Category Archives: mind

This fleeting life…

If you wonder about the transience of butterflies, whose average life span is about month, here is news for you. Our life span of 70-80 years, is also fleeting and transitory, in the face of the age of the universe. We are were now, gone then!

We live only once in this corporeal body in this planet earth. We are then gone forever.

Under these circumstances it is important to be aware of the following
There is no heaven or hell, no swarga or naraga. There is no afterlife, there is no rebirth. Also there is neither a soul nor is there an atman.

This life, this existence, is all that we have.
Given this fleeting existence, in this lonely planet, that is lost in the wilderness of space, does it make sense to fret, fume, worry, be anxious etc.? It really does not make any sense at all. The suffering, pain, anxieties, worries don’t mean anything in the long run. So the next question is why worry, why be anxious etc.?

Unfortunately it is not easy to break out of this cycle of worry, anxiety, anger and other negative emotions as we have been programmed to behave in this way. These emotions that we experience are the result of centuries of conditioning in our mental makeup. This conditioning forces to react in a particular ways.

When somebody hurts our ego we get angry. When we are humiliated we feel hurt. When we imagine some outcome that is contrary to what we expect, we start to be anxious and begin to worry. We can’t get away from this cycle. However it is good to temper all your reactions with the thought, that your emotions, worries and anger are irrelevant in the larger scheme of things. It may not do away with the ill feeling, but it is still worth a try.

The centuries of mental conditioning will cause the neurons to fire is specific ways, and we can’t make the neurons to ‘unfire’. We can’t swim against this tide of emotions which are reactions to events.

While there is no soul or atman, these may be useful mental constructs to some in  helping them to stick to values.  The soul is supposed to be ennobled by good deeds and defiled by bad ones. The atma is above buddhi(intellect), manas (mind) and the indriyas( senses and is synonymous with the Self. Supposedly knowledge of the Self will result in bliss and peace.

But the soul or atman don’t really exist. If one needs to take recourse to these concepts to maintain a value driven life it is fine. But we should be aware that these are just concepts.

I was reminded of this John Lennon song, Imagine
Imagine there is no heaven,
It is easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky

So in essence, in this short span of existence we should live sensibly. We need to look at life in the correct perspective and not get embroiled in imaginary concepts like swarg-narag, heaven-hall, soul-atman.

While we cannot avoid some of the emotions we must be cognizant of the fact that all good and bad experiences must pass and we will leave this corporeal frame forever.

Beware the mental mirror

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Warning: The person in the mental mirror is smaller than he/she appears.

The above message is something that we should keep in mind always. The person we see in the mental mirror, most of the time (ourselves), is in reality much smaller in every aspect than the image that this mental mirror shows. This is a fact. We are with ourselves all the time. That is a no-brainer. We are so full of ourselves that we appear mighty clever, smart, generous, kind and all the usual good stuff.

However in reality this may be very far from truth. There is always a ‘little narcissist’ in each of us all the time who makes us appear larger than our true selves. If we don’t heed to the warning above we will be in danger of behaving proudly and possibly head for a nasty fall. It is very important that we apply the necessary corrections when we views ourselves.

Another weird aspect of this mental mirror is the fact that, while it may inflate one’s own opinion of oneself, it will usually distort the image of others. So as a consequence we tend to look down on others. We assume others don’t know as much as oneself or are not as nearly smart. We tend to judge others based on this distorted view of reality.

How can we really know others when we don’t know ourselves fully? We should really be careful when forming opinions about others based on the little and often incorrect information we have about others. This in conjunction with the aberration that our mental mirror creates, is enough to make us look down on many in our social circle..

The mental mirror is something we have to mighty careful about, otherwise we will exist in a world that will be completely skewed from reality. It is extremely important that we adjust our view of ourselves and of others every now and then.

To get a more balanced view of oneself I personally think that it is very important that we have a lot of friends who can be honest with us. With a larger circle of friends we will get automatic corrections to our own self-image.

In general it is always better to avoid judging others based on usually available scant information and the occasional encounters. It is really important that we get to know the other person better before we jump to conclusions about them.

In any case keep your mental mirror free of any aberrations and adjust your view of yourself and of others, every now and then.

 

4 things to stop doing right away!

 

stopHere are 4 things that we tend to do often in our lives and we need to put an end to it immediately.

Stop beating yourself over past mistakes: This is a bad habit some of us tend to have. We keep beating ourselves over some past events where we botched things or took a wrong decision. We must begin to accept things. We have to let go of the past and move on. It really does not make any sense in wasting out mental breath over things that have happened. Blaming ourselves will only make us feel guilty and small. Rather we should accept things and look for ways to make things better.

Stop procrastinating: Why do we procrastinate? I can see 3 reasons why people tend to procrastinate.

Firstly some people put off things for later because they dislike the task. The very thought of doing this task brings to the minds thoughts of unpleasantness, boredom or maybe they find it simply distasteful. These people would like to put off this unpleasantness to some later time.  Personally I think we should attack these tasks firsts and get the unpleasantness over with. It does not make sense to postpone the pain coupled with  nagging thoughts.

Secondly there are those who put off things hoping to get divine inspiration in the future. The advice of almost all famous artists & writers is to simply show up everyday and the Muse will also show up. So it is best to get down working rather than waiting for creative flashes.

Thirdly, there are those who are genuinely lazy. These people don’t care and would just like to goof around. If you are one of these types then you must get down to business otherwise you will simply be left behind in life.

When you procrastinate not only will you have eventually be forced to do  the task, but you will also have to contend with recurring nagging thoughts.

Stop playing mental games with yourself: The humanmind is a funny instrument. Quite often it can behave very bizarrely. What I mean is this. Many times we indulge in thoughts of revenge where we try to settle scores with someone mentally. We play mental games where we have the last word in a verbal argument. We try to get the one-upmanship in a verbal duel. Similarly we try to mentally role play where we win and somebody else loses. Sometimes we are filled with thoughts of hatred, jealousy or envy and we may wish bad things for other. Whatever be the kind of negative mental indulgence it is all bad and simple serves no purpose.

Like physical energy we have a limited quantity of mental energy. We should not expend out mental energies in useless and negative mental thoughts. Rather we should use it to more fruitful and productive work.

Stop whining: Finally stop complaining, we need to be content with what we have. There are many things we need to be grateful for in this world. Our minds tend to focus on negative things in complete exclusion to all that we already have. We need to practice more gratitude in our daily lives for all the little things that we are able to enjoy.

If you drop all the above activities you are bound to be more proactive and productive. This is will result in a more enjoyable to a more fulfilling life.

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.

 

 

7 laws to live your life by

We humans, are the product of 13.4 years of evolution. We have been gifted with consciousness of the world and of our own selves. Beginning today we are living the rest of our lives. Here are 7 laws of life which will make our lives more enjoyable and productive.

We don’t get second chances: This is an obvious truth which we know but don’t ponder upon. This life of ours is short and we don’t get second chances. It is imperative that we utilize our time in the best possible way. We should not fritter away our time in useless pursuits, petty bickering and idleness. We need to make certain that we make every day count starting right now. So be mindful of the fact that “You only live once!”

Drop excess baggage: This is an extension of the earlier truth. Our lives our short and there is no second chance. To live our lives well we need to drop excess baggage from our minds. We need to drop our animosities, petty jealousies and hatred we may have. We need to forgive, forget and move on. There is a need to move lightly through life and not expend energy in wasteful activities as mentioned above. We could utilize our energies and efforts in more fruitful activities.

Wake up to the world: Is your life too mechanical? Do you feel that you are on auto-pilot in life? Are you bored with this fast paced life? Who is to blame for this situation? Clearly there is nobody else to blame but you. This world of ours provides so many opportunities for doing creative and new things. If you think your life is boring and lifeless then you really need to wake up and open your eyes to the beauty of the world. Take a vacation, go places, make short trips to exotic places. Do some bird watching. Spend some time in the beach. Do something, in fact do anything. There is so much to see and experience in this world of ours.

Make fitness your watchword: To live life fully we need to be both physically and mentally fit. Make sure that you pay adequate attention to your physical health. You could either hit the gym daily or do something as simple as a brisk walk at least 4 times a week. Eat healthy food. Focus on being physically fit.

Besides physical fitness one also needs to concentrate on mental fitness. Think good clean thoughts. Avoid hatred, anger and envy. Read good books. Exercise your brain by learning some thing new. It could be a musical instrument, painting or writing a blog. Exercising your brain is important to avoid later issues in life.

Settle for common sense: When in doubt settle for common sense. Many times we take hasty , emotional decisions and then regret later. Other times we are caught in an analysis paralysis oscillating between extremes. In all situations temper your decision with a dollop of common sense.

Love the job you do: This may seem contradictory to the common refrain of ‘doing the job you love’. Since many of us will not have the luxury of choosing to pursue our passions we will need to learn to love our day jobs. Be creative about your day job. It will not be as boring as it appears if you take interest in the bigger picture of your daily job.

You are the not center of the universe: Often we go about our lives as though the universe was centered on ourselves. In reality there is whole universe outside of us. Instead of thinking about your life, your problems and your ambitions, try to look at the world through the eyes of others. See what difference you can make to the lives of the less privileged. Do some social work. You are not the center of the universe!

The above are laws are not something new. They have always been around and we know it, yet seem to be oblivious of them. Ponder on them and make a difference to your life.

You are what you dream. You are what you envision. Think big!

Go about creating the future you want 1 day at a time!

Think. Reflect. Change.

Think: Our ability to ‘think’ is truly an evolved ability. However it is an activity that many of us rarely, if at all, indulge in. Many of us keep shifting from one activity to another, we are rushed in our offices, and we are rushed at our homes that we hardly think.

Many of us in our busy lives, typically take a break from thinking. In fact it should be the other way around. We should be taking a break from our busy lives, and think!

We could dwell on our experiences in the past, we could look deeply into our successes and our problems in the present, or we could imagine a wonderful future.

We really need to think to get anywhere in life. Otherwise we would just be automatons. The need to think is truly critical in one’s life.

Reflect: Humans have the unique ability to mentally assess and evaluate things. As we dwell on the things on our actions, motives, hopes or desires the mind can consciously determine whether it is right, wrong, prudent or stupid. The need to reflect on our past actions and the motive behind it is really important as it help us to understand what drives us, what impels us to do better or to do worse. It is not enough to just think, but we need to also reflect. This will enable to perform key course corrections in our life.

Change: So there is dire need to think. Our thoughts must then be accompanied by reflection. And finally we need to change the way we do things. If we just react to external events then we are equivalent to robots or computers which have a direct mapping from input to output.

When we reflect deeply on what caused our anger, what drove us to perform well in a particular assignment, what irritated us about a particular person, what our deepest desires are, we will begin understand some of the key triggers in ourselves.

Once we understand this we can make a conscious effort to control our emotions, to perform even better or moderate our desires more appropriately. We need to change. We need think, reflect and rewire our brains so that we become a better person. We need to become more smarter in the way we handle things.

So … think, reflect and change.

Spend quality time with yourself

skyThat’s right. How many of us actually spend time looking inward. Our daily lives are usually a headlong rush from nowhere to nowhere. Our days are typically this. We wake up, hastily skim through the newspaper and zip off to office. At office we juggle multiple assignments. We return home exhausted and mindlessly flip through television channels before going to sleep. Ditto for the next day…

We keep flitting from one task to another. But we hardly spend time with ourselves. We go through a million emotions in a day. We are alternatively angry, sad, unhappy or worried etc.

These emotions come and go.

But until we spend time with ourselves we will continue in this mad trip all our lives. It is really important to occasionally push the pause button, to stop and to catch our breath.

We need to turn our mental eye inward and look into our mental landscape.

We need to look at ourselves against the backdrop of silence.

We need to zoom into our feelings, our motives, our aspirations and our fears

We need to understand what drives us to do better, what ticks us off and what makes us unhappy.

Unless we understand ourselves we can never understand the world.

Look at your biases, your judgments and your opinions of people. Are they justified?

Clear the cobwebs of your mind. Set your mental house right.

To do all this you really need to spend quality time with yourself.  You do not need to go some far off cave in the wilderness.

You could just focus you mind inward as you take a gentle walk, gaze at the starry sky or sit in a beach and contemplate while listening to the roar of the waves.

Spend quality time with yourself. You deserve it!