Category Archives: active

3 facts to reconcile to in life

livingWe grow up with many myths and beliefs as we grow older. Some beliefs, we are able to shrug away, while others tend to stick around a lot longer. Here are 3 beliefs which we carry into our later lives resulting in much grief. The sooner we reconcile ourselves to some basic facts of life, the better it is for us in the long run.

So here goes

The myth of “Happily ever after’: As children we grow up with a lot of fairy tales which usually end up with the prince marrying princess. There would be a final sentence added “And they lived happily ever after.” We are supposed to conclude that after the wedlock the prince’s and princess’ lives were filled with marital bliss. Movies of yesteryears also tended to end with the hero & heroine cuddling up blissfully which is supposed to extend into their future.

However the reality is very different. All marriages tend to have their ups and downs. Be prepared for fights, frustrations, anger, grief along with joy and revelry. There are no exceptions regardless of whether it is love marriage or arranged marriage.

There is no ‘dream job’: Are you happy in your job? Do you feel stuck in a rut, while your friends and relatives are in nice, cushy and comfy job? Do you find yourself in a bottomless pit in your job, doing a boring, mindless job, with no possibility of escape?  Are you wishing and hoping for that ‘dream job’ which will make your life a source of perpetual enjoyment?

Well, here is news. There is no such thing as a ‘dream job’. Every job has its challenges. All workplaces are made up of humans, employees and colleagues who have human emotions and human weaknesses. So with every job territory you can expect petty jealousies, competition, envious eyes and even possibly backbiting. Also every job in this world will have interesting and boring parts to it.

There is no problem-free life: The sooner you reconcile yourself to this fact the better it is. Life, in the late 20’s and in the early 50’s, will be beset by problems.  Problems are a part and parcel of life. There are no exceptions to this rule. Saints, sinners and the common man all have problems. We have to accept that problems are a fact of life. We need to take this into our stride.

We really need to accept these 3 facts of life – there is no eternal marital bliss, no perfect job and a there is no problem free life.

Having said that marital discord, no job satisfaction and problems are facts of life, it does not mean that life is one long and tortuous struggle.

As long as you are mentally prepared you can handle the ‘slings and arrows’ that life throws at you. Harmony in marriage is really a policy of give and take between husband and wife. Be prepared for occasional outbursts from your significant other.

Similarly job satisfaction is as much a quality of the job as it is your attitude towards you job. As long as you take interest in your job, and build a great rapport with your colleagues and bosses you are bound to enjoy your job

Lastly life will keep throwing problems at us. We need to take them head on and solve them. If we do that we will learn a lot, besides becoming mentally stronger.

So accept these facts and life and manage yourself sensibly. You will have a far more fulfilling life.

 

 

Six techniques to better navigate through life

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Whether by an accident of nature or by design, we have arrived on this pale, blue planet of ours. You have arrived at this page by another accident or by intention. Regardless we still have a lifetime ahead of us.

 

Here is a post that gives 6 key strategies that will enable you to lead a more complete and fulfilling life.

 

Problems are a reality of life: This is the first and foremost fact that one needs to understand. Life’s problems are real. Accept it. Everybody from Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa or Buddha has had their share of problems. There are no exceptions. The sooner we realize this fact the better is our chance of handing our life better. While everybody has problems, the real difference comes in how we handle issues in life. Some get cowed down by problems, some constantly complain, and while others sit down to deliberate the best strategy to handle the problem. Instead of fretting and fuming, we could better use our energies in attacking and resolving the issue. We need to set the steps in motion and get on with life.

 

Accumulate small victories over time: It is necessary that we constantly and continually attain small victories. For this we need to set ourselves small, realistic goals and go about achieving them. This is particularly important for those who are low on confidence, have a defeatist attitude or even those who have an intact self-esteem. The Tao-Te-Ching gives the example of water being able to erode the hardest rock by constantly flowing over it. The erosion happens in infinitesimal amounts but over time can break through mountains.  We need to build our edifice of self esteem one brick at a time. This will enable us to take on larger tasks as we progress in our confidence

 

Envision a goal that is larger than yourself: To lead a fulfilling life we need to have a goal in life that is larger than ourselves. Simply wanting to be a CIO of an organization,a talented musician or  a great cricketer in 10 years time would not suffice. It would be too pedestrian. Your goal in some way should elevate and ennoble you. Rather your goal should be to reach a position where your influence in some way changes the life of many for the better. Other goals would be to become writer who can entertain and relieve boredom, a social worker who can alleviate the suffering of people or a blogger who can incite critical thinking. Your goal should have some qualifying aspect which you can relate to in a deep way. Viktor Frankl in his book “Man’s search for meaning” discusses how prisoners in the concentration camp were able to avoid death since they had an ennobling purpose in life.

 

Once you have your purpose it is essential that you work towards it. This has to happen consistently. You have to pursue your purpose with unshakeable fervor. It is likely that you will achieve your goal if you pursue it with steadfastness.

 

Delve into your past: In this world nobody is poor. We are all rich in a way. We are rich with our own experiences. Dive into your past. Look at your past accomplishments, your failures and your non-starters. What can you learn from your experience? As somebody said “Failures are failures, only if you don’t learn from them.”

 

Pause and reflect: Every now and then we need to come to a complete halt in life. We need to come to a absolute standstill. We need to enjoy the silence of stillness. We need to look inward at our desires, wishes, hopes, fears and thoughts. We have to see ourselves for what we are and what we stand for. This we can only do,  when we come to an absolute stop. This pause in life is necessary to make course corrections in life. In this silence we can understand our weaknesses and plan our future direction better. We can come to terms with our problems in life. We can better understand our prejudices and biases. This meditative silence is the best time when we can take stock of our personal, professional and social lives and make the necessary adjustments. Making this pause in our daily lives is extremely important in our fast paced lives these days

 

Sleep and exercise: Finally we need to make sure that we spend adequate time in exercise and sleep. The importance of physical exercise is vital to life. As we grow older, exercise takes on added importance. Spend the time outdoors in a brisk walk at least a few hours per week. Besides exercise ensure that you get adequate sleep. It really makes no sense to be miserly in the hours of sleep. A sleep refreshed body and mind can work far more efficiently.

 

These are some techniques that will help you navigate through life better. Consistent application, patience and a visualization of a larger goal can make life more meaningful and enjoyable.

 

Conquer the world with tiny victories

climbGreat achievements are the sum of small, tiny victories. It is important that we take  tiny steps towards our goals in life.  The Chinese adage, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is both real and true. We need to make a start. We need to act.

Think big, but start small. Great achievements of a Michael Jordan, Sachin Tendulkar or a Tiger Woods are the results of tiny successes and small victories along the way.  We may not get to the very top but still we have significant impact in what we do.

There are several kinds of people in this world.

There are the ‘general drifters”. These people have no goals and no visions. They generally drift about in life. Since they are not headed anywhere they reach nowhere.

Then there are the ‘self-doubters’. These people doubt their own abilities even before they get started. They hobble themselves with the chain of self-doubt that they make little or insignificant progress.

There are then the ‘oversized goal seekers’. These people want the moon and want it now. These people set themselves unrealistic goals in life. As a result they feel guilty for not achieving their targeted goals.

What is important is that we set ourselves realistic and achievable goals. When we succeed in these little goals that we set for ourselves then we add to our ‘fund of self-esteem’ as Stephen Covey states in his book ‘Seven habits of …”.  We need to take the first step, but we need to take it in the direction of a small and achievable target.

It is perfectly fine to fail. It is perfectly fine to make mistakes. Neil Gaiman says “Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.”.  You can read more at “Make good art”.

The small successes that we achieve tend to not only increase our confidence but also motivate us to do even better. In other words it forms a virtuous cycle where we are goaded to excel.

It is never too early to start working towards your goals. Rather than waiting for an auspicious time, get started right away.

More importantly it is never too late also too start. So whether you are in your teens or on the ‘other’ side of 40, it is not late to begin. You have still have a lifetime to achieve your goals.

 

In others words, you can still ‘conquer the world!’

Travel lightly in life!

travelerPeace in life is a continuum and cannot simply be isolated instances of freedom from discord. But peace in life is a mirage. We never seem to attain it and are usually burdened with worries, anxieties, fears, animosities and the like.

To get anywhere even close to peace and happiness in life the first thing we need to do is to travel light in life.  Here are some prescriptive processes that will take you closer to peace in life. As mentioned above they are prescriptive and they are processes and will need to be followed in your journey through life

Let go of animosity and hatred: This is the cardinal principle of living lightly and is embodied in Lord Jesus Christ’s immortal words “Love thy enemy”. One needn’t be religious to understand the brilliance in the above statement. Letting go of hatred is simply “smart mental energy management”. Harboring hatred and venom for another can sap your energy and strength. So simply let go and better still forgive and forget.

Strive for mental poise: Here is another no-brainer and is the utterance of Lord Krishna in the Gita “A true yogi is one who is unruffled by praise or criticism”.  You don’t have to be a yogi to realize the truth in the above statement. Praise usually makes us excited and giddy headed. Our head could swell with exaggerated pride. This is often very tiring. Similarly criticism can make us feel crushed and hurt. This is another mental energy sapper. So we need to be able to consciously brush off both praise and criticism,

Take on problems head-on: As I mentioned in my earlier post “Life sucks … big time”. All of us are given a unique set of problems to handle in life. There are no exceptions. So handle your problems head-on. Don’t put away the issues you face in life. It is your problem and your responsibility to get it solved. So get cracking and start to work towards possible solutions.

Don’t procrastinate: This is another important step to travel lightly in life. Having a large to-do-list is bad. In fact go ahead and banish the to-do list from your life.  Whatever you need to do for yourself, your family or in your profession get started and have them completed. In my opinion a ‘to-do’ list is really a ‘to-nag’ list. The tasks in your list have the dirty habit of lurking in the recesses of your mind and robbing you of your peace.

So get started. The first step is always the best step.

Let go of hatred, practice mental poise, take your problems on your chin and avoid procrastination.

Unclutter your mind.

Travel light in life!

Be self-centered, smart and generous!

We often hear people telling us that we need to be selfless. I would personally advocate a strong self-centered view of oneself in life. Even before “Charity begins at home” I would like to state that “Charity begins with self”.

We need to take a long and hard look at ourselves. We need to look at our personal health and personal wealth, our professional and social standing. If we are lacking in any of these fields then we need to address it.

While a self-centered view may appear selfish, in fact it is the smart way to live life. Unless we are fighting fit, we will never be able to help anyone.

Personal health is of paramount importance, so hit the gym, pump irons, cut the fat and sugar. Make sure that you are healthy.

Then work towards making some real money. Personally I don’t think there is anything wrong in wanting to be a multi-millionaire. Go for it!  Be enterprising and identify ways to make wads of money. Focus on your net worth and make plans to triple or quadruple it in equal number of years or less. It is not sinful to make money as long as you don’t compromise on your principles.

Now focus on your professional health. When it comes to professional matters it really requires street smarts and a savvy to deal with your subordinates, peers and superiors. Make all the right moves.  Invest in the right education. Be career conscious. All your bright ideas will come to naught if you do not have the power to execute them. It is possible to rise in your career in a principled way. Be hungry at your work place and never miss out on any opportunity.

Next determine your social health. Make the right moves to move up the social ladder. In this age of social media there are multiple avenues to network. So network all the way. Become an influencer in the social world.

All of the above checks have to be done regularly. This would only happen if you are sufficiently self-centered. You will need to make progress in each of the above fields through a combination of street smarts, common sense and savvy.

With a reasonable amount of time you should be able to achieve a fair deal of the target you set for yourself.

Finally be generous. Make sure that you use all your achievements whether it is wealth, power or influence for improving the plight of those in need. Your impact to the world will be greater only if you have the necessary resources. You can only build your resources  by being self-centered.

Without creating your own resources of wealth, power or influence you will only be able to do “random acts of kindness”. If you really want to make a consistent and regular contribution to the needy, or get involved in some major philanthropy,  the best way to get started is by being self-centered and smart.

So go ahead and do a “Warren Buffet or a Bill Gates”.

Be self-centered, smart and generous!

The curse of inertia

 

All of us come under the curse of inertia in our lives to a greater or smaller extent. How often have we postponed something, procrastinated or just felt downright lazy in doing something.  All of us are guilty of indolence and we keep accumulating a list of things to do. We are soon left with a long list of things to get done.

In fact we can rephrase Newton’s 1st law of motion and safely claim that “A person under the spell of laziness will continue to be lazy unless acted upon by an external agency”. What typically happens is that we tend to avoid doing something because it appears distasteful. When we postpone doing it this distaste soon turns to hatred and we cannot get ourselves to doing it. We either avoid completing our tasks or just try to ignore. But it always tends to lurk in the back of our mind. Eventually this task which we chose to ignore suddenly becomes extremely urgent and we undergo enormous tension.

Then there are some who tend to keep a “to do” list. Unfortunately to a lot of people this remains a “to do” list for a long time. The list just keeps growing longer. Sometimes we just convince ourselves that certain things are unimportant and remove items from the list rather than completing them.

In my mind having an unfinished task is like having a weight attached to a chain around your neck. As you accumulate more tasks you are in reality adding more weights to this chain.

What is required of us is that we just get on with any task that we are faced with. We may face an initial resistance because of an assumed distaste for the task.  Once we get started we may find that our initial distaste was really only imagined. We may actually find that we like doing the task. It is all just in the attitude. It is really important that we do not procrastinate but get things done as soon as we can. In other words we need to do first “what we dislike doing the most!”.

Completing tasks that come to us on time helps us in 2 ways. For one it keeps us light. We don’t have to live with the burden of nagging thoughts. We can live lightly and in the moment. Secondly completing tasks also gives us a sense of achievement and helps us to get more things done.

Prudence requires that we tackle the issues in a timely manner and not spend time now in completing tasks that was supposed to be done ages ago. We need to stop procrastinating. We need to build efficiency and alertness into our mental attitude and complete tasks as they come to us.

When we are more efficient we also become more active in our lives.