Insight of the Week — How Beautiful Are U?

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Some might think this to be weird. They may say, ‘But we all need appreciation to live and continue our good work and improve upon it. We and our work need to be accepted by others to be meaningful.”

That is surrendering ourselves to others, to others whims and fancies. Is that fair? It only brings unhappiness and stops us from doing good meaningful work. Let me illustrate the point by two stories.

The first story:

A novice went to Abbot Macarius seeking advice about the best way to please the Lord.

– Go to the cemetery and insult the dead – said Macarius.

The brother did as he was told. The following day, he returned to Macarius.

– Did they respond? – asked the abbot.

The novice said no, they didn’t.

– Then go to them and praise them.

The novice obeyed. That same afternoon, he returned to the abbot, who again wished to know whether the dead had responded.

– No – said the novice.

– In order to please the Lord, behave as they do – said Macarius.

“Pay no heed to the insults of men, nor to their praise; in this way, you shall forge your own path.”

Note: It is same concept is preached in India through the example of Shiva living in the ‘samshan’ (the crematorium).

The Second Story

Once upon a time there was a painter who had just completed his course. He took three days to paint a beautiful scenery. He wanted people’s opinion about his caliber and painting skills.

He put his creation at a busy street-crossing. And just down below a board which read -“I have painted this piece. Since I’m new to this profession I might have committed some mistakes in my strokes etc. Please put a cross wherever you see a mistake.”

While he came back in the evening to collect his painting he was completely shattered to see that whole canvass was filled with Xs (crosses) and some people had even written their comments on the painting.

Disheartened and broken completely he ran to his master’s place and burst into tears. The young artist was breathing heavily and master heard him saying, “I’m useless and if this is what I have learnt to paint I’m not worth becoming a painter. People have rejected me completely. I feel like dying”

Master smiled and suggested “My Son, I will prove that you are a great artist and have learnt flawless painting. Do as I say without questioning it. It WILL work.”

Young artist reluctantly agreed and two days later early morning he presented a replica of his earlier painting to his master. Master took that gracefully and smiled.

“Come with me.” master said.

They reached the same street-square early morning and displayed the same painting exactly at the same place. Now master took out another board which read -“Gentlemen, I have painted this piece. Since I’m new to this profession I might have committed some mistakes in my strokes etc. I have put a box with colors and brushes just below. Please do a favor. If you see a mistake, kindly pick up the brush and correct it.”

Master and disciple walked back home. They both visited the place same evening. Young painter was surprised to see that actually there was not a single correction done so far. Next day again they visited and found painting remained untouched. They say the painting was kept there for a month for no correction came in!

“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” -Helen Keller

I agree to what Helen Keller said. Happiness is one such thing — which we can’t see or touch but feel it within our hearts. That is exactly what we mean by living here and now — nothing special but extremely important. 

I leave it to you to form your own perception.

But the important things I want to you to find out are the following:

What stops you from being happy?

Are you too dependent on praise and insult of others for your own happiness?

And I want to end this piece by a question:

Is it time we wake up to review and rethink about present appraisal systems that run in organizations all over the world? Are we making people who contribute their brains and brawns for the society happy enough to be productive?


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