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  • Dr. Lalit Chawla

E#61: What was 2020 all about?


This is a year to remember-but why?

How were you better off this year than the year before?


(This is the core of the transcript from the podcast. The Intro has been removed and some areas improved for reading ease.)



For myself, and for many others, I know, four words that describe this year. And that would be a year of reassessment, restructuring, a year of growth and a year of choices.


My last podcast was many weeks ago in the summer, and I originally had the idea of just taking a few weeks off as we were heading into September with the new academic school year approaching. September always seems like a new year to me anyway, possibly, because of all the years of schooling, the beginning of fall, change in weather and sunlight etc.


Originally I had planned to take a few weeks off, but the weeks ended up turning into many more weeks, and here we are at the end of December. This year for me and for many people has been a very slow year and a very fast year all at the same time. It's an odd paradox because we all had to hurry up and be patient, wait and watch as the nuances of the pandemic unfolded.


this year has been a year of reassessment

Anyway, so let me tell you one reason why I've been delayed in getting back to the podcast. And this kind of goes back to what I think this year is all about.


The first word to describe this year has been a year of reassessment. For many people, they've had to re-look at what they've been doing at work, home and in society—modifying routines, more online meetings and learning, shuffling priorities. Understanding and reawakening old priorities. Addressing issues of safety and so on. We have had to discover what was important, essential, and what we could do and live without and what we needed vs what we wanted. The ongoing discussion of what it means to have individual rights versus others' rights and how your actions or inactions can affect others far removed from you.


The second word of the year is restructuring. Essentially, we've had to restructure our schools, workplace, our habits and routines tremendously. We've also had to restructure our mindset to deal with the drama of things locally and globally. There have been many times when people have been very divisive. That's not unusual in the best of times, but I think the pandemic highlighted and revealed certain inequities and existing practices.


Some positive notes are that cities and communities across the board have looked at how homeless people are being treated and trying to find safe ways to protect them. People are also reevaluating and looking at what it means to have a local community and global community and understand that we are connected globally.


I am one of the lucky ones but not everybody is experiencing this pandemic equally, and there have been real hardships for many people.

And the third word that reflects this year, as I’ve already mentioned, which undermines everything we do, is that this has been a year of choices. How we interpret and respond to information and events, whether to wear a mask or not, keeping isolated or sending our kids to school or work virtually (if we are lucky to do so) is really a reflection about the choices we make.


Ultimately our outcomes reflect our micro-decisions we ar making on a consistent basis.


So, I'm reminded of The different types of experiences we can have, I heard the first from Tony Robbins. And this is the core part of this podcast.


There are four types of experiences:

Class I experiences:


These are experiences that feel good for you, are good for you and good for others and serve the greater good. So an example of this might be exercising. Now, if you like exercising, it feels good for you, it is good for you, and it is good for others and the greater good as you can be in better shape, you function better you'll be able to serve and do the things you want more efficiently and effectively.


Class II experiences:


These are experiences that don't feel good, but they're good for you, good for others and serve the greater good. Exercising could be another example of this. If you don't like exercising, but you know you have to do it because it improves your health, you do it anyway because you know it's good for you and that it can be good for others and serve the greater good. Now, if you eventually keep doing it, you may start to feel better and this Class II experience can turn into a Class I experience.


Class III experiences:

Class III experiences are experiences that feels good, but it is not good for you; it does not serve others and does not serve the greater good. An example of this could be excessive use of alcohol, using drugs, stealing, and yelling at someone. It may provide a certain level of certainty or feeling that you desire, but it's not good for you. It's not good for the other people in your life as you could not perform and connect with them more eloquently. For example, you may yell at someone or your kids, and it might be cathartic, and it provides a sense of certainty and sense of security and/or significance, but it's not a great way to communicate to another person or connect with others. You are diminishing the quality of the interaction

And ultimately, it affects the relationship.



Class IV experiences:


These are experiences that don't feel good, they're not good for you, do not serve others, and do not serve the greater good.


Examples of this could be again using drugs, alcohol, yelling, stealing, all those types of activities that you may do or maybe addicted to, but it doesn't feel good, but it provides a certain level of certainty and security. It's something that you know, and it becomes a pattern of behavior.


So everything we do falls into one of these types of classes. There could be some modifications, but generally, these are the four ways to think about different experiences. Now referring to the Class I and II experiences- if you just did all class one experience which are experiences that feels good, it's good for you and good for others and serves the greater good you could quickly get bored. There's no sense of variety. That's why it's useful to have some Class II experiences because they challenge and stimulate growth. You start progressing and moving up to class one experiences. Growth is an essential human need that we need to experience a greater sense of vitality and assurance.


So how does all this relate to everything we do?

Well, as we enter into the winter months and just as the season's cycle from winter, spring, summer and fall, nothing stays the same and lasts. We go from ups and downs in that same way. I think that's always useful to remember, and when we look at the longevity of the things we do and the actions we take, it's normal to get off course or change course as we move forward. As cliche as it may sound, the only constant thing is change and keeping in mind basic fundamental principles that inspire us to live better and behave better helps us and others navigate challenging situations, like a pandemic.


May you and your family be safe, healthy and strong at the end of 2020 and may 2021 a year with greater possibilities from all the lessons we learned from this year.


Lalit Chawla



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