“A fool may be known by six things: Anger without cause; Speech without profit; Change without progress; Inquiry without object; Putting Trust in a stranger; and Mistaking foes for friends!” ~ Arab Proverb

There are times in our life when either one or more of the above emotional upheavals could take precedence over other important matters. Varying degrees of demand on our time make an impact that could overflow onto other activities.

The multitude of roles we play could range from an individual to a family person, a student or an entrepreneur, a spouse, a parent, a responsible adult taking care of the elderly parents, an employee or an employer, a boss or a subordinate, a colleague to other co-workers, a neighbor, one of the vast multitude of road users/commuters and/or service provider and so on and so forth.

When put under a microscope, any of these and/or related roles will prove to be fleeting in nature in the sense we keep on changing them like clock-work. Is it any wonder then that some of our feelings, actions and/or reactions still migrate with us when we change roles?

What we need to do, given the above situation, is to maintain a fine line of understanding and appreciation so stress is minimized through transition. Does it make any sense to take our anger over the neighbor’s extra tall fence to the office and superimpose the same on our colleagues? I do not think so!

Are you angry because some ‘jerk’ cut you off on your daily commute to work? Try to take it in your stride and let bygones be bygones unless you have the necessary means to take instant corrective measures and let the incident bury itself.

We are all familiar with the water-cooler jokes and rivalries that take drastic turns about ‘he said – she said’ all the time. What starts with lighthearted non-opinions often escalates to growing personal rivalry beyond imagination. Light banter and chit-chat sows the seeds of discontent that continue to sprout and grow into a wild growth of distrust and continuing disengagement.

Those wise enough to see beyond the immediate keep away from such groups and get-together because they know whatever they say here could soon enough come back to haunt them as well. It makes sense to stay away from all forms of speech where there are only losers, without anyone making a gainful headway. Why say anything that will not make a purposeful impact in the positive direction?

Change without progress may be a little hard to see as an obstacle to growth but the fact is that so many of us do it anyways. Changing jobs because the grass is greener on the other side of the fence can and sometimes does leave us with a sour taste in our mouth. Losing seniority in an existing position without making a remarkable gain in a higher position in a new organization may not necessarily justify your action.

It is good to be curious but do we always have a valid reason for being inquisitive. More often than not, we see people poking their noses in others’ affairs for no rhyme or reason. Not only that, there are those pitiable souls that simply ask questions for the sake of either nagging the other person or to show their (highly doubtful) smartness.

Trusting others is something we do everyday. We trust other drivers to pay heed to traffic signals and laws while driving from one place to another. We trust the pharmacy to give us the exact same medicine that the doctor prescribed for our ailment although we may not necessarily have any scientific knowledge to ascertain the same. We trust the waiter in the restaurant to convey our order to the chef in a precise fashion and the chef in turn to cook our desired meal to our entire satisfaction.

We trust our family and friends to maintain decorum and respect their individual limits as well as obligations. I could go on and on but suffice it to say, trust can be a double-edged sword at times.

Try trusting a stranger with your money and see the results haunt you. There are many possibilities where misguided trust could bring catastrophic results. This is the reason our elders always advised us to use due diligence. It helps us eliminate to a great extent the possibility of negative consequences. Trusting a stranger is certainly not one of the attributes of due diligence.

Mistaking foes for friends is a more common personality trait than most others we discussed up above. It is only after we have burnt our fingers do we realize we were hoodwinked or cheated by some confidence-trickster that knows how to side-swipe the trusting, simple, mostly innocent individuals for his/her personal gains. We can find them in various guises, from the orange-robed saintly figures acting as ‘Gurus’ or hermits, financial advisors with dubious track record, telemarketers selling all sorts of schemes and plans, politicians acting as everyone’s savior before the elections and so many more garbs.

In each one of the above cases we realize our mistake only after suffering an unexpected loss and/or damage to our reputation. More often than not, we also instinctively ignore the advice of our well-wishers and indulge in such behavior that earns us the designation of a fool. So, how can we avoid such a situation from arising in the first place? We need to pay attention to the age-old wisdom: “Learn from other people’s mistakes.” Why, because we will not live long enough to commit them all ourselves!


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