I was having lunch with one of my coaching clients – who is also now a dear friend – when he asked me a profound question. “Professor Rao, how can I fully, deeply, enjoy life?”
In my public talks I ask the audience, “Does your blood sing at the thought of doing what you do and being who you are? Do you come radiantly alive for at least a portion of each day?” I go on to suggest – actually I state it baldly! – that if this is not their experience, then they are wasting their life. And life is altogether too precious and short to waste.
So today I will tell you how to come radiantly alive. The answer is simple – Wherever you are, be there!
We always live in our mind and this is hardly ever where we are geographically or temporally. When I lectured at the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode I saw the most incredibly scenic sunsets. Sundowns in Kerala are spectacular. There were fishermen a hundred yards away busily folding their nets and hauling their boats up on the beach. They never glanced at the sun.
I shook my head in wonder and sadness. How could they not notice the beauty all around them?
A few days later I was done with my lecturing and thinking about my next engagement when I realized that I had walked a mile on the beach so pre-occupied with my thoughts that I had entirely missed my final sunset of that visit.
So, if you want to truly enjoy life, do whatever you do with love and care and BE THERE while you are doing it.
In the words of Kahlil Gibran:
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.
Watch yourself the next time you have a meal with your partner. Are you listening to what they say or are you busy formulating your reply? You ate a lot, but did you really savor a single mouthful? Your distracted mind runs all over the place and takes you with it.
Disengage from it and observe its antics. Gently bring your focus back to the food. Observe your saliva gushing out to welcome each mouthful. Notice the subtle flavors and the crunchiness of the salad. Observe how the food goes from side to side in your mouth as you masticate.
Pay attention to your partner. To what they are saying. To the tone of voice. To what is being conveyed that is not being said. And beam out love. Literally. Wish your companion well. Wish the waiters and the maître-d and the cooks and sommeliers and dishwashers well. Do it silently but radiate goodwill.
The more you do, the more this goodwill goes around the world and multiplies mightily and comes back to you.
And life becomes a blast.