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D.Muthukrishnan (Muthu), Certified Financial Planner- Personal Financial Advisor

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Experimenting it this way

Posted by Muthu on March 11, 2012

I just felt like sharing few things with you and it has got nothing to do with investments or personal finance. 

Earlier when I used to write frequently; I used to write about general things also. Since I do not write more than twice a month these days; I do not usually stray out of the professional issues. 

Today I have an urge to write this and hence doing it. Normally I don’t even login to the system on Sundays. There is always exception to the rule, right? 

I’ve been experimenting with few things for a while in my life. When my wife pointed out certain changes in me yesterday, which she considered positive, I thought there should be some truth to it:-) As Tamil writer Sujatha used to say, no man can be a hero to his wife:-)

I do not know whether any one gets benefited by my writings; though some say so. One person who is immensely benefited by this is none other than me. For the last 2 years, putting things in writing has made my perspectives clearer and stronger. I feel I’m becoming a better investor because of this clarity.

Even you may want to try this. Not every one needs to have a blog or share things with others. Whenever you don’t have clarity, confused, very much worried, just write it. Since you’ll be the only one seeing it, you can be absolutely candid. Putting things which concern you in writing and reading it as a third person brings better clarity. Since these would be very personal, type it, read it and then permanently delete it. 

I’ve been visiting Thiruvannamalai (Mount Arunachala) for the last 2 decades, from my college days; though for last few years I’ve not been there. I always tried to meditate but it never happened and I assumed meditation is a thoughtless state. Then, I was poor and used to have money hardly to pay for transport in government bus. When I go to Arunachala for 2 or 3 days; I some times used to thrive on meager food and since lodging was not always affordable, if there is no place in Ramanashram, I used to sleep in temple corridor at nights.

For some reason, the mountain used to and still attracts me. There are many times I’ve visited only the mountain and not the temple and came back. By nature I don’t follow any rituals and the only thing closest to ritual I’ve consistently done is ‘Giripradakshina’ (going around the hill).

Once when I was sitting for long and doing nothing in Ramanashramam, meditation automatically happened for the first time. I had an instinctive feeling that meditation does not necessarily mean the absence of thoughts, but having a space inside you despite thoughts. I found that keeping the attention on breath is a useful aid. Subsequently many years down the line I learnt that this is called ‘Anapanasathi’ in Buddhist tradition. When I first experienced the meditation, I got a feeling that everything in this life is pre-destined and this feeling instead of making me sad, gave lot of peace and sense of freedom. This lingered for a prolonged period and then faded completely.

Pain and suffering is inevitable part of life, atleast for most of the humanity. So I don’t want to claim any exclusivity on certain situations I faced and events which happened in life. When we write our story for others, we invariably want to project ourselves as a victim or hero and ‘others’ as root cause of everything. Many a times this is not fully true but it is difficult to avoid when we tell our story to others. So I don’t want to tell my story, which would certainly be biased 🙂 But what I’ve observed is many a times when we hit the lowest in any aspect of life, after going through lot of pain, suffering and resistance, when you feel you cannot sink any further and accept, there is a tremendous inner shift and peace which happens because of acceptance, even if it is temporary.

Anxiety, Quick temper and trying to be perfect in what I do have been some of my strong negative traits. These three are deadly cocktail and can make one feel utmost miserable.

For quite some time, I’ve been consciously trying to do what I usually did only when the life situation was tremendously difficult and I felt almost hopeless as if there is no tomorrow – accepting things and developing a conviction that things happen in  the way they are meant to happen not in the way I want it to happen.

Though my above negative traits have not left me, I feel calmer and there is mostly a sense of peace despite whatever agitation or conflict happening in the mind.

I try to be sincere in what I do but am no longer tough on myself when some mistake happens. I only see what needs to be done to correct the same.

Accepting things doesn’t mean careless. I think there is a fine difference being careless and carefree. I still lock my house while we go out and do not share my passwords with anybody:-)At the same time I realise that someone can still break open the lock or hack my account.

When I feel guilty about something which I’ve done, instead of wallowing in guilt, I try to see what amends can be done. If amends are not possible, I can genuinely apologize. Beyond that there is no point in holding on to guilt. One need to forgive oneself as much it is necessary to forgive others. Looking back I observe that repeatedly feeling guilty about certain things ended up only in the repetition of behaviour. May be feeling guilty is one way justifying the same behavior again:-) 

Likewise in certain relationships, when someone makes me feel guilty constantly by being bitter and complaining, however logical they make it sound, I see it as a tool to manipulate me. Relationships are not based only on logic, being at ease with each other is equally important. I refuse to bite the bullet any longer. I minimize such interactions to the extent required not beyond.

I don’t think and act as if I’m the centre of universe (may be Stephen Hawking knows what the centre of Universe is:-)). We take ourselves and others very seriously when we are the centre of universe. This has developed a sense of humour in otherwise a very serious personality, that’s me! Whenever I take myself very seriously, many a times a spontaneous smile happens inside. 

No one wants pain or suffering. I’m no exception. At the same time I realise that pain is something which cannot be avoided and suffering is also something which cannot be avoided but can be reduced, because suffering is mostly mental.

Looking at one’s life and others, there is a deeper understanding of fragility. However concrete something looks at this moment, life can break it next moment. So there is no need to wait to be happy based on some future event or achievement in life. It may not happen or we may not be even there. Being happy with small and little things in life looks like a better and easier approach. As I get up early in the morning, looking silently at the very old big tree in front of the house itself gives joy. The ‘Adaai’ cooked by my wife, every new thing my infant son try out each day, conversation with a friend, reading a book, listening to Illayaraja songs… there are lot of things which can make us happy everyday if only we don’t take our mind and its constant chatter and worries seriously.

I’m not saying one should not plan, as it is my profession:-) But there is no need to postpone our happiness for tomorrow. When we tie happiness based on outcome of an event or attaining some thing, it does give happiness for a while and then a sense of emptiness creeps in. So another future event and attainment is set as goal for happiness. Happiness need not be tied to external things – this approach increases the probability of being happy.

Also there is no need to feel guilty while feeling happy:-) I’ve seen that in myself and I see it in others too. It’s perfectly fine to have leisure or not do anything without feeling guilty about it. Getting worried whether happiness will last is the surest way to be unhappy immediately:-) Let it last as long as it lasts.

Since I told about some of my negative traits, there are some traits I consider as positive. I don’t envy any one. Envy arises very infrequently and even when it happens, it fades off immediately. I’m absolutely fine with what I am. I’m not ambitious or aggressive. Though some of my friends say that I’ve given up on life by not having ambitions, I don’t feel that way. We can do what we like without feeling feverish about it. Success or failure becomes relative and lighter when you like the way you are and what you do. Being comfortable with oneself is the key.

Though I like certain identities and roles I have, I realize that any major health issue or some unexpected events can rob me of that identity or role.

Since our clients come only through referrals or self referral (coming to know and contact us); with many the relationships set well. Some choose not to work with us and since they never tell the reason, I don’t know why. May be they should have some valid reasons:-) In some cases, I tell people to look for someone else. This happens when I feel I may not be comfortable working with them. There is no point in feeling bad and work with someone; for that I would have continued in employment itself:-)

As on date, I do reasonably well in profession. Some of my professional colleagues think there is some formula to it and wants me to share. When I say there is none, they feel that I don’t want them to achieve things:-) I’m doing well because you chose to be my clients. For some reasons, if you choose otherwise too, I would accept the same. In a market economy, you do well professionally when people want your services and don’t do well when it is otherwise. My self esteem is not dependant on whether my services are wanted or not. If and when I’m not wanted, I would not feel bitter, will accept the decision and shut the shop. Life doesn’t end till one dies. It is not that difficult to survive in this world as our mind makes it to be.

And may be my conviction that things are pre-destined may not be even true. All convictions and experiences are subjective. I’m perfectly fine if you feel exactly opposite. I accept that as well:-)

Whenever I fall in this experiment, I would rise again even if takes it time. The only way not to fall is not to experiment. Wanting not to fall or fearing about the fall is sure way to fall immediately. We only fall to rise and we only rise to fall again:-)

If you feel I’ve written something sensible, fine. Even otherwise, there is always a trash folder! 

Happy Monday blues:-)

5 Responses to “Experimenting it this way”

  1. cool_dude said

    Absolutely wonderful post!

  2. Alex said

    Really loved this post. I share most of your views. i have used few excerpts from this in my facebook page. hope you wont mind..

  3. Senthil Kumar said

    Well Written.

  4. Hari said

    Mr. Muthu,

    A well worded article. It touched me because I have gone through the phases which you had described – especially the pain and endurance and acceptance part. I am a cancer survivor and not long ago I was on my death bed supposedly. Up to that moment I was fighting cancer and was fighting for my life, thinking that I would win over cancer with my drugs, doctors and positive thinking. But one day when my heart nearly gave up and I was lying on the bed connected to the machines with the doctors at my side waiting with the defibrillators to revive if my heart gave out completely, realisation dawned on me. The truth that death could take me any moment it wished to and nothing could stop it. That was a moment of acceptance. Strangely that was the moment I made my peace with death. Immediately after that, a enormous amount of peace engulfed me and I was totally relaxed for the first time since my treatment started. And Ironically, death did not chose to take me away that day. As I read somewhere, “Death taught me to live”. Today though I have overcome my malady, I know I am living on borrowed time but I am living my life with a sense of gratitude and appreciation.

    And yes I have been to Arunachala and have sat in peace atop the hill at the Ramanashram cave. I don’t know if you had been to Himalayas, but if you had not been there, please do when you get a chance. The Himalayas will never fail to make an impact on you. I guarantee that you will come back a changed man, for the better.

    Wishing you all the best Sir !

  5. Can identify with you. Writing helps, I have learnt more about investing since I have started blogging.
    Having been brought up in Himalayas (Dehra Doon) I can identify with mountains..for me they represent strength.

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