By Kabir Vajpeyi and Jacquelyn Salvador
There are moments in life when we become acutely, almost obsessively focused on what we’re doing. This focus can be useful for making progress in specific areas, but it can also cause us to forget about the context and other areas that are just as important. This is the issue Kabir Vajpeyi ran into when he became enveloped by his work with learning and child development. He’d been neglecting the human element — both within himself and for others. Slowly but surely, the pressure that he put on himself began to make it difficult to relate to people, and left him feeling rushed and worn down.
“If someone said they weren’t feeling well, my thought wasn’t how to take care of them,” Kabir explains, “it was ‘who’s going to finish this job.’”
His self-imposed drive to work and make progress also prevented him from spending time and connecting with his family. He worked late, and he noticed his personality taking a turn for the worse as the demand increased and took a toll on his energy and emotions. It was Kabir’s wife who finally expressed her mounting concerns for his wellbeing, which led to Kabir’s participation in The Wellbeing Project. Within the program’s community of support and wellness-centered retreats for entrepreneurs and changemakers, Kabir came face-to-face with the importance of taking care of his own wellbeing. He realized that it was critical in order to make a greater impact through his work.
“I was spending something so precious and tender, rather ruthlessly – life.
To me, the well-being journey has been literally a poignant, beautiful pause. A pause to stay still, sit down, look inside, feel, become aware and nourish my inner-being. And moving on with heightened self-awareness, repose and quietude, profoundly more sensitivity and responsiveness in life.
It made me focus on myself, without any guilt. I understood that working on self is not being self-centric. In fact, it is the most unique and beautiful gift to oneself and everyone around.
Earlier my work was my only identity. Now, this is no longer true. Now, at first, I am human being – a son, a brother, a classmate, a husband, a father…a friend.
Earlier my relationship with everyone was largely functional or work-centric. I would find myself helpless and even hopeless on matters related to relationship. With uncompromising support of some of the most outstanding resource persons at the Well-being project, I was able to work on almost all my significant relationships – with my own self, my attitudes, with my immediate and larger family, my friends, my neighbours, my colleagues at work, my work.
Later, on my own, I worked with my clients and everyone whom I meet every day. I discovered the value of being humane, kind and compassionate with everyone. I now practice it. It has made a huge difference in the quality of my relationships with everyone. This is now positively impacting not just me, but with almost everyone whom I am engaging at personal, social or professional level.
I discovered that I cannot change the world at all. Unless I change, nothing will change around me. I must be able to take responsibility and not blame others. To begin with, the one thing I can immediately change is, how I respond to what is going on around me. Matters may not have changed much in substance around me, but now, rather than reacting, I am able to sensitively contemplate and respond to it. I have become better at it. This has reduced my stress and anxiety substantially and I am able to respond to most difficult situations rather calmly – with greater sensitivity and patience.
I took upon a meditation practice and this has qualitatively changed the way now I feel and think. This has fundamentally changed my state from being anxious and stressed to being aware and peaceful. It has also changed how I engage with different people; how I work – how I am able to find solutions, contemplate and deliver them to the society and the government.
I realized that well-being is not just for me. It is everyone, everywhere in the nature. I cannot keep it to myself. If I am able to experience and live it, so could everyone around me too. I am striving for this at my own level.
I know that it’s a journey worth continuing…”
In looking back, one of the most interesting revelations Kabir had from The Wellbeing Project was that the greatest work and progress was made not by focusing on the work itself, but by shifting toward a focus on the participant’s deeper needs and elements. In fact, even though he and the other participants were all deeply involved in and committed to their work, they rarely ever talked about work during their participation in The Wellbeing Project. That’s what created such a nurturing atmosphere for change and growth. The ability to slow down and really focus on the human element created a powerful foundational shift within Kabir. He’s now seen firsthand the importance of inner wellbeing, which enables us to do our greatest good. That element has created positive effects in his personal emotions, his relationships, his work interactions and his overall work.
Kabir is now a strong advocate of taking action to set the process of wellbeing into motion, whenever and wherever we notice that need. “You don’t need to first burn out and then get into [wellbeing],” Kabir offers as encouragement, “whenever you realize its significance, that’s when to start realizing who you are, what is inside you, what you can offer.”