Even as this incredible experience has now become an integral part of my work ethics and my identity, there are a few lessons that I still value as a holistic guide to living my life and helping those around me. There was no course I needed to do, no tests I needed to take, save for those which life sat me through. Growing up in India, my childhood was imbibed with some innate values that no MBA or school in the world can teach but can be applied with the greatest ease and create the most powerful impact in the real world. In some ways I owe everything, including the ability to form my journey and manifest my desires to it.
Here are a few lessons that my community imbibed in me and may help you, should you choose to embrace them:
Spirituality: From a young age, I have, thanks to my Indian upbringing, been taught to embrace the power of meditation to strengthen my connection to my spiritual being and that of the Universe. Our Vedic Sanskrit texts, The Upanishads tell us that the goal of spirituality is to attain immortality of the soul, and it teaches us to grow into the truth. Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati used to say, ‘As you see yourself, so is your universe.”
From the Upanishads to the Bhagwad Gita, from inventing yoga to philosophy, my childhood has been surrounded by the raising and expansion of self-consciousness that creates a universal awareness and a settled confidence.
Take the time to talk to yourself about your goals and what you want to accomplish. Clear your mind of negativity and focus on deep breaths to still your physical and mental being. Your heightened sense of cognisance is something that will support your life decisions every step of the way.
Sense of Family: The single cemented force at the heart of our heritage that continues today is the Indian family system. The saying the world is one family or Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam was a big part of my daily upbringing and has ingrained in me a deep sense of loyalty, empathy and sharing for not just my family, but people who are close to me. There is a conscious respect and tolerance for the advice of experienced elders and a sportsman conduct when playing games against siblings and cousins.
The most effective way, according to a TED TALK in 2017 conducted by Susan Pinker, to elongate your life is to surround yourself with healthy, and loving relationships. This takes precedence over quitting smoking and cutting obesity and is a serious factor to be considered. Cultivate the relationships you want, not just with your partner, but with others by embracing tolerance, patience and deep loyalty. Do it with passion, and without expectation. When it reflects back, and it will, you will always be guaranteed the best side of the people who support you.
Hospitality or Atithi Devo Bhava: The age-old tradition of recognizing that ‘Guest is God’ (literally translated) is the driving force behind the Indian hospitality sector’s success on a global scale today – Indian hotels are recognized across the world for their generous, luxuriant and warm service. But we have been living and breathing this measure of hospitality long before it was commercialized and continue practice the same in our homes even today! The poorest house in India will always have a glass of water, a cup of tea and often forgo their own food for the sake of the visitor.
A warm welcome, the genuine concern to and of the people you bring into your life will always stand you in good stead at work with clients, or at home with family and friends. Atithi Devo Bhava does not different between guests. I have always taken this magnanimous gesture as a lesson in equality, gratitude and humility and applied it to my life. If your attitude can reflect this every day, that’s half the battle won.
The Power of Diversity: As home to over 700 different tribes, every major religion in the world and over 100 languages, we live the term ‘Unity in Diversity’. Our tolerance allows us to welcome and understand different cultures and celebrate them with equal aplomb without compromising on moral values and making room for newer values that bring more culture, and education into our lives. My aptitude to encompass diversity allowed me to live in London easily – my mind was more open to ideas and to change and quick to adapt. This is not something you will find in any school, college or university.
There is a certain degree of confidence that is not easily dissuaded when something new is placed in front of you. Your fear of the uncertain is dissolved by your interest in absorbing something new, and that only comes from cultivating yourself to embrace diversity. Disallow criticism to take over from something you don’t know about; instead make room for a curious mind to then make room for more opportunity.