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Balance in personal development: The Bhagavad Gita on happiness and distress April 24, 2012

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Personal Growth Books.
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Personal development, or self-improvement literature, is an ancient tradition. Often called Wisdom Writing, particularly when it refers to older literature, personal development writing has been applicable and beneficial throughout the ages, because essentially, human nature does not change.

The same problems and personal challenges that confront us today in the modern world of technological advancements were also matters that the ancients struggled with in their efforts to live a better and more emotionally balanced and spiritual life.

One of the tendencies of our human nature is to subconsciously immerse ourselves in a strong current emotion, such as being happy or worried and “blue” and either want the feeling to persist forever, as in the case of feeling happy, or wish the feeling to go away, as we would with feeling worried or “down.”

The reality however is that, generally, we cannot “will” a feeling or emotion to persist; unforeseen and uncontrollable good or bad circumstances can alter our perceptions and therefore our feelings. There is an old saying, “This too shall pass” and it applies to enjoyable states of emotion and to distressing states of emotion. The trick is to realize the transitory nature of the events of the world and to neither get unduly uplifted by a state of happiness or overly perturbed at a state of distress.

The ancient 700-verse Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita in Chapter 2, Verse 14 (2:14) sheds light on this (I have edited proper names from this excerpt for greater clarity) “…the non-permanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (1)

There are a number of websites providing interpretation and translation of the Bhagavad Gita, including an article in Wikipedia.

(1) The Bhagavad Gita: Translation source: http://www.bhagavad-gita.us

Ego management: Envisaging our future April 24, 2012

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Ego Management.
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Understanding the necessity of controlling the ego, or managing the ego, is important if we are to create the future we want for ourselves in our personal development or self-improvement programs and goals.

The ego, which is not to be confused with simple egotism, can be thought of in many ways, or as having a number of diverse components, but it is often simply that voice in our head which is constantly chattering or thinking, either aloud or visually.

One of the keys to successful personal development, or self-improvement, is having a good grasp or appreciation of the importance of the present. The ego, in its tendency to constantly look both back and forward can interfere with this, particularly in the case of imagining our future.

If we are not careful in terms of managing or controlling the ego, efforts towards accomplishment in the present can be sabotaged by the ego’s daydreaming optimistically about the future.

Ironically, there is, therefore, a danger of subconsciously procrastinating personal development tasks in the present by thinking we are doing something concrete in the present by simply by thinking optimistically about getting things done in the future.

We can miss opportunities for achievement in the present because we are taking the easier path of visualization of success in the future. We should instead be focusing on the things that need to be done in the present to concretely create the future we want.

It’s something like creating an ambitious “to-do” list. Making the list gives us a sense of accomplishment, but nothing is going to happen unless we starting doing the items on the list right now.

Not tomorrow, not next week, but now.