Lego was a prized commodity when I was a child. I remember my bother and I had one big Lego set to build a house which we used creatively to make various other things. Imagination was always put hard to work. Barbie dolls were also special. Customizing the clothes and accessories of dolls was an ever enticing prospects.
Building, moulding, fixing and ,changing things was big part of play time. And grew to be something that came naturally to us. And then stayed with us even as grown-ups.
Now as handy as these skills are in relation to objects, they can be disastrous when used on humans. More disastrous for us than human in question.
Why do we have this inane urge to change others, rather than accept them?
Lets start with our kids. Yes we love them. Unconditionally. However you would be lying to yourself if you say that there aren't things you would want to change in them. I read somewhere that we all have 'fantasy kids'- our vision and dream of how our kid should be. So in various ways we try and mould them to be closer to the fantasy kid we have been raising in our head.
And if you turn tables around, kids too love their parents, most of the time unconditionally too. But I can guarantee there are things about me that Sanil wants to change. There is always a friends mum who is 'far cooler', 'way thinner', 'much kinder' than me. Hopefully it's not all one person, else I would surely hate her.
Now looking at our beloved spouses. My agency in India had done an ad campaign years ago for an ice-cream brand, think it was Vadilal (only kids raised in the 80s in India would recognize this name). The headline for the vanilla flavor said "A good husband is like a good vanilla ice cream- soft, sweet, dependable...and can be garnished anyway you like". Isn't this the way many of us treat our men? We like the vanilla, but can't wait to ply on the garnishes- strawberries, chocolate sauce, M&Ms, butterscotch sauce, maple syrup, sometimes to the extent that its masks the original flavor entirely.
This trait is not restricted to the female species alone. A guy friend once told me "Apne bachchein aur doosron ki biwiyan, sab ko achchci lagti hain". (Everyone likes their own children, and other people's wife). So true! A husband whose wife is working laments how she has no time for him, whereas the one whose wife is a stay at home mom, will whinge that she nags to much as she has 'no work'.
Our friends are probably the people we are least likely to change. Guess that's why friendships last a lifetime. Because we accept them as they are. And they offer us the same privilege.
It's a known fact, but most often ignored. We can change only one person- and that's ourselves. Everyone else we need to accept. It's a like booking an all-paid-for-non-refundable holiday. You either enjoy it, or give it up. Because money-back is just not an option.
We need to fight this impulse to mould and change people. Sometimes we feel we are doing them a service by trying to improve them. But actually we are doing a disservice, not to them. But to ourselves. As we are pinning our hopes and joys on changing them. Neither of us can change the other. Both of us can change ourselves.
So next time I am about to tell Sanil that's wish he read more books, I shall bite my tongue and compliment his soccer kick instead.
When I feel sad that old friends do not keep in touch like I would like them to, I will pick up the phone and tell them I miss them.
When a guy tries to impress me with flattery, I will accept it graciously, instead of looking for the ulterior motives.
I will accept people as they are. And if I don't like what I see, I won't let them be a part of my life. Because life is not a store with a no-return-policy. You do have the power of choice.