How to handle problems you have with society

Those of you who have been in India, would know how unruly the traffic can be here. Long ago, when I was a kid, a Reader’s Digest issue ranked India’s traffic the second worst in the world(the worst was China’s). Personally, I like following traffic rules. When I spent 3 years in the US, my faith in traffic rules strengthened and I sort of got used to seeing people following them.

After I came back about a year ago, I had to face the same unruly traffic again. And the experience, as you can expect, has not exactly been exhilarating.

I usually approach the road with some trepidation. While on the road, I often find myself muttering under my breath… That slow moving truck’s driver should have the sense to drive to the left, that auto driver, spewing loads of smoke from his auto, should get his exhaust fixed. Why doesn’t that motorcycle rider stay on his side of the road? Why does anybody not follow rules?

I know this anger does little good. Right and justified though I feel, all this judging and labeling people does little to solve the issue. The whole activity just causes me a lot of negativity. Over a period, it can become an unconscious habit that just keeps sapping my precious life force.

No, just being angry about the world around us doesn’t solve our issues. We have to do something else. There are 3 courses of action I see possible here :

1. Moving to a better place

When I left Bangalore, and India, and went to the US, I found things far better. I enjoyed the change. I was happy to be far away from the maddening cacophony of India.

But, over time, I got a feeling that the ghosts I ran away from, had not left me. I feel, no matter how many problems we have with the place we grow up in, we have a strong connection with it. We may move to pastures that look greener, but we know deep inside our hearts that we left a problem unsolved.

We will have new learning and realizations in a new place, but we will not feel we have expanded into our true selves until we bring these realizations back to solve problems at our own place.

Someday, we have to just turn around and come back home.

2. Adjusting with what is

There is the option of making peace with what is. You understand that things are the way they are and stop fretting about them. You instead focus on adjusting to them.

But this doesn’t seem to fully solve the issue either. Supressing and ignoring our feelings makes them only grow in intensity. They will eventually come out, as a sudden unwelcome outburst or as some disease.

Ignoring the discomfort is as harmful in the long run as just staying angry with the situation.

3. Working towards a change

This option involves making efforts to change the way things are. Instead of running away from the issue, or just fretting over it, you actually start working towards a solution. In my own way, through this blog, I am trying to make people more conscious and responsible. But is it even possible to change all these people? How long does it take to accomplish such a mammoth task?

The goal may seem too high and impossible, but I have seen that the effort itself makes us happy. You don’t have to wait till the goal is reached. As soon you start working towards the change you want, you start feeling a sense of positivity.

It helps to use acceptance along with this step. You don’t fight what is, you just understand it, accept it and keep working at it. When you accept, the anger and the resistance subsides. And as you keep working at it, peace and happiness settle in.

A bigger question

When you decide to bring about change, you have to ask yourself a bigger question. This is a change you want. Maybe a few of your friends, those in your age group, those in your financial bracket etc, want this change too. But are you sure the rest of the society wants this change?

A lot of us like to believe whatever we think is right. A lot of us believe that our idea of growth and betterment is shared by the masses. But we have to realize people have different ideas and preferences. Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, the majority of people just don’t want the change you do?

Bringing about change involves talking to people, understanding them, eastablishing a connection. Then you understand what the whole wants, and work towards it. Sometimes, what the whole wants goes totally against your deepest desires. In such a case, you have a choice to make, leave, or adjust, or continue trying to discuss with people.

Strengthening connections

I believe the more we realize ourselves, the less of a feeling of separate interests we have. If we make efforts continuously, our interests will merge more and more with that of the whole.

All of us are working towards the same goal of happiness. Others may have had different experiences and, with their limited human understanding, they have formed some ideas about what makes them happy. This is what we all do. If you go to someone telling them that their ideas are all wrong, they are foolish, you can hardly ever find a solution.

You yourself are a human and may have holes in your understanding. We are usually not as right as we like to think we are.

You have to practice humility if you want to bring about change. When you meet others with humility, accepting that you can be wrong too, acepting that there may be a chance for you to learn from this person and grow, you do more good to everyone involved. You create better, friendlier connections, you keep growing yourself and you keep finding solutions that help all and are accepted by all.

*****

So what are the issues that bother you greatly? And what course have you chosen to deal with the discomfort?

Image credit: Teerapun

2 Comments

  • January 13, 2012 - 7:46 am | Permalink

    Good point about humility. I think without it, happiness, and what we refer to as status in life cannot be achieved. It happens as you have mentioned that not very often one is right. and every single criticism, how small it could be, could get one on a defensive mood. That’s when the call to humility must come i guess. Just accepting or discussing the criticism while letting go all anger is a great virtue of humility, I guess.

    Thanks for this great post!
    Davek recently posted..Nelson Mandela – Being Optimistic

    • Rahul
      January 13, 2012 - 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Hello Davek,
      Humility sure looks like the natural way of those who glide through life with happiness and prosperity. Thanks for dropping by and adding your thoughts to the post!

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