing one's essential nature, being aware of one's life contexts, diagnosing one's misalignments & then building appropriate human capacities is the extraordinary toolkit proposed by Indic wisdom for joyfully navigating the tornadoes of life
One more point. Life is not static & in a world of continuously shifting contexts, it is incumbent upon us to regularly revisit our situation. Just like the annual medical checkup that many of us get done, it is a useful practice to have an annual misalignment review. It can be the single most important thing you do for yourself.