Just a few weeks ago, it dawned upon me that flipping my view on my father’s experience with people by 180 degrees could bring me a lot of joy and peace as I get older.
My dad was extremely devoted to educating his children and even sacrificed his career for us. With his coaching, my brother and I were both able to gain admission into one the most prestigious educational institutions in India, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), and then come to the United States for graduate studies with scholarships. This took place in the early 80’s when not a whole lot of kids from India would be presented with such an opportunity.
Given his track record, many parents would come home to seek his advice and guidance to coach their children to get into an IIT or apply for a scholarship to an US university. My father would take a great deal of interest and care to help each and everyone who stopped by at our home and would enjoy sharing his wisdom freely.
Interestingly, as time went by and he grew older, less and less folks visited our home to meet with him. And this happened with his health failing when he really wanted to spend more time with people. Unfortunately, it led him to develop a feeling that people will only pay attention to you when you are helpful. This opinion about people began to bother him and leave a bad taste in his mouth.
However, as more people had their kids get into good schools, go to the US and with the advent of the Internet, the knowledge that my father had carefully curated was available from many other sources. It was really sad to watch him feel unloved and alone.
It is again with gratitude that I share what I was able to learn based on my dad’s personal perspective about people. Recently, I started to entertain the thought that it is normal for people to pay more attention to those who are helpful to them. Once I began to accept it as the way people operate, the negativity surrounding the issue began to fade away. The more I accepted it, the more peace I began to enjoy.
Thanks to my Dad, I now have another life lesson learned and to share with you — “Focus on being helpful and be prepared that you may not get the attention that you once attracted when you stop being useful to others. Reinvent yourself to stay relevant, it’s the key.”
Happy Father’s Day!