We all want change – no one wants status quo. I work towards a goal in the hope that the change will make things happier for me, give me greater security. In the process, we are dealing with two elements – (i) “I” the individual, and (ii) Everything else (which we may call Non-I). Which one do I want to change? I or, the Non-I? 

Let us examine a situation where I want to change the I. I am born dark skinned. There seems to be a general feeling in the society I live in that lighter skin is better. So I feel limited by my skin hue. (Marketers recognise this feeling – indeed fuel it — and have grown a multi-Crore industry around it) 

Dabs of powder to cover the exposed portions of the skin sometimes produces disastrous results. I try all kinds of creams and lotions, spending money I can ill afford. Even if others appreciate the superficial change (and say ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at a party — but say different things when they are talking among themselves!), my knowledge of my limitation continues to be there; that the skin is what it was, only now covered up for the external world. In reality I have not changed anything. The only way to deal with this without getting disturbed is to accept what is given and not be unduly perturbed by it, despite what the society might say.

(All changes may not be so. A person born sickly could improve, through good diet and exercise. Similarly, a person not endowed with a musical voice could, through effort, train the voice to be better. These are good)

The more common problem is that I want the Non-I – another person, an object or a situation — to change to suit what I think is my requirement. Let us look at a common example.

A man says, “My wife complains that I don’t give her anything. Only two years ago, I gave her an expensive diamond ring” The counsellor asks, “So you want her to change? You think that will make you happier?” 

“Yes. Stop complaining”

“Ah, but that is the nature of a woman. Anything you give her has a shelf life. You want her to be a woman, right? Or like in the movie My Fair Lady, are you saying, ‘Why can’t she be more like a man?’”

“I can’t keep buying her diamond rings every day!”

“May be not. But you can buy her a bunch of flowers; bring home tickets for a play; take her out to a romantic dinner…… Each has a shelf life as far as she is concerned”

“That is not my nature. Do I need to change myself?”

“You started this conversation because you are unhappy and want to change that, right? Are you asking her to be less of a woman? Is that what you want? Or, do things that she could appreciate, even if it does not come easily to you? If you are accommodative of her nature and therefore her needs, nothing needs to change!”

Happiness can come only from within oneself, not so much from anything external. Similarly, security can come only from feeling secure in oneself, not from any crutches. 

Think about it.