Self Realization and  Philautia

Self Realization and Philautia

Sometimes self-realization happens in the most unexpected of places. The reunion of the MBA batch of 1997, and a near-death experience, changed my outlook on life.

Who would have thought Meera, the recluse in the class back then, would take pains to connect individually with the entire batch. But I am glad she did, and so we reconnected. All of us agreed that a reunion was overdue. The majority wanted it over the weekend without family or children. We decided to meet in a sprawling property in Pune.

I drove down with an inflated feeling of self-worth. Coming from a lower-middle-class background, I had risen to a senior position in a Bank and acquired a three-bedroom flat in Mumbai. How could I miss the chance to show off my recently acquired BMW?

My inflated ego came crashing down when I met my batch mates. Ravi, a backbencher I had written off, was an entrepreneur, making millions. Mohit, the stutterer with low self-confidence, was a faculty in one of the IIMs. Kavitha, who always approached me for notes, ran a multi-branch coaching school. And the list went on. I was envious; I wasn’t happy with myself and my achievements. I returned with the urge to do more. It made me angry and irritable, causing anxiety and stress to shoot up to an all-time high.

To top it all, I suffered a heart attack a few days later. I was lucky that I reached a hospital in time. I was diagnosed with 90% blockage; bypass surgery saved my life. During the recovery period, I paused for the first time in years. 

It was time for introspection. I realized I had been running a rat race, and in the process, I had forgotten to care for my health, smile, and enjoy the small pleasures that came along the way. I had forgotten to live. I was thankful for the second chance, and I meant to live it well. 

Based on my experience, I wrote down the causes of my troubles and the life lessons I learned in the process. I came up with the following: 

  1. Life is unpredictable; live like there is no tomorrow. 
  2. There is no excuse for poor health. Keep fit.
  3. Time is limited, but it is at your disposal. Choose wisely. Set aside time to do your favorite things.
  4. You are responsible for your life. 
  5. Trust your inner voice. Slow down before it is too late.
  6. Don’t be afraid to make choices, even if they are life-changing.
  7. Societal standards of success do not determine self-worth. 
  8. Accept yourself with your strengths and flaws.
  9. Comparison leads to envy and stress.
  10. Materialistic things never give lasting happiness; happiness is internal; it is a state of mind. 

When I read through, I had a moment of epiphany. I had listed the ways to a better life. I realized self-love was the solution to my problems. I resolved to practice Philautia.
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