Tag Archives: #betterme

What Matters Most!

Yesterday I stumbled upon some old hard drives from my London days and beyond. I ended up watching videos of events/moments/experiences that had a meant a lot to me at some point – and now are only memories.

My friend’s hen night, Mine and Adam’s dance performances, Dance parties in LBS… I remember all the hula-baloo around it. For example, the hen night party, it was essential to get them right, make sure we had fun, make sure that I could cater to our friends and also have something me and my friend liked. The entire world revolved around it for weeks. And I was so lost in it. There were many other events like that. It’s like I am possessed by a ghost ‘that’ event for that time.

When I watched those videos, there was nostalgia and the question ‘Who is that person?’ Part of me feels the emotional tug when I watch the videos, but another part of me does not recognize the person in those videos. It feels like aeons ago.

Something super important right now is no longer critical later. Is that life? What I am obsessed about now will no longer matter down the line? Then what does matter? And we come to the most pertinent question humanity has been asking for all these years – ‘What is the point of life?’

The answer lies between two extremes where one end states that life is meaningless, and the other end says that meaning is what makes life worthwhile. And of course Viktor Frankl in his famous book, ‘Man’s search for meaning’ states – it is what we make of it.

I believe that the statement ‘meaning of life’ has taken on a persona by itself. The words sound so big that the very phrase seems daunting. For the longest time ever, I tried to find my purpose in life until I got fed up and decided to live my life. What is the point of trying to find the meaning of life when we don’t even know how to live life?

Most of us live our lives in our head – we are always in the future or the past. Some of us waiting for something to happen or not happen. And some of us are waiting for the ‘NOW’ to pass. But life happens only at this moment. Like right now, you are reading the words on the screen – the life situation like promotion, kids, marriage, money does not matter at this moment. It does not mean that we never think about them, but it is worth asking ourselves if the amount of time we spend thinking – does it make sense?

Maybe it is time to live in the now MORE and think LESS. If we do that we will realize that life is of better quality and we have a wonderful life indeed filled with marvellous moment which is NOW, right now. Maybe humanity has a chance of moving onto the next stage of evolution.

Where are you NOW?

If Nature could speak…

I just finished a week of an exciting event called – Give Back Hack. It is an event where strangers come together and form teams around something they are passionate about – and then turn it into a working idea by the end of the weekend. And due to COVID this year it was a week-long event. And all events have to have a social impact.

I was not very keen on giving up an entire week when I started, but when I heard the pitches, I knew I was all in. There were a few ideas that caught my interest. The one I settled on was – making sustainability a way of life by getting individuals to pick a habit which reduces the carbon footprint in some fashion or other.

My team was a lovely bunch of folks. We got along really well, and we worked hard! To cut a long story short – we won the first prize and got what we asked for in terms of funding. What’s next? We will see.

The name of the company is called 3tree – feel free to check it out and please do leave us your details if you are interested. Or, even better pick up a habit.

It is amazing what happens when people get together at events like this – it’s like magic. Think about it, a week ago as far as I was concerned most of the team did not even exist. And the website that we created where almost 42 people signed up did not exist. And now it is an entity in its own right. How cool is that!

As most of you are aware – I am a true believer that change comes from within, and as an individual, you can lead from where you are. This is what fuels my passion for the environment. And a part of me feels like what we as humans are doing to planet earth and the environment is not right. We are taking unfair advantage of their goodness. Mother earth and nature – it is in their nature (pun intended) to give. And sadly, for humankind as a whole, it is in our nature to take. 

We, as humans, have the option to voice our feelings, hurt. But it is not the case for the trees which we cut down or the animals who are dying because of us. That weighs heavily on my mind. I feel guilty because I feel like I am in some ways responsible for it – and that is what drives my passion around the environment. 

If nature and mother earth could voice their opinions, it would be unbearable for us to listen to cries of pain and agony as they suffer the insanity called humans which has been inflicted upon them. Just because we cannot hear them does not mean there are no consequences.  

Balance is the way of life, and the scales will tip and what the world will look like is scary, to say the least, unless we do something now however little. 

What will you do?

What Are We Going To Do?

I am participating in a hackathon this week – called Give Back Hack. In essence, it’s about a group of strangers coming together to launch a business by the end of it. The caveat is that the company has to have a social impact. 

I chose to work with a team called – ‘Pay It Forward.’ 

Mission: Empower individuals to adopt a lifestyle and mindset to make sustainability a way of life by providing accessible habits and insight into their daily impacts and enabling them to pay it forward

Vision: Propagate Sustainable living by inspiring individuals to act and create a ripple effect in their communities

We plan to get people like you and me to pick one habit which will result in a sustainable lifestyle and stick to it for 21 days and then spread the word. Will the idea work? We certainly hope so.

Is it needed? YES, a resounding YES. As I have been researching on google and speaking to people, a part of me feels like maybe it is already too late for us to save the earth. Are we doomed to live in a world where existing habitats may become unhabitable? Will we live in a world where not all of us will have to access to drinking water or electricity or even food? Maybe all the dystopian movies are just a trailer of what’s to come.

One of the people I interviewed said something interesting – ‘That we have the technology, but capitalism is a fundamental problem.’ Since 90% of the world’s wealth is with 1% of the world’s population, not everybody may be able to access the technology that will enable the future.

And history is witness that money and power are called evil forces for a reason. How many of us reading the blog feel comfortable with giving away 50% of our monthly salary? Right. Working on this project has made me realize that something has to be done – appreciate what Greta Thunberg is trying to do and the urgency of it all. 

What it needs a change in consciousness. Human consciousness has to evolve, something which we have failed at miserably. Look at the bloodshed and wars if you don’t believe me. We never learn. We want more, and now that we have almost destroyed earth, we are starting ventures to see how we can repeat the same thing in outer space. 

The problem will not be solved by going elsewhere because the source of the problem is us, humans, humankind as a whole, each one of us as an individual. We have not experienced the oneness that is common amongst us. If we genuinely realized trees as 50% of our lungs or our fellow humans as an extension of us – we would have a completely different attitude about climate change.

How can that change be brought about? Be still – get to know yourself well, Breathe, meditate – see the world for what it is, an illusion. Will we be able to make it? Some of us will, and some of us won’t.

Which group are you a part of?

You can find it – NOW

Meditation, Spiritual, Journey, Self, Isha, Tolle, Yoga, Consciousness, Presence – these have become buzzwords today. Almost everybody I know is aware of these things even if they are not actively practising. There is an aura or mystery around the whole spiritual journey which feels to be very remote from our day to day lives. For an ordinary householder who has a family to feed, a job to go to this seems irrelevant or impractical. And also to some unattainable unless you are going to sacrifice everything in your life or become a monk.

The reality is – that is not the case. It does not matter who you are – your race, wealth, family, gender – none of it matters. Each one of us can achieve inner peace NOW.

Imagine a drop of water longing to be an ocean. It keeps saying that it is stuck in a river, and there is no way it can experience the vastness of the sea or feel its unfathomable depths. What we forget is that the very essence of the drop of water or an ocean or a river is H2O. If the drop of water realizes that – then the vastness/depth of the ocean will not matter as much. Now, I am aware that this sounds very esoteric so I will switch to other examples.

Have you ever watched a beautiful sunrise, or a rainbow or a lovely tree or a flower? Have you ever watched a beautiful bride and cried? Have you ever looked at a baby or a young child and felt indescribable joy? If, the answer to any of this is yes – then you have already experienced inner peace within you. It might have been for a tiny fraction of second, but you have. Eckhart Tolle says that without these kinds of spaces, we would go mad.

Or, let’s say you have wanted something a car, promotion, a bigger house and you get it. At that moment for a brief second, you are happy because at that moment you are fulfilled.

And you know why we cry or feel so much joy and peace – because at that moment we have no thought. We experience the situation for it is – nothing is lacking or added. The moment as it is perfect. And to be honest, that is all there is – the present moment, NOW. If we can increase the span of time, we feel that space of ‘no-thing’ or no thought we will live in joy.

You can actively, consciously become aware of such moments, or you can induce them as needed. Please take a look at anything around you, be your dog, house plant or leaf anything and look at it without labelling it, or interpreting it. You will experience no-thought for a microsecond which will turn into seconds, minutes, hours – and an entire lifetime. And you will notice that when you genuinely look/see/hear or experience something in this manner, it will become more beautiful, melodious.

If it weren’t possible, we wouldn’t be discussing it. A part of us wants the inner joy and peace – that is why we do what we do.

How will you find space today?

YES to the moment

Saying YES to the moment is a buzzword these days. Surrender to what is will ring true if you are on a spiritual or self-growth path. And like anything profound and straightforward – we have managed to complicate it because we think with our minds. Our mind is flawed when it comes to more profound things in life because it operates only at the physical level.

How have we managed to complicate the simple YES to the moment?

SCENARIO 1: Let’s say you are in a difficult situation. Let’s say a bully is about to beat the daylights out of you. Or, your boss has done something that you fundamentally disagree with. Or, your colleague has made an offhand remark about you.

Saying yes to the moment does not mean that you let the comment that your colleague made go. You don’t like what your boss did, but you are going to accept the moment as it is and move on. Or, you are going to let the bully beat you.

What it means is you see the reality as it is. Your peer has uttered a bunch of words, and it bothers you. Accept that this has happened. You make a call on whether you are going to act or not. Be still and let the right action arise within you. Saying YES enables you to see the situation as it is and then act accordingly with better quality.

SCENARIO 2: You have lost your entire wealth in the stock market crash. Your wife has also left you. You have nothing left – no house, no car, nothing. You are sitting on a bench and contemplating your life.

Accepting the moment as it does not mean that you tell yourself, ‘I should accept that I am a loser. I made bad decisions in life, and now I have to suffer. I was a bad husband, and hence my wife left me.’ This is not accepting the moment; this is creating a story (not real) and making it real.

Accepting the moment is – acknowledging that you are sitting on a bench with five dollars in your pocket. You have nothing in your bank, and your wife wants a divorce. And you take action from here.

It is quite simple. Now, let me also say that accepting the moment does not mean that you do not learn lessons. You do, now you have another data point on investing in the stock market, behaving in the workplace or how to be a better husband.

We have become slaves to our mind instead of being the master. Minds are tools that are supposed to used as appropriate. That is why it is so complicated – mind (our ego) wants to make a story, predict the future, pass judgements—everything except being in the moment because it is painful and honestly quite boring.

What do you find more exciting? The guy who lost all his wealth or he is on a bench with five dollars.

How will you change the way you say YES to the moment?

Thinker or Observer?

“I certainly do not think. Hence, I hear the words that come out of my mouth at the same time as you hear them. This means that there is nobody teaching anybody here.”

This is what Eckhart Tolle says to his audience in one of his retreats. It is funny when you hear it the first time. Here is a great spiritual teacher, and he is saying, ‘I have no idea what is going to come out of my mouth.’ 

Isn’t that scary? Imagine going to a meeting and not being prepared – the agony of not knowing what you are going to say next. How will you prove you are smart unless you can give a more intelligent answer or retort in a conversation.

We do not exist because we THINK – wary of the quote if you are looking for inner peace.

Eckhart’s answer to this is – If he is still, and indeed present then a better quality answer will arise. He has a strong belief that words will arise when he needs. Most importantly, he is not uncomfortable with silence. What does he mean by being present? 

We have two modes of operation – a) thinker and b) observer. For most of us, we are so engrossed in the thinker that we never observe. And if you are always in that mode then you are not truly present to what you are hearing/seeing/feeling – hence it will be a reaction and a lower quality one. 

Watch the thinker and you are operating at a higher level of consciousness

But if you are in the observing mode of operation, then you are in tune with the reality as it is. You hear the words, listen to the sounds, see without any interpretation or labels. As an observer, you are positioned to take the right action if any is needed, and it will be of a higher quality.

How will this play out in real life?

  1. You are with a group of friends talking about guys. Your friend comments that the guy likes X person. You also like the same guy. 
    1. THINKER: Man! I knew it, X is annoying why cannot she keep away that guy. She is much prettier and thinner – I stand no chance.
    2. OBSERVER: She said, ‘Guy likes X.’
  2. You are talking to somebody at the office. She is going on and on about how exciting her new role is. She just got a promotion, is expanding her team by 50%. She got a full-time admin.
    1. THINKER: She is so lucky! Nothing ever works out for me. Why don’t I get promoted? Maybe I am not good enough. Will I ever succeed in life?
    2. OBSERVER: She is telling me she has got a promotion, is expanding her team.

NOTE: As a thinker, you can think positive thoughts as well, but regardless you are creating a story in your head.

Can you see how as a thinker, your actions will be driven by baseless (unreal) thoughts or stories? And as an observer, there is no need to do anything – listen to the words and let them pass.

This practice is not easy because if we identify with the observer, thinker feels threatened, and he comes up with ‘Important’ thoughts.

REMEMBER: Nothing matters absolutely – all thoughts are a bunch of letters put together. They arise and always pass away.

Who Are You?

Imagine you have gone to watch a fantastic play in a lovely theatre. The actors are supposed to be so good that it’s almost life-like. It is a very engaging drama with all the trials and tribulations of human life that we all go through in our real lives.

Now, let’s suppose that the drama is so real that you completely lose yourself in it – especially in one of the characters. You identify with her 100%. You are upset because you (she) cannot get the love of her life. You try with might and vain to solve your (her) legal problems, and you fail. You weep when your (her) close friend dies. In short, you have become the character. And let’s say now you watch the drama all the time because you have become the character and you replay the same drama over and over. In the end, you forget who you are, and you carry out the same character even when the drama ends.

What would you call that? Silly, Stupid, Crazy. Now, what if I told you that we are all like that. We are the actor and the audience. But we have forgotten that we are all the audience of our life where the actor in us plays different dramas.

I was cleaning my room a few weeks ago and came across some of my old diaries. And I quickly glanced through them – it was scary and eye-opening in some ways. I quickly realized that there is always some drama in my life – love, exams, career, parents, family… The story might change, but the drama is constant. And I play the part of the actor with gusto – I weep, rejoice, cry my eyes out for weeks, go on a diet, meditate. I forget that I am also the observer of my own life – because I get caught up in the acting so much.

Why is this important? If I am identified with the actor, then life will be very challenging or as Buddha said – it will be suffering. Because I am suffering whatever the actor goes through. If I remember that I am the audience, then I will applaud the great performances and move on. I will make better decisions in my real-life if I remain rooted as an audience and not be carried away by the whims and fancies of the actor I am portraying right now.

Imagine a Jar which we are filling with sand/stones and other items. What matters is the space in the jar, which allows things to rise, not what we fill the space with. It is the same with our lives – we have to remember that we are the screen on which the various dramas arise and pass away, but the screen remains constant. If we are rooted in this truth and connected with the screen all the time – life would be a breeze, and we will enjoy it like a play.

Who are you, the actor or the audience or the screen?

Make Your Dreams Come True

How many of us daydream every day to escape from our daily grind? Imagining about writing a novel, buying your dream house, creating a reading nook in your home, your job as a CEO, your successful business, having kids, going to exotic places for vacation…. the list is endless.

There are two aspects I want to cover in this blog. Why do we daydream or rather why I think we daydream? Second, how can we make daydreaming more effective?

For the why – the keyword is escape. We are unhappy with the now. We do not like the reality as it is. We use daydreaming as a means to endure the suffering by forgetting about it for a while. Sometimes we may lack the courage needed the face the reality as it is and make peace with it. Or we do not want to face reality, so we daydream. Or, you have dreams that you want to accomplish, and you daydream about them. Or, you cannot afford your goals, so you daydream about them.

On the surface, daydreaming or fantasizing is not a bad thing. We all need it to survive our lives which is ‘Suffering’ if one-word could describe it. But, there may come the point when you feel hollow, and it does not seem as rewarding it used. You can use it as a trigger.

The article in BBC.com has an acronym for how to make daydreaming more effective. WOOP – Consider your Wish, Imagine your Outcome, Identify your Obstacle, Make a Plan. It does require some work – like all things worth achieving do. Every time you daydream – think of what do you want, articulate what is stopping you and take the next smallest step you can towards it.

Example: I want to write an epic fantasy novel series. I want my books to enthral readers and lead them into a fantasy world (no pun intended). I am not very proficient in writing. Write something every day.

Example: I want to become a CEO. I want to leave a mark in this world. I do not have all of my skills yet. Make a list of skills needed for a CEO.

Example: I want to create a reading nook in my house. I want a quiet space in my home. I do not have the means or space to do it. What is the minimal step you can do to make your space your own – light a candle, buy a perfume, get one of those beautiful Japanese screens?

Example: I want to move to a perfect house. I want a lovely neighbourhood to live in. I do not have the means to do it. Make a plan – how much money do I need? Do I need to move further away? Do I need to compromise?

For all these examples, if you are stuck on the plan – there is google, communities – no shortage of resources. How to make a quiet space in a small house? How to become a CEO?

And as you work steadily towards making your dreams into reality, think about what is the trigger (WHY?) – and maybe you will discover unmet needs and VOILA! You may find another easy way to make your dreams come true.

What are you daydreaming about?

The road ahead, not the turn

I recently saw the movie, ‘Stand and Deliver’ based on the real-life story of Jamie Escalante, a math professor. He is famous for teaching calculus to high school students in Garfield High School in East LA. Most of the students are of Hispanic origins who passed the test.

There are a couple of scenes that stood out to me from the movie.

SCENE 1: One of his students wants to quit because his uncle has offered him a job fork lifting and paying him time and a half. And within a year he can have a car of his own.
Jamie takes him a car ride, and as they reach a crossroad, he asks him urgently, ‘Left or Right’. The student in a hurry says, ‘Left, Left.’ and they end up in a dead-end.
Jamie says, ‘Look at the road ahead and not at the turn.’

SCENE 2: One of the students asks Jamie, ‘Are you nervous that we will screw up the test royally, tomorrow?’ Jamie replies, ‘Tomorrow is just a day, honey. I am worried that you will screw your lives.’

Both these scenes stood out of to me because it is evident that Jamie is thinking ahead. He is looking at the road and not the turn.

How many times have we thought of the turn ahead but not the destination – and ended up in a dead-end? How many times have we made a decision because it brings us momentary or short term gains at the expense of long term benefits? Settled for a partner because of social pressure even if it was not the right match. Gone for a job because of prestige even though it was not what you wanted. Went on a fad diet to lose weight only to put it all back.

People will tell you, ‘Marriage is all about compromise.’ or ‘You can do any job for two years.’ And it is tempting, really tempting because at the moment all you want is that desire to be fulfilled. But remember, ‘He who laughs last, laughs the best.’ These are times when you need to anchor to your values. Do you want to spend your life with somebody who is not the best match for you? Do you want to go to work every day knowing this is not the job you wanted?

Another big question, ‘How do I make the decision?’ The most common and annoying answer to that is, ‘Trust your gut.’ But, by the time you get to your gut, you are no longer able to sense it forget about trusting it. Or, sometimes you can hear what your gut is saying, but you do not want to listen. What do you do in these situations?

There is no right or wrong. In the end, the universe always has your back and will get you where you need to be. How you get there might be painful or comfortable, depending on the path you take? Sometimes, you have to remind yourself that its just life – make a decision and move on. The important thing is to be happy and be at peace.

Are you looking at the turn or the road?

Reality Is…

I had given a talk to OSU – MBA students last year. And one of them asked me a question, ‘I have seen the movie Dangal in which Aamir Khan had to fight with society and sometimes even his daughters to make them into national wrestling champions. I want to know how the experience was for you?’

My answer was, ‘I have been fortunate in that matter. I always use to tell my parents that my brother got to do everything because he was a boy and how they loved him more than me. And one day, my dad being my dad asked me – Tell me one time when I stopped you from doing something.’ And that was it I never brought up that topic again.

But it makes me wonder why is this even a story in my life? That as a girl, I had to fight for or did not get the same chance as usual people. 

I just saw the movie, ‘Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl’ which depicts the life of the first female pilot in India. As the first female pilot in the Indian Air force, she had to deal with all men counterparts, no female toilets or changing rooms. Tired of this, she does go back home and tells her dad that she wants to get married and settled down. Her dad played by the brilliant actor – Pankaj Tripathi, tells her – ‘The way to get out of the cage is free your way out of the cage and not clip your wings.‘ A compelling statement if you think about it. How many of us give up on our dreams by clipping out wings, settling for the mediocre in our life. It takes courage to pursue what you want despite difficulties. And if we remember that the growth happens in the journey and not at the destination, maybe it might become easier.

There is another scene where she is rejected in her first medical exam because of a) 7 Kg overweight and b) 1 cm less in height. She comes back home sad and refuses to wake up from her bed the next day. Her dad says, ‘People who never stop working hard, destiny/fate will never stop working for them. You do what is in your control and rest we will see how it pans out.‘ Such simple advice but how difficult to follow in practice. All I have to do is to work hard and do what is in my control, but it is so easy to get caught up in the drama of things that are out of our control. For example, a colleague tells you about how somebody else got an exciting project because he or she knows somebody. Now do you ignore that comment and continue working on your skills, or do you keep wondering how you will never be successful because you do not know anybody higher up?

You get what you work for not what you wish for. Are you wishing or working?