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by Meghana Jain
The word ‘burden’ brings an image of a coolie (porter) and their exhausted face in my awareness. In my childhood days, every summer we travelled by train with loads of luggage to our grandfather’s place. We used to hire a porter to carry the baggage from the parking lot to the platform. A single porter carried two of our big suitcases on his head and held the other two big handbags in his hands. The image of the porter’s strained face is clear in my memory even now. I remember their barely breathing demeanour and an eagerness to unload all the burden. Many times our faces look strained like a porter even though we are not carrying anything physically. The weight of our heavy thoughts towards all the responsibilities we need to fulfill boggles us down. A porter’s job is very hard, but atleast after 8 to 10 hours of hardship they are free of heavy weight on their head. At times our lives feel even more difficult than porters because the burden of our responsibilities is prevalent even in our sleep. We wake up feeling so heavy early in the morning that it seems like we had been carrying hundreds of suitcases all night.
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The word ‘boon’ on the other hand, brings an image of a fairy with an angelic smile in my mind. In every fairy tale, an angel typically has the responsibility of fulfilling everyone’s desire, yet their faces are shown so serene and divine. The fairies would possess a mystical wand and just by their simple touch everything got magically fixed. It is a hard reality that as we grow older, our responsibilities will increase. Are we meant to live a burdensome life like a porter, or can we stay light like a fairy? Only through the divine knowledge of Brahma Kumaris, I realized that every responsibility of mine is a boon in disguise. This understanding has made my life from being burdensome to angelic, and I would like to share some of those secrets with you.
What makes responsibilities feel like a burden?
One of the biggest reasons we feel heavy while fulfilling responsibilities is due to self pity. We tell ourselves that we have to do so much, yet nobody cares about us, appreciates us, or helps us out. We keep adding colors to the ‘poor me’ image that even if people genuinely want to help us out, we are unable to recognize it. The more sorry we feel for ourselves, the weaker we become. A physically weak person finds lifting even a small suitcase difficult. Similarly, a person who is nurturing a pitiful image about themselves will find even an addition of small task in their life to be very heavy.
The self pity image gets intensified in our head when we compare our lives with others. The proverb, ‘Grass is greener on the other side’ highlights this point very clearly. It is a fact that nobody’s life is easy because even the richest people on this planet have problems related to health or relations. The one who wants acknowledgement that their life is the toughest will constantly compare with others and reaffirm that their life is indeed the hardest. People seeking sympathy will continue adding fuel to their already sorry state by thinking everyone but them has a perfect life. In such an emotionally weak state, wouldn’t small chores also seem extremely stressful or handling a small issue seem challenging? It would make sense to call ourselves weak if by doing that our responsibilities got reduced or the challenges stopped coming. If it is not helping, then why create such a low image about ourselves?
Is someone imposing, or is the long to do list self created?
Nowadays many women are working mothers, and there is no more clear distinction of responsibilities. In the olden days, men were responsible for earning a living and women for taking care of house and kids. In the current world, we have bigger needs, everything is more expensive, and hence we need bigger wallets. It is important to acknowledge that we chose a life which includes tasks like earning a living, taking care of house, and raising kids. The acknowledgement finishes the blame game that someone else caused the long to do list in our lives. When we chose everything, then only we can change whatever needs to be changed. The heaviness is felt when we feel someone else is responsible for our busy life. We want others to help, but instead of requesting support, we demand it because we fail to acknowledge that we were the ones who created the to do list. The lightness comes when we realize that we chose to do many things and can chose to not do them whenever we want. Indeed some responsibilities like raising kids cannot be given up. It is again important to ask ourselves these questions. When we cannot let go of some duties then why do we keep wanting them to be over? We are anyways fulfilling those responsibilities, then why not do it happily? If we do it happily, then we get blessings from others. The choice is ours, whether we want a boon or a curse.
How can we feel light while fulfilling many responsibilities?
The biggest reason for feeling heavy while doing tasks are two types of thoughts: ‘I have done so much’, and ‘I have to do so much more’. Our mind is constantly creating thoughts about tasks accomplished in the past and the ones that need to be finished in the future. The thoughts about the past tasks either generate an ego (arrogance) or pity for the self. Both of these images are bound to make us unstable because we are looking for praise or sympathy from others for doing so much. Isn’t it better to acknowledge that we did what we chose and maintain self respect that we are responsible and accountable beings. In addition, we can stay double light if we remember that the laws of the Universe are bound to return the results of our elevated actions. The more duties we fulfill, the more deserving we become of the rewards. Why would one not want to be super productive and useful if the returns are so benefiting to us? It is when we create doubts or frustration that our work is not getting recognized that we feel heavy. The one who maintains the trust will feel carefree even after doing so much.
Day to day chores seem very burdensome if we develop an attitude that only we can complete these chores accurately. We don’t trust anybody else to do it. All is well if our health and availability of time are allowing us to do these chores. What happens when we just can’t do it and don’t trust anybody else to do it? A real leader believes in team strength, and they would guide and mentor every member of their group so that each member is capable. Such a leader would always stay light because they know their entire team is strong and can survive without them. Lightness comes when others are not dependent on us, but our ego foolishly believes that it comes by owning everything.
Self respect is key to feeling light while fulfilling a gazillion of responsibilities. The pure pride that we are capable and hence been given so many duties makes every job easy. Parents also expect more from their stronger and capable kids. Just like that, Universe also puts more responsibilities on the ones that are capable. We have to focus on the bazillion times we have been successful in finishing many tasks, and not on the few times we failed. The positive thinking that we have done it before and can do it again will make us light, and the long list of pending tasks will not overwhelm us.
The most effective way to feel light while do everything is to live in the awareness that we are trusty of everything. Many times taking care of relations feels like a burden because we think that we are responsible for their well being and future. Why do we consider ourselves like God who can change others destiny or predict what is going to happen in future? For example, many parents fret over their kids poor performance in academics and conclude or predict that their kids future is dark. As a parent we are responsible and have to do everything to help. The ego that we have to create a particular kind of destiny for our children makes us and the kids heavy. Do we really know what holds in the future and what is best for them? A parent would want the best for their children but thinking that their definition of best is the only option makes the relationship feel like a burden. The burden is self inflicted but the blame is on the kid for not obliging. The truth is we are all trusty and have been assigned responsibilities. The beauty is in fulfilling them lovingly and maintaining faith that all will be well in the end.
In conclusion, it is up to us if we want our life to feel like a burden or a boon. A corrupt intellect would call an idle or a life with very few responsibility as a perfect life. People with such intellect will advise others to escape, forego, or abandon duties to experience peace and happiness. The knowledge I received says that real happiness comes by acting responsibly towards self, others, and the world. If we have been assigned many duties by the Universe, then we have to consider ourselves to be fortunate beings and not unlucky ones. Why would one complain on holding many responsibilities when the reality is that fulfilling every duty benefits us the most?
About the author:
Meghana Jain works as an IT professional in Google. She writes articles and teaches classes on living fully at home, workplace, and Indian Community Center