Monthly Archives: March 2018

A Perfect Life.

Let’s start with a story first. A group of carmakers from the US went to study the car making process in Japan. In the US, there is a stage where the engineer uses a rubber mallet to fit the doors into the car. The US group kept waiting for this to happen in the Japanese cycle but to their surprise, there was no such process. So, one of them asked their Japanese counterpart about this missing process. He replied sheepishly, “We make sure our doors fit from the start.”

In short Japanese carmakers plan their cars so well that when the finished product arrives, it is perfect. They do detailed planning in advance.

Now, have you planned your life like the carmaking process in a) the US or b) Japan?

For example:
Are you playing the violin at a friend’s party now or frustrated that you would like to do so but don’t have time to learn it now?
Are you envious of friends who are lean and trim or upset that you haven’t got a lifestyle diet/exercise habit yet?

These kinds of habits – lifestyle habits take years/decades to build as it is not easy to change ourselves. Change does not happen overnight, but it has to start somewhere. If you are thinking – “This is all well and good, but I should have started ten years ago” – then consider what will you say another ten years down the line.

Firstly, you have to think about your life and where it is headed? If you don’t then you are accepting to drift – there is nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t get upset/frustrated with your choices (or lack thereof) later. For most of us, we do not even think about how we want to live our lives?

Secondly, you have to start the journey to knowing yourself. What do you like? What do you dislike? What qualities do you admire? What are your values? What makes you laugh? What inspires you?

Thirdly, charter a course. Unlike carmaking process, life is a bit more complicated, and hence we have to ready for tons of trial and error, knowing that with each iteration we are understanding more about ourselves and strengthening the muscle to stay put on a course.

Fourth, once you are on the right track – keep repeating the process.

If this sounds REALLY SERIOUS stuff – then yeah! We are talking about your life here! There is no course in university which can teach you this because life is the university in this case. Like everything else starts small – keep a journal once a week, note down what your ideal life means to you? Note down which kind of people you are drawn to naturally. And once you start feeding energy to this process – it will energize you. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I said before it doesn’t matter where you are in your life journey – it’s about what you will be next year.

The idea here is not to plan the life out of your life but to live an intentional life.

Expiry Date On Blaming Others

I was watching one of the episodes of Law and Order, and this scene jumped out at me.
Ben Stone: The father really believed that he loved his son.
Adam Schiff: And, you don’t.
Paul Robinette: Well, history has shown that sons will go to extremes to please their fathers.
Ben Stone: Well, my father wanted me to be a doctor – and the closest I got to was organic chemistry.
Adam Schiff: Then, what happened.
Ben Stone: I grew up.

J.K Rowling – the author of the Harry Potter series, says, “There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.” [This extends to people other than our parents too – like friends, siblings and sometimes just plain old childhood]

Some of us have lived so long thinking that we are living life on our parent’s terms that we forget that it is our life at the end of the day.

This stage when you grow up comes in everybody’s life or lifetimes 🙂 but it does arrive. Everybody has to accept it – what differs is how they accept it? Some do it happily; some are forced; some do it begrudgingly, and some do it unknowingly.

As a child, we are not capable of processing the information or emotions that world throws at us, so we create a reality which works for us as a child. For example, let’s say you did not like swimming class as a kid, so you threw a tantrum by locking yourself in the restroom – every time you had a class. In the end, your parents decided that they are not taking you to the swim class. You found out that throwing tantrum lets you get away from unpleasant situations. Now, the child has grown up, and he has not updated his defense mechanisms – he does not like applying for jobs – so his default response is to hide in his room and not come out.

Sound familiar? Nobody escapes from childhood – we build our mental models as a child and then spend the rest of the adult life trying to undo the mental models. Sooner we update our operating system sooner we start living life on our term.

Why is this important? Why is it important to reset the way you handle a situation as a child? Well, the simple answer is you are not a child anymore. Another painful answer is this: Let’s say you have an elastic band that you have been stretching for years – there will come a breaking point. And when it breaks, it will snap back at you, and everything that it was holding will fall. Do you want to move to a tie or a new rubber band or wait for the old one to break – is up to you.

All of us human beings have been put on earth for a specific purpose to overcome obstacles and reach our highest potential. And we can do that only if live our life, not our friend’s, not our parents but ours. Claim what is yours and shine like a star!

I Am Vegan

Before we begin:
Vegetarian: No meat including chicken, fish (eggs – Maybe)
Vegan: Vegetarian and no dairy products (including eggs)
Whole Food Plant-Based Diet (WFPB): Vegan plus no refined or processed foods or sugar and limited oil

I turned WFPB (Vegan) this year. I still have eggs once in a while but overall Vegan diet.
Vegan Chai Smoothies + No Oil Bread Pakoras

WHY? That is the question that most people ask – Why am I Vegan? When my mother-in-law asked me this question, I realized I did not have an answer. I am realizing now that I am very intuitive and this was one of those things – I am ready to be vegan so here I go. But, it did get my thinking cells started, and I have tried to list some of the reasoning below

  • Healthy Lifestyle: As I grow old I have to do something about this ever-growing weight. I usually eat well and seem to be on some diet all the time, but my weight grew a pound or two every year. And this kind of a rate is not sustainable. And when I am eating healthy my body feels great whereas if I stuff myself with fries it does not. I wanted to treat my body well. (If I don’t take care of my body where will I live.)
  • Vipassana Meditation: One of the precepts for Vipassana includes not killing or harming other living beings. And as students, we take the precepts during the ten-day course and are encouraged to maintain our precepts in daily life too. A decade of practicing Vipassana has to have some effect. And now I cannot bear the thought of eating an animal. I might start crying if I see a fish being killed (and for those of you who know me crying is a compelling statement from me)
  • Other Centered Universe: This is a by-product and not an intentional result. As a result of going vegan, I am doing the planet a lot more good. The global warming effect is primarily due to the CO2 that the cattle release and the amount of grain that goes in feeding the cattle can feed the entire human population many times over.

 

HOW? I am bragging a bit when I say that I have no trouble saying no to ice cream/chocolates. But, keep in mind this was not an overnight decision – I have been on a healthy lifestyle journey since 2008. I switched to Soy initially and then did the Master Cleanse for the first time and did it every year since then. I switched to brown sugar from white one year and then to honey the next and now no honey either (I use date paste/maple syrup only if necessary). So as you can see this has been a long journey with incremental steps. Last year we did the FOK course, and that brought me closer to being vegan. So, this year becoming vegan was practically the next step in my journey.

WHAT? What next? I have been vegan for three months now and loving it. I continue to have delicious dishes likes Chocolate chia pudding/Pita pizzas, and I am eating a lot more vegetables. And some of the vegetables I had never even heard of like Palm of hearts. I eat till I am satiated and guilt free.
(No Cheese pita pizza)

The main reason I went vegan is that it was the easiest way to eat healthy everywhere (at office/ restaurants). They did a study once where they left an apple and Mcdonald burger out for a week. The apple had decayed and was rotting whereas the burger was the same – Can you imagine putting something in your body that even the bacteria could not break down. With vegan diet you only eat stuff that your body can digest :).

My Friday drink – Fruit Beer Float [Cheers to a healthy lifestyle]

Groundhog Day

I have been watching episodes of Law and Order Season 2, which aired in 1990. Apparently, it was the first series to introduce the forty-five-minute episode format and also the first to include both sides of the story (Law and Order). I am enjoying it – if you remember reading my blog about Right Vs. Right it helps me exercise my ethics muscle – it does make me wonder whether there is something that can be truly right or truly wrong. But what I am left wondering as I watch the episodes is that we are still facing the same issues two decades later – racism, abuse, drunk driving – in some ways it does feel like groundhog day.

Now, if we go back to Romans, Greeks – the politics, power play existed then and exists now. We have made some progress (I would like to believe so) regarding slavery etc., but I am not convinced that we have come any closer to solving the cause of the problem.

What do you think is the cause of the problem? The society we live in? The world we live in? Our leaders? Our parents? Or is the right question – WHO is the cause of the problem. The answer is Me, You, Us – Humankind. We are the root of the problem. We are the only constants since society’s humble beginnings.

Root Cause Problem Solving means you tackle the problem at the root and not alleviate the symptoms. If we don’t realize that we are the problem we will look outside to solve it.

A policeman sees a drunk man searching for something under a streetlight and asks what the drunk has lost. He says he lost his keys and they both look under the streetlight together. After a few minutes the policeman asks if he is sure he lost them here, and the drunk replies, no, and that he lost them in the park. The policeman asks why he is searching here, and the drunk replies, “this is where the light is.”

For example:
We all fall sick, but instead of trying to find out why we are sick we get medicines. Now do not get me wrong – medications have their place but isn’t it important to know why you fell ill in the first place.
There is so much violence in the world, and we have organizations like Samaritans, child helpline who can help you cope with that but do we ask ourselves why there is so much violence in the first place?

Something goes wrong in our life, and our instant response is – it was somebody else’s fault. She was micro-managing me. She is so overly critical of me. Do we ever pause and wonder what part did I play in what happened in my life? Humankind as a whole has faced and is facing problems. And if each one of us who collectively make this humankind look inwards and think about how we could alter ourselves, humanity would improve as a whole. But do we know how to do that? Are we taught how to do that? Are we even aware that this is a possibility? [Meditation, self-awareness courses are some of the ways]

Two things are certain – Change starts from within AND unless we accept our part in what happens to us we will never be able to do anything about it.

Growing Old

Incident 1: I turned thirty years old, and I remember talking to my dad who is a realist in all sense. I told him, “Can you believe it I am thirty years old?” And his response was, “Yes, and in another ten years you will be forty and another ten you will be fifty.”

Incident 2: I was serving at Vipassana and had a conversation with one of the other younger servers. She asked, “Who is your favorite Bollywood actor. I answered, “Aamir Khan.” Her response was, “He is good, but he is old.”

Incident 3: We had a get-together at my place, and the conversation turned to boyfriends, crushes, etc. One of the girls was narrating how she loved somebody, and he lacked the courage to bring it up to his family. A few others chimed in with their experiences. And during that conversation, I realized that how long ago since I had one of such experiences – it was a long time ago.

I am sure you have got the gist of the topic by now – growing old. It happens to all of us, and it is inevitable. But we still live life like it is never going to happen to us until it happens. When you are young, it is understandable – now when somebody looks at my photos and comments – “Boy, you look so young here.” I suppress the urge to say, “It will happen to you in the next few years.” They don’t know because they haven’t crossed that stage yet.

But once the realization hits you, there is no reason not to accept it and live life fully because you have the experience. The question, “What would your younger-self advise older self ten years from now?” is relevant here. What are the things you did before that you can change now because you know it’s not worth it or it doesn’t matter or make sure you cherish it as it does matter?

Living life entirely does put things in perspective. All the heartbreaks, the anxiety of getting an interview, getting into school was a tiny blip compared to the lessons I learned, memories I made in that process. In London Business School, a few of us got a lot of rejections for various companies. What I remember about that is the overnight conversations on the run-down couch with cups of chai in our St. Johnswood flat. The case studies were a real mystery to me but what I remember is the pasta dish my friend used to make when we were supposed to studying. I also remember the pangs of loneliness when my relationships did not work out, but it taught me some of the hardest lessons in life – patience, things happen when the time is right, something are just not meant to be. There are a lot more nuggets that my conscious mind remembers, and I am 200% sure that there are a lot more than my subconscious mind knows.

We do have the advantage of hindsight in some fashion – but the key is to be aware of now. If you are not fully aware of now, then you will not be able to take advantage of it and reap the benefits later on.