Bookshelf Update: Everyday Dharma

I read an awesome book recently. I picked it up at my local library and quite by chance, I would add. Many years ago there used to be a bookstore, a branch of Borders, within a mile of our house. It was my favorite place to spend Sunday afternoons.. browsing through the artfully curated tables of books and pre-reading many of them in a comfy leather chair. Borders closed all their physical stores since then. I still miss the convenience and experience of it so much! I feel a well stocked local library is the next best thing. What I like the most about our library (and Borders!) is the serendipity of finding a book you wouldn't have known, let alone picked otherwise and once in a while feeling like you found a true gem!

This is how I feel about this book, Everyday Dharma: 8 essential practices for finding joy in everything you do by Suneel Gupta. I usually don't go for any self-help books, but something about the book and the summary (specifically it's call-out to arrival fallacy - which is something I have felt over and over again) caught my attention and I checked out on a whim. I can honestly say this is the best non-fiction I have read to date this year!

The author states that we are conditioned to believe in "arrival fallacy" - a belief that once we achieve the next step, whether that's a promotion, more money, buying a house etc etc, we will be happy. However, once the moment arrives, the happiness is short-lived and soon we find ourselves chasing the next moment with the same promise. Over time it leads to burn-out, stress coupled with realization that outer success alone (wealth, job, social standing) does rarely lead to inner success (happiness, fulfillment, well-being). 

So what does? Following your dharma or your calling/purpose -- dharma is the essence of who you are. It's the inner flame that can lite up the world around you or if ignored, can burn a hole inside you. I'll be honest it took me a while and a lot of self-reflection to think through what my dharma is.. but this is where the book really helps. Through simple yet touching stories, the author walks through 8 ways to identify what your dharma is, how to practice it in everyday life, and how to achieve fulfillment by living your purpose. 

The author then talks through 8 elements of practicing your dharma:

  1. Sukha - practical tools to uncover your essence. It's already inside you, you just need to find ways to remove layers hiding it - the layers can be societal expectations, judgement, other people's priorities. The author gives excellent "chisels" to help us remove the layers and find our dharma.
  2. Bhakti - full-hearted (vs full-time!) devotion to dharma.. how duty can help you practice your dharma and vice versa. 
  3. Prana - energy over time. How much energy you bring to a task that practices your purpose is more important than how much time. Embrace an energy scheduling mindset versus time scheduling mindset. 
  4. Upekha - finding comfort in the discomfort around you. Embrace outside triggers with an inner evenness
  5. Leela - when you are in the state of Leela, your work becomes play and play becomes work.
  6. Seva - forget yourself to find others.
  7. Tula - balance, an intersection of letting go vs taking charge. Both are important, so how do you balance them both? Learn to celebrate the beauty of brokenness/failures.. reduce the need to control the situations and let serendipity take course.
  8. Kriya - action leads to courage. Even if you can't see the full strategy ahead, take the first step. When making decisions that are taking longer, think if they are one-way doors vs two-way doors. 
Each section is filled with heart-warming stories and practical tips. One of the most touching quote for me was this: "the meaning of the life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away!" :)

The author says his dharma was story-telling and you can tell, he is an exceptionally good story-teller! The book is incredibly catchy, honest, the author comes across as very authentic and does not hide his failures or vulnerabilities, which I really appreciated.

Overall, 5 stars for me. This is not a book I would have ordered or read otherwise, but is a gem that will stay with me forever. ❤