The Two circles of life

Before we delve into understanding the two circles of life, it is very important for me to emphasize the significance of the ideas presented in this post. I strongly believe that a good understanding of the ideas presented below has the power to change anyone’s life considerably. The material that you are going to read below is not a good-concept-to-understand, it has the potential to change your life. Trust me! I use the understanding of the two circles almost every day in my life to make decisions, which accumulate to have a big impact on my life.

After reading this article, you’ll be able to see each aspect of your life in a new light and have the power to steer it in the direction you want. The one idea of two circles presented in this post runs through every thread of your life that if you understand this one idea well, you can sew your life the way you want. Having this understanding in mind, you will have the capability to resurrect broken relationships, revive your career, attract happiness and love into your life, and live the life you always wanted to have.

I know I have made big claims on the utility of the ideas presented in this post. I also understand that you may be skeptical about them. But I think as you read through the article and assimilate how these circles affect each and every aspect of your life, you’ll agree with what I have said so far. Rather, the impact of this understanding of the two circles can be more far-reaching on your life than it has been on my life, given our different life paths.

So, let’s begin with THE TWO CIRCLES OF LIFE.

I just have one request to make before we dive in: Please don’t read this post as you read others i.e. please don’t treat this as another concept to be understood. Read it to gain an understanding that you can apply in your everyday life. The examples given throughout the post will help you connect the idea with your life, but please make an extra effort to introspect and engage with the content. The more you engage with the content and relate it with your personal life, the more you will gain out of this post. Doing so will also enable you to guide different aspects of your life in the way you want.

THE TWO CIRCLES OF LIFE

Life is motion. It is moving and changing every minute, every second. As the theory of relativity says, we are living in an ever-changing NOW. We all are changing in all the different aspects of our lives. Our body is changing every second – millions of new cells are being born every moment, and millions of old cells are dying each moment. Our mind is changing every second – new thoughts are replacing old thoughts, new experiences replacing the memories of older experiences. Our relationships are changing – some are becoming more and more deeper day by day, some are losing their essence day by day. Our career growth is changing – at times, everything goes well, and we are on the path of success, and at other times, things become hard, and we go through a downturn.

If we look closely at any aspect of our life (or even everything around us) be it happiness, health, relationships, career, or intellect, it is changing in some way or the other. As someone famously said,

Change is the only constant in life.

So, change is something that is given. What matters to us is the question:

Is the change that is occurring what I desire or what I despise?

We would like to reverse the change that we despise and accelerate the change that we desire. But how do we do that?

To know “how” , it is required to understand that every change in life follows Newton’s law of inertia i.e. it will keep moving in the same direction unless an external force is applied from outside. For example: if a relationship is going downhill i.e. both parties are withdrawing from the relationship, it will keep going downhill naturally (one person sees that the other has changed and he change himself. The other person sees the changed first person and changes her- or himself even more. Then, the first person looks at that even-more-changed-person and so on. This cycle thus continues), unless an outside event occurs, or one of the persons decides not to reciprocate to the other person’s downslide.

Another example is that when your career is going uphill. When you are doing well in your job, your confidence and interest in the job increases, both of which increase your chances of doing well further.

In both the cases i.e. relationship and career, the change is self-sustaining. But in the former case, it is something that we would despise or not want; in the latter case, the change is something we would desire or want in our life.

We would always prefer the change to occur in the way we want. However, to steer the change in the direction we want, we need to first understand why “change” follows Newtwon’s law of inertia, or in other words, why “change” is self-sustaining.

The answer is that any “change” leads to the creation of a circle, a circle of two or more events, which lead to one another, and thus, sustain the circle. For example: in the case of career going uphill, we have the following very simple circle:

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In addition to confidence, success also leads to even more interest in the job, risk-taking capability, enlarges your social circle, etc. The point is that all of these factors act as input to more success, which leads to even more interest, confidence, etc. The change (success) is self-sustaining since it builds a self-sustaining circle, where two or more factors lead to one another. Of course, there is a probability of an outside event occurring, an event that may disrupt this circle and may even throw you to an opposite circle of lower confidence, and lower success, and so on. But, without any major outside interference, the circle will continue unabated.

Virtuous Circle

The circle of confidence and success, as described above, falls into the realm of Virtuous circles. Virtuous circles are the circles we want in our life.

Vicious Circle

The circle of “I love less” and “She loves even less” i.e. withdrawal in a relationship, falls into the realm of vicious circles. Vicious circles are the circles we don’t want in our life.

Virtuous circle and Vicious circle are the two circles of life, which can be found in all aspects of our life at any point of time. Since everything is changing all the time, it is changing either for our good or for our bad. Since the change is self-sustaining, we are either in a vicious circle or in a virtuous circle. This is applicable to all aspects of life.

EXERCISE

Think and reflect on any two or three aspects of your life be it health, relationship with anyone, success in career or hobby, any goal you set for yourself. Try to identify the different elements which are leading into one another and thus, forming a circle.


The interesting thing is that removing any element from the circle will break the circle, and we will be out of the circle. If we want to get into a circle, focus on the elements that are under our control and soon, we’ll be in a virtuous circle. Entering into and exiting the circles will be covered in detail in the latter sections.

Now, let’s look at how these two circles of life manifest in different aspects of our life.

The Two Circles in real life

Relationships
We have already looked at how vicious circle works in relationships. Let’s revisit that for better clarity.

Let’s think of a relationship between a man and a woman. It is more or less a stable relationship; “stable” does not mean no change since that is impossible; “stable” means the change is very slow or that the opposite changes cancel out each other over time. One day, a thought comes in the mind of the man that the woman doesn’t love her as much she used to do earlier. He agrees with the thought and starts looking for a proof of the same in the woman’s behavior.

A person behaves or reacts in thousand ways to thousand things. Similarly, the woman used to behave in certain ways before and has changed her reactions over time. Now, the man who is looking for a proof of his hypothesis focuses on only those aspects of the woman, which have changed for the worse. Even if nothing has changed for the worse, he’ll more likely interpret any change as change for the worse, because he is looking to prove his hypothesis.

Once he proves his hypothesis to be correct, which he’ll do 99% of the time (given the confirmation bias), he’ll likely adjust his behavior i.e. he’ll start loving/caring less for the woman. We are simplifying the issue here: of course, there exist the possibility of both man and woman talking and ironing out their misunderstanding. However, as we know, this talking out and ironing out of differences does not happen all the times. Relationships do break down.

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Coming back to our case: the man starts caring less for the woman. The woman will realise this sooner or later. Then, seeing that the man has changed, she’ll adjust herself to the new reality and start worrying less about the man. The man will also soon seen an even-more-changed woman and thus, change himself even more. This cycle will go on, till the relationship breaks down. A lot of girlfriend-boyfriend relationships, friendships, blood relationships break down once the people involved fall into this vicious cycle.

On the contrary, we also have virtuous cycles in relationships. These cycles are much more apparent at the time of new relationships. Two people are falling in love. Both people look at each other’s small acts of love and feel loved and reciprocate by loving the other person even more. The other person also sees an increased love and thus, reciprocates by loving even more. This virtuous cycle of more and more love builds the relationship.

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As we understood, change will keep flowing in one direction unless a force is exerted from outside. It means that people in vicious or virtuous cycle will remain in those respective cycles unless an outside even breaks the cycle.

For example: a couple is going through a vicious cycle where they both fight and curse each other every day. The animosity between them is increasing every day. One day, they get to know that one of them has cancer and would survive for only a few months. This is an external event, which may force the two out of their vicious cycle and may even put them in a virtuous cycle, where they both start remembering about their good old days and start loving each other more and more every day.

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Similarly, an external event can also break a virtuous cycle. One can easily think of an example for this case.

We understand that external events can break the circles, but external events are beyond our control. The whole purpose of understanding this idea of two circles of life is that we can see these two circles operating in our lives and enter into more and more virtuous circles and exit more and more vicious circles. So the question is: Is there something in our control that we can use to break the vicious circle described in the relationship above?

The answer is Yes, and we use that tool at times. The tool is “non-reciprocation”. When you don’t reciprocate when in a vicious circle, the circle breaks down. For example: if your partner think you love her less and she has thus changed herself accordingly, you don’t reciprocate by changing yourself. Rather, you may accelerate the breakdown of the vicious circle by loving her even more so that the next time she observes you, she finds only contradictory observations. Against her expectation that you are changing for the worse, she’ll find in many different ways that you are changing for the better. Eventually, she’ll start correcting her expectations and start loving you more. In that case, you’ll be back in the virtuous circle.

Similarly, if you want to enter into a virtuous circle in a relationship, focus on the element that is under your control i.e. “I love more”. Once you start loving more, the other person will gradually observe your behavior and start loving you more. It may take some time for the other person to change, depending on the past of your relationship, but it will eventually happen. Rather, this is the only hope to revive or enliven a relationship again. You start loving the person and then, at some point of time, the other person will reciprocate. At that time, you will be in a virtuous circle.

So, what do we get out of it? The idea is to understand the virtuous or vicious cycles operating around us and then, focus on the parts which are under our control. Then, eliminate the parts in the vicious circles and insert the parts in the virtuous circles. Without the presence of a loop, the vicious circle will break down. In the presence of at least one part, the virtuous circle will have the chance to revive.

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