Just because life is a rat race, do we all have to become rats?

November - 2019
Just because life is a rat race, do we all have to become rats?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                For Members only. For Private Circulation only.

Bombay Chartered Accountants’ Society

Harnessing Talent and Providing Quality Service

Thought Mailer                                                                       Vol. 10 1 No. 04 1 November 2019

CA (Dr) Jalpa G. Shah

Just because life is a rat race,

do we all have to become rats?

I travel to work by car from my residence at Vile Parle West to my office at Andheri East, Chakala. A mere 12 to 15minutes drive on a Sunday morning when all are asleep. But office hours make the drive a good 30 to 35 minutes one. Given the Metro work in progress, our never ending potholed roads and the unrelenting monsoons, the to and fro drive is the most taxing thing I have to face in my entire day.

Each one wants to be the first to reach. No matter where they are going. Humanity comes a poor second. With the increase in the size and cost of cars, our hearts seem to become smaller and more miserly. No one is willing to stop for anyone or anything. If an ambulance tries to get past the unrelenting traffic, there is no dearth of speedsters racing after the ambulance to get ahead and are also keen to overtake it if the traffic permits. One would think that they are related to the pa-tient and are trying to get to the hospital in time.

The other day in a solid traffic jam with the heavens pouring their hearts out, a rickshaw could not restart. The poor lady inside who was getting late for office, got out , opened her umbrella and started walking between the maze of Audis, Mercs Skodas and whatnot. She had to walk in the middle as there were rivers of water on both sides of the road. The minute the signal started, all the cars started honking and sprayed her with water in their rush to beat the signal. The lady drenched, trembling and terrified could just clutch at her purse, Tiffin bag and umbrella and pray that she would survive.

We were mere spectators on the other side of the road. Suddenly a small Maruti hatch back car, already filled with 5 people, stopped. The people inside made room for her and rescued her while the other, practically empty, so called expensive cars sped on by… that to honking as they were holding up the traffic in their rescue mission. This act of humanity by the Maruti driver reaffirms our faith in the human race.

Before becoming cynical about how everyone has become selfish, it would be would help to remember such instances of selflessness which brighten up our day. And yes there are many such untold stories of real life heroes who put humanity above all.
As Mahatma Gandhi said: “You must be the change you wish to see in the World”. If everyone were to just try and do one good deed in a month, it would add up to 12 in a year and multiplied by our population..... We would see a better Mumbai nay a better India and therefore a better world for our future generations.

Does our job have to be only completion of tasks without connecting with the others in this world? Should good only be done by NGOs? Should being no. 1 or being the first at everything be the end result? Should achievements be attained at any cost? After a certain age no one asks if you stood first in KG. No one cares that you came in first to office every day. What matters is whether you touched someone’s life in a positive manner. They don’t need to know your name only that you stood by them in this wonderful journey called life

Yes, life is difficult. Yes, we are all too busy. But a small act of kindness or a few words of encouragement can brighten up someone’s day and maybe influence their lives. Assistance does not always have to be monetary. People today are hungrier for human interaction then actual food. Humanity is the currency that is at a premium and is very short in supply.

As Chanakya says "A man is great by his deeds, not by his birth." But deeds done with the eye on prize are not counted. Many schools promote charitable organiza-tion donation collection drives. This is done with a noble idea as to inculcate the children with the feeling of charity. These drives end up being a farce as the chil-dren collect donation from relatives and friends only and do not really go out and promote the charitable cause. The child collecting the highest donation is normally rewarded with a prize and certificates of merit are handed out to the top collecting students. The end result is only a collection of money not promotion of Charity.

We are all quick to point out that competition is what is killing humanity. But only when we realize that the word we are missing in the English language is the word `Ubantu`. The one word which we need to if we are to grow together. The word Ubantu is a South African Bantu term meaning "humanity." It is often translated as "I am because we are," or "humanity towards others," but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.”

Any selfless act done with no desire for reward or recognition is true humanity. Everyone works to achieve goals and earn monetary rewards. The Law of Karma states that whatever we put out into the Universe comes back to us. To quote

Now as a man is like this or like that,
according as he acts and according as he behaves, so will he be;
a man of good acts will become good, a man of bad acts, bad;
he becomes pure by pure deeds, bad by bad deeds;

And here they say that a person consists of desires,
and as is his desire, so is his will;
and as is his will, so is his deed;
and whatever deed he does, that he will reap.
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 7th Century BCE

Every personal contribution is also a contribution towards the growth of humanity as a whole. If we want to mould the future generations, we need to show them by setting an example for them to follow. It is like telling a young child that reading is beneficial to you. That does not impress the child but if he sees his parents and older siblings reading, they will also inculcate the habit of reading newspapers. We need to show a role model to the younger generations to follow.

Compassion and empathy should not just be words we learn by rote but should be the foundation by which we conduct all our intrapersonal relations. Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help. Altruism, in turn, is the kind, selfless behavior often prompted by feelings of compassion, though one can feel compassion without acting on it, and altruism isn’t always motivated by compassion.

So how do we define Compassion? Compassion goes beyond feelings of sympathy and empathy and puts them into action. People define compassion in different ways. Some believe that showing caring, kindness, or a willingness to help others is compassion. Others believe caring about another person’s happiness like it was your own is the definition of compassion. But there is a deeper definition that we need to understand. True compassion goes beyond the understanding of another person’s suffering. Compassionate people feel compelled to do something to help or relieve the suffering they are confronted with. The word compassion literally means to “suffer together” or “co-suffering.” So, when you feel compassion for those around you, you can’t stand by and watch somebody else suffering. You feel motivated to take action to stop the pain or help out without being asked to. You don’t need to wait for a crisis to practice compassion, either. Try smiling at a stranger today.

Compassionate acts don’t need to be grand shows of generosity. Nor do they need to be exclusively for someone who is in pain. Making eye contact and keeping a non-judgmental attitude when listening to someone speaks is a true act of compassion. Even a small thing like asking your Taxi or Auto driver how their day is going is an act of compassion. These small acts connect you to other people and let them know that they are important. You’re letting them know that you see and ap-preciate them. You can consciously practice compassion. It’s a personal choice, and if you do it often enough, it eventually becomes a part of who you are. If you want to create a world of caring and kindness, you need to put it out in the world first. Find ways to practice acts of compassion in your daily life. Compassionate acts don’t need to be grand gestures. Every little deed counts. Eventually each and every, small or large deed turns that regular practice into a habit.

There are many different ways to show compassion for others; the important thing is that it comes from your heart. Ignore differences and find common grounds to help you relate to what someone else is going through. Whether you’re interacting with a friend, colleague, peer, stranger, or family member, you can demonstrate your compassion by a simple act of giving them you full attention by switching off your cell during your interaction.

Scientific research into the measurable benefits of compassion is yet at a very early stage. Preliminary findings however suggest that being compassionate can improve health, well-being, and relationships. Many scientists believe that compassion may even be vital to the survival of our species, and they’re finding that its advantages may also be increased through targeted exercises and practice. Compassion training programs, such as those out of Emory University and Stanford University, are revealing how we can boost feelings of compassion in ourselves and others. Here are some of the best tips to emerge out of those programs, as well as other research.

1. Look for common ground: Seeing yourself as similar to others increases feelings of compassion. A recent study shows that something as simple as tapping your fingers to the same rhythm with a stranger increases compassionate behavior.

2. Calm your inner worrier: When we let our mind run wild with fear in response to someone else’s pain (e.g., What if that happens to me?), we inhibit the biological systems that enable compassion

3. Communicate Verbally and Non-verbally: Make eye contact, keep your body turned toward the person speaking, and listen quietly. You might also practice active listening, which involves paraphrasing what you’ve just heard, and ask open-ended questions to send the message that you’re ready to hear more.

4. Encourage cooperation, not competition: A seminal study showed that describing a game as a “Community Game” led players to cooperate and share a reward evenly; describing the same game as a “Wall Street Game” made the players more cutthroat and less honest. This is a valuable lesson for teachers, who can promote cooperative learning in the classroom.

5. See people as individuals: When presented with an appeal from an anti-hunger charity, people were more likely to give money after reading about a starving girl than after reading statistics on starvation—even when those statistics were combined with the girl’s story.

6. Don’t play the blame game: When we blame others for their misfortune, we feel less tenderness and concern toward them.

7. Respect your inner hero: When we think we’re capable of making a difference, we’re less likely to curb our compassion.

8. Encourage Others: When we praise and encourage others we can sometimes kick-start a positive spiral of behavior in that person. Positive reinforcement is always helpful to a person who is thinking they are either stuck or will never get out of the circumstances they are in at that moment.

9. Notice and savor how good it feels to be compassionate. Studies have shown that practicing compassion and engaging in compassionate action bolsters brain activity in areas that signal reward.

10. To cultivate compassion in kids, start by modeling kindness: Research suggests compassion is contagious, so if you want to help compassion spread in the next generation of young men and women, lead by example.

11. Curb inequality: Research suggests that as people feel a greater sense of status over others, they feel less compassion.

12. Show Kindness: Give your kindness away without expecting anything back. Kindness is contagious.

13. Do not act like a sponge: When we completely take on other people’s suffering as our own, we risk feeling personally distressed, threatened, and over-whelmed; in some cases, this can even lead to burnout. Instead, try to be receptive to other people’s feelings without adopting those feelings as your own.

Let us all grow together and treat each and everyone with love and respect. The lesson No 1 in schools; as in life; should not be who comes first, but that all need to come together as one. Not every human needs to be a rat in this rat race of ours, here’s a big thank you to the human beings who show humanity and refuse to become a mere participant in the race of life.



About: CA (Dr) Jalpa G. Shah,

CA (Dr) Jalpa Gautam Shah is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. She has completed her graduation in the Commerce stream from Sydenham College of Commerce & Economics. She is a partner in Gautam Shah & Associates, Chartered Accountants and has now been in practice for the last 17 years. She also has a degree in General Laws from Government Law College. She has completed her Doctorial thesis in Business Finance on the topic of “Financial Management of Business Outsourcing; Challenges and Opportunities” from Mumbai University. She has spent more than 10 years with three Foreign Banks in In-dia in various capacities namely Deutsche Bank AG, Dresdner Bank AG and lastly as Treasury Back Office Manager in Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corpora-tion (HSBC). Her area of expertise is in the fields of Banking, legal documentation and Investment & Management Consultancy.

He can be contacted at : ca.jalpashah@gmail.com


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