Tag Archives: #self-help

It’s Not Working.

How many times do you go through your pantry and throw away stuff that has expired or gone bad? The things you thought you would use but have forgotten or no longer need.

How often do you go through your closet and select clothes to throw away or donate? Clothes that do not fit you or are out of fashion.

Now, how often do you go through your thoughts or beliefs and throw the ones that are not working for you any more? The beliefs that do not serve you but have become harmful.

At some point in my life I thought that a) I could only have one best friend and b) that friend should know everything about me or more than others. Now at that young age, it was possible to do that – but as I grew up it became impossible because the social circle changed, I changed – things that I thought were important were no longer relevant. That belief was not working for me, so I had to change it – expand it.

It was an innocuous belief, but it had far-reaching impacts on who I trust even now. I know what I don’t do, which is a blessing, but it doesn’t change what I do. It is an effort.

We all have such mental models on which we base our life. And these models worked when they did – that’s why we use them again and again, but there comes the point when they don’t work, but we still try to use them like squeezing the honey out of an empty bottle. A wise person would wake up to the fact that the bottle is empty and its time to get a new jar of honey.

It is obvious to use when we outgrow our clothes, but we are very negligent when it comes to our thoughts and mental models. Mental hygiene is not taught in our society. Nobody talks about it – that is another widely held belief in the community. So much of the problems in the world exist because we do not let go of what has expired. Imagine eating food that has expired – no way; we throw it away even if it is a day past. But we hold onto thoughts are that centuries old. Don’t believe me – then take up any popular Netflix show – you will see the same themes pop up – underdogs rising, a man fighting with a man for territory (or planet), greed, politics. We haven’t changed and never will unless there is a rise in consciousness.

Real change and a much-needed one can happen if each one of us becomes aware – self-management is the key. A tree knows what it has to do when it rains or when it’s windy. We do too, but we have been focused on how we look, how others look that we never look inside to see what we know.

If each one of us took upon us to wake up our inner compass, the world would be a different place to live. How will you go about discovering your inner compass today?

It’s Not The Same.

We recently played a game – Dayam, it is popular in the villages of South India. I had played it as a child growing up and recalled fond memories of playing it with cousins and other friends to pass the time in the long hot summer holidays. I had got the board and the dice years ago but never got a chance to play it – so we decided to play it with my parents. To my surprise – the game was not as much fun as I expected it to be.

I watched a show on Netflix called Perfect Match – it is about two chefs. A uber wealthy couple comes to dine at the restaurant, and they wanted to taste the same dish that the chef had made 50 years ago when they got married. The younger chef has the exact recipe that her father had used to prepare for their wedding, and she decides to make that same dish. The experienced chef modifies his recipe. The couple loves the modified recipe, and to her surprise when the young chef tastes her recipe, she does not like it, either.

What happens? The experienced chef explains it to the younger chef – that the couples taste and ours to evolve with time. When the couple got married, they did not care about eating organic, or they were not watching their salt intake – so if he had served them the same recipe, they would not have liked it.

It’s the same with us and our lives – our taste evolves but memories linger. That is why as we grow old things from the past seem more enticing and exciting than they were because they get enhanced as our experience increases.

Life is change at its core – we change, our tastes change as we experience life in our way – this is why sometimes it is harder to connect with friends back home because the path travelled are so different that we are at different places in our lives with no overlap. That is normal and ok. Our tastes change – that is how we improve. If I ran meetings the way, I did before I would have learnt nothing. The foods that I eat today are a lot different than what I used to eat before — everything changes – what we do today, what we like today, what we wear today.

And this personal change is reflected in the world around us – our attitude towards sex, climate change, IVF babies, plant-based food, liquid food, online ordering. Life is not what it used to be when we grew up, and this is how it is going to be.

What this means is to enjoy each experience for what it is – not holding onto it, and it is the experience that counts – every interaction changes us as a person – it is up to us to decide how we want to change and include or stay away from that change or accept that change in our lives.

What is your relationship with change?

Is It The Right Knife?

During my first Vipassana Service, I served in the kitchen. And we usually cook for like about 70-90 people – breakfast, lunch for these many people. And it means everything we do is in huge quantities like potatoes – 4 Kgs, cucumber – 2 Kgs. One of the tasks that I was assigned to was cutting tomatoes – Kilos of them. I admit that I was a novice at cooking and had a hard time cutting tomatoes because the knife would just slide by as opposed to make a clean cut. One of my fellow servers saw me struggling with tomatotes and came over with a serrated knife and cutting tomatoes has been a source of joy since then.

Have you ever tried to slice ginger? If so, then you probably know that if you are having a hard time slicing it then it probably means you just have to flip it to the other side. Yes, one side of ginger is more amenable to being cut than the other.

What does all this mean? That things do not have to be hard – if they are then that means you are doing it the hard way, not necessarily that it is hard.

This technique is not restricted only to cutting vegetables or in the kitchen – this is true even for life. When we are doing something for the first time, it is hard because we are figuring out which knife to use for which vegetables – which side to turn the ginger on to ensure that the knife slices smoothly. When I became a people leader – it was hard because I was learning, and as I keep at it, I realized that I have a toolkit and now I use the tool needed for that situation.

People might tell you how to be a great leader, you can read all the books you want, but nothing can replace the hands-on experience. Sometimes people who write the books are so well experienced in their craft that they do not think that mentioning that using a ‘serrated’ knife is the key because for them it is the only way to cut tomatoes. We build our toolkit – the one that works for us, not the one that made the author successful. It does not mean that you have nothing to learn from the books – of course, you do, but just reading books is not going to cut it.

If something is hard, then it is a good thing because it means you will eventually learn how to make it easy or you will learn something new. Giving up is not the option – a lot of people say nowadays I have so many emails in my inbox that I cannot read all emails – Excuses!!! If you cannot manage your inbox, then how are you managing your life. You haven’t figured out how to manage your inbox the easy way, and you have given up and accepted that it is hard – that is a sad situation.

Which knife are you looking for?

To Give Up Or Not.

At lunch, I was telling my family about an amazon prime video I had watched. It’s called ‘Spotlight’ and is based on real events depicting the Boston Globe newspaper’s journey in exposing the child abuse by priests. It led to a lively discussion around institutions, power, giving up and from there, the topic led to Anthony De Mello – who was an Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist. He has written lots of excellent books (Recommend Awareness if you are interested). Adam mentioned that in one of Anthony’s clips he says (I am paraphrasing) – ‘When he would talk to priests – all they would want to talk about is sex – because that’s what they have given up. And when he would talk to sex workers or prostitutes, all they wanted to talk about was God and spirituality.’

Moral of the story – you are obsessed with what you give up. Because when you give up something, you are so focused on giving it up that it is almost an obsession. For your mind – it does not make a distinction between whether you are giving it up or not – all it knows that a particular topic is on your mind a lot. For example, you decide to give up dairy – and you keep googling various kinds of non-diary desserts, articles on benefits of giving up dairy. All your mind knows is that you think about dairy non-stop which from its perspectives it’s true.

Why is it that when you give up something, you are obsessed with it? If you give up something before you are ready to give it up, then there is no point. How do you know you are prepared to give up something? You are not looking to replace it with something – you are not doing something in its stead that’s when you know you are ready to give it up, but at that point, you are not giving it up because you do not have it.

I know it sounds confusing – Prof.Rao from Creativity and Personal Mastery says, ‘You cannot give up desire – desire has to give you up.’ That is the essence. But we are all humans, and we have to start somewhere. Why is it important to know the difference – so that we can accept and absorb something fully before giving it up. How can we give something up if we are not done with it – and be done with something means knowing it fully, we have explored it fully.

We cannot solve a problem by thinking the same thing – it’s the same with giving up – there has to be something different about the way we think about it and in order to do that sometimes you have to immerse yourself in it fully as opposed to fighting it even before you know what it is. Everything in life is there for us to learn – if we have not learned the lesson how much ever you try to give it up – it won’t work. But the minute you learned from your experience – it will disappear.

What are you trying to give up without having grasped it fully?
Leaving with a poem from the famous saint poet – Kabir

Kabir’s poem
“When I gave up the tying of ribbons, still I tied my garment
about me:
When I gave up tying my garment, still I covered my body in its
folds.
So when I give up passion, I see that anger remains;
And when I renounce anger, greed is still with me still;
And when greed is vanquished, pride and vainglory remain;
When the mind is detached and casts Maya away,still it clings to
the latter.
Kabir says, ‘Listen to me, dear Sadhu! the true path is rarely found.””
― Kabir, Songs of Kabir

Where Will It Lead Us To?

This blog is a little bit different from my other blogs in the sense that it is a collection of various bits of information about Japan that I find fascinating. For a while, I have been fascinated by Japan. Not only because our Shiba-Inu pup is from Japan but because of the demographics in Japan.

Some interesting facts about Japan
43% of 18-34-year-olds say they have never had sex.
64% of 18-34-year-olds say they are not in a relationship
In 2018 there were 921,000 births and 1.37m deaths, with government efforts failing to encourage families to have more children.

So Japan is one country where people are dying faster than babies are being born. And on top of it, young people in Japan do not show an inclination towards having babies – I wonder where it will lead it.

I am sure you are wondering why young in Japan are moving towards sexless orientation. I think that it is because housing is tiny and expensive. In Japanese culture, – Men are breadwinners. It is a stigma not to have a full-time job. Full-Time jobs are exhausting – many companies violate labour laws. With these factors, it is hard for men to find a job that can help them form a family.

Also, most men seem afraid of rejection, and they spend most of their time on animation or with their phones, hence the fascination with Manga. They have a relationship with their phones. There are counsellors in Japan who teach young men how to approach women. Women seem to prefer their independence. One woman says that her desire to have food and sleep wins over sex.

Japan has a rental service for lonely people. In Japan, an agency supplies role-playing family members to people struggling with loneliness and isolation. Sometimes it’s to maintain face at social events. Sometimes it’s to provide company and companionship to those who find themselves alone.
)

If this trend continues, then, Japan would truly become sexless and would take us into the Sci-Fi world where babies are born in factories in a controlled environment. Men and Women never touch each other and live with machines for companionship.

What’s happening in Japan is not isolated to Japan. Think of your childhood and think of children growing up now. I was never inside the house – I was always outside playing with other kids or just being outside. Nowadays, kids are on the digital highway. They have online friends. Earlier my parents used to drop into friends place – neighbours would drop into our home unannounced. Now, it takes weeks to schedule a coffee with someone.

In Europe, streets were built so that people can hang out and showcase their singing/dancing and other talents – the community was so integral that it was built into the infrastructure. Now, we live vicariously through Netflix, Facebook, Instagram.

We are progressing so rapidly in the technological domain that it is taking precedence over all other aspects of a society that needs nurturing for a fully functioning community. Honestly, do we need another version of iPhone or Samsung – I doubt if we are using our current phones to their fullest extent. What we need is more hugs, physical touches – human connection.

How will you connect with humanity today?

There Is Enough Room.

Have you ever wondered at the sheer variety in nature? It is unbelievable, even in one tree, no leaf is the same. I am sure there are many other species of animals and trees in existence that we are unaware of. Nature is at peace with it – the tree does not wish it could get rid of the poison ivy or that one annoying leaf which a dog ate. I am sure shrub does not think about shedding that branch which has become the favourite pee spot of all dogs in the neighbourhood.

Since my role as a people manager, I am trying to come to the same understanding as mother nature. There is a reason and space for all of us to exist. For the longest time ever I kept thinking that if everybody was like me then life would be so much easier – I have come to realize that it would be really dull and not a peaceful place to live in. Then I thought if only I had a high performing team life would be so much easier – I have come to realize that there would not be much opportunity for self-growth. At the end of the day everybody has a place and a reason to exist everywhere. Once I made peace with this, my life became a lot easier. There are still times when I want to change what exists to what I would like it to be but that is a fruitless exercise in itself. But I always try. Human Beings never learn.

If you ever watched a period piece in any country – it is the same storyline. Power struggle, minorities are trying to find their rights and the powerful trying to suppress them. And if you ever watched a sci-fi, the same storyline, humans trying to find their place with the aliens or humans fighting with other humans on a different planet. We never learn – Netflix shows are a prime example of that fact. Even the storylines we make revolve around the same theme – finding our place by taking somebody else’s position or trying to replace somebody. Because we do not know any other storyline, and these storylines will repeat unless we annihilate ourselves (which by the way we are close to) or we learn a different storyline that there is a place for everybody – there is no need to find it or replace somebody else for our situation. There is a reason why we all exist. If we do not accept what it is, then we will never learn.

It does not matter who we are, what language we speak, how we dress, or where we live. What matters is what I do and how I do it – it is the intention that counts. If we were all blind will we still be guided by our misplaced biases – the world will be a different place because we wouldn’t change our behaviour because of what we see. We don’t have to go blind to see the change.

Is there a place for everybody in your day to day life?

Don’t Take It Personally

How many times in your life have you heard – ‘Don’t take it too personally.’ Have you ever wondered what it means?

From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English to take something personally is to get upset by the things other people say or do because you think that their remarks or behaviour are directed at you in particular. For example, Don’t take it personally; she’s rude to everyone.

The common belief here is that it is something that is caused by other people. I beg to disagree. Don’t believe me – let’s try the following example.

Let’s say you are walking down the street and almost every other person on the road comes up to you and says, ‘You are limping.’ What would you do? You will disregard and probably say something like, ‘What’s got into everybody? They are all crazy.’

Now, Let’s say you are walking down the street and every other person on the road comes up to you says, ‘You are not a good employer or an employee, or a good husband or some variant of this.’ What would you do?
The chances are that most of would be wondering something like, ‘How did they know?’ or ‘I knew it I shouldn’t have done that thing or this thing?’

Moral of the story is that we take it personally only if we believe there is a grain of truth to it – if not, we think it is a stupid thought. So, only we are responsible for making things personal. Others act as a trigger for what we already know is true inside of us.

Instead of getting upset or annoyed the best course of action is to express gratitude to the other party for helping you know yourself better and work towards coming to peace with it. This is easier said than done because, in these type of scenarios, we are our own worst enemy. We tell ourselves the same thing over and over again. But, when somebody else tells us the same thing we get offended. We have forgotten that we are not that voice or inner mind chatter. We let it guide us wherever it takes. We should separate ourselves from the voice – listen to it and make a logical call on whether it is something I need to work on or is the voice just spouting utter nonsense. We have lost ourselves so much that we believe that the inner voice is who we are. And let’s admit it the voice has very little work except to keep commenting on everything true or false. That’s its reason for existence, and we have done a great job of making it our practice to go along with the voice. No wonder we are so tired all the time.

Imagine following a monkey on a tree – if you followed the monkey everywhere instead of focusing on your destination you would never get to your destination but yet you would feel like you have done a lot of work and chances are you will be exhausted.

Are you at peace with what the truth inside of you?

It All Adds Up

When I was trying to get a job after engineering, I remember talking to my seniors to understand what kind of questions to expect. One of them telling me that one of the students had written writing as a hobby in her resume. The interviewer asked her, ‘You want to be a software engineer – how does writing help you?’ And she replied, ‘Writing involves communication and creativity, which is a big portion of coding.’

At that time, I thought it was a great answer and made a mental note to use it in my interview. It wasn’t years later that I realized how profound her response was.

Imagine you had a bicycle and all you did was sit on the bike and push the bike with your feet – you will get somewhere, but you will never enjoy the full potential of riding a bike. And after some time other parts of the bike which you never used will rust and fall off. And after some more time, you will even forget what it was like to have a bike.

Our life – our mind is similar to the bike. And we all lean on some part of too heavily – getting a job, getting a degree, getting a husband, having a child to the point that we forget that we have other things going on as well. We have to branch out and try different things – because it all adds up.

For example, I like to write – write a blog, work on my book but write. And to write, you have to know very clearly what you want to communicate. And this helps me communicate at work better. I work with Wild Tiger Tees (Social enterprise helping youth experiencing homelessness), and I have learned a lot of lessons there, which I take back with me to work – the key one being empathy. The person who is doing all these activities remains the same – the you who is volunteering does not suddenly turn into another you when you are at work – you may behave, but at the end of the day it is just YOU. The more experience this you has, the more skills and lessons you will learn – resulting in a more open person who knows how to learn.

It is impossible to learn every new thing that comes along these days – what you need is the skill to learn. And what better way to do it than to immerse yourself in different activities as opposed to exhausting yourself at work so much that you have no energy left for any other thing. The beauty is when you start doing things you will be more energized at work because you are using the bike to its full potential as opposed to just walking the bike.

First of all, you have to know what kind of a bike you have and then take it one step at a time – oil the parts that are rusted, take breaks after using it a few times – understand the speed limits, know if you are off to a gentle stroll or a grueling race.

What kind of bike do you have?

What’s Next?

When I was a kid – the most persistent common thing I remember being told is to get good marks (grades) so that I could get a good university. So, all through my school, it was about getting admitted to a good college. Then it was getting good marks in college to get a good job. After the job, it was marriage and then after marriage; it was kids. It was somewhere after I got the job that I started questioning this race to something which I was not even sure I wanted or cared about.

Let’s talk about my food habits. I gave up chicken because I did not like its taste and did not want to eat it. Next on the list was fish, then eggs and then dairy and now more trending towards raw. (I am vegan, but I admit I have occasional bone broth and eggs – not because I crave them but because of the health and nutrition purposes). I remember having a conversation with Adam and what next for me on my food journey. Raw vegan seemed to be it – the end of the marathon.

This morning, as I was running – my mind wandered to being a woman and my need for a routine. As a woman, we have our monthly cycles that whether we like it or not dictate how we feel and our mood. And as somebody who thrives on routine sometimes the routine comes into conflict with my body rhythms and natural cycle. The next step on this journey is being aware of my body needs and acting in accordance with that and not to my self-imposed habits. This is scary for me because it means I cannot plan, but this is the next step. Vipassana, the meditation practice I have is also about constant awareness of the change and sensations. And I believe this is where my food journey is also taking me – all roads lead to Rome.

Plans are useless; planning is everything. This is what I am realizing. It’s the planning that helps me prepare for what happens not the actual plan. On that day who know what happens but if I am not worried about sticking to the plan but be present to what arises from all the planning I am prepared.

Life is similar in that way, all your life you are planning not for the plan to come true but being prepared for what life throws your way. The human conditioning deems it a failure if you do not achieve your project – you are rewarded for the outcome not for the journey. The journey is what matters the most, and it is what makes us who we are. Winning the award or the first prize does not make you who you are – it is what went into winning the award. The discipline, the hard work, patience, managing self-talk is what makes the person, the character.

This blog seems all over the place but at the same time very apt – does it matter if I have a point?

What journey are you taking?

You Are A Gambler.

I recently watched the movie – ‘The boy who harnessed the wind.’ If you have not had a chance to see it, I highly recommend it. There is a scene between two brothers in the movie which caught my attention.

TThe village they live in is getting ready to face a spell of famine/drought. The elder brother is trying to convince the younger brother not to sell his piece of the forest to the government. The government going to cut the trees and that means there are higher chances of flooding. Younger brother tells him that he needs the money. Elder one tells him to stop gambling, instead.

Younger one looks at him and says, ‘Gambling! What do you think you are doing? Hoping it will rain next year and then praying enough sunshine for harvest.’

That got me thinking. When we look at it that way, we are all gamblers. We don’t realize it. Don’t believe me – let’s walk through a few scenarios.

Scenario 1: You wake up late in the morning and miss breakfast hoping you can make it to the office on time. You are gambling right here – thinking that if you skip the 10 minutes on breakfast, you might get to the office on time.

Scenario 2: You are having a meeting with your peers, and you say what you think is a profound insight, and they ignore it. You gambled on that statement hoping that it will increase your popularity.

We make lots of such bets and gambles throughout our lives. Who we marry? Having Kids? Most of the time it turns out the way we want, and that gives us a false sense of control. And when things do not go our way we get upset. Does this mean that we never hope for things or wish for events to turn our way? No, a different way to approach it is via probabilities.

There are many ways something can turn out. And what we choose is what we want – but it is not necessary that it has the highest probability of happening. What we want and the chances of it happening are not always aligned – this is where we need to bring awareness. And it will contribute highly to our emotional stability.

If we are aware of the fact that what we want is just one of the many possibilities that can happen, then it prevents our mind from being attached to that one possibility – helping us maintain our emotional equilibrium when things do not go out way.

casino roulette wheel with the ball on number 36

Let’s say you placed your bets on roulette – it did not turn your way. What’s the next best thing – move on. If we realize that what we want to happen in our lives is also a gamble – and if it doesn’t happen, then we should also move on. Know when to quit.

Prof. Rao from Creativity and Personal Mastery states that – if you have to place a bet on life/universe or yourself – always bet on the universe which always wins even when you think you are winning.

What are you gambling on currently in life?