Mr. John Christensen shared the ‘Fish Philosophy’ in 1998 to improve the attitude of students and young professionals. The four central ideas are to choose your attitude, play, make ‘their’ day and live in the present moment. This time, I shall share with you how you can use the ‘Fish Philosophy’ to succeed in life. This philosophy is inspired by a fish market in Seattle, called ‘Pikes Place,’ which is known for its fun approach to work. In that market, they toss fish around as if they were footballs. People from all over visit this historic place to buy fish and to watch the show. So, it also attracts customers who are looking to buy quality fish and have a fun experience. Mr. Christensen says, “There is always a choice about the way you do your work, even if there is not a choice about the work itself.” He says that our attitude is a matter of choice. The fact that half the glass is full of water is a fact, but we can choose whether to describe the glass as ‘half full’ or ‘half empty.’
Choose Your Attitude : What we choose to focus on will determine how we feel. If all we do is complain about making more money or scoring higher marks, we are creating a negative mindset. If we choose to focus on our wonderful teachers and fellow students and how we enjoy the process of learning in school and college, we are choosing to see the positive in our situation.
Many of us believe that our attitudes are caused directly by outside influences like unpleasant experiences or negative people. But while external pressures may trigger our feelings, we are the ones wearing those feelings like a business suit. We can either be subservient to external events, on few of which we do not have any control, or we can take charge of our own response.
Be There : If you are truly engaged in your studies, you will not have the mental bandwidth to be concerned about anything else, but the job at hand. You are here to study and to work well. It is hard to put yourselves in the moment, but the more you can get lost in your studies the more fun studies will become.
It means getting out of your own little ‘world’ or your own little bubble, so you can be there for others. It means setting aside emotional baggage from the past, and worries about the future in order to appreciate the opportunities available to you, right now. The Bhagwad Geeta also tells you to focus only on your ‘karma’ and not on its fruits thereof.
Make Their Day : Giving gratitude to others is important. We all have much to be grateful about. From our parents who take care of all our needs to our teachers who educate us well so that we can succeed in life, gratitude makes the giver feel good as well as the person who receives the compliment. When we stop worrying about how we are going to be happy while studying or working and focus on helping others to be happy, the byproduct is that our level of happiness increases.
At a deeper level, ‘making their day’ means taking a genuine interest in the unique gifts of others. Spontaneous or planned, when you make the effort to brighten someone’s day—not because you want a reward, but because that is the kind of person that you wish to be—you receive an internal gift that makes life even more meaningful. No matter what, making someone’s day is a win-win. Every single time.
Play : Having fun while studying or working is a must. If all that you do is cram for exams and try to faithfully reproduce what you have memorised, then studying will soon become a drag. An ‘all-work and no play’ approach has a human cost. It is not inspiring. We shut down emotionally and many who might make creative contributions keep that part of themselves at home. ‘Fish Philosophy’ and ‘Happiness while studying or working’ go hand in hand.
When we stop complaining and start noticing the good in our lives (Choosing our Attitude), work in the present moment (Being There), recognise the importance of giving gratitude to other stakeholders, teachers, parents, siblings, relatives, loved ones and colleagues (Making Their Day), and have fun while studying or working (Playing), then we are creating a student life or a working life that makes us happy. We all know that happy students are able to work hard and hardworking students score good marks and are able to clear difficult competitive examinations.
I hope you will be able to apply the principles of ‘Fish Philosophy’ at home, school and college. Wishing and working for your success,
(Surendra Kumar Sachdeva)