Living the animal life – my resolution for 2018 and beyond

Vandana Gupta

28 December 2017

Be an animal, wild and carefree, in 2018

Of the various things I have to thank the Culture Lab for – such as my career at Godrej (read the full story here!) – I cannot miss mentioning how it’s helped me connect (and re-connect) with some very cool people.

One such person is Devina, who in my first year at Godrej, was interning with the Lab during a summer home from Uni. As we got talking, I thought she seemed very familiar. Of course! I’d seen her playing with Chaos, her beautiful cocker spaniel, in a park nearby, as I sprinted to the gym every other day.

To set some context, we live in a neighbourhood where (at least at sunrise hour) it would seem as though pets outnumber humans! Yes, that’s how much we love our furry friends... So it didn’t come as a surprise when Devina, her mom, and a few other animal rights-advocate friends, organised the district’s first-ever Pet Fest over a month ago.

To me, the event ­which raised awareness and funds for local animal shelters and NGOs was above all else, a celebration of life. As I look back at the photos I took, I can’t help thinking we have an incredible lot to learn from all our fellow living beings!

Here are my two cents :-)

“I want to live like animals,
Careless and free (like animals),
I want to live,
I want to run through the jungle,
With wind in my hair and the sand at my feet.”

Props to my brother, who opened up my world to The Animal Song by Savage Garden, which has (among countless other things from our childhood) stuck with me. Each time I give it a listen, it puts so many things into perspective. It explains why I particularly love the company of certain people, what my life choices and priorities are/have been, why I will forever adore pop star Kesha, and above all, how I cannot be anything but grateful for the family I was born into.

Everything seems to be pointing to one thing: holding the “animal” way of life sacred. (Just to be clear, I am solely hinting at the Savage Garden philosophy here, and not any other animal tendencies, should your imagination be running wild!) ;-)

When practically everyone you look up to lives by and inspires you to commit to the following, things begin to make a lot of sense:

Stay true to yourself. That way you’re sure to only do what makes you happy, be unapologetic about it, and stick with it. Take pride in who you are and all that you have to offer the world. Make the most of it, and your potential will know no bounds. In doing so, you are not only empowering yourself, but also those around you, by example.

Stay true to others too. Leave no room for pretence. Keep it real. Tell it like it is. And be consistent, while you’re at it. You’ll be doing your conscience a huge favour when your thoughts and actions are in sync. Also, there’s an added bonus: only the right kind of people will appreciate (read: tolerate) it, and stand by you.

Know your loyalties. Don't ever take for granted those who help you during tough times. Be fiercely protective of them. They have remained in your life, through its ups and downs, for a reason. It is only natural for you to be there for them.

Seize the day. Life is so short, transient, fleeting. You might as well give your all to everything you do. Put your heart and soul into it. So what if you stumble? Just remember this: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Wonder of wonders, the world does not begin and end at you. Let go of grudges and hit the ‘refresh’ button every single day. We all know how much excess baggage costs! You might as well enjoy the ride ;)

Make your presence count. Smile at every person you meet. Say a kind word. Give someone a hug. Crack a silly joke. It won’t cost you a thing, but could brighten up a day. Know that every little interaction counts. In Maya Angelou’s words: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” So choose wisely, how you would like to be remembered.

Help others feel ‘at home’. Be a good listener – accepting, tolerant, and free of judgment. Always have the Golden Rule (“treat others as you would want to be treated”) at the back of your head. Live and let live. Love and let love. We are all in this together!

Clearly, emulating our animal friends is a feel-good, liberating existence. It makes more genuine, compassionate, principled individuals of us. While these things are much easier said than done, I find consciously surrounding myself with people ­– adults, children, and most often childlike adults – who swear by it, compels me to give it a shot too.

What do you think? Do you have any more suggestions? I’d love to hear them. Till then, happy 2018 from me and all of us at the Godrej India Culture Lab team! :-)