The first step towards Self-realization is to understand the gunas. The functions of our mind and body are regulated by three gunas i.e. sattva, rajas, and tamas. The three gunas have innumerable permutations and combinations to constitute the personality of a person, and this is the reason why every person is different and reacts to different situations differently.
Sattva guna is characterized by happiness, bliss and knowledge, and makes us kind, considerate, and helpful to others; rajas is passion, attachment, and restlessness, which makes us egoistic, self-centred, and pleasure-seeking; tamas is darkness, ignorance, and delusive, making us wicked, lazy, and confused. Depending upon which guna predominates at each stage or in every situation of life, we act and are judged by others accordingly. When rajas and tamas predominate, we find it difficult to work towards Self-realization. Most of the time we are so engrossed in our own lives that we do not even make an effort to understand how the gunas shape our personality; leave aside working towards improving our situation.
The easier way to cultivate sattva guna is doing good to others. Doing good attenuates selfishness and makes us more selfless. We need to make an effort to do good to others as part of our nature. If one believes in supreme consciousness or God, one can perform sincere spiritual practices like praying for others. Offering the fruits of all our work to God slowly releases us from the chains of cause and effect. Once a person has conviction in the existence of supreme consciousness or God, it becomes the guide. Then, with time, one finds oneself surrounded by conditions that are conducive towards the development of sattva guna.
Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda