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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

You Only Live Once (YOLO)

“You only live once”. YOLO.

This is something you hear a LOT nowadays.

For many people, this immediately triggers their imagination into doing all sorts of things with a sense of urgency. Mostly fun things.

For many, very high on their to-do list (if not right at the top) would be travelling around the world – to a lot of exotic places on this earth. And, increasingly, maybe space travel too.

And that’s understandable. This earth has SO much beauty – and so much mystery about it – that one could spend a lifetime discovering it. Just watching National Geographic (or Discovery Channel) on TV is such a rewarding experience for me – imagine if I could actually BE in all those exotic places! How awesome would THAT be! And I know I’m not alone with this mindset – I speak for millions.

And yet, it isn’t top of my to-do list. It’s at best, a nice-to-have.

True, my life would be incredibly enriched if I could do it. But somehow I wouldn’t consider it incredibly impoverished, if I couldn’t.

On the other hand, I WOULD consider my life considerably impoverished if I couldn’t put it to use for the benefit of others.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not pretending to be a saint – I am no saint. And charity begins at home, so one needs to keep that in mind too.

But different things appeal to different people – and what really makes ME very happy is to see others happy. That does more for me than any material acquisition.

So it is entirely in my selfish interest – of seeing others happy – that I choose others’ happiness as my goal. I am happy if they are happy. And it bothers me if they're not. Especially if it is for no fault of theirs.

This world isn’t fair. It isn’t a level playing field. Millions are deprived opportunities right at birth – purely because of where they are born, or what race or class or caste or gender (or other discriminatory stamp on their forehead) ensures they are deprived, or discriminated against, all their lives.

I’m acutely aware of having had a privileged life compared to these many millions – and no, I’m certainly not feeling guilty about it. But I’m not comfortable looking the other way either.  I’m not that desensitized yet. Thankfully.

So for me, “You Only Live Once” means I have only ONE opportunity to make a positive difference to others’ lives. Again, because it makes me happy.

Happier than travelling all around the world to the most exotic places there are to see and experience. 

And if that means that for most people in this world, I’m a fool, so be it!

I’m reminded of a couple of lines from an old Hindi film song (Sanyasi – 1975):

Kya maar sakegi maut usey, auron ke liye jo jeeta hai
Milta hai jahaan ka pyar usey, auron ke jo aansoo peeta hai

(What will death take away from him
He who lives to serve others
Rather, he has the love of the entire world with him
He who wipes tears off others’ faces)

So I’m not alone with this thought process. J

Ideally of course, I’d have it all – but we don’t live in an ideal world, and I DON’T have it all. Life’s about choices – and this is my choice. Another person might well have a different choice – and I fully respect that. To each his own, I always say.

So what is YOUR take on “You Only Live Once”?

This post is written as part of the write tribe initiative.

To be honest, my thoughts on this subject are much deeper than a 500-word blogpost limit (which I've already exceeded :-)) allows me to express.

As a result, this post may come across to some as patronizing. It is certainly not intended to be so. All I can say is, those who know me personally will, I think, understand my thought process better. :-)


Anonymous said...

That is so well-written, and so sincere, Raja. I wish there were more people like you. :-)

The YOLO philosophy, in my life... well, I don't know. I suppose it would be along similar lines: to bring joy to people, and if I can't manage that, at least to never cause pain to anyone.


Your honest write up is refreshing.
To make difference to someones life, to wipe their tears, thar really gives unparalleled joy.
And yes life is about choices, choices affect who we are.

harvey said...

Very inspiring, Raja!
How right you are Raja!
I think bringing other people happiness is the key to happiness itself!
Travelling is surely a good thing. Travelling with minimum of ecological footprint and respect for the local people would surely be welcome!
Bringing happiness to people is the best thing one can do in life! One just has to be careful that one doesn't hurt oneself in the process. You know the old proverb of the horse and water!
Other key to happiness is to be in the present moment!
Also important is not to have expectations. Or at least make one's happiness dependent of fulfilling the expectations!
Doing voluntary work does aid these processes.

Raja Swaminathan said...

@dustedoff, very sweet of you - but more people like me? Duniya mein paagalpan kya kam hai? :-)

I like the thought of at least not causing pain to anyone. That itself would make SUCH a difference.

@Kislaya Gopal, thank you. Indeed, I feel seeing people happy is SO self-uplifting. Glad you feel the same way too. Yet there are so many who go about causing others' pain. *sigh*

@Harvey, you're totally right. One needs to be careful one doesn't hurt oneself in the process.

@All, I've added a P.S section - not sure you've seen it. Pls do read it. I thought it was necessary to clarify a point. :-)

pacifist said...

Nice thoughts there, Raja.
But isn't that a normal wish - to see others happy?

I consider this as a part of life rather than YOLO activity. In fact it's not an activity, but part of ones character.

Things like travelling are activities you 'do' when time - and money permits.
I Looove travelling. It's not part of any YOLO activity - mainly because Yolo philosophy isn't part of my life.
I do it to enjoy like watching a film.

What I'm trying to say here is, though I appreciate your philosophy (and have always thought this to be one all normal people follow) I couldn't understand what you were trying to say about travel :-/

Raja Swaminathan said...

@pacifist, first of all thanks for your comment. :-)

"Isn't that a normal wish - to see others happy?" Is it? If it were, why would we see so many people destroying so many other people's lives?

YOLO translates to different things for different people. For many, I think it feeds into an innate desire to see as much of the world as possible before they die - because "You Only Live Once". I'm not saying it is a bad thing at all - ref my point about NatGeo. I'd love to travel a lot myself.

That is why I took travel as an example. But I may be wrong. This is just my opinion.

It is most certainly not a criticism of travel. Or of ANYTHING. It is just my take on the choice I'd make, if I had to make a choice. Another person might make a very difference choice. And that's fine. To each his own, like I've said. :-)

pacifist said...

Thanks for responding Raja.

> If it were, why would we see so many people destroying so many other people's lives?

Because they are selfish and not really 'normal'?
Most of the times these are *THEMSELVES, UNHAPPY PEOPLE*

>. It is just my take on the choice I'd make, if I had to make a choice.

That's excatly what I hadn't understood. Putting 'happiness of other's and 'travel' on a platform together as a choice (because for me their dimensions are on different levels)?

When I try to picture your point of putting the two together, I'm imagining a scenario of someone leaving behind his family penniless and going off with all the money to travel as a YOLO thing. :-/

Also, in your philosophy are you also equating this happiness to charirty? LIke giving the money to charity instead of spending it on travel?

I'm just trying to understand what you're saying raja, because honestly speaking I don't :-)

Perhaps if you give an example it will help.

Raja Swaminathan said...

@pacifist, I'm not sure these people are not "normal" people. Selfish people are also normal people. They just have a trait called selfishness. :-)

Oh, I didn't have that scenario in mind at all - of a man leaving his family penniless and going off to travel with all the money, because of YOLO.

I did think though of that charity angle. If I had a few thousand dollars - and I had to choose between using it for travel, and using it to structurally improve somebody's life, I'd go with the latter. :-)

Shalini Austin said...

Beautifully written as always Raja.

Treat others as you want to be treated yourself and that one life you (we) have will be a fulfilled one.

YOLO so make it the best experience for yourself and those around you :-)

pacifist said...

But one could also work for some charity if one doesn't have thousands. In Europe there's ample opportunity for that.

Being involved physically is much more satisfying and personal.
Of course that's just my opinion :-)

I know people who work hard to earn money, and their earnings are partly for charity.

pacifist said...

PS: Forgot to comment on;

>They just have a trait called selfishness. :-)

I also said that such people are themselves unhappy.

Raja Swaminathan said...

@pacifist, of course one could also work physically for others. That is brilliant! You asked me for an example, so I gave an example. Your example of working physically works fine too. :-)

Raja Swaminathan said...

@pacifist, IMO a lot of selfish people are very happy. Because they've ensured THEIR happiness, whatever happens to others in this world. I'm not judging them - it's just their way of looking at the world. Mainly Me, Myself and I.

Raja Swaminathan said...

@Shalini, well said. It's funny how everybody seems to WANT to be loved and cared for. And yet, it seems difficult sometimes for the same person to love and care for others.

I like your last sentence. "YOLO so make it the best experience for yourself and those around you". :-)

Ava Suri said...

Nice post Raja.

You live only once, conjures up pictures of young people doing wild things. But it means doing things you wish to, trying to be happy with you life.

Me said...

Wow.. such a sweet thought... wanting to make a difference in other people's lives... !!

Anonymous said...

That is definitely a good thought process and it is very inspiring too. This is my first time here.


Suzy said...

A very noble thought - the world needs more people like you.

Dropping by from the YOLO prompt.

Bhavya said...

This is such a refreshing post. If only more n more people would take steps carefully not treading on others' emotions and causing hurt, the world would have been such a nicer place to be :)

Raja Swaminathan said...

@Ava, indeed it is each person's way of looking at what makes him/her happy.

@Me, this is a personal post since every person has his/her own priorities/mindset. One just has to be honest to one's own self.

@Jyothi, thanks. Need to thank this prompt for triggering me to put my thoughts down on this blogpost. :-)

@Suzy, I think there are plenty of well-meaning people out there. Unfortunately, most are caught up with their material lives. :-)

@Bhavya, indeed! Totally agree. We could do with a little more respect and sensitivity towards others. Would indeed make the world a much better place.

Shilpa Garg said...

This is so inspiring! And what a lovely thought ... making a difference in other's life, adding smiles in someone's day... truly noble indeed.

Afshan said...

appreciate your thought Raja :)
Its true that when others happy and if it is because of U it makes U more happy !
Respect your thoughts
GOod lck