On Life Skills and Spirituality

Posted on July 24, 2010


Every once in a while, we all go into the “Why is this happening to me” mode. And self pity or anger at the situation never helped anyone.

Yesterday while working on the life skills programme that I am currently associated with at Aparajitha Foundations, a line came forth a couple of time – “Focus on asking the right questions”. The term “Life Skills” has been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as ‘the abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.’  UNICEF defines life skills-based education as basically being a behaviour change or behaviour development approach designed to address a balance of three areas:  Knowledge, Attitude and Skills.

I would like to see Roberto. And soon. May be tomorrow. But the truth is it is not going to happen. I saw him for a month in the summer and now he is spending his break with his family in Alaska. There is no scope for me to see him before December. And that frustrates me everyday. I pray to God furiously that I get to see him soon. And I feel really frustrated as it becomes clearer and clearer that I am not going to see him before December. I get angry with God and rave and rant. But of course, nothing changes. When did God ever change someone’s life situations just because she was shouted at?

So life is hard. Being lonely and prayers going unanswered can be frustrating for anyone!  And then this morning, it came to me like a bolt of lightning. I was praying for the wrong thing. I was praying for a way to see Roberto before December, when I should have been praying for ways to meet new people, doing fun things and having time pass quickly.

And as I was praying for the wrong thing, I realised that I was missing out on appreciating so many things that ARE going my way. For e.g. I joined the gym and I got a great deal on the membership! It’s the best gym in town and I paid like 6 months fees, for the entire year! No, not because the gym liked my dedication to fitness…I had almost paid the 6 months fees when I met someone who was looking to give up their membership for the year. And he had got the deal on “Father’s Day” which is why it was so low!

I also made two new friends. One of them is this really nice girl introduced to me by a common friend. She’s single, lives realllly close by AND she goes to the same gym! In fact, she has been going for a few months and pushes me to get better at what I am doing! She seems to like hanging out with me as much I like to hang out with her. So well, it’s not all that bad. The other is one of Roberto’s school friends. He is just the sweetest guy I have met. Very simple, but very funny and really adventurous.

Moral of the Story – Ask the right questions. Don’t ask “Why is this happening to me?” Ask, “What can I do to get rid of this feeling?” Or even, “What can I do to resolve the situation?” Or simply, “How can I make myself feel better?”

I know a lot of people disappointed with God. I am. But that’s because I always pray for things or situations to be resolved. E.g. God, heal my mom and maker her well. God please make X love me. God please make Roberto appear out of thin air. And as you may have guessed, failed each time. It made me bitter too. I think I should have said, “God, I pray for strength to care for my mother to the best of my abilities. Please let her feel no pain. Take care of me and guide me.” OR “God, may I find the right person for me. I trust that you will bring me to the best spouse.” OR “God, give me a friend so that I wouldn’t feel as lonely. Help me to learn how I can spend my time constructively.”

So you see Life Skills and spirituality are related. When we say, “Why did this happen to me?”, it is self pity. When we say, “What can I do about it?”, it is adaptability. In the same way, “God helps those who helps themselves.” – This proverb is probably more true than any of us imagined. If we think about what WE can DO to help ourselves, the strength will come in automatically.

And I as I realised this…I also discovered…that the things I actually need, I already have. Each situation in life has taught me something. It’s been really hard and sometimes I didn’t understand how the situation helped, but it did. For me, the realisation of these things is the KNOWLEDGE, the willingness to persevere is the ATTITUDE and with constant practice, I will develop the SKILL. By reading this post, you are at the Knowledge phase. It’s your choice to proceed.

I pray for strength to carry on. Hope to persevere and inspiration to be able to describe the journey to those who need it.

Posted in: attitude