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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Our opinion about ourselves is all that matters

Our opinion about ourselves is all that matters. Really? 
Arushi found out about this niche life skill when she appeared for, perhaps, the toughest exam of her student life till now.

She was preparing day and night for the All India Phase Test at FIIT JEE. She just enrolled this year. It was going to be another big challenge for her. She had been a top performer in her school till 7th standard, but this was different, very different. This was highly competitive at all India level, new concepts and a vastly different pattern of studying. 

A day before her actual exam, I was ready with my sample test. It took me more than 2 hours to prepare this sample test, and I tried and made this as close as possible to the real Phase Test situation that she was likely to face the next day.

Both, Arushi and I, had gone through a tough week of understanding  the fundamental concepts of physics, chemistry and mathematics, attempting tons of practise questions, using unlimited formulae, and hundreds of real life applications of these concepts. Google had of course been a great help.

She wanted to hit the bulls eye in the practice test. She worked and prepared herself accordingly, and she did appear for this practise test with all earnest. She was now hoping for the best score.

It was my turn to check and mark the practise answer sheet.  I could not find any issue with the first 34 questions of the 40 questions. I had to give her 100%. Then came a series of 3 questions where she goofed up.

And she was upset, and sad for she had really worked hard for it.

"Why are you sad, Arushi?"

"You know it, Dad." and she was on the verge of crying. She knew she had given it her best shot.

"But I thought you should be happy about it."

"Happy about getting these 3 questions wrong? What are you saying Dad?"

"Happy about two things:
First, doing them wrong while still in a practise test. If you were not doing this practise test, you would have been doing this wrong in the actual test tomorrow. 
Second, there is no wrong or failure - there is only learning. You should be happy that now you would get something new to learn."

"That is fine Dad, but everyone everywhere measures you by the result, and not by your knowledge or effort you put in."

"May be. But who are others to judge you? And what is the guarantee that they would continue to judge you well? More important is how does a person judge himself or herself? How do you judge yourself?"


"Means, no one knows you better than you, yourself. Let us say that you have the required knowledge in a subject but you get less marks than what you deserve, probably because of some silly mistakes, then would your judgement about yourself be that you do not know the subject?"


"But that's not how people outside will judge you."


"And who would be correct?"

"Of course me. But hold on, in the end - for everything, what matters is the result, isn't it? How does my opinion about myself matter."

"No, What only matters is our opinion about yourself, and nothing else."

"How do you say that, Dad?"

"Following the expectations of others will only limit our experiences in life. Do you know that a palliative care nurse by the name of Bronnie Ware polled a number of elderly people while on their deathbeds. She asked them about their deepest regrets in life.
The following took the number-one position by a landslide:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

"Ah, I see..."

"And remember that results are anyways, never in your hands. What you have in hand is your effort. So, go on, do your best effort, and enjoy the result - for the result is always what it should have been - just designed for you - by none other than HIM. HE has a plan for you, and he is working it out. Enjoy this beautiful journey as HE takes you forward, while you continue to make your best effort."

"I get it, Dad. I think I am all set for tomorrow's exam."

"Good for you, Arushi."

The exam day arrived. She seemed relaxed. She came back smiling after the exam, and as she met me outside the gate of the examination center, said
"God did have a plan, Dad."

Pleasantly surprised, I looked at her , and asked 
"And what was that plan?"

"I got the same question in the actual exam that I did wrong in the practise test yesterday at home, and this time I did it right."

"Awesome. What next?"

"Thats it Dad, I enjoyed appearing for the exam for the first time in my life."

"Great, and when is the result for this coming out?"

"Who cares Dad !! Who is bothered about the result. I enjoyed putting in my best effort. And I am ready for the next journey - and make it as beautiful and enjoyable as possible."

"Phew...your life skills implementation is awesome"

As we walked away to McDonald's to celebrate our great effort, we were happily aware that:

  • It is the journey and the effort that needs celebration, rather than the results.
  • We have given in our best effort, and nothing else was in our control. 
  • We only know that we have put in our best effort, and no one else in the world does. Our opinion about ourselves is all that matters - truly !!

The book Happiness Unlimited shows you many such lessons to lead a happier, contented life.


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