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Do Other People’s Opinions Bother You?

Do Other People’s Opinions Bother You?

Human life is like a pendulum. It is dangling and oscillating between positive and negative, good and bad, right and wrong, the true and the false, highs and lows, thick and thin, and a whole heap of other dualities. All that is subjective, however. It cannot affect you unless you let it. Let me narrate a little story to you:

There was a monk once. For years he practiced meditation, contemplation and forbearance, yet he could not gain enlightenment. He still felt troubled by the world around him, especially when people failed to see his saintliness or disagreed with him what he thought was the truth. He still felt bad when people mistreated him, and, good, when he was treated well. He wanted to rise above, remain indifferent to such worldly offerings but he could not.

One day he approached his guru and confessed his inner turmoil and restlessness. His master listened patiently and gave him a key and directions to a certain room.

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“Go and meditate there for three days unmoving. Leave the door open and maintain silence. The truth will dawn on you,” the master instructed.

He obeyed his guru and went to the place to meditate. Much to his dismay, it was in a market, next to a busy hallway, in the center of a crowded city. He was skeptical about meditating in a noisy place for inner quietude. Nevertheless, he proceeded. As soon as he unlocked the door, a nauseating stench greeted him. He soon realized that there was a toilet just above the room. For a moment he felt crossed with his guru. Then again, the guru must have a reason he thought.

The room was unclean, without any windows, and looked like an abandoned shop. There was seepage on the walls and the ground was somewhat wet. The waste pipe above was leaking. He assumed lotus position and sat down to meditate. Every so often, he could hear the sound of flushing toilet. He understood that he was meditating directly below a public toilet. His restlessness only built up more.

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A million worries engulfed him. He was concerned what if the pipe above him burst, what all people, who were passing by, talked about him, how would he know that seventy-two hours had passed, what if he fainted from the stench, what if he someone came and interrupted his meditation mid-way and so on.

On the third day, while he was engrossed in such thoughts, the plumbing above him burst and fecal matter fell on his head. Before he could determine his next step, two men walked by.

“Who is this man?” one asked in disgust seeing the monk smeared in excreta.

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“God knows! Some claim he is a holy man while many say he is full of crap.”

The monk was enlightened as soon as he heard that. He understood that the whole world can only have one of the two opinions about him and everyone is bound to have some opinion. In essence, none of the opinions actually matter unless you let them. They cannot affect you or bother you, unless you accept them. They cannot multiply unless you respond to them. Such opinions are not eternal unless you react towards them. They hold no intrinsic meaning unless you contemplate on them. They cannot change you unless you cultivate them.

Everyone who knows you is going to have an opinion about you. Many who have no clue about you are likely to have an even stronger opinion about you. Those who meet you form what they feel based on their experience. And many who have never met you, form theirs based on others’. Such is the nature of this material world. The biggest democracies, religions, sects, cults run on this principle. Every one has the right to have an opinion. And you have the right to accept, reject, or ignore it. It is your choice that affects your state of happiness.

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If you start listening to yourself, when your inner voice finds an audience in you, the outer ones matter less and less. When, how you are seen by others stops bothering you, a blanket of peace drapes, almost shields, you. And the one who is peaceful is happy indeed. Happiness is the outcome of your actions, physical or mental.

When others try to unload their negativity and opinions onto you, at that moment, you have a choice, an option to reject, to discard, to let go. If you can let go, you will remain peaceful; your state of bliss will remain unaltered. Know when, what, and where to keep versus let go. Such knowledge comes with practice, with awareness. It is about attitude and outlook.

Go on! be yourself, don’t let circumstances or people dictate the way you are supposed to feel about yourself.

(Photo credit: A Guy in a Suit via Shutterstock)

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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