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How Do You Measure Your Life?

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An Anecdote from Mahabharata

“Only the sons of the royal kingdom are can train here,” said Drona, the Guru of Kauravas kingdom. The Chief Master of the state had rejected a talented young boy just because he wasn’t born in the right family.

The boy was humiliated for even thinking about being a warrior. His whole ambitions and dreams were crushed.

He was sad. Probably, this was his first encounter with the injustice of society and life in general. As no one considered his side of the story. No one cared how he felt. At one of the most crucial time of his life, he was left to fate by the very people whom he was supposed to serve in his adulthood.

He was angry and burning with the desire to become the best archer in the world. So, he vowed to learn the martial arts on his own. He would find a guru even superior to the Guru of Kauravas.

Why not go to Drona’s Guru? The boy thought.

He thought he would become a warrior so fierce and brave that his old people would regret ever abandoning him. He would become so famous that they would spend the rest of their lives thinking about what a horrible mistake they had made. His hard work would make them pay for their disrespect.

And the only way to do that was to beat the best student of Drona, Arjun. Only then Drona will learn his lesson.

He went to an even better teacher than Drona. In fact, he was the master of Drona as well… his name was Parshuram.  And with his few years of hard work, he managed to win the favor of Parshuram and finally learned all the martial arts skills that anyone has ever known. And ultimately, after defying all the odds, a chariot driver’s son became the warrior.

The boy’s name was Karna, who later went on to become the Chief Commander of the same Kaurava’s Army who had rejected him because of his low birth. In fact, he fought along with Drona as well.

What a big success story it is… Isn’t it?

But, in many episodes of Mahabharata, we have seen Karna frustrated just because he couldn’t get a chance to fight with Arjuna. Even after becoming the King, he wasn’t able to get his peace.

Hundreds of battles won. Infinite numbers of odds defied.

And yet, a failure.

So, What do you measure in your life?

This is where many people say, “Hey don’t compare with others, be happy, and other blah… blah. Then you just smile in your head thinking how great of life lesson this is and scroll down to another picture on Instagram.

“Don’t compare yourself to others”

This is one of the banalest advice of 2020. It is up there with other similar clichés like, “Just be Yourself”, and “Just Do It” and so on.

As humans, we’re wired for comparison. You can’t just delete it from your system. You need to learn “The Art of Comparing”. The reality is that something always keeps going on in our minds, such as,

“That guy looks better than me. She is funnier than me, but I look cuter. How the hell, Ram could make so much money? God, I wish I could be as attractive as Kabir.”

Once, the survival needs are fulfilled, the drive for fame and status will be the next inborn part of our system. And it is the comparison with the outer world which affirms our status in society. And that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

But what you can change is the basis of those comparisons. The parameters on which you are comparing yourself.

You can’t stop comparing yourself with others. But you certainly can change the yardstick which you use to measure.

For instance: I don’t make as money as other people. On basis of this metric, you could say that I’m less successful than they are. And actually, if I put myself next to a guy on an airplane, in a Taj Hotel, at a business conference, or in an expensive nightclub, every one of those environments would reinforce my inferiority. By those parameters, I would clearly not measure up. Mr. President of Alibaba is sitting in first class or in a private jet. I’m not. I’m stuck up in a crowded metro train besides two crying babies and a vomiting pregnant woman.

But I live comfortably helping people improve their lives along with improving myself, while Mr. President in his first-class cheat money from thousands of poor farmers around the world, interfering with world markets and helping perpetuate the poverty of millions of people in the developing world.

So, airplane or not, I still think I have a leg upon him.

Do we get to choose in our life?

That’s how it is. It all depends on how you choose to measure success. I don’t measure my success by the amount of wealth. I like to measure my success on the basis of my mental peace. Isn’t it self-serving and biased? Certainly. And that’s the thing:

You get to choose how you measure success in your life.

The thing is that most of our social systems impose their parameters of success which we don’t have to follow. That’s why I posted this on my LinkedIn,

Ignore what you have been told to be true,
and observe what works in the world and do that.
A lot of what society, teachers, and parents told you is
stuff, that either they wished was true
or stuff that made their lives easier.
For example:- Obedience is still presented as a virtue and questioning as impolite

So be strong, educate yourself, have good friends (in fact, build a tribe). Raise a family. Well, aren’t these social norms too as well? Well, the point is that some societal norms are good for us. Some are not.

So, it’s vital to remember that there are no rules in present times.
There are just laws.
So, break the rules and follow the law.

You don’t need to limit yourself to any nonsense norms. Money is good, but you can choose to see it not as absolute parameters of wealth, but as a tool to achieve true wealth. Relationships are important but lacking them doesn’t make you any less of a human being.

So, remember my friend, you get to choose. And the good and bad thing is that we’re all different, so most of the time our metrics will be different.

So, that brings us to ask yourself…

How Will You Measure Your Life?

Yup, now you need to decide which metrics for success will you choose for yourself?

Let me know in the comments section below about your parameters of success.

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