The following is a text expert of a speech given by an Indian American known as Prem Rawat.
"My question to you is, what do you practice every day?
Because what you practice, you are going to get good at!
What do you practice?
Do you practice joy in your life? Do you practice peace in your life? Do you practice happiness in your life?
Or do you practice a lot of complaining?
Because if you complain, you're going to get really good at it!
And you will get so good at it, you will find fault with everything. Even when there is no fault that a layman cannot see, you, being an expert, will see it!
What do you practice?
Do you practice anger?
Because if you practice anger, you're going to get VERY good at it. In fact, you're going to get so good at it that the most trivial thing will make you angry.
Like sitting on an airplane and seeing that the seat across from you somehow looks better than the one you've been given.
And that is so unfair of the airlines!
What do you practice?
And what have you been practicing?
From the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep, what do you practice?
Do you practice worry a lot?
Because if you practice worry, you're going to get good at it!
And you're going to get so good at it that everything will worry you!
Including the buffalo you don't have.
So then I propose if this is true that it is a question of practice, then I propose you practice joy."
This question, "What do you practice?," like most valuable wisdom, is so simple that anyone in the world could understand it.
It's almost comical to read.
Most of us laugh when hearing it because it is so obvious and yet on a day to day basis we spend so much time practicing suffering.
It's hard to even ask the question because it puts us face to face with ourselves in a manner we're not usually forced to look at ourselves.
What do YOU practice?
It's a question that each of us has no choice but to answer individually.
And I propose that you answer it with sincerity. Because when you're questioning yourself, the only 'opinion' that matters is your own.
Better to say, the only analysis and understanding about it that matter are your own.
I'd like to talk about some of the things that I find myself unconsciously 'practicing' to hopefully help you ask yourself the question in an honest way.
I'm pretty 'well educated' in the sense of having a formal education. I went to college, law school, and have a master's degree in tax law.
As a result of so much formal education, I got really good at being a student in the classroom. I got good at finding out what professors wanted and doing what was necessary to get good grades.
There's an experience I had many times as a student that kept bringing me to a pretty significant question about what I live for.
After a final exam, I always knew if I performed really well and would end up getting a good grade.
I also knew when I didn't perform too well.
Whenever I knew that I performed well on an exam, I couldn't wait for my classmates and peers to get out of class to talk about the exam and how good I felt about my chances of getting a good grade.
When I didn't feel great about how an exam went, I'd walk in despair to my car not wanting to talk to anybody about it.
One day after an exam that went reall well, I found myself sitting in front of the law school I attended waiting for my friends to come out so we could talk about it.
I felt really good about how the exam went and was ready to explode with joy, but at the same time there was this sense of anxiety about waiting for others to come out of the test.
It was as if my doing well on the exam wasn't going to feel good until I told somebody about it.
Seeing myself in that experience caused me to confront a question that was weirdly hard to ask myself:
"Would it feel good to be a good student if it wasn't something that other people held in high esteem?"
Do I, myself, care about how good of a student I am, or do I do bust my ass because it makes me look good?
This led to a lot of deeper questioning about why we really do anything.
What I saw was that almost everything I do is for my reputation. For the way I look to others.
My primary motivation is to build the resume of my personality.
This led to another question - what would I live for if it wasn't for enhancing the perception of myself?
I think growing up in the West, living for others is something we're trained to practice from childhood.
I practice giving my sense of self to the results of my actions, which is somehow very obviously backwards.
Because it's only logical that my actions would make any sense only if they were motivated by some sense of self rather than an image I'm trying to form.
What would I live for if the motivation wasn't the perception of myself?
I wish to practice this question.
It's a remarkable phenomenon that we become blind when we're in less pleasant states of mind.
When I'm in a really good mood, it's very difficult for trivial things to bother me.
Traffic? So what, it's a part of life and I get to listen to music and relax!
Someone didn't hold the door for me walking into a coffee shop? They probably just didn't realize I was behind them!
When I'm feeling anxious or upset about something, the most insignificant things pull me further into the anxiety or despair.
Why did that a**hole cut me off? Now I'm going to be late.
Ugh, the waiter brought me the wrong drink. Doesn't he know how to do his job?
The crazy thing is that all logic goes out the window when we're 'practicing' subjectively negative attitudes.
We literally take the mindset that the whole world revolves around us and anything that displeases me is being done on purpose because people know that I'm in a bad mood and they want to make me feel worse.
I wish to practice seeing how blind I get when I'm in a bad mood, and actively remembering that everyone is simply trying to live their life the best way they know how.
To remember not to buy in to my own internal justifications for how I feel when I'm in a bad mood.
To actively work to make others happy when I'm being negative as a way out of it rather than staying blind to my own subjectivity.
I am constantly creating expectations for myself, people around me, my work, and for society as a whole, and I'm affected when the expectations I make aren't met.
In fact, these expectations are so much a part of how I am that I don't even realize that I'm creating these expectations until after they haven't been met and my mood is affected by it.
I'm learning to see that any time I feel negative about something, it's because I have some expectation that I perceive as not being met.
Whether it's expecting that every time I order food out it should be perfect the way I imagine it in my head, or that my family, friends and co-workers act in ways that I find pleasing.
My being upset or negative is always a reminder that I've set an expectation.
I wish to see that I can work to be my best, and push others to be their best without expecting it.
My disappointment is the result of my expectation, and meeting my expectations is not what the world lives for!
Right now while writing this article I can either practice 'getting my work done' or practice improving my writing and putting myself in readers shoes to increase how effective I convey the message.
When I get up from my chair to go to the bathroom, I can practice thinking about how much I have to do the rest of the day, or I can practice being grateful that I have two legs without which going to the bathroom would be a much less pleasant experience.
I have an image of what I want my ideal life to look like.
How often do I practice living the life I dream of?
What do YOU practice?
How can you increase the quality of your own life and the world we share with this question?
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