Friday, August 27, 2010

Mother Teresa – 6 Key Life Lessons from a 100 Year Old Woman

mother teeresa

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of  Mother Teresa.

She would have been 100 years old today had she not passed away in September 1997.
A while ago I wrote about the 6 key lessons in life from a 140 year old man.

Just like Mahatma Gandhi, though Mother Teresa may not be around anymore, her legacy and message of peace and love live on – something that we need in our lives more than ever before.

A while ago, I wrote about Mother Teresa and what she had to say about loneliness, love and peace
We need more compassion, understanding and acceptance of other people and their cultures. As I wrote only last week, Muslims love their children too.

(As bloggers, a lot of us already know about love and being a great lover – check out my 12 reasons why bloggers make the best lovers).

On this day of celebration of her life, what inspiration and learnings can we take from her life?
To start with, check out this wonderful YouTube video which has set some of her most inspirational words to soothing music.

(For those of you reading this via email, please  click here)
No matter what your religious beliefs or your faith, we can all learn something from her life.
“There is more hunger in the world for love and appreciation in this world than for bread. We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless.
The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. – Mother Teresa
Here are her 6 key lessons:-

1. Take up a great cause

Mother Teresa spent over 60 years of her life in the slums of Calcutta and devoted all of her life to service of the poor, especially lepers, the sick, the dying and the abandoned.

It took a lot of resolve, determination and faith to keep going in the face of incredible difficulties and challenges.

She put herself through a lot of hardships – or what would seem like hardships to me and perhaps you too.
Now I am not saying that you too should devote your life to those living in slums and give up your current life of relative comforts. You just have to find your own small or grand cause.

Learn to feel the fear and change the world anyway.

I for one do like my world comforts and I am sure you do too. And you know what, that’s perfectly fine. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Just don’t be wasteful.

2. Start with your home and those around you

You don’t need to go to a remote place to make a difference. Start with your own home and community.
Also, you don’t need to make huge sacrifices or give money. Learn to contribute from the heart and not just the pocket.

If nothing else, just spend a bit of time with those are lonely and alone. And of course, start in your own home:-
“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start” – Mother Teresa
Finally remember that peace in the world begins with you, your home and your children:-
“Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents.
Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world” – Mother Teresa
3. Have a solid personal foundation

Mother Teresa had a solid foundation that kept her going through all the turmoil and challenges in her life – her strong faith.

It has been well documented how throughout her life she faced personal doubts about her faith and how she ran her missions. But her core values of love and wanting to serve others kept her going.

In your life, you too need a strong personal foundation to build your life on.
“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love” – Mother Teresa
What are your core beliefs and values? What will you never compromise on?
And if you were to follow the path set by Mother Teresa, just what would you do?
(Please share your answers below in comments)

4. Create a tribe

Once you are aligned to a great cause and you have a core foundation, you would do well to create a following or as it’s more fashionably described nowadays, a  tribe.

I guess we have  Seth Godin to thank for that.

Mother Teresa was lucky in that she had the backing and resources of a vast and powerful organisation, her church. On the back of that she created  Missionaries of Charity – a group of devoted sisters who carried out work and spread her message of love and compassion around  Calcutta in India, and then ultimately around the world. A lot of work focussed on looking after the poor and unwanted.
“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” – Mother Teresa
Part of creating a tribe is to be media savvy and Mother Teresa always capitalised on any opportunity to promote her cause and to raise funds.

Just think what she would have done with all the social media tools at her behest!

5. Ride through controversy

When you take on a big challenge or commit to any cause, you often run into controversy and conflict.
Mother Teresa went through a lot of  controversy and criticism about her style and method of helping.
But she rode through them and remained committed to her faith and work.

In your own life, you too may face some challenges to your authority and integrity. Learn to look through people’s hidden agendas and remain true to your cause.

If need be, take time out for yourself and reaffirm that you are truly on your chosen path. It’s also okay to change course if it feels like the right thing to do so.

6. Keep smiling and loving

Mother Teresa’s most endearing and enduring qualities were her ability to keep smiling and loving, even faced with the harshest of challenges.

If you come from a place of love and with a mindset of helping, then somehow you will find the ability and internal resources to do so. Somehow things will just work out for you.
“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”Mother Teresa
Indeed, the key message of Mother Teresa’s life really was about love. As she said so eloquently:-
“If we want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.”

So how can you spread this love message around the world?

You can do so by following Mother Teresa’s 6 key life lessons and by looking to spread your love in whatever small or large way that feels right for you.

As she said, learn to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.
The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. – Mother Teresa
Launch of “Love is all that matters”

As for my part, today I am delighted to announce the soft launch of my new website – Love is all that matters.
For now, this is only a simple page inviting you to sign up for my daily email messages about love. I am currently writing an ebook about love and relationships which will be available in a few weeks.

Please do sign up and on Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday, help me spread her message about love and compassion. This is just the sort of birthday present she would have liked!

By Arvind