VICTOR KANNAN shares some insights on how to cultivate a clear mind, something essential to a happy and healthy life. He presents 3 Gs as the way to achieve a clear mind – goal, generosity, and gratitude.
Clarity is an important mental quality. Clarity of mind and purity of heart make for a high level of discernment and proper decision-making. They both help in correct thinking and right understanding of the people and situations around us. Lack of clarity results in a downward spiral of confusion, fear, anger, restlessness, and lack of happiness. It makes things worse and causes harm to our near and dear ones.
How to develop clarity, leading to correct thinking and right understanding? I contemplated this question for a few days and came to the conclusion that we need these 3 Gs.
G1: Be Goal-Oriented
Having a goal helps with clear thinking. Without a goal we are without direction, purpose, and meaning. When we are goal-oriented, we are not bothered by unnecessary things.
Having multiple main goals is a problem. Multiple channels of attention scatters our focus, so we are not effective in the pursuit of any goal. It helps to set one overarching goal. Such a goal is generally big and aspirational. It holds deep meaning and profound purpose. Most of us have one main goal, like becoming the best version of ourselves, or realizing our ultimate potential.
A big goal energizes us as we proceed in life. It continues to be more inspiring, and we become more enthusiastic as we march along. There is no fatigue when we set a goal of this nature. It is not limited. An unlimited goal keeps on going, and we keep asking, what’s next? That’s exciting. Every day, like a lotus flower that keeps coming up, anew, lovely conditions continue to emerge. Not all of them can be expressed, but we look forward to them. However subtle the flowering may be, we are able to feel it. It is tangible. That kind of goal keeps us excited and enthusiastic to keep going. It determines our orientation to the infinite.
The goal determines the orientation, and the orientation decides the journey. When that happens, we adopt a conducive lifestyle. If we are serious and clear with our goal, we simplify our life and make sure that everything is conducive to this goal-oriented existence.
The goal demands that we avoid unnecessary things. For example, many of us say “there’s nothing wrong with acquiring things; it is only attachment to them that is the problem,” but I’m not able to understand that completely. Why acquire things? It requires effort, and that effort can be applied to something more conducive for the goal. It is worthwhile to talk about balanced existence in this context. It doesn’t mean balancing every good activity with something questionable. Balanced existence is not balancing necessary things and unnecessary things. It is best to avoid unnecessary things.
Right understanding is essential, and correct thinking precedes right understanding. To have correct thinking we need to clear out the inner cobwebs and simplify the inner environment. This is usually facilitated by Heartfulness rejuvenation practices and other practices to remain meditative. But for right understanding we need to have generosity.
G2: Be Generous
How to ensure right understanding? To answer this, we may have to ask one more question: How to avoid mis-understanding and wrong understanding?
Misunderstanding happens due to prejudice, jealousy, impatience, anger, fear, insecurity, etc. Wrong understanding is due to the conviction we have in our misunderstanding. This is because we are defensive, proud, and egoistic. All this colors our vision and perception.
What is the antidote? Generosity. If we are generous towards ourselves, we have self-compassion. We are not hard on ourselves. If we made a mistake it’s okay. Pause, be self-compassionate, take the time to fix it.
If we are generous, we listen to others, we’re empathetic toward others. This again gives us the necessary pause. When somebody says or does something, we can either misunderstand them or understand them correctly. Understanding them correctly doesn’t mean that they have said or done the right thing, only that we have given ourselves the possibility of not misunderstanding.
Often, misunderstanding of others comes from jealousy, fear of failure, and insecurity. Jealousy arises mainly in close quarters, such as at work. The boss may praise somebody else for our work and we feel jealous. Jealousy can exist in the worst form between siblings. It is less talked about, like guilt, but it is extremely counterproductive to peace and progress.
The antidote to jealousy is also generosity. Jealousy and generosity cannot go together. When we are generous with our hearts, our time, our space, our minds, and our thoughts, it facilitates right understanding.
How to develop generosity? Generosity is fostered when we give and love giving – time, space, things, and the emotional space everyone needs to express themselves. Give and see. When you put a smile on people’s faces, help them feel safe and welcome, and reduce their pain and suffering, see how you feel in your heart. If you repeatedly do this from a heart full of love, an enormous good will await you.
How to develop generosity?
Generosity is fostered when we give
and love giving – time, space, things,
and the emotional space everyone needs
to express themselves. Give and see.
Another way to develop generosity is to develop contentment. It is difficult to be generous if you are not contented. If you think that what you have is not enough, how are you going to be generous? If you think you have enough, you will be generous.
Generosity is mainly in the giving. However, without a proper attitude towards receiving, life’s day-to-day interaction of give and take is not complete.
G3: Be Grateful
Being grateful also sets our inner climate very nicely. Generosity and gratitude go together – we put others first when we are generous, and we put others first when we are grateful. We are not complete without the many things that others do for us in our lives. Remembering those givers and those moments help to promote mutual respect, appreciation, and harmony.
Generosity in the giving and gratitude in the receiving completes the cycle of human interactions. If we develop generosity and gratitude, it takes care of the entire relationship cycle; giving and taking is what makes a relationship. We give time, we take time; we give things, we take things; we give knowledge, we receive knowledge; etc. We give generously and we receive with gratitude. It is a beautiful thing.
Generosity and gratitude also foster authenticity and humility. With these qualities in the heart, there is no room for jealousy or competition, anger or hatred. There is only harmony and contentment. When generosity and gratitude moderate our reactions and responses to situations, we maintain our steadiness and remain centered. With this sort of a heartful condition and inner environment, we will have correct thinking and right understanding. This helps with purity of heart and clarity of mind, irrespective of the situations we grow out of, just like a lotus.
Illustrations by ANANYA PATEL
Victor is a Director for Heartfulness Institute, USA, a non-profit organization educating, researching and spreading the values of yoga, meditation and overall wellness. He has been an avid practitioner of Heartfulness Meditation and a trainer for more than 30 years. As a career CFO he has been able to combine the benefits of meditation in... Read more