Tag Archives: life

The meaning of life…from real world examples

I’m back in the UK after spending almost three weeks travelling with friends around the Far East and Australasia.

I wanted to meet as many people as possible from as far and varied backgrounds as possible to try to understand what happiness and the reason for our existence means to them.

I’ve come back a completely renewed man, with a very different perspective on life.

The journey started in Bangkok, Thailand. The hustle and bustle of the city which is full of organised chaos is enough to leave anyone drained.


The rich-poor divide was the unpleasant side of Thailand but one evening I witnessed something that made me stop and think.  In one of the grand shopping malls I heard a man say ‘excuse me’ in a Thai accent as he came up behind me. He was a shop worker, dressed in torn trousers and white short sleeve shirt that had been covered in dirt and grease. He wheeled out a cart of cardboard boxes whistling a song as loud as he could whilst pushing the cart as if you gave a kid a new toy car to play with. I was drawn to his mannerism. I couldn’t help but watch and smile as he zipped in and out of the crowd. His happiness was contagious. It left me with a realisation that happiness really is a state of mind. Can you remember the last time you whistled like that on your way to work..?


Being alive really is having gratitude for everything we have. Live free like a child again daily, not afraid of what people may think.  Imagine not living being anxious about the future or worried about the past. Then we can actually enjoy what we are doing when we are doing it.

The next stop was Auckland, New Zealand. It happened to be the country’s 175th birthday, so we joined in with the celebrations by the harbour. Resembling a big city, we soon left, heading towards Rotarua, a more remote town in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand.


This place was filled with stunning natural beauty, geysers that shot up natural spring waters, and lakes omitting steam smelling of sulphur from its rich volcanic history. Green lakes, red lakes, yellow lakes, I’d never witnessed anything like it. I was shaken by the fact that there is a whole world out there where our science and technology is no where near as complex and articulate as nature.  And it exists. As proven recently with the discovery of Limpet teeth. I can’t now help but think every day when I am sat in front of my computer screen, there are natural miracles happening every second in the world simultaneously.


I made a friend from Brazil on the bus on the way back from a tour. He was travelling alone and we got talking about life. He was a forensic detective in Brazil and was studying at a University near Auckland. But he told me that was just an excuse. The real truth was that he wanted to get away from Brazil and the people. It left me thinking. How can someone who was brought up in his country, the same demographics, culture and heritage, feel like he wants to get away from those same people? Surely those people must provide the greatest comfort? But this clearly was not the case. I felt sad for him initially but then proud of the bravery he had taken upon himself to uproot and explore the world.

To really feel alive, I realised, I need to really go out and experience the world. The box we create for ourselves of the country or town we live in or the people that surround us does not have to be ‘life’. Step out of that box and you may find your real home.

I was completely fascinated by the Maori history and attended a show. There were around 100 plus guests and as part of the fun we were asked if anyone would like to be the Chief. My hand shot up! I was tasked to meet the ‘real’ chief of Maori tribe, understand their traditions and prepare a speech that will win the heart of the Chief so we can share their food. The significance of the tattoos soon became apparent. Each tattoo had a meaning and most represented real life animals. For example, on the legs, the warriors would have engraved a picture of a hammer head shark. In the wild the hammer head shark is known to keep battling with no retaliation until it either wins or dies. It was interesting to see as humans we think we are the most advanced of all species. However, true tribes living with nature, aspire to the natural qualities of wild animals. An elephant can not separate sugar from sand but the ‘powerless’ ant was given the power to do so.  I walked away with great respect for all creatures, each exhibiting a character we as humans can only admire.


Being alive is actaully having respect for all things. Whether great or small, human or animal. The world seems a lot more stress free when you live with humility. This opens us to learn from everyone and everything without our ego getting in the way. I’d rather live this way.

In Queenstown, in the South Island of New Zealand, the natural mountain ranges looked almost unreal. We stayed in a  wool shed, at the foot of some mountain ranges where you can hear nothing but nature. The numerous stars in the sky remind you of your insignificance in the grand scheme of things.


We took a single propeller plane through the mountain ranges, watching as spring water ran down the side, creating natural waterfalls.


Getting on a boat, hovering past sun bathing sea lions, we sat literally behind a waterfall amazed at the scary power of this natural eco system.


Later one evening, we had dinner with an engineer who built the second largest bungee jump in the world. He was in the process of building his own eco friendly home.  Together with his partner, they told us how they know what the rat race world is like, but they actively choose not to be part of it. “In Queenstown”, they went on tell us, “respect and status are not dependent on the car you drive or the size of your house, but rather on how much you have achieved of your true passion in life”. Respect is given if you snowboard down a new range or climb to the top of a certain mountain or become the greatest skier/surfer/rugby player. Not for the fame or money it will bring but because there is genuine enjoyment from doing it.

I realised living so you feel ‘alive’ is following your true passion. It is doing what you were created for. When you align yourself to what you actually enjoy doing, life seems a lot different. The mind does not think of extra hours of work but as an opportunity to learn more.

Seeing the city life in Sydney for a few nights, we saw the huge contrast in peoples mentality in a metropolis. But I learnt something about myself. I was offered the chance to go on a sailing boat. Not being a strong swimmer, this was not something I was comfortable with. Especially when it was in Bull Shark infested waters. But because I was not comfortable made me want to do it even more. I’m glad I did.


Being alive is playing the ‘Yes’ game. When there is an opportunity to do something…say yes! Only think about how uncomfortable it makes you after you have committed. Then there is no choice but to do it! You will learn more from an uncomfortable situation than a comfortable one.

Travelling to Hong Kong was a completely different experience. The fusion of so many different cultures and variety of people, all living in peace. The efficiency of the city and the use of space was something a lot countries will have an overwhelming feeling of reverence for. On the last night I made a friend who had graduated from university in the UK and travelled to Hong Kong in search of a new life. After constant job rejection and running out of savings he ended up sleeping on the streets. His grandparents then sent him weekly deposits so he could at least live in a hostel. But he refused to come home and kept his faith. He didn’t give up. When I met him he was currently working as a junior architect, taken under the wing of senior architect boss who met him and heard his story and passion for living in Hong Kong. He was loving life and more than anything proved he had achieved where everyone else thought he would fail. I found his story of self belief and confidence hugely inspirational.

Dream not to escape reality but to create reality. With hard work and determination it can will happen.


I’m grateful for all those people and experiences that opened my eyes to the real world, having been cushioned in the cocoon we build for ourselves.

The test comes in the application of these lessons but the application now for me is no longer a choice, but a necessity.

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Be honest, are you transparent?

Last week I sold my car by advertising it as a private sale.

Two brothers turned up to view it. They were the first and were clearly very keen having asked for my assurance on many occasions on the phone that I will not sell the car until they came to see it.

In fact, they were so keen that I actually started to question the price I had advertised it for(!).

They kicked the tyres and we took it for a test drive. I knew there were certain things that already required repair. I also knew they probably would not pick up on these points.

If I told them, what if they were no longer interested in purchasing the car? Should I tell them, or wait to be asked? If they suspect the faults I will definitely be honest, that’s not lying right?

Honesty is being free of deceit; truthful and sincere when you are asked.

Transparency is being free of deceit; truthful and sincere before you are asked.

I know honesty can also mean being honest, before you are asked. But have you ever thought just how powerful transparency actually is?

The two brothers ended up buying the car, despite me telling them of the faults. Why?

When I told them about the faults quite openly, I empowered them. They had information they felt they didn’t have and were likely not to have.

When I am honest reactively, I know this builds trust. But leaves people questioning, why did I have to ask? What else do I not know?

The word ‘builds’ by itself implies it is not yet built.

When I am honest proactively i.e. transparent, trust goes a longer way to being built.

The same applies to companies. Some companies were selling Payment Protection Insurance (“PPI”) to customers who had already retired! How can this even make sense! They were sold an insurance product they would never make a claim on. These customers never asked the loan providers the question of whether they needed PPI and so they were sold it, bundled with the monthly repayments of the loan.

If a customer had asked if they needed PPI on their loan, in some cases customers were blatantly lied to. Some other loan providers were honest at that point and did not sell it. But the question had to be asked. Is this honesty?

What if companies were actually transparent? What if they said, hey, we could make money by selling you this product, but you know what, you’re not going to get much value from it so we would rather not. What happens?

What happens is you get trust from your customers, quickly.

In both our work and private lives, we should realise that being transparent is the highest level of honesty.

This highest level of honesty brings the highest level of trust.

And the highest level of trust in turn brings the highest level of loyalty.

Which business or individual would not want that?

I’ll let you know when I’m selling my next car…

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One of the biggest barriers in our lives that stops our personal growth is fear.

When I say this, you may agree. Or you may be thinking you don’t have any fears. This is is true when you know you are conversing with others. Sit in a room and have this conversation with yourself and ask yourself “What do I fear about the future?”.

A myriad of answers will come through your mind. From career, relationships, family or just is life going the way you planned. Will I get that job position I always wanted?  Will I ever meet the right person? Will I have enough money to pay my bills? Will I ever buy a house or be financially stable to have kids? Heck even if none of these, have I done enough good in my life?

Truth is, we all have some type of fear.

So why does this happen? There are two reasons.

1. Uncertainty. About our own abilities.

2. How did we learn what fear actually is?

We were born with the ability to love. But we are taught how to fear.

You see as a child, you don’t really know what the concept of fear is. But who teaches you what it is? What are the experiences you’ve had to understand fear? Just like someone taught you maths at school.

This then affects how you think about fear. As the adage goes, your thoughts then affect your actions and have an impact on your character and your life. It can mean you miss good opportunities, excessivley worry or simply become indecisive as a person.

So let’s change that by addressing the core.

Think back. When you were a child you would happily run and jump and touch things. Emotionally you will say what is on your mind. It was like venting and everyone you spoke to was a shrink. You learn through experience to create your own definition of fear.

And then you are taught by others about fear. These are all their fears. You hear their stories, their experiences of fear. These become your experiences of fear.

When you experience other peoples fear, you experience other peoples lives.

You also have increased fear when you are not certain about what you want. There is a difference between knowing what you want and being certain of what you want.

When you don’t have that hunger you won’t do it.

Let’s say you are about to change jobs. Your current job is a comfortable life because you know your work, you know your colleagues, the hours are good etc. But you don’t enjoy your job so you want to leave. But you know your new job will be very difficult, perhaps more challenging, longer hours or perhaps you don’t even know what it will entail fully. Your mind will convince you of many fears why you can’t do it. Others around you tell you to stay, why take the risk. You now start living their fears. Then you start believing that you shouldn’t move. And you don’t move. Even though it could have been the perfect job.

People who are successful are those that create their own definition of fear through experience.

They do this very simply. By listening to their core and having self belief. Being certain this is what they want. Visualising the end result before it’s happened. Then putting in steps to make it happen. When you start to see results, your self-belief increases, so do your actions and therefore you see more results. And the cycle continues…

Ask those that are happy with their decisions and they will say ‘I just knew I had to do it’. It wasn’t a choice.

You may feel that you have been conditioned over so many years that it’s hard, almost silly, to not think about fear the way you do. In fact you may be arguing that it’s good to have fear. Our brains want us to do that. It will convince you. Because it’s comfortable to do what the crowd is doing. It’s comfortable not to take a risk. But comfortable isn’t being alive.

So I challange you over the next month. When you are stopped from doing something because of fear. Think. Is this really what I want? Am I going to do this because I fear what I am doing now? This is also an important question.

Then go for it.

Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to really live life

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Whilst I spent some time in Spain, I was fortunate for a few nights to have stayed in a beautiful Hotel with a balcony overlooking the mountains on the small island of Mallorca.

London life seemed so far away.

I watched one evening intermittently (as I read my book on my balcony) how the sun moved slowly from the east to set in the west. Not an unusual phenomenon some may be thinking.  Why was I so amazed?


Well, before timepieces were invented this is how people would tell the time.

In the time that I watched the sun move, I was reading my book. But what were you doing?

How did you use this 2.5-3hrs? How do you use 2.5-3hrs every day?

Why does it matter? Just like the sun, another 2.5-3hrs will come tomorrow.

I read a very interesting perspective on this that I want to share with you from an unknown author.

Imagine there is a bank account that credits your account each morning with £86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day.
Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every penny, of course?

Each of us has such a bank. It’s name is time.
Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.
Every night it writes off as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to a good purpose.

It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day.
If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no drawing against “tomorrow.”

You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!
The clock is running!! Make the most of today.

Time is one of the most valuable things available to us. But we probably value it the least because everyone has it. It’s a given. We don’t often think about our life span. As humans we often value things by looking laterally and comparing to how many other people have it. If I have x amount of something, how much do other people have? If everyone has it then economics tells us it’s value must be zero. Or mathematically, this could also be viewed as infinitely invaluable. That depends on you. How do you view it?

I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll do another year in this job then change. I’ll make up with my father next month when I see him. I’ll take my wife out next week. I’ll learn that language or play that instrument one day.

But how do we remember to value time? In finance when you value an investment, you work out the present value of the future stream of income.

The future stream of income doesn’t have to be monetary.

In everything you do, in every relationship you engage in, in all the decisions you make and even in the words you speak. Stop and think for a moment. Is this an investment in my health and happiness. Am I advancing myself as a human being?

Scientific research also tells us time can transform our preferences, reshape our values and alter our personalities. But we only realise this when we look backwards. We don’t seem to be able to imagine this going forward. What if we now know this. How will you now make use of your time?

Soon all this conscious thinking will become sub-concious thoughts and you will find you will be drawing out every penny of your time bank account excited for tomorrow’s full balance.


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My happiest time was when I was able to ‘hear’ the sun

So I’ve just got back from spending some time in Berlin! A lovely city, where I met some amazing people.

One night in a bar called King Size in Berlin, I came across a very successful and well travelled businessman and we got talking.

It started with the usual small talk “Have you been here before? What are you doing in Berlin?” etc and we realised we have similar consultancy background in finance and we’re both economists at heart.

This immediately led to familiarity and we talked more openly about how the corporate culture was flawed with inefficiencies that limit the success of true entrepreneurs.

As our opinions and perspectives gelled more and more we opened up more and more talking about cars, watches and other materialistic items that naturally drive us as humans. He told me he had owned every car I could think of, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche and he had even met Patek Philippe to have a custom made watch to his requirements.

No, he was not trying to hit on me as I’m sure some of you are thinking.

But then he said “Prabhmeet, out of all the things I have owned in my life, and my experiences of living and working all over the world, my happiest time was the two weeks I spent with a tribe in Australia. Living and eating just as they did”.

I was amazed.

Here I was standing in a bar, with music playing and people dancing and drinking and I’ve somehow managed to stand next to this one guy who is searching for the same answers that I am. And I have my own experiences and my own opinion.

The conversation then turned to what do you want out of life? What is the meaning of life?

Now you can imagine I’m pretty interested. This 53 year old guy, a business consultant running a very successful international consultancy is telling me the best things in life are free!

I wasn’t convinced. “But I want a Ferrari! I’m pretty sure I will be smiling when I’m driving around in a Ferrari” I say to him. Almost expecting a reaction.

He laughed and said “Yes, you sure will! But for how long?”.

After going through every single car possible hoping the next one will bring him more happiness he concluded that materialistic items will only bring short term happiness.

I’d read about this stuff in books. But never met someone who had actually lived it.

As a true entrepreneur short term happiness wasn’t enough and he wanted more! How do we get long term happiness?

By chance he had met this tribe and spent time with them. And on the first day they welcomed him with a ‘Hello!’ It was only 24 hours later they then communicated further with him.

This was deliberate. In those 24 hours you are allowed to realise and take in everything around you first, he told me. People, the houses, the sky, the sand, the wind.

24 hours is a long time for silence in a desert. You then start looking inwards. Who are you? Why are you standing here in the middle of this desert? What are you feeling right now? Are you happy, sad, hungry, confused? You start thinking about all the important people in your life. What actions or achievements have given you the greatest happiness in your life? A real and lengthy introspection.

“My happiest time was when I was able to ‘hear’ the sun”, he said to me.

I was awfully confused. How much had this man had to drink! I must have said it over in my head about five times, while he just stood there smiling, knowing I was trying to decipher what he had said.

In everyday life we take all these things for granted. A hello is often followed with a full conversation. I personally sometimes even walk down the road surfing the internet or reading messages on my mobile phone, let alone taking in the wind or the sky. We all do it.

We can seek happiness in our lives where we live with an attitude of gratitude. But how many of us really do this? How simple…be grateful for everything. Where’s the catch? But we want more! We fear losing what we have today so we don’t enjoy it today!

When you have done these two levels of thinking of the external and the internal you reach a new state. A state of ‘now what’? We went on to discuss.

So why are you here?

When you look back at your life, there may be three things you want remembered

1. What would people say about your character

2. What difference have you made to OTHER peoples lives

3. What have you achieved?

Are you living your life currently that will make you proud of all of these areas?

If not, what can you start doing now so you can look back and tick off three of these boxes (or any others) happily.

We both concluded that the greatest happiness comes from living a life where you can serve others.

But why does this bring us so much joy? It’s almost like it charges your batteries and makes you feel energised when you do something good for others. It’s not a heaven or hell thing. It’s not to boast and tell others but it just feels good here and now. The rewards are instant. You feel energised and happy.

How does that happiness compare to buying say a new car or clothes? That feels good too right? But is the happiness different? Could there be different levels of happiness?

What do you think?

But how do we actually dedicate our lives to helping others. Not all of us are multi millionaires. We need to work to buy houses, cars and send our children to school.

The serving others concept doesn’t mean that we have to overnight drop everything and all turn in to Mother Teresa.

It means that in everything we do, every person that we meet, every opportunity we have to serve, we embrace it. Happiness can then be found in every day life.

A lot of people ask me “But how do we actually do this”? Make a commitment. Commit yourself for one week to do one good selfless act EVERY day. Just start with a week. And after a week let me know how it makes you feel.

Keep your batteries charged and notice the impact it has on your character and others around you. All three boxes are ticked.

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