How to transform your own mind
Dr. Srikumar Rao – creator of the course “Creativity and Personal Mastery”
Reading time 10 min
What’s life’s purpose? How can I be happy? Do these questions sound familiar to you? Well, we all are devoting our entire life to being happy. Everything that we do in our life is a quest for our happiness. We mostly think that we will be happy if we achieve something or get something. For example, we think we will be happy if we get a degree or if we find a life partner or lose weight. But none of this is true, because happiness is our natural state of being and nothing external has to happen for us to be happy. Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make us happy until we choose to be happy. Given that we often forget this fact, it is good to remind ourselves every so.
Recently we got the chance to talk with one of the experts in this field, so we grabbed this opportunity with open arms. At Mindvalley University (an education company known for its transformative online content and courses) held this year in Pula, Croatia, among numerous lecturers and experts, one lecture was held by the professor Srikumar S. Rao.
Dr. Rao got his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management a top school in India, and his Ph.D. in marketing from Columbia Business School. He is a speaker, author, former business school professor and creator of Creativity and Personal Mastery (a course designed to effect personal transformation). His talks are powerful with a dose of humor, which makes all of this matter more interesting to follow and easier to understand.
At the beginning of his courses and lectures, Dr. Rao tells his students the following words: “I have a vision for you. And that vision is that you get up each morning and your blood is singing at the thought of being who you are, and doing what you do”. If your life isn’t like that, then you probably should try out his tools and happiness exercises that he offers through the courses at The Rao Institute. They are meant to help you get started on your journey to achieving the vision that he holds for you, and most importantly, which you should hold for yourself. Changes are not going to happen overnight, so take small steps daily towards the vision of your life.
You were born in India, in a very spiritual country, where the meditation was first developed, where people care about each other, especially for a family. Can you tell us some details about your childhood? Have your parents taught you about spiritual awareness and mindfulness from an early age?
• We came from a very close family, and my mother was a highly spiritual lady, so she did talk to us about it. But, for me at that age, I was rebelling against everything my mother said, so none of it sank in. And it’s only when I was much later, when I was an adult, that all started to make sense for me.
Following the previous question, at what age you started with your personal growth and who were your role models or gurus at that time?
• It’s difficult to say what age I started because I was absorbing a lot of concepts which I didn’t necessarily understand or agree with, but it was all coming in and integrating. So, it’s very difficult to say what age. I would say probably starting late teens. In terms of gurus or people who had the influence on me, there is an Indian sage called Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, and I would say that he is probably the person who had the greatest impact on my life.
You are the creator of Creativity and Personal Mastery course designed to effect personal transformation. Application for the course is quite detailed, and we know that you review all the applications, so the final results are very successful. But, can you tell us if there were situations that made you particularly surprised with great and even better results than you expected from the people? Do you have any examples?
• I have a very detailed application, and it takes a certain amount of effort just to fill in the application. The reason I do that is, I only want to have people who are serious and willing to explore and engage with the topics that I bring up. Because my experience has been that if you take the program and you conscientiously do the assignment and the exercise your life will change. No ifs, and or buts about that. You don’t have to believe anything, but if you sincerely try to do the exercises, your life will change. But if you don’t do the exercises nothing happens. So, it’s a waste of your time and it’s also a drag on everybody else. That’s the reason I have an application form.
But that being said, I’ve had instances of persons, who I let into the course and I thought “Oh, nothing much is gonna happen with them, because they are not serious.” But they had a profound personal transformation. And in a few occasions, rare but you know a few occasions, I did have people I thought “Oh these person is gonna be in great strides” and nothing happened. You know, they went through the course, they did the exercises, but pretty much no change at all. It’s possible that the change happened afterward, but I am not in touch with them, so I can’t comment on that. Things like that happen. What I’ve now learned to is, I do by bit and then I completely forget about it, and everybody will get from the program, what he or she is supposed to get from it.
Do you really want to give the keys to your happiness over to somebody else? Think about it. Every time when you’re with a toxic person and that toxic person rubs off of you, you are giving that way the keys to your happiness to someone else.
You say that we all can create a blissful and happy life, but how to stay positive if you are surrounded by a toxic people, who by chance are people which you cannot avoid, like our parents or maybe a spouse?
• That’s a very good question. What happens is, you go through life and very often you let other people affect you. So, I asked them to think about this. Do you really want to give the keys to your happiness over to somebody else? Think about it. Every time when you’re with a toxic person and that toxic person rubs off of you, you are giving that way the keys to your happiness to someone else. Do you want to do that? And of course, everybody says “No, I don’t want to do that”. But we do that all the time. So, the first thing is to be aware that this is what you’re doing. The second thing is to be aware that your emotion domain is being affected by the other person. And when you become aware of that, you can say “no, I’m not going to let that happen”. It’s like you put on a waterproof poncho and the rain comes and it goes off your shoulders without affecting you.
When you’re aware that this is happening you find that you can control in a large extent, and you don’t have to be swayed by other people. It’s not easy, but with the practice, it can be done. And there’s the other part also. Because just as you find toxic people are affecting you, when you develop the capacity not to be affected by them, but you’re vibrating at your level, you might well find that the toxic people are being affected by you and becoming a little less toxic, which is good for them, good for you and good for the relationships. So, I always encourage people who take my programs to be aware that this can happen and work to actually make it happen.
Yes, of course, if we have positive energy it also affecting the people around us.
• Yes, exactly, and as just as their negative energy can affect you why cannot your positive energy affect them. Make it a conscious attempt.
Following the previous question, can you tell us how to stay positive, precisely, how to successfully work on personal growth, in certain social environments or even countries that are very negative? Like for example, here in Croatia in the last 20 years. The atmosphere is negative in most of the areas of life. People very often write negative comments on social networks, they negatively comment on every event and different topics, they complain about everyday life. We had the opportunity to live in the United Kingdom for a while, and we noticed that, in comparison with Croatia, these situations are very rare. How to find strength despite everyday negativity?
• That’s a very good question, and once again I have to say it’s not easy, but here is what you have to do. No matter how negative the environment is, there are people who are trying to learn, grow and fight against negativity. It’s your job to find other such persons to make common cause with them, kind of link soldiers. In a Buddhism, there is a term called “Sanghas”, and there is also “Satsanga” which means “good company” and when you are with people who are a good company, you support each other and reinforce each other.
So, in my first book “Are you ready to succeed?” there are the blueprints for how you can form a collective learning group where you reinforce each other and grow together. That is the best way to function in an environment like that. So, when you are together you form a collective bubble in which you can live, which is not toxic and then the idea is to make the bubble expand so that you draw more and more people in it. And hopefully, one day the entire world. In a sense, that is what Mindvalley is doing.
Can we motivate the people from negative to become positive and to make some influence on them?
• You don’t have to motivate them consciously, but they are surrounded by positive people, and some of the negative will drop off. Your job is to be anchored in who you are and be goodwill towards everybody, and it will spread. Some people are less receptive to it than others, but it will spread.
Did you have any course with participants or groups in Croatia or the former Yugoslavian countries?
• I had a full-day workshop at Mindvalley yesterday, and I recognised that many of the people probably came from abroad to be a part of that, but there were many locals also.
“Because just as you find toxic people are affecting you, when you develop the capacity not to be affected by them, but you’re vibrating at your level, you might well find that the toxic people are being affected by you and becoming a little less toxic, which is good for them, good for you and good for the relationships.
Whether among the participants, besides business people, were some world-famous athletes, like Formula 1 drivers, tennis, basketball or football players?
• I don’t know. It is possible that they were, but I don’t know.
We have noticed that you often wear red clothes and also the logo of your company is red. Does the red colour have any particular meaning for you, or is it just for marketing purposes?
• I just like it. And the red is very striking. A lot of the times when I am on the platforms, in the shade the colours of black and red strikes out against that, so that is why I use red.
Our magazine is called Pleasure. It is about the beauty of life, and our slogan is “seriously fun”. There is one question we always ask people which we make an interview with, and the question is: What for you mean – Pleasure?
• I distinguish between pleasure and happiness and pleasure is a momentary thrill that you get when you bite something. So, when you have a good dinner or you have a brand of ice cream or a particular flavour of ice cream that you like. Things like that give you pleasure. It’s generally associated with the senses.
Do you have a message for our readers?
• Yes. The message I have for your readers, and there are two messages actually, so let’s face both of them. The world that you live in is the world that you have created, it did not happen to you. You created it with your mental chatter and the mental modus that you hold. You think that this is something that happens to you, but it is not. You created it. Take responsibility for it.
And the other part is if you don’t like any part of it you can deconstruct what you don’t like and build it up again. You can create your perfect life. And this is something that you will be doing for the rest of your life. It’s a beautiful world out there. Your job is to recognise how beautiful it is, recognise that you are part of it and work to make it more beautiful not just for yourself, but for everybody.
Do you have any plans for the future? Will you write a new book?
• I’m writing two books right now. And I’m working on them slowly because there are a lot of other things getting in the way. But I’m writing two books right now. My daughter is pregnant and it’s her first child, so that’s what will be going to happen further. I’m sure that will take up a lot of time for me and my wife. And we are very much looking forward to that. And I just live day by day.
Will you create another course?
• I’m working with Mindvalley, and I am also creating some online courses. So, I will be doing more work on that this year. I’ve also, as I said writing two books, so I hope that both will be completed by next year.