In a king’s court, there was an argument that people get what they seek. If they seek luck, they get lucky. If they seek food they get fed. The king had to break this argument so he orders an experiment. Get one person who believes in luck and get one person who believes in hard work. Let us lock them up in a dark room with food and see what happens.

Two of the identified people one believer in luck called lucky man and one believer in hard work called worker both are locked up in a room where some food and water is kept at a slightly hard to reach place. People outside can observe the conversations. Over a few hours, both the prisoners got hungry. They started to debate about their way of something good happening to them. The worker did not spend time arguing much. He began to explore the room and tried to reach out for if anything was placed for them. The lucky man told him that his efforts are waste, this is an experiment and they will sure be released and fed something.

The worker found a box full of peanuts, he was very elated and started eating. Instead of sharing the food, he mocked at the lucky man. He did not stop there, in the box of peanuts he also found some stones he threw them at the lucky man saying you can eat these if you feel lucky. The lucky man laughed and kept the stones thrown at him anyways. Few hours later the room was opened and the content worker came out along with the tired looking lucky man.

The courtiers who batted for hard work were very happy, just then the king asked the lucky man about how did he feel. The lucky man reached into his pockets saying he got some stones by doing nothing. When the courtiers saw the stone they gasped, because they were gemstones not mere stones. So the king declared ‘people get what they seek’.

This story was confusing for me because I immediately drew parallels with laziness but the crux of this is ‘What you seek is what you see or get’. This is so true in both our personal and professional lives that we will be able to pile on instance after instance, evidence after evidence to prove our point of view about something or someone.

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When we grow up from our being an adolescent to an adult the things that we were subject to has to become more objective. Example a teen is subject to peer pressure but a grown up can distance from it and see it as an object. Similarly irrespective of our age or development we are subjected to winning be it playing a game, having an argument or even doing something small. This primes us to seek what will make us win, while this is useful while playing games it is not useful when there are disagreements and needs a dialog to sort out.

We need to be deliberate in our actions sometimes, which can be achieved through reflections. This will make us realise the subject/object relationships of us and make adjustments towards more objectiveness. If we seek snacks of victories, we get it; if we seek gems of wisdom, we get it.

Recently we did some renovation at home which involved buying a few big ticket items. As I had read a lot about supporting local vendors, I drove to the stores after doing some browsing online on big marketplaces for options.

My first reaction on the purchase experience was the level of willingness to negotiate an offer when the bill is running close to a lakh. Every shopkeeper wanted to keep the conversation on the MRP, declining to accept credit cards or were trying to pile on more charges like delivery, installation etc when preparing the bill. In all, the transparency was poor and the mindset to extract as much as possible from a lead was set in stone.

The same I had observed from a medical store nearby, with aged people at home; the maintenance medicines for a healthy life add to substantial costs, so I tried asking the store keeper that I will place order with them month on month but let us work out a deal because the big medical chains give me 20% and I am willing to take a cut for convenience. The shop keeper flatly declined saying that he does not do business less than MRP and I can continue to shop at the retail chains, he does not need my business.

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Why is this happening? We perceive a loss to be greater than a profit of same magnitude. Winning a gold coin may not be equal in magnitude of happiness compared to the sorrow of losing a gold coin. That is what is at play at the small vendors. They do not see the overall profit gained in the transaction instead they read the money lost on the transactions that could happen on MRP. This clouds the judgement even if this can tun into a repeat business with a steady cash flow.

On browsing more for stores, finally I found places that gave a good deal even bettering online deals. These were businesspeople who are in the same business for generations even though their turnovers were small, looks like the family wisdom is passed on as a trade secret and I ended up noting their numbers to give to friends who will have similar needs.

Inheritance has played a big role in how kingdoms evolved and civilisations sustained. People passed on their wisdom to their future generations and created a sustained momentum of progress. The progress was largely confined within the family, a great medical practitioner will pass on the knowledge to the kids and make sure they memorise a lot of things and do not pass on the trade secrets to others. Slowly greed took over and instead of greater good, personal wealth and wellness took top priority. This is when territorial population got slowly disrupted by invaders who learnt to break the fragile unity and encouraged personal growth by turning people against their allies and eventually they also fell prey to invasion.

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We think the world belongs to humans, it does not. It belongs to microbes. They are everywhere, in huge numbers and very very resilient. They are inside us, outside and have even learnt to live in hostile conditions. I also read in the newspapers about bacteria developing antibiotic resistance and quite difficult to treat if people get these resistant strains. I was curious on how bacteria develop resistance and stumbled on an article which explained about ‘Horizontal gene transfer‘. Bacteria do not just inherit the resistant genes vertically from their parents but also from other types of bacteria, virus, fungi (the list goes on) which may not even be virulent.

Learning and co-operating with others is what makes someone resilient along with their peers, this is what I inferred from my readings about horizontal gene transfer. If we concentrate only on personal growth and well being then it is just a short amount time before we lose out to groups which learn together. Personal growth is useful only when others around us also grow and sustain that momentum. There is a nice story about growing good corn, a farmer shares the quality seeds with neighbours to make sure cross pollination happens with healthy corn.

Winning alone and winner takes it all is a greedy task, it pushes people into damage control mode and work in transactions. People won’t remember us for our transactions, there is nothing to reciprocate in a transaction. It looks like we will not have a resilience building horizontal gene transfer equivalent for humans. We may eventually fizzle out of existence trying to outsmart each other.