With the Board examinations drawing close, SWAMI SWAROOPANANDA offers 10 ideas to help students face the heat with a cool head
1 Be confident
It’s a competitive world. There is pressure from teachers and parents. Often, you are anxious whether you will get good marks or not. But if you have prepared well and your teachers have put in their best, then never fear. Have faith in yourself. There is greatness and capacity in all of us. But when we lack faith in ourselves, we become anxious. If we are not prepared, we get worried. Now if you want to reach Everest and you are ever at rest, then you will certainly not make it. But if you are well prepared, then don’t doubt yourself. Be confident. Confidence comes when we have prepared well, have faith in ourselves, have the blessings of teachers and parents and have faith in the goodness and justness of the Lord. Be calm and confident. Only with a peaceful mind, you can be efficient in your actions.
2 Never compare
We have many weaknesses. We may prepare well, yet, jealousy sometimes crops up.
Will the other person get more marks? Why waste time comparing ourselves with others? The inner weaknesses of jealousy and unhealthy comparison are not good; they create either a superiority or an inferiority complex. Each one of you is unique in your own way
Don’t try to be better than anybody else, and don’t think that anybody else is better than you. Each one, do your best.
3 Be consistent
Have some control over your senses. During examination time, especially during that one month of preparation, don’t allow any distraction to come in your way, like restaurants, movies or meeting friends. Exercise control. Don’t allow distraction from surroundings, external, nor from your imagination, internal, to divert your attention — at least during the few days of your final revision. Of course, you do need a break at times.
Take a break, go for a walk, spend a little time with your friends. But don’t distract yourself by going to a party or watching too many TV programmes.
4 Understand what you study
When you read your book, try to understand it; don’t cram it. When you try to cram, it makes you nervous because then, if you suddenly forget one word, you are likely to forget the whole paragraph.
Take time to understand what you read, because, if you have understood something, you will not forget it easily.
5 Marks are not the only criterion
Our learning is not just to get a first class, or distinction. We do need all this today to get admission in a good college. But a degree is useless without the related knowledge. A degree can get you a job, but cannot guarantee your ‘stay’ in the job. So, memorise lessons not just for a degree, but to gain knowledge. Good marks alone don’t make you successful. Understand the subject, matters. Try to study to absorb and retain knowledge.
6 Picture what you study
When I was in Hyderabad, a young girl asked me, “Swamiji, I study everything and forget everything. How do I remember what I study?” Listen well in class and revise your portion in the mind, step by step, till you do not need to refer to your notes at all. Visualise it and save it in your mind, as a picture. Once you have read a particular page, close your eyes and see those notes in your mind. This develops a photographic memory. With this type of concentration, your memory will be very good and you will remember what you have learnt, for a long time.
7 Resist the urge to copy
When you are writing the paper, the temptation to copy often comes up. When you are not sufficiently well prepared, or are anxious to score good percentages, there is a tendency to copy from another. Don’t even think you have an option to copy. When you decide not to copy, you stop wasting your time and energy on it. Have faith in yourself and mind you, honesty pays, because one day all this is going to help you in your future journey in life.
8 Keep your goal big
Some of you may not want to take a professional course. You may just want to graduate. Don’t keep your goals small. You will probably not need high marks if you want to take up a course that is not in much demand. But the important thing is to do your best. Your best may still not give you fantastic results, but it will certainly give you the satisfaction of having done your best. So keep doing as well as possible. Try to set higher goals. Let knowledge be your goal.
9 Never despair
Some of you may not get into the college or profession of your choice. It happened to me, when I was around 18. Whatever the reason, I might have gone through a lot of depression and dejection. But my grandmother said, “Take every failure as a stepping stone to success. If you have done your best, you have not compromised, and still things have not worked out your way, never ever think it to be your failure. There is something better waiting for you.”
You, very often, think that a certain career alone can make you happy, but deep down within, ask yourself, ‘Why do I want to take that profession?’ Whatever the reason, if you have done your best, life will take you to that place where you can fulfil your inner ambition. I thought I could do it with only a certain profession. But life had something even greater in store for me.
Never despair. What appears to be the greatest tragedy today often turns out to be the best thing that could have happened to us. Have faith in the Supreme. Life will take you to the place that is best for you. Some of my friends, who didn’t get into the course they wanted, lost heart. Don’t waste your life. You must fulfil your heart’s desire, if not by one profession, then by another. Remember — you are never a failure unless you think you are one.
10 Plan a job for income and service
Don’t take a job just for money. That is an automatic by product, if you are good in what you do. Take a job to serve people — to benefit more and more. As an engineer, dream of building best structures. When you plan to serve others, you will never compromise your values. When you work only for money, you may give up values to make more money. Money will automatically come but your real satisfaction will be from your service. This is the greatness I want every child to achieve. I wish you all the best.
The author is global head, Chinmaya Mission.
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