What is your life lesson? On a scale of 1 to 10, how much have you loved people and yourself? Does the world offend you or amaze you?
These are among the 50 questions posed by UNESCO Kindness Ambassador Deepak Ramola in his new book along with their answers. 50 Toughest Questions of Life, published by Penguin Random House India imprint Ebury Press, is inspired by the lesson of a young girl Ramola met who told him, “Life is not about giving easy answers, but answering tough questions”.
The author, a UN Action Plan Executor, a TED Talk speaker and founder of Project Fuel, asks thought-provoking as well as funny questions in the book which aims at making readers have a conversation with themselves about themselves.
Over the years, Ramola amassed life lessons from inspirational sources across the world: from the women of the Maasai tribe to young girls in Afghanistan and sex workers in Kamathipura; from the lessons of earthquake survivors in Nepal to Syrian refugees in Europe, among many more.
These 50 questions made him “pause, along with a bouquet of answers, anecdotes, stories and notes from his journey of teaching human wisdom for a decade”. “As I stood by the self-help section of a quaint, street-side bookstore in San Francisco, my mind swam through books and books of a condensed understanding of life by the renowned philosophers and thought leaders of our times,” he says.
“Laced with poignant metaphors, moving imagery and stimulating quotes, for the first time, I was a bit lost and confused. I found myself enclosed in the safe barricades of answers upon answers,” he adds. Each book he picked up had many more answers and his mind raced to think that if these are the answers then what are the questions?
“The seed of this book was sown exactly there – as I stood in the third row from the left, at the first corner of the self-help section in the San Francisco bookstore. This wasn’t the first time I had an epiphany about this, but I felt convinced and finally compelled to write this book and add meaning to our lives,” Ramola writes.
After condensing nearly 3,000 questions into a list of the top 50, he designed this as an exercise and a game to play with diverse shades of people over the past five years. The remark from the young girl from Afghanistan prompted him to “begin my quest to discover, curate and create life’s toughest questions”.
With each question in the book, Ramola says, he has “made an effort to pack some reflections, anecdotes, experiences and personal notes to help you along your crusade”. “Take your time with each question. Return to the ones that resonate, and ruminate over the ones which you don’t yet have an answer for,” he suggests. So what answer does Ramola provide to the question: What is your life lesson?
“Your life lesson can come to you in one sudden experience, or gradually with introspection, or in hindsight, over months and years. But the fact remains that you learn it all by yourself,” he says.
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