BY Santosh Shrestha
Many of us lack the habit of thinking independently and making decisions based on our own conscience.
"Life is not as you think; life is not as you remember." The poignant and famous song from an old era, sung by the popular singer Tara Devi, is certainly melodious and profound. However, I do not completely agree with its message because I belong to a school of thought that believes the opposite – what you think, you become.
Although the literal meaning of "thought" is related to common ideas and solutions that arise in the mind, it is far more complex and also very useful in life. It is relevant to mention here a question raised by a foreign trainer to hundreds of participants at a business event held in Kathmandu about five years ago. The question was, "Which country has the most self-confident citizens in the world?" None of us mentioned our country, Nepal, but rather countries like the US, China, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, and so on. The trainer had asked the same question in similar programs in many countries. According to him, Americans, Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, and Australians gave the same mixed answers. The difference was that we didn't name our own country, while some of them always mentioned their own country. What is surprising is that when the program was held in North Korea, all the participants mentioned only their own country. When North Koreans were presented as the citizens with the highest level of self-confidence in the world, we felt both surprised and inferior at the same time.
It seems that our inferiority complex and lack of self-confidence can be attributed, to some extent, to our education system and what our ancestors taught us when we were young. From an early age, we were taught that Nepal is a small, poor, and underdeveloped country. This is why we have never dared to compare ourselves with more developed countries in many respects. We believe, or are made to believe, that poverty, illiteracy, disease, suffering, and so on, are our destiny. If we look at the figures, Nepal is the 49th largest in terms of population and 93rd largest by size. Though Nepal may be a medium-sized country, what is really big is the heart of its people. This is what Nepal is known for among the multitude of tourists who visit Nepal every year.
In its own thinking, the lion is the king of the jungle. There are many animals in the forest, like elephants and hippos, which are stronger than a lion. So, how can a lion succeed in ruling the forest? It is the deeply ingrained thought within the lion that makes it believe it is the most powerful animal and rightfully the king of the jungle.
It cannot be overstated that whatever development has taken place in the world is the product of thinking. Scientists have made the unthinkable possible, allowing humanity to set foot on the Moon and even Mars. The way we conduct our daily lives is also a result of our thinking. Everything begins and ends with a thought. From Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Ma to Nepali billionaire businessman Binod Chaudhary, the ability to think innovatively and plan ahead has been the key to their immense success. The common thought among healthy people worldwide is to be happy. If you study deeply, neither excessive wealth nor excellent health can make a person happy. A person is happiest when s/he is content with who s/he is. Being happy or sad depends on each person's own thinking. Many years ago, when I met a religious guru, his words left a lasting impression on me. He always responded to the question, "How are you today?" with an enthusiastic, "I always feel like I'm on top of Mt. Everest!" His positivity was so contagious that anyone in his company would feel on top of the world.
Life is simple, but we often make it needlessly complicated. If thought is the beginning and end of everything, if thought is the root of happiness in life, why shouldn't all of us, regardless of our wealth, health, age, or ethnicity, think of ourselves as happy? If we don't grasp the art of living, we end up in sadness. Just as it is quoted in the Gita, we come to this world empty-handed and we will depart empty-handed. We should recognize that there is nothing worth dying for. We can aptly use the famous example of the glass being half full or half empty. Everything depends on our own thinking. If you can control your thoughts, then happiness is within your grasp.
Now, in the context of recent cricket matches, Nepal has played many highly competitive games against powerful teams like India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, who have been champions of world cricket for a long time. Just recently, we set seven world records in T20 cricket against Mongolia in the Asian Games held in China. So, if you prepare yourself to become a world champion, things will eventually fall into place to make it a reality.
There is hardly a person in our society who does not know or think about the economic recession. We are well aware of the many reasons that have contributed to this recession. Many people attribute it to the Corona pandemic, the 2015 earthquakes, the war between Russia and Ukraine, and ultimately, an unstable government. There is a strong chance that people will also start blaming the ongoing turmoil between Israel and Palestine as one of the latest causes of this recession. This habit of incessant blaming has become ingrained in us. The distortions and problems in the financial sector, especially the cooperative sector, have also been pointed out. However, it cannot be denied that the thinking of all of us, which few among us have felt, is playing a major underlying role in the recession. Many of us lack the habit of thinking independently, forming our own opinions, and making decisions based on our own conscience, without being heavily influenced by what everyone else is saying. As someone wisely said, "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking at all." So let us form our own thoughts and keep them honest and personal, not based on other people's ideas and notions.
Even though we live in a country with immense potential in various sectors, this kind of thinking has made the recession seem like an endless phase. With each new day, thousands of Nepalis are leaving their homeland, carrying their dreams and passports to foreign shores. Many businessmen are devising strategies for survival. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find happiness on the faces of many, except for those who export people (educational consulting and foreign employment agencies). Due to the deteriorating mood of our society, there are reports of doctors being beaten up. It is time for us to change our thinking, and only then will the situation begin to change itself. Let's take advantage of the current situation, where there is sufficient liquidity in the banks, and let's build self-confidence among ourselves to collectively overcome this recession. In a country that can only prosper through agriculture, tourism, and hydropower, if we all work with the right mindset, Nepal has the potential to stand on par with some of the world's most developed and prosperous nations. Let's rethink and start the transformation right away!
(Shrestha is a Communication Expert, a Former President of Advertising Association of Nepal, and the Managing Director of Mars Advertising and Research)