My twin sister just wrote this post on her blog about the advice our Dad gave us while growing up and I’ve chosen to re-post it here. I’ve had the chance to re-hear much of this advice while I’ve lived in Las Vegas with my parents the last couple of months. I was even around during Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, in October and was able to re-connect with some of the beautiful traditions of my Indian heritage. I’ve included photos from that evening in this post.
Written by Neeta Jain, Photos by Neelu Jain
My Dad is a wise-guy. He likes jokes of any kind. The corny ones go over well. He’s also a very wise guy. He would get a kick out of the double meaning.
He’s taught me a lot over the years like how to make really good Indian style scrambled eggs for Sunday brunch with key ingredients of cumin, coriander, tomatoes, onions, and serrano peppers- the same stuff you can get on the street corner in Delhi without the E. coli. He also has a lot of ideas on how to lead a happy, fulfilling life.
The first thing he likes to talk about is the acronym KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. In spite of the acronym, he has an ability to listen to an emotionally complex problem, understand it, restate it in a couple of sentences, and then share some golden pots of wisdom.
The next thing he’ll share is his concept of “Three Million.” If you have your mental health, you have one million. If you have your physical health, you have two million, If you have a million dollars in the bank to top it off, you’ve got it made. Granted, I think he came up with this in the 80s so we still need to account for inflation. But, you get the point.
What I have been increasingly impressed by is his concept of the “Seven Facets of Life.” He lists these in order of importance:
The first facet is self. Nobody comes into this inner circle. It is you and you alone. You decide what your personal space is like. You chose how to be. You choose how to act, think, eat, and drink. You chose whether or not to exercise or to eat french fries every day. It is what you come into this world with and what you leave this world with. It is your DNA. Most importantly, it is up to you to take care of yourself. That’s the first step. First you take care of yourself and then you can think about the rest. Easier said than done.
The second facet is family. After taking care of yourself, look to care for your family.
The third facet is your job. When you are young, this is your education which leads to your profession. This is how you make a living in the world. It is an acknowledgement that money is important and makes the world go round.
The next facet is your social circle. Everybody needs to have fun, change the scenery, escape for a time from whatever is driving them crazy (i.e. their family), and have a few laughs. For me it is fascinating to learn social scientists are finding personal happiness is determined by the abundance of an individual’s personal relationships (Joshua Wolf Shenk, http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200906/happiness).
The fifth facet is culture. Dad is specific to mention that your culture is influenced by your given city and country at a particular time. In the same sentence, he cites examples in our lives as Diwali (Indian Festival of Lights), Thanksgiving, Labor Day, and BBQ tailgates before football games. It is a diverse and unique world we live in. Fortunately, sometimes we outgrow the culture and the fashion styles that accompany them. I have really curly hair and still, in the seventh grade, I had a perm. The 80s struck again.
The sixth facet is religion. I certainly recognize not everybody needs to believe in God and that is, of course, just fine. I am sharing Dad’s unadulterated version of the Seven Facets. Many highways lead to God. Often we are born into whatever highway we will initially follow and be culturally enriched by. He feels faith is important because it helps you be strong. When life is tough, it gives you the strength to pick up the pieces and move on. It can give you self-esteem and help you believe in yourself when the world is merciless.
The seventh facet is spirituality. He thinks spirituality is clearly distinct from religion. Religion is a way of life (i.e. the Ten Commandments). Spirituality helps answer the question of what happens after this life (if you believe in something after this life). Spirituality is way beyond what happens in this life.
Dad’s philosophies have given me insight, solace, and guidance over the years. His structures bring a loose order to my chaos and help me make sense of it. They are another way to look at the world, and in the richness of views that our unique and diverse world nourishes, may we find our own journey. Maybe they will help you too.