Being at peace with things we cannot change

Stay calm and carry on

Find your inner peace and let it be.

A few days ago, I had a revelation.

Akshay, my husband (CEO of our company) and I (CFO) were having lunch. (Big acronyms , but just regular people doing regular work) . He was talking about how GST, the draconian new tax regime that will be applicable in next two weeks, sucks. How it is designed either by people who have never done any business or for people doing only bogus businesses trying to trick the law. For a while he went on dissing the GST, which intellectually I fully agree. The compliances under GST are not only very difficult, but given the current IT infrastructure and the way government companies work, it is okay to say apna band bajnewala hai mamu. I know this. But I also know that GST is here. And we have no way to escape it.

So then at one point, I had to ask Akshay to stop criticising something that we cannot change. It depresses the hell out of me. He is the obsessive thinker and I tend to ignore the things that I cannot change. During the course of our lunch I could see my morale sinking, a cloud of gloom was hanging right above my head and my energy diminished. Suddenly like a bolt of lightning I realised what’s happening. One of my fundamental principles of life was getting overruled. That minute I realised how much I hate cribbing about things I cannot change. And when someone from my core circle of people – my husband was doing that, it felt like the end of the world. I made him stop and explained the situation to him. He is a reasonable man and so he stopped talking about how GST sucks and then we moved on to contemplating how quickly the days pass and how little we feel we’ve achieved. But that’s something we can work on. But I could not keep thinking about how something will ruin our lives for a while. Especially since that something is a thing we have no power to change.

Some months ago, a few of us friends from school were talking about how depression has affected them in various stages of life and what they did to overcome it. I had no real answer to it at that time, I don’t remember being depressed enough for days to note it down as a problem. Now I realise that I am fighting the very act of getting upset, of feeling low on an everyday basis. I remember having read the Serenity prayer as a teen and it stuck with me. Bifurcating problems into that which can be solved and those which need to be accepted goes on in my head every single minute. It has averted any long upsetting periods and looks like it works for me.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”

I am sure all of you must have read it at some point in those countless Pinterest quotes or somewhere.

Of course, with this attitude, with this mental set-up, I don’t think I can ever change the world. It feels like a task that cannot be done and I quickly classify it as ‘to accept’ and move on. And God knows, we need people who will stand up against the injustice of the world and see to it that things change. But maybe I am not the one who can do that.

Growing up, I remember several different days when I thought that something inside me had broken, that I can never be the jolly person I used to be. But slowly I come back to normal, to my relatively happy self again. With maturity that comes with age, I now realise what’s troubling me before I get sucked in too deep. Writing it down in my journal helps me to name the thing that’s not feeling fine. And identifying what’s wrong is the first step to get better.

Earlier the heartbreaking problems were different. Mom doesn’t let me go for a night-out when all my other friends do, the guy I like doesn’t seem to be interested in me, this exam seems to difficult to crack and I don’t know what I would do if I fail, etc etc. Now the problems are different. The turnover target for this quarter doesn’t seem to be on track, no matter what you do someone or the other is always disgruntled in the company, worrying about he longevity of the business etc etc.  The nature of problems and worries changes but at the base of it all, one thing remains the same. Can you do something about it? Go ahead and fix it. Brainstorm till you find a solution and get at it like a madman till you find an acceptable remedy.

But if you can’t do anything about it, then make peace. It will feel immensely better. And let go. Focus on how to make the most of that goddamn situation.

But pray tell me, who will change the world for us? Not me. Not today, I say.

Stay well,

Rutvika