The world and me

An interesting question that I came across in a children’s book is, it seems to me, quite as pertinent to adults. This is how it goes: ‘Ask yourself this question.

What kind of world would it be, if each person in it were just like me?’ These are words that gently but unerringly lead a person into self-enquiry and self-appraisal. It calls for a close examination of one’s deeds, words and thoughts, a task that is difficult but rewarding as well.

It is said that like attracts like, but would a world peopled by clones of our own self be viable or likeable? Each of us is born with different abilities. It is rare to find a tinker who is also a tailor and a tailor who is also a sailor. Our talents make us the different people we are, a fact that must be acknowledged and appreciated. Variety is not just the spice of life; it is life. However, what is even more important to recognise is that human behaviour is subject to fluctuation. There are days when one feels out of sorts. If everyone found himself in the same situation, it would create enormous difficulties and unpleasantness. On the other hand, an optimistic attitude enables one to respond cheerfully to others. It promotes cooperation and creates harmony. If you try to consciously notice your prevailing attitude, you will sense how your presence affects others and the atmosphere around you and elicits reciprocal reaction. A cheerful face and polite words puts people at instant ease, their attitude mirroring your own. However, speak sharply and the mood around darkens. 

Mood and attitude are affected by a whole host of factors. Physical discomfort, disappointments and injustice can all trigger feelings of negativity. They need not control you though, for you can overcome them through reflection and recognition. Reassessing the way you view things and come to conclusions can help you regain a positive frame of mind. What is more, as this story shows, the world becomes better all because you are better.

A servant in King Akbar’s palace had the reputation of bringing ill-luck to whoever met him face to face, first thing in the morning. One day, Akbar saw him as soon as he got up. Thereafter everything seemed to go wrong. His grandson fell ill, there were rumours of rebellion and the king cut himself rather badly. Enraged, Akbar ordered that the man be hanged. On hearing this, the servant came to Birbal for help. Birbal went along with him to the king and requested permission for questioning them both. Akbar agreed.

‘Your Majesty,’ he told the King, ‘Did you see this man the first thing in the morning?’‘I did,’ answered the King.

He now turned to the servant and asked, ‘Whose face did you see the first thing in the morning?’

Tremblingly he answered, ‘His Majesty’s.’ Birbal then said, ‘Your Majesty, you saw the servant the first thing in the morning and suffered minor mishaps. But this man you see here saw your face and is now going to lose his life. Which is the bigger misfortune?’

‘You are right,’ said the contrite King. ‘I repeal the sentence. I did not give the matter enough thought!’

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