If in a rush hour traffic someone is greeted with a series of red lights and blaring horns, and that someone can remain perfectly calm; if that someone can see his friend travel the world and enjoy every wonder it has to offer without being jealous; if that someone can truly love another unconditionally and can always find contentment in just as he is; then that someone is probably a dog, man’s best friend.

We all want such a person in our life who loves us unconditionally, is not jealous of us, finds happiness in our joy, however, we just cannot be that person to someone else.

We hold ourselves to these unrealistic expectations of perfections and then we enter the defense and the blame games. In fact, we start judging and blaming ourselves too for not being able to live up to our own expectations. In other words, we set the bar so high for the people around us and for ourselves that we end up sulking in a bar and the bar tender becomes our one true friend.

Needless to say, but 2020 had been a year of challenges, difficulties, unimaginable losses, grief and pain for every living being on this planet. At the same time, it has been a year of contemplation, higher understanding, knowing the true values and becoming more human for most of us. As we step in 2021, we carry with ourselves such unique experiences, knowledge, feelings, awareness and values that maybe none of our previous generations had. How we use this treasure trove will decide the future of humanity.

One thing that 2020 has taught me is that we are not supposed to be perfect. What is perfect is ultimate and the only thing that is ultimate in life is death. Therefore, life cannot be Perfect, it is not possible. What is possible my friend is transformation. All of us have the capacity to change, learn and grow no matter what circumstances we are in. We can change our state at any given point of time. We can construct, deconstruct and re-construct our own reality any time.

As you know, I am Ritu Agarwal, a psychologist, a mindfulness and holistic coach and a die-hard optimist who truly believes from every cell of my being that life is a beautiful gift and all of us deserve to be happy. I am committed to help you to live your highest potential and support you in building better relationship with your own self and others. Do you think I was always so optimistic? Nothing could be further away from the truth. I too have had my own challenges in life and my own unstable journey full of ups and downs — well that’s the beauty of life, we learn as we grow and we grow as we learn.

I remember the time in my life when I was awfully critical about my own self because I wanted to be perfect. Seeing everyone around me with so many talents, so much knowledge and confidence made me feel so small and in the process all my self-worth and esteem went for a toss. In fact when I started my journey as a counselor, out of habit, I again started focusing on my inadequacies and set unrealistic targets and plans, instead of concentrating on my strengths and abilities. It made me so anxious and exasperated all the time. The work that I took up as my passion was becoming another source of unfulfilled desires for me. I am sure many of you can relate to this.

The more I focused on things I should not do, the more I landed up doing the same things. The more I decided that I will not lose my temper, the more I found myself yelling at people around me. The more I focused on not judging people, the more I did just that. Believe me, my intentions were always good, nevertheless I felt so incomplete and exhausted all the time that all my expressions were exactly the one’s I believed against and unintended.

There had to be a way out of all this, through which I could transform these set patterns and reach my garden of roses, tulips and daffodils. A small moment or a tiny incident can act as the catalyst that leads to a Phoenix moment of transformation for you.

During a visit to one of my closest friend’s house, who knew about my struggles, she took me to her kitchen and starting boiling water in three different bowls. She put some potatoes into one bowl, two eggs in the second and some coffee beans in the third. I asked her if she was making coffee flavored hash browns for me and she started laughing at my cooffeeliciouly crazy question — you see I love coffee. She simply kept on boiling for 15–20 minutes and the fourth thing that started boiling now was my head. She was making such a suspense out of the entire situation.

Finally, after around 25 minutes she showed some empathy towards me and decided to come to the final scene of what felt like a horror movie she was directing for me. She switched off the gas, took the potatoes and eggs out and kept it different plates and finally served the coffee into a cup and kept it on a tray in front of me. Imagine her audacity, even after 25 minutes she did not give the coffee to me and kept it right in front of my nose. She then had the nerve to ask me what I could see in front of me. Feeling all the tirade of emotions inside me, I still maintained my sanity and calmly said that I can see a potato, 2 eggs and a cup of coffee, which I think I will never get. My friend then asked me to touch and feel all 3. Intrigued, and filled with curiosity to see where all this was going, I mashed the soft potato easily with my hands. The egg was naturally hard and I could only manage to make some cracks on its shell. She then asked me to smell the coffee now. As I savored the heavenly aroma of the crushed, infused and boiled coffee beans, the fragrance mesmerized me and transported me to Vienna immediately.

My friend then explained to me that all three items she had boiled, went through the same situation and all three responded differently. The potato, which was extremely hard and strong before, became soft and mushy on boiling. The egg, which was weak and fragile became really hard and dense after boiling. However, the coffee on coming in contact with the hot water did not only transform itself, but also changed the entire water and spread so much fragrance around. All the drama that she did for almost 30 minutes, revealed one of life’s greatest secrets for me.

We may choose to become the potato who breaks down completely on coming in contact with any problem or we may choose to be like the egg and become hard and strong when confronted with difficulty. There is also a third option where we can transform our every struggle and ourselves and spread fragrance and joy in our own life and the environment around us. I choose to be the coffee.

Even now I have my difficult moments and down days — find me someone who doesn’t. However, the transformation that I have created for myself is that now mostly you will find me full of enthusiasm, high on energy and full of delight, wholeheartedly working towards spreading my message and changing lives. Am I more special or gifted than you? Absolutely not. I have just found myself, my true self. I am almost 40 years now and assuming I will live till 80, I am half way home — half way on the adventure of life. I am not willing to waste any more time and even less willing to miss any opportunity to be kind, loving and genuinely help people who need help. I have decided to make my life full of transformations and growth and live each day, moment by moment, mindfully.

I leave you with 5 big questions which I too ask myself daily and I want you to ask yourself mindfully too, everyday –

· Did I live fully?
· Did I love well?
· Did I learn to let go?
· Was I kind today?
· Did I dream richly?

I hope that the answers you arrive at will help you live with more authenticity, passion and joy.

What a beautiful saying it is — “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second best time is today.“

Ritu Agarwal brings you episodes on Mindfulness and Holistic Life. Ritu is a certified Mental Health Practitioner and a Life Coach.