Journey is the Destiny

A young child walking in forest - autumn season

The only thing we have in life is the journey. Every moment is a priceless blessing. Life is a journey to be savored every step of the way.

Planning and goal setting for the future is good. Reflecting on the past and learning from it is also good. However, if you forget to enjoy the ride to wherever you are going or whatever you are doing you miss happiness.

People may hurt you or you may have a bad start to the day or you are overwhelmed with loads of work and feeling stressed. You may ask: “How can I enjoy the ride when all these things are happening to me?” What is your choice in this situation – enjoy the ride or not enjoy the ride. Which would you prefer when you are stressed out? The truth is the hurt that people cause or the bad start you have had or the loads of work you have do not contribute to your unhappiness; it is the ego that does! Ego plays a victim mentality saying to you: “Why me?”, “ How dare you do this to me?”

We need to realize that happiness is not a destination, it is a journey! And if we miss the journey because we were too focused on the destination, then we have sleepwalked through a significant part of our life. For often when we look back at life, it is the small moments that take our breath away, capture our attention, and fill us up with wonder and gratitude.


Young woman doing headstand in grass near ocean in Maui, Hawaii.

One of the biggest challenges you will face on your journey to self-development is the battle to overcome the ego. Ego enslaves you. When you overcome ego, you find freedom.

The word “ego” is from Latin, and means “the self.” To the egotist, everything revolves around the self. However, far from enhancing a person’s stature, egotism diminishes it. You edge out gifts such as creativity, intuition, energy, objectiveness, wisdom, and happiness. You diminish your radiance and darken your light. As American statesman, Benjamin Franklin put it, “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”

Ego is shallow. It relies on our limited worldly possessions to give us power, as opposed to seeking infinite power from within ourselves.

When we annihilate our ego, the inner splendor is revealed. For the flower in us to develop, the bud has to die. Dropping the ego, like all worthwhile things in life, is not easy. It can take years of discipline and hard work before you are transformed and completely free from ego.

Here are a few suggestions to keep your ego at bay:

⁃       Refrain from judgment and relinquish control. Remember you can only control yourself, therefore, give up controlling other people and circumstances
⁃       Practice self-awareness. As you become more aware of your thoughts you’ll be surprised how many are too focused on you. Meditate daily and keep a journal to develop self-awareness. When we become sufficiently aware, the light of that awareness starts to starve the ego.
⁃       Focus on the big picture. Be driven by the importance of outcomes rather than the importance of self.
⁃       Start listening. Go beyond their words to grasp their feelings. Ask people who are close to you what they think about your behavior and actions. Be objective about what other people think about your behavior and how it affects others.
⁃       Celebrate diversity. Value the differences in others and see their strengths. Celebrate the success of others as if it were your own.
⁃       Participate in life. Absorb knowledge from every encounter, every experience, every person, every defeat, every setback, and every opportunity.
⁃       Treat work like meditation. Work so deeply that the division between the doer and the doing disappears and work becomes sacred.
⁃       Embrace humility. Humility is born when you realize that you are simply the medium for the universal abundance to flow through. You understand that when you do commendable work, feeling that there is a higher force behind you, guiding you and using you as a channel.
⁃       Practice gratitude. Write down what five things can you be grateful for today?
⁃       Be in the Present Moment. Your ego will say things such as “I should be getting more recognition” when, objectively, you are being treated appropriately. Realize that this is happening, catch yourself, and refocus on the task at hand. Focus on the present moment by experiencing the positive effect of the people, places, sights, and sounds around you.

The Illusion of Self

alone man looking at the sunset on a beach

Every child is born essentially pure, magnificent, yet fragile and unformed. But instead of nurturing this essence, society shrouds it with their prejudices, opinions and biases in a bid to shape the child in their own image.

Gradually these conditionings force us to borrow or construct a false self as a defensive reaction. This false self is our negative ego. Many people spend a lifetime living this false image and trying to fulfill expectations of who they are supposed to be, instead of discovering who they are.

People often confuse this false idea of the self (negative ego) with honor or respect.

But this true self can only be repressed – not obliterated. Hence, sooner or later, this repression becomes the root cause for conflict at work, in relationships, and between countries.

Some of the negative effects of ego include:

1. Weakens collaboration with others – Egotists can’t see beyond their own immediate interests. They overlook the benefits of interdependence and the synergy derived from diversity.

2. Diminishes authenticity – Egoists cannot be authentic, because of the incessant need to protect their image even at the expense of denial. Their fear prevents them from acknowledging and appreciating the gifts of others.

3. Creates a scarcity mindset – Egotism breeds insecurity and jealousy. The fear of losing out increases and others appear as burdens or competitors.

4. Builds barriers to learning – Ego is the latch on a closed mind. Egotists abhor any show of vulnerability and hence are closed to any new learning. Being unable to accept criticism, they cannot gain any insight. Without openness, people lose awareness of what reality is and end up making unreal choices.

5. Promotes fear and distrust. Egotists are always watching fearfully over their shoulders, worrying that someone might overtake them. They want constant attention, sympathy and flattery and make unreasonable demands. This makes them overly competitive, a sore loser, and a perfectionist.

6. Encourage destructive behaviors – Ego in leaders causes them to use humiliation as a destructive tool. While ego in team members causes them to take criticism personally, crushing their motivation and performance.
Recognizing and dropping this false ego means letting go of all that is deceptive or artificial about us, and reclaiming our true magnificence, our positive pride.
The difference between ego and positive pride is well explained in this Serbian proverb: “Be humble, for you are made of earth; be noble, for you are made of stars.”
So while we have the capacity to rise to the stars, we also have to return back to the Earth.

To conclude, when we talk about “I” and “You” we are looking at ourselves as separate from each other, with individual egos. But when we give up our egos “You” and “I” become one. We are transformed. This is the final stage that spirituality aims to bring about in our lives, a goal Sufis aspire to reach.

Creeping Ego!

Outdoor closeup portrait, funny Caucasian blond baby girl resentfully pouts

We all have a tendency to complicate things in our life. When everything seems smooth, you think of something that could complicate things. Why? The ego is feeling left out!

There is a possibility that you may be getting complacent so how do you draw a line? Go back to your goals and ask are whether you are aligned to them. If you are, then you are not getting complacent.

Regular review of where things are and where you need to go is important to evaluate efficiently and effectively. Having a simple system and structure will help. Avoid complicated systems and structures and do not look for problems when there are none. It is the ego creeping in!

Die Before You Die

Grandfather and granddaughter holding hands

“Die before you Die” is a quote attributed to the Sufi poet, Rumi. It means to live fully like you would as if you had but a few breaths left to take. Just imagine how intense and alive those few moments would feel because you would be fully present in those moments. There would be no time for past regrets or future worries. Hence, the wisdom here is to live each moment in totality, in its full measure. Then, when the moment ends, there is no pain, because living in the moment has been complete and absolute.

If we apply this concept in a business setting, each moment moves beyond an expression of self-worth to an opportunity for transformation and renewal.

Steve Jobs said: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

Amidst the turmoil of the thought of death, there is also the underlying realization that each ending carries in its womb the possibility of a new beginning.

Just the idea of death has a cleansing effect, instantly eliminating the non-essential while illuminating the essence. This is the power of death. Rather than invoking fear, death actually brings freedom. Freedom to do, say and experience what matters.

Death is not an end, but simply another opportunity to reawaken, to let go of all that no longer serves us. Our attachment to our past often shrouds our vision, preventing us from jumping over the threshold to a new beginning. Death and life happen at each and every moment.

The thought of death keeps us humble. It urges us to create a life we want, so that we may have no regrets.

There is a Sufi saying that we have four seasons to live – but three may already be gone. By starting each day as if it were our last, we remind ourselves of the fragility of life, helping us to become more compassionate. We remain human. We realize that if we die tomorrow, our material possessions do not go with us.

In the end, we only take with us what we give away – joy, happiness. And if we give misery, this too is what we’ll take with us. Don’t wait until tomorrow to praise; to bless; to forgive, and to laugh. Tomorrow may not come.
So go ahead and think of death – think of it often – think of it each and every day. Socrates said, “Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.”

Negative Ego!

Pink frangipani flowers on green background

Putting others down opens us up to having our own turn at being put down. The Sufi, Nasruddin, tells the following story:

A proud grammarian once took a boat ride. On the way, the grammarian asked the simple boat driver if he knew grammar. The boat driver replied that he didn’t know grammar as he hadn’t gone to school. The grammarian replied that he had wasted half his life. A short while later, the water got rough, and the boat started sinking. The boat driver asked the grammarian if he knew how to swim, to which the grammarian replied that he didn’t. The boat driver remarked that all his life would be wasted since he would now drown.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, thus, there is no need to discredit others.

The hidden roots of a tree are its unseen foundation. In not having any desire to show off this might, the roots humbly conveys a quiet statement of strength.

How about you? What are your unseen foundation and quiet statement of strength?


Sustained Success!

Social inequality and capitalism . Poor and rich flat icons of people standing on the piggy banks and gap between them

When we do things driven by ego, for fame and power, we seldom fulfill our deeper needs. The Ego is never satisfied. The more it gets, the more it wants!

Alternatively, if you just do things for others and forget yourself and your family, you end up being imbalanced and find it hard to sustain success.

However, if you do things to create a positive impact for others and yourself, including your family, you have balanced and sustained satisfaction.

Some people have an either/or approach. They feel if you want success, you cannot have balance. What they are missing is balance creates a deeper and sustained sense of success. The more your body is healthy, the healthier the impact on your mind and soul. The more your mind is active, the more active your body and soul will be. The more your soul is nourished, the more nourishment it provides your body and mind.

You have sustained success when you create a positive impact for others and yourself, overcome your ego and invite the synergy of body, mind, and soul.