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The Biggest Question

Why am I here? Where was I before and where will I be after this? What purpose do I have to serve to be able to justify my being born with all the blessings and privileges I have?

These questions have been invading my mind since many many years now. Sometimes they just come and go as the questioning mind gets distracted soon and at times they linger for a few hours or even days and then again get fizzled and forgotten as I get busy in the act of living my humble existence, the very existence that raises the questions my unenlightened mind is attempting to find answers for.

And then after a while they again come back poking and prodding my consciousness to find out why it exists in this form, time and age. The answers are hard to find but I know that there are explanations for my quandaries and quests and these existential enquires aren’t absolutely baseless for I have begun to find some vague answers which are opening newer perspectives and paths for my restless being.

The first mystery that all the contemplating decoded for me is my biggest fear in life. I have always been too scared of death because I feel it will take everything away from me. I won’t be able to see my family, my children and this thought scares the life out of me. Some time back while searching for the big answers I found a way to deal with my fear of not remaining there forever. I realized that I wasn’t there in other times as well which were the times before my birth. I wasn’t there when India became an independent nation, when the world wars happened, when the telephone or television were invented and when my parents were young and vulnerable. I didn’t witness all those events or maybe I did in another life and don’t remember and it didn’t and it doesn’t matter.

Similarly I won’t be there in the times after my death. When my children will be getting old, when the residents of earth start building houses at Mars and when all nations of the world become united and one big single, peaceful place. I won’t see all those events and the thought doesn’t and won’t matter much to me or anyone else.

Finding rational in my past and future absences and their insignificance in my awareness, the fear of death is somewhat settled but the big question still remains. Why am I here? The mystery of this life still remains.

I don’t care about the times that I haven’t seen and I am contented just reading and learning about those gone ages, although at times I feel should have been there at certain times and who knows if I was in another form. The times I won’t see in future do not perturb me as well. But I do care about the one time that I am very much conscious about and which is right now.

I care because I am here, in this moment on this day, on this earth and I am not ready to believe that I am here just like that, by a pure coincidence. When I look at the date on the calendar or the time on the clock I feel that the time knows and would always know that I was there on this date and time and did I do anything noteworthy or significant while I was there. I may not know the past before me or the future after me but I know that I am here in the present and the present knows that I am here.

The thought excites and frightens me at the same time as I don’t want to waste this present at all doing or chasing trivia and wasting the rare, precious moments that I am only conscious of. I don’t know why I am here but I know that it’s not without a reason. I might be sounding too self absorbed with my existence and my doubts but it’s about all of us. I don’t think any of us is here without a reason. It’s just that it’s each person’s job to find his or her reason as I am doing finding my own.

This thing I have always been certain of is that none of us is here without a purpose. Our purpose is the biggest piece of our life’s puzzle. Unfortunately many of us are too busy sorting and arranging the much smaller pieces of our life like our relationships, jobs, money, social status and validation and would run out of time and energy placing them and trying to make the big picture without much success. Because however hard we may try the big picture can’t be pieced together without the biggest piece of the jigsaw.

On the other hand, there are those few who find the purpose and for them everything else fits in perfectly maybe also because everything else becomes smaller and fears deemed insignificant and so acts keen to fit in. That’s the irony of life. You run after flimsy things and they evade you and you stop chasing them and become occupied with the real things in life and the insubstantial bows in front of you.

So find the big reason for your being here as a part of the big evolutionary process of the world. Find your powers and responsibilities in making the world a better place and get busy playing your part.

The exact role and reason may elude us for some more time but till the time we don’t understand it we have to live fully in the moment because it’s only in these moments that we exist. We exist to serve in the course of the world and we may have forgotten what purpose we served in the life before this one and we may forget this time as well but the world will be forever marked by any worthy contribution made by us.

And if you are not able to find the exact meaning of your existence then do the obvious big things like being compassionate to every being around you, caring for the world and its every element, becoming responsible for yours life as well as others’ lives, leading a more holistic, productive, optimistic, ethically and morally higher life and being absolutely blissful and grateful for everything you have.

A positive approach towards life can show us the meaning of our life because it is there already but can be only seen with a believer’s perspective. A doubting mind can’t even accept the visible, out in the face facts let alone the minuscule meanings and signs hidden in our daily highs and lows we collectively call our life.

I myself have found many answers to my big questions and that’s because He turned me into a believer. I believe that I am here for a reason. I believe that the reason is bigger than satiating any worldly needs and wants I have. I believe that if I keep seeking the unknown which is also the meaning I am looking for I shall find it one day. I believe that my keenness to find the answers is also preparing me to live them when I reach that point. I believe that I won’t leave this conscious state of my being without serving the world to the best of my abilities.

I love my big questions and the restlessness they produce inside me at times because that keeps my conscious alive and attempting to reach the higher planes of existence.

My reader, I hope it does for you too.

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Forty, There Is Something To This Number

What’s there in a number? Numbers are just numbers, indicating a count or a calculation. Then what’s so special about them? In my opinion there is something special in every number.

Earlier this year my younger daughter turned one and her first birthday celebration was a grand and gleeful occasion for our family as well as family like friends because the very recent born had become slightly older. From a tiny infant she was soon to graduate to a playful toddler and so the milestone was a moment worth celebrating and cherishing forever.

Then last month my first born celebrated her much awaited thirteenth birth anniversary which ushered in her terrifying teenage. Both the day and the milestone were extremely important and excitement filled and were given an extra special treatment because a new phase began for her as well as for us that day. In her words, “I can now officially call myself a teenager.” In my words, “Our tough years have officially begun now.”

My household is neither an exception nor is too oversold to the concept of celebrating numbers. World-over a lot of importance is given to the age milestones. People go extra miles to mark the first year, thirteenth, sixteenth, eighteenth year and then thirtieth, fortieth, fiftieth year anniversaries in some remarkable ways. Birth anniversaries were always significant but these days certain years enjoy an extravaganza of celebrations.

Why? Because they mark the major transitions in the long journey of our life. We humans have the capacity to grow and develop during the entire lengthy duration of our lifetime. In the first two decades we grow physically, learn mental and cognitive abilities, learn simple things like walking, running, speaking languages, writing, painting, dancing and anything that we find interesting. We learn to make friends, interact with people, lead teams and groups, win competitions and a lot of other life skills. With every year that we grow older we become better than the previous year in many ways.

When the physical growth stops, our emotional, mental, professional and spiritual growth takes precedence. The third and fourth decades of human life mark our lifetime’s most important passage and progress. People find their vocations, meet their partners, become parents and build homes and careers in these productive years of life. Every day of every year in this stage is a new challenge and overcoming these challenges and growing as worthy individuals is definitely worth celebrating every year.

Personally I feel that that is the reason we celebrate our birthdays. To celebrate becoming older, wiser, smarter and better than the previous years. I have a habit of reflecting on my past year on the eve of my anniversary every year and I always find myself recalling all the mistakes made during the year, listing the lessons learned in the process and promising to myself that the errors will not be repeated. I try to start the new year as a new and better person. And with this practice, I have seen myself letting go of many bad habits, poor choices, wrong relationships, toxic thoughts and naive behaviors. I believe in starting afresh and every year I start from the scratch leaving behind the worst and carrying along only the best.

Your birth anniversary seems like the perfect day to take a note of your life and plan newer ways to live it well.

To some practical people, celebrating days and especially some special numbers seems like an unnecessary and exaggerated endeavor but to the emotional thinkers like myself these numbers are symbolic. Symbols of growth, change and evolution.

Life needs to be celebrated every day but then the business and busyness of life do not allow us to sit back and enjoy our daily triumphs and growth. So the anniversary of your life’s beginning every year is a good day to recall the highs and lows, victories and lessons and rejoice the fact that we are very much alive and advancing in life.

And on some special milestones we should take a little longer to take stock of the entire phase that’s gone past and if the list of conquests is long and grand so should be its celebration.

Turning forty is a such special milestone as it marks the completion of four long and very eventful decades of living life on this earth. The decades of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood are well spent and in the process rewards of unique experiences and wisdom are gained.

In my viewpoint, the milestone of fortieth anniversary celebrates a transition from a life of pure worldly pursuits and passions, chasing personal and professional goals to another era that can be best lived discovering life’s bigger purposes and one’s spiritual significance. Forty is important as a person is neither too young and naive nor old and dispirited. Forty is important because you have gained a strong footing by now and can make bigger and more significant leaps beyond this point. Forty is very important because there is still a lot of life in us and we also have better means and ways to live that life.

I am both ecstatic and thoughtful today as I have touched this significant milestone myself on this day. I have attached a lot of significance to this day, more than all other days before today because I can foresee a different life beyond this point. I am believer of symbolism as attaching value to symbols always makes following those values easier. Prior to today I had been thinking of making some amendments to my living like being more mindful, living a more active life, giving up some unhealthy habits but haven’t been too strict in following through. “I will stop this when I turn 40,” has been my frequently used statement. So I am glad the time has come and knowing myself I know that now I will imbibe the better habits more readily.

Since many years I have been also wishing to become a minimalist. So starting today I am adopting the minimalistic way of life which means from now onwards less is more.

From today I am also going to prioritize working on my passions over all my other daily activities. I have vowed to spend at least two hours everyday on my writing work. It’s time that my long cherished dream of writing books sees the light of day. Thanks to the hard work done in the last two decades life is quite comfortable now and I want to take advantage of the time and resources to chase my writing dreams. In any case I do not wish to be chasing only business numbers for my whole life. With God’s grace a balance between work and writing is doable and I won’t miss the opportunity now because my forties have to be different from my thirties.

Change is important and these milestones are meant to usher in the transformations. If we go on living the same life how we will ever achieve the different values we believe in. The milestones can be interpreted as the signals that guide us towards new and more meaningful ways of life. Those who are always striving for self improvement need mere excuses to implement change and upgrade their selves. And those who think what’s there in a number remain the same stuck up with their cynicism. Their age is definitely just a number and not an alarm clock that is waking them up to a new dawn. To them their anniversaries are not the happiest occasions because what’s there to be happy in getting old. They get older not wiser. The believers of the magical numbers grow wiser and take pride in their aging.

I am so grateful to God for my transformation from a non believer to a believer. I have spent the entire last decade under His kindness and wish to continue enjoying His benevolence. At forty, I wish to remain grateful and become more graceful in living my simple yet more significant life.

Papa’s little girl turned forty today and she knows that Papa has been looking out for her and so she chooses to be only and only happy on her birthday today and on every other day.

Happy 40th to me and all my age mates!!!

Tamasha, A Live Show or A Show of Life?

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If there is one movie that singularly and without exception, always resonates too many feelings inside me, that is Ranbir and Deepika starrer ‘Tamasha’.

The story of a man who is an unconventional story lover and teller but is forced to live a conservative, conforming life of a meek and tame man. While holidaying abroad he meets a girl, doesn’t tell her who he really is and pretends to be the fun loving, witty tale teller he had always wanted to be but never got to be. He lives his hidden reality with her for few days and goes back to the pathetic, fixed-patterned life he had been forced to create back home.

Every time I watch the movie I can’t help but think that what actually is a drama or show – living the unconventional life we so believe in and in reality are or the normal norms-abiding life we have to live to adhere to the norms? The comical dance moves and dialogues between the protagonists in an equally out of the world Corsica are really the spectacle (Tamasha) or the man who loved and inside his mind lived the tales and their twists, living a straight, untwisted life is the performance he is giving to the world everyday?

Our norms and conventions are so rigid and believed to be correct that anything non confirming to them is a Tamasha. A child wanting to be an artist, actor or athlete, a girl wishing to be independent or by herself, someone expressing a different love orientation, a desire to not get married or to not become parents, all such deviations are a disturbing drama and are opposed by a much intense and disconcerting melodrama.

The male protagonist of the fabulous film, is like most of us, a victim and surrenderer to a similar situation but he luckily finds someone who falls in love with his other side and later chases him to find a completely different person who she can’t bring herself to love.

This is when the second question gets raised inside my mind – we do find people who love our, free-spirited side when they see it but why don’t they continue to love that unusual, unorthodox persona forever? Especially when their love was enough to help the exceptional to find voice and claim their individuality and distinction in being themselves.

Deepika’s played Tara’s rejection of Ranbir’s played Ved’s common man’s life pushes Ved to rediscover his exceptionality. We all need Taras to see the distinctions we all hold and to encourage us to stick to our stands and the most painful thing is we do find them but with time they forget the real reason they fell for us initially.

The norms come back to fore and are required to be complied with at the end of the play. The reality is again forced to look like the show and the show must become over when the curtain falls after the act and then the actor must become a common man or woman completely at ease with the act of pleasing the hard to please world.

Life again becomes an act and the act has to be called life. This is the most unfair thing that happens to the exceptions, outliers and the extraordinaries of the world and the effort that they have to make to wander between the two extremities and to fit in the undesired life takes a toll on them.

Take a moment and think of the people in your life. Did you fall in love with the normal classic version or something rare and remarkable about that person? If you did, then are you helping him or her enough to live the remark-ability and rarity which is the other person’s strength as well as source of happiness or are you the one now detesting him or her for the distinctions?

Tara’s love for Ved’s antics and dramatics brought his exceptional talent to life. And did Tara get attracted to Ved because opposites attract? The third question the movie raised and my answer is no, not at all. This is another myth. People with the same values attract each other and not the opposite.

Tara’s value was having fun and freedom in life and so did the hidden and real self of Ved did. They might be different in backgrounds, status, aspirations, strengths and struggles but they were similar in their values.

We always get attracted to the people with shared values. Some of us just unfortunately let go of the exceptional streak and get comfortable conforming to the demands of world. Feel free to do that if that makes you happy but do not leave the hand of your soulmate who has been still holding the fight and flag for both of your values. Just be there with your strength for him or her and that will give enormous life to your bond and he or she will win the battles for both of you.

Whatever you loved him or her for – the exquisite looks, the intellectual mind, high ambitions and drives, a unique talent, fun loving, happy go lucky attitude or a beautiful, kind heart, whatever you fell heads over heels for, keep loving him or her for that and do not force him or her to forgo it and become someone else to fit in.

That will be your biggest act of love. Tara won our hearts because she was first alive enough to love the lively Ved and then strong enough to not settle for his meek act.

Blessed are those who find their values and love in one person. Just be brave and let the Tamasha play and persist and not perish under any piddly pressure.

Long live love, life and the lovers of life!!!

Roots And Wings, Really?

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“There are two things we should give to our children- one is roots and the other is wings.”

Since I was a child I had heard and read this quote many a times and it did make me believe in the importance of having both – roots to know where we came from and belonged and wings to fly and know where we could reach.

I was completely sold off to this beautiful, profound idea and made extra efforts to remain attached to my roots while first developing and then fluttering, flapping and flying with my painstakingly discovered wings.

I was among those fortunate ones whose parents too believed in the theory and thus gave us the luxury of higher education enabling our wings of freedom.

Living the idea that promoted the importance of learning was fruitful and like most of my well educated peer group I too tasted some dosage of freedom and happiness by becoming financially independent. The liberties that came because of the self reliance further strengthened my belief and I advocated the roots and wings analogy of human growth and development for a very long time, until I realized something novel.

A new analogy which is far more liberating and way less limiting and quite unlike the much popular and ancient roots and wings philosophy.

My realization moved me away from the well loved theory and that had its reasons. To understand my reasons, let’s first understand what the popular analogy really meant. It meant that to be free in this world we should get educated, find a vocation or profession which allows us our financial freedom and at the same time we stay closer or attached to our family, culture, place or country and contribute to them.

It is like aiming to become a bird and have the freedom to fly around and feel the occasional wind beneath the wings and at the same time remaining attached to a tree, with of course roots, and return to the nest in the tree after a day’s flight with the twigs and worms for the dependents.

Just picture it inside your mind, a bird having small, restricted flights and returning to the same place everyday. When I visualized it, it appeared very restricting and limiting to me. The wings that were so hardly earned seemed to tease their owner about his original wish to try new heights or make bigger trips and mocked him of his self bounded limitations.

In a time when the whole world has become a small village, people can so easily connect with the entire world, there are bigger platforms available to make the world your play field and when the issues and challenges are global and you are required to make bigger contributions, why settle for small wings and a small perimeter of living life and flying?

Why restrict your worldview and become myopic when you actually thought you were getting educated to see the world and think big? I realized that our old philosophy didn’t have the scope of dreaming big and making any world changing impact. It only intended to make us providers for self and a few dependents and live a life of drudgery and discontentment without having a clue that what was even causing the dissatisfaction because theoretically all seemed well and accomplished.

I felt the discontentment with my short wings and had always rebelled with the roots. So my yearning made me discover another philosophy of growth and I call it “satellite and remote control” analogy.

Yes. A satellite. We can become a human satellite that revolves around the whole earth serving bigger purposes, enjoying the detached freedom and remaining attached with its benefactors through a much bigger force. It’s a much more valuable and significant way of living while enjoying being in a much much bigger, unrestricted space.

Think again. Rather than small wings given by basic education, we acquire a launcher that would be a world class, skill oriented, professional education and in place of flying in the limited sky with limited opportunities and cut throat competition, we float in the open, boundary-less universe with more meaningful options and opportunities.

Become a human satellite and do what the satellites do. Revolve around the whole world, guiding and navigating the seekers or aiding in communications, keeping an eye on the climatic changes or the outer world happenings, in whatever way making a bigger impact. If you think of it, satellites have played the biggest role in the evolved world we live in today.

In the world that’s changing at a unparalleled pace, roots aren’t purely progressing and wings aren’t sufficiently sufficient anymore in the overcrowded sphere where the big and small birds are dashing and crashing into each other and the flying around is less fun but more of a suffocating race.

If you wish to fly high become a world class scientist, techie, economist, analyst, author, psychologist, entrepreneur, environmentalist, activist, artist, physicist, academician, philosopher, orator, designer, sportsperson, musician, singer, game changer. Become a world class player making a big difference to the bigger community and world you are a no B B part of, rather than just serving the interests of four people in the name of roots. Mind it, the four people and the roots will never be abandoned, rather they will be the biggest benefiters from your world class legacy. But initially they may not understand as the roots analogy is well rooted inside our heads but they will eventually realize when they see your growth.

History has many examples to prove this. Limitations, boundaries, attachments were never great for creative minds with bigger purposes. Great minds were always reclusive and preferred being distant from the trivia and nuances of a mediocre person’s life. Buddha in ancient ages and Einstein in modern times were distant from the world and hence discovered their geniuses which served a bigger purpose to the same world and their kith and kin wasn’t less grateful for their chosen paths and progress they made for themselves and the humanity.

Thanks to all the modern technology and advancements we can achieve their level of detachment, enlightenment, purposefulness and remote attachment, all simultaneously without really becoming reclusive. In any case today people are withdrawn from the near and dear ones and are lost in a different world commonly called digital world which has much better uses than just entertainment or infotainment.

Living in a physically distant world seems far less dangerous to me than losing one’s self in a self centered, digital and material world. Parents who still wish to own their children by keeping them at their side need to see that they are already too distant and only self focused in the technological era they are born in. So why have the pretense of keeping them attached when in reality you that they aren’t?

If your young one or you yourself are a highflying seeker, if you have a strong burning desire which is the fuel that fires up and gives the throw, you just need to find your launcher that can successfully launch you and get you established in your far from worldly trivia, your personal orbit from where you will be doing the big things and being more useful with the remote controls well in place.

Your skills and a world class learning can become your launch pad. Your personal traits, habits and qualities will ensure your smooth transition without you exploding under the pressure and your bigger purpose will act like the greatest force, the gravity and will keep you established in your distant orbit while your emotions keep you attached to your roots, irrespective of where you are.

In the world of today, personal achievement has to find a bigger meaning. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is almost achieved by the children of well to do parents. Their basic, psychological and self esteem needs are amply met by their providers and that’s why they are going off the old course and the old philosophy is of no great good to them. They don’t value the wings or the roots anymore.

It’s time we give them bigger goal of self actualization which gets achieved when a person lives and works to realize one’s true potential and not just to fulfill the smaller needs. Needless to say, any self actualizing person will automatically fulfill those lower needs.

The Generation Alpha who I have majorly written this article for and their predecessors if they too wish to fly high, need to change their approach and discover ways and means and invest time in enhancing and building skills that can take them to a world class level of fulfillment and accomplishment and a way of life that’s more whole, holy and holistic.

That would be actually aiming for and reaching the stars. And isn’t that the only thing left for we mortals to achieve?

How I Wish To Live In A Different Time And Place.

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Yesterday while watching a movie that was based on a real archeological site’s discovery in England in the year 1938, I was stuck by the simplicity yet the focused devotion of the people of that era towards their passions and professions.

The lead character who was an amateur and impoverished excavator, and yet was also very well read and self educated in his profession, worked day and night to dig and discover a historic relic for a very unhandsome sum. I felt that he tirelessly toiled under scorching sun and soaking storms not only because of his passion for his chosen craft but also because he was fortunate to be born in a time of least pretentiousnesses and distractions.

Yes. Before the technology took over the entire humanity and gobbled up all its time and energy, people had nothing much to do but devote their fewer and precious resources to pursue what their hearts strived for.

Researchers did researches, painters painted, composers composed, writers wrote, workers worked, traders traded, explorers explored and homemakers made homes. And they all did what they did with a single minded devoutness that must have been so fulfilling that I assume they probably never complained of being bored or ungratified.

The man in the movie was digging earth for two pounds a week and didn’t seem to be much concerned about his meager compensation or his impoverished lifestyle because most men and women in that time lived a very basic, unpretentious life. All his concerns and cares were for his job and its outcome.

How I wish I could find myself living in a period and place like that. An era when work was truly worship. When contentment came from the fruits of your labor which were definitely not the excesses and indulgences bought with the money earned.

The goods produced, the services rendered, the creations and compositions, the discoveries and development were the prizes earned and celebrated at the end of a day’s hard work. The compensations were hardly enough to sustain and survive life and yet, gratitude was in abundance.

What a way of life it was. Wake up in the early morning, have a stomachful of homemade healthy staples, go to work and immerse yourself into what you loved to do without having to hear an annoying beep or ringtone of your smartphone and come back straight home to a hot and simple dinner with your family. Read, write or simply stare at the stars in the sky at night and fall asleep without a worry.

No wonder the world saw so many inventions and discoveries in the past two centuries. People had begun to understand and unveil the wonders of nature and had no diversions and distractions eating up their daily hours and attention.

Work and passions were the precedence and that’s probably why even in times when technology wasn’t available to offer infinite assistance and instant solutions and people had to do everything from search information to record finding of endless trials without any aid from technology they were probably inventing at the time, they created marvels.

And look at us today. We have every information at the tip of our finger (quite literally) and yet we procrastinate and waste our expensive lives doing nothing significant only because we are too busy indulging in the inessentials and yearning for more.

Work is no more worship. It is just a means to get richer and procure a petty, pretentious position in the world. The aim is no more to create something new and unique and feel creatively contented but is to consume all the superficial specimens being produced in bulk for the unthinking users and feel materially accomplished.

Simple living and high thinking is passé. The new motto is flashy living and useless thinking. The very few thinking minds that are there are mocked at and are labeled as boring and old fashioned but even today they are the ones mostly making headlines with their originations.

In the fast paced, technology driven world creating copies is easy and abound, and it might be well paying but is it really gratifying? The answer is evident from the fact that despite all advancements human spirit is at an all time low. The superficially visible and well celebrated success doesn’t offer any true joy or solace to the yet to be completely evolved mind that still needs the deep purposeful connection to its day’s work and the people around.

Alas, both are missing because the champions of the ongoing race are too busy running after the material success and boosting economies. They fear that if they paused and slowed down they may actually realize that their real needs are still basic and real happiness can be found by simply giving your best to your passion or profession, they will lag behind in the contest.

But do they realize what they have truly achieved by fairing well in the competition? Unhealthy lifestyles, unhappy relationships, ungrateful minds, an unkind world and now maybe an unforgiving nature.

I suggest we visualize a life in a different time and place when and where we lived simply but well, enjoyed true relationships and derived happiness and a sense of achievement from the work done well. A time and place where less is more.

Writing this piece, how I am craving to leave the madness of my city life and run to the small hamlet I am soon going to call home and live the slow, old school way of life where there is no rush to complete jobs to attend parties, spend hours deciding what to wear and how to look, planning and attending useless events and then feel unappreciated and burned out. Where I will enjoy the basics of life appreciating the bounties of nature and will spend hours everyday pursuing my love for writing.

Luckily I have always been quite old school but watching the way Basil Brown and many of his likes lived simply yet so well creatively accomplished and gratified, I feel I need to forgo the few ounces of vanity, and social and materials cravings I still have and only then I will be able to give my hundred percent to the pursuits that make my heart happy and my life well lived.

My reader, I get maximum joy when I spend hours thoughtfully penning down my deep-felt thoughts like this. Writing, offering solutions to my clients and spending time with my children are my favorite things to do. My only indulgence is the occasional travels I so love to undertake and those I can allow myself as an incentive for a good year’s work.

I know you too have a very similar, simple and inexpensive yet fulfilling to do list. If yes, then ask yourself do we really have to remain a victim of excessive consumerism? I know my answer and I am all set to pause, rethink and reprioritize my life.

And then I won’t have to sigh and say, “How I wish to be in a different time and place.”

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Women, Your Evolution Has Happened, Revolution Is Awaited.

Almost every day I come across at least one woman who is emotionally agonized and is leading a miserable life. There is nothing unusual about it because life is meant to be full of agony but still I feel it is not right for these women to be distressing over the issues that are causing them pain.

Now what’s wrong with having the issues they have? Issues or problems are a normal part of human life. But still I find myself thinking that those concerns could be easily avoided or they are not the real concerns of a progressive world we live in.

What are these problems I have so much problem with? The concerns these women have are the concerns they have because they are women.

The infamous “Venusians” are miserable since the beginning of this world because they are born as women. They have always been the suppressed ones and have been told, “you can’t do this, you can’t be this, you can’t go there, not alone, you have to do this, you have to be like this, this is expected of you and so on.” Just because they are women.

There are so many prejudices and stereotypes attached to both the genders and women are on the loser end of these beliefs. Let me be more specific.

“Women don’t need to work if their husband is providing them well, they have to cook and look after children, they can’t go out alone, they can’t drive on the highway, they have to listen to their husbands and the elders, they have to ask before doing anything important and even unimportant.” The list is endless and varies little with the social and economic status of the family.

This is how the world has always been. Telling women what they can and what they can’t. Women lived with being told for a very long time because they were not equipped or prepared to break the stereotypes and thus change the world. But now the women of this generation are miserable beyond imagination because now they are well equipped and prepared and absolutely capable of doing everything but still they are told they can’t.

This generation’s women are well educated, well groomed, are mostly earning or have the potential to earn, they are capable of being independent, are well informed to make decisions and have ample opportunity to do and are doing all that men did and proclaimed supremacy for ages.

This generation of women is much more capable and independent than all their predecessor generations and yet they aren’t as happy and peaceful as they ought to be and that I feel is a shame. The well educated, well read, modern, intelligent, well earning, independent, professionally successful women are not living a very happy, content and peaceful existence and that makes me cringe and wonder at the same time.

Cringe because I am a woman and wonder because I don’t believe the reason. The reason is that they simply don’t know how to claim their glory and their rightful place in the world.

The place now that has come to be theirs after thousands of years and ages. So many generations before us might have wanted it so badly but couldn’t have it because the world was not probably designed by a woman and hence was created to be difficult for the women to operate and run.

The physical toiling was tough so it became a man’s arena but things aren’t the same now. Everything happens with a push of button so thanks to the men and women who designed the new world it is now easy for anyone. And imagine maybe the men too wanted that and that’s why didn’t mind designing it that way.

Then why aren’t the women taking advantage and treating themselves as equals? Why don’t they recognize and acknowledge the fact that they are born in the time of their species’ liberation and they have to play a role in it.

Yes. Women of this time and age, rather than playing the second fiddle, have to be the harbingers of the change and usher their unparalleled race into the new world that just treats them as just another human who has needs, motivations, emotions, abilities, capabilities, shortcomings which do vary but not from man to woman but a human to another human.

It’s the time of the world that would be noted in the history of the world when the gender stereotypes broke and distinction between men and women finally got erased and they began to be treated as equal human beings.

Time when employees got selected as per their capability and qualifications and not because of the gender. The time when women drove lorries and men cooked fancy meals in the restaurants as well as at home. The time when both men and women earned the living and spent quality time bringing up their children together. The time when women chose not to cook if they didn’t fancy that and men dropped kids to school because they loved doing that. The time when both girls and boys took care of their parents and ran family businesses if they had it and wanted to. The time when women married for love and companionship and not to be provided for, hence chose the most loving and compatible one instead of the most financially well off one.

Isn’t this all already happening and hence proves that the time is already there? There are women CEOs, astronauts, innovators, heads of nations, lorry drivers and deep sea divers. There is a Malala who fights for her rights, gets shot in head, survives, wins a laureate and becomes celebrated. Today a Priyanka Chopra marries a younger Nick Jonas not for money and support but maybe because her alpha, super-ambitious self needs a soft and sweet beta companion.

So the time has already arrived and the world is already an equal place now. Then what’s the problem? The problem is that most of the women have not acknowledged this fact. Their mental programming of thousands years hasn’t much changed and they have passively remained seated in the backseat.

As a result, they do not assert their now equal rights and wishes and still have remained being the lesser ones in the house, on the job and in the society as a whole.

Women of today are supposed to be their brand new selves, to be the representatives of the new liberal age because in the history of mankind they are the most well educated, well brought up, equally treated, pampered and prepared to create their own identity and place in the world.

But those same women do not think like that and are rendering themselves wasted when they think of working outside home as an option, by wanting a husband who earns more than them and can promise financial security, by tolerating abuse and not walking out because who will look after them and the kids, by not taking care of their own parents because they are not their responsibility.

The ultramodern women have chosen to be more miserable because they are living a conflicted life of a lioness outside in the world and an expected to turn into a meek cow back at home. They are enduring this misery because they still think of themselves as just a woman who is supposed to be the lesser one, the younger one, the less successful one and the less wiser one.

Wake up women. You topped the ranks in school and college, you got that job because you were the best candidate, you are smart enough to run a house and an office with equal ease, you are intelligent enough to make the choices you make and you are still the best mother and wife. You are not less.

Why have you submitted yourself to a place and position in this world which warranties unhappiness and misery? Why have you made the volunteer submission as the humble inferior one?

Yes. It is the women who have submitted themselves to be agonized in the world that is ready to accept them as the opposite. It is we women who are keen to please everyone, who are not being assertive and keeping their wishes and feelings inside for the fear of being judged. It is we women who judge another women who break the stereotypes and choose to live differently.

When a woman decides to leave her husband because he slapped her ‘once’, it is the women who questioned her reaction in the cult movie “Thappad”. This movie is the proof that the new age has been around since quite some time but is just not hailed by the lot.

Women, you are not from a lesser planet nor are men from a superior one. We are all made from the same draft. For some generations’ convenience we were allotted different roles and the act just went on.

Now after generations of change the stage is set. Life’s act has to go on but little role reversal is required. Men have been left with no choice but to create the place for their truly better counterparts and we women have to accept our rightful place and take charge and responsibility of at least our own lives.

Yes. Women have to take responsibility. For their lives, their dreams, their happiness, their freedom and all of this for their dependents’ too. Freedom never comes without responsibility and maybe this is the reason despite having all the reasons and resources to live a more dignified life the women of this new world are still being told that they can’t.

Or is it that they are the ones who say to themselves that we can’t. “I can’t stay alone. I can’t do this all by myself. I can’t say what I want. I can’t say no to them. I can’t be the disobedient one.”

Women are not ready to stand for themselves because they are the adjusters, accommodating ones, the ones who sacrifice and keep the families afloat.

So the well educated, dreamer, intelligent, independent woman is still not living an equal life where her preferences and interests are primary, her needs and aspirations are central, her freedom and choices are respected.

This wasn’t too much to ask especially in the homes where they are equal contributors but even there they remain the secondary mistress not the head master of the house.

Remember, men have little to do with this plight of women. They are just continuing to enjoy the power the women have complacently not decided to share with them. Because they are either too scared of being labeled as headstrong dominants or are too scared to be nastily shown their place.

As a result, women are just maintaining the illusion. Illusion of a happy person living in a happy family whereas they are seething and dying from within because the enlightened and empowered minds can’t survive in the powerless, dark place that is allotted to them.

Women, don’t be scared. Let them call you names. Let them label you selfish, mean, proud, arrogant, self centered, egoist, whatever else. They do not understand why you are hurting but if you are hurting, please stop hurting within.

The pain of loss of some ungrateful relationships is nothing in comparison to the pain of humiliation that you go through everyday, the pain of not knowing who you truly are – the successful woman outside the house or the unwise nincompoop they make you think you are in the inside.

Ask yourself, who you are. Because you know who you are. Take pride in that and do whatever it takes to live with dignity and respect. Offer yourself as an equal partner and make the terms clear. The old prejudices are passé and don’t shy from asserting the obvious if the other side seems oblivious.

Honestly, not much fight and rebellion is required for our cause. The world is ready to hand over the baton to us, it is just us who haven’t asked for it. Consider yourself worthy and take it over.

Tell them that you don’t want to rule because you know how it feels to be the ruled over one. Tell them you just have to be equal because you need to do justice to the evolution that slowly and silently has happened and has happened for a collective good. The evolution is done, the revolution is awaited. And it is for your doing.

Live and let live. That’s our motto.

PS. This strong write up is for the women who are empowered and enlightened but yet aren’t being given the respect, choices and place that they are worthy of. If you are someone who could connect with my thoughts, then this entire piece of advice is for you. And those who think it is too much to do to live with dignity, stay where you are and let it become a new norm and then you may get to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s struggle. Just keep yourself alive till then.

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For The Most Anticipated Ones And The God-sent.

I live in that part of the world where even today if you are expecting a baby, especially the second one and the first is a girl child, people expressly anticipate it to be a boy.

Everything from the glow of your skin to the lack of it; your constant, incurable nausea; the shape of your growing stomach; the pattern of your sleep and the way you look, everything implies that it is a boy ‘this time’. Your friends, neighbors, family members, all think that they are pleasing you by telling you that ‘this time’ you will be blessed with a boy.

Some of you may not believe it but I know this because this is exactly what happened with me last year, when I conceived for the second time at the age of 38 years, after years of denying any need of a second offspring. We took the plunge because our first born, my then 11 years old daughter, had been begging us to give her a sibling and we couldn’t say no to her anymore. So we decided to try granting her her wish and God listened to her as well.

And the new chapter began. Everyone was thrilled. The grandparents on both sides, uncles and aunts, our friends and neighbors, whosoever came to know was exhilarated to hear the news. More so, because it’s considered important to have two kids and it might be a boy child ‘this time’.

And the anticipation or rather manifestation of the male child began. “This time it will be a boy.” I heard this almost everyday and almost always replied that it could be a girl too.

I almost every time said that because one it was a logical thing to say as we couldn’t be sure of what it would be. Second, it didn’t matter to us and we were as thrilled to have anyone as our second born. Third, I didn’t want my unborn child if it was a girl to feel unwanted or not talked about. She was as much wanted as the he was.

I have never understood people’s, especially Indians’, obsession with a boy child. There are special rituals and celebrations related to the birth of a boy whereas girl’s birth sometimes doesn’t even considered worthy of congratulations. This is how things had been since generations and I had begun to think that things had improved but I was mistaken.

There is definitely some progress now. A girl as a first born is celebrated because the childbirth is celebrated and she is a child and the hope remains that there will be a second time soon and with a different gender and so when the second time comes another girl is not expected, and definitely not verbally.

When it happened with me I was sickened by this biased anticipation. I am a well educated, modern, working, independent, proud woman and I was shocked to realize this brutal reality. Of course there were some exceptions who spoke neutrally but mostly it was the boy anthem I heard everywhere.

Personally I did not anticipate any specific gender because to me wanting one means not wanting the other. And that is so unfair. To the unwanted one.

And I didn’t anticipate anything in particular because I feel if is not what we wished for, then it is God-sent.

I just wanted a healthy child who would become our little companion for years to come and make our life’s journey more beautiful, abundant, adventurous, somewhat challenging and eventful.

And isn’t that the reason why we have children? To make our lives complete and hearts full with the love and care we feel for them and to evolve and become better persons as we are given the opportunity to become while bringing them up. And what does this beautiful life process has to do with a bias towards any gender?

We eclipse the light sent to our lives because of an age old belief that sons carry our names and legacy.

How wrong this obsolete belief is? Have you seen any name known in the history of this world because he or she was someone’s father, mother or grandparent?

People become famous and are remembered for their own deeds and contributions. They are known for their own accomplishments and attributes and not because of their successors’.

Our children are not the bearers of our negligible and insignificant names and legacies.

They are our gifts to humanity who come through us and because they come through us they get to be with us for many years. And for those years they become our companions and teachers.

Yes, I call my children my mentors. They have come to my life to teach me.

To teach me unconditional love and compassion in their initial years when I am required to just adore them and take care of them.

To teach me the value of my life, youth, good health and the way I live my life because that leaves impressions on their quality and perception of life.

To teach me patience and wisdom in their growing up years as without the two I can’t nurture their uniqueness and bring out the best in them.

To teach me all that I never learned as a child but have been given the opportunity again as their guide and companion.

To teach me humility as I have made and owned maximum mistakes as their mother and not in any other role and realized how fallible I am.

And one day they will teach me the value of my freedom and time for self when they will fly away from my nest to try their own wings.

Our children are our companions for many years in our own journey of life and its high time the society learned that the gender of our tiny companions is of no real concern in the world we live in today.

They are not for us to own, they are certainly not born to carry the burden of our unfulfilled desires and insignificant inheritances. There are here for their own journey and purpose and not to carry on with ours.

New life means new journey and new life’s arrival is an event of celebration because it brings with it new hopes, dreams, another carrier of the virtues and legacy of humanity.

Yes. Legacy of humanity is the only legacy we need to pass on.

So whenever I prayed to God, which i did very often in those months I was carrying another life, I prayed Him to bless us with a healthy baby and the wisdom and ability to bring him/her up to be a good and contributing human being.

And then His blessings came as a beautiful tiny bundle of joy who we named Rubayat which means God’s verse and lovingly call Sria which means joy. And it was a girl ‘this time’ too and we couldn’t be happier as our little girl brought into our lives much more happiness than we had dreamed of. Her protective father, her doting elder sister and her thoughtful mother, which is myself, have been on cloud nine since then. She is a dream come true and why not.

She has made our family complete and our hearts and house full to the brim with love, joy, beauty, cuteness, her smiles, her cries, everything that wasn’t there before she came along.

And another reason why she is a dream come true is because subconsciously I think I wanted to have her. I think I had always felt fascinated with the idea of becoming a mother of and bringing up two beautiful, bright, lively girls. Whenever I would come across such a family – mother, father and two daughters, I loved looking at them and would fantasize having a similar one myself.

To me all children are good, boys and girls, but it was a very personal emotion I never consciously thought about or even verbalized because I am not biased. I actually realized the feeling when my subconscious fantasy became a reality and filled me with an unparalleled joy. I would have been very happy to have a son too but having you, my most anticipated one and the God-sent, I became ecstatic.

Thank you God for being so kind and listening to the said as well as the unsaid and thank you my little girl for choosing me as your bearer, companion and guide for the years to come.

I will try to do my best. I promise!!!

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Psychologist or Psychiatrist – Who Is The Right “Go To” Professional?

Mental health has finally gained some much needed attention in India. In a country where till a few years back and in some parts maybe even today, mental only meant a mindless or mad person, mental disorders and their cure is now being talked about.

Almost two decades back not many people had probably even heard of mental disorders like depression, stress or anxiety. In case someone was suffering from any of these disorders, he would visit all kind of doctors thinking he was physically sick, doctors would get all his medical tests done and when nothing would be diagnosed the patient would visit all kinds of astrologers, healers & God-men and keep on suffering till things changed or came to an end.

Times have changed and now quite a lot of people are more aware of the mental concerns and when the symptoms persist or become unbearable, they sometimes seek help.

And when they seek help, they mostly visit the psychiatrists who are medical practitioners who treat mental disorders by prescribing medicines. They diagnose the illness by listening to the symptoms and sometimes by conducting some tests and prescribe medicines as treatment. Antidepressants for depression, mood stabilizers for bipolar and other mood disorders, anti anxiety pills for anxiety and sedatives for almost everything.

But is medicine the real cure for the illnesses or issues that get triggered or aggravated because of a person’s mindset, attitude, thinking pattern, emotions, beliefs and influences? Can a few doses of dopamine and serotonin alone cure the causes behind the depressive state of a person which probably got prompted or provoked because of a financial loss or heartbreak and his own reaction to it?

The answer is no, medicines aren’t the treatment of mental disorders. Medicines are temporary cure of the symptoms and give immediate and temporary relief to the sufferers, who are both the patient and his family.

The permanent or long lasting solution is curing the causes of the disorder and it is the job of a psychotherapist who is an expert in human psychology and uses psychology to find out the causes and cure the disorders.

The psychiatrists are also trained to do psychotherapy, in layman language counseling, which means treatment of mental disorders through psychology and not medicine. But there are many psychiatrists who prefer giving medicines because medicines are easier to prescribe whereas therapies are time consuming and needs expertise and empathy.

Then who provides psychotherapy? Another professional called psychologist is trained and qualified to do that.

A psychologist is an expert in human psychology and psychology is the scientific study of the human mindset, behavior and actions and the factors affecting the same.

There is another big difference in psychiatry and psychology. Psychiatry is the study and treatment of mental illnesses which is one of the many areas of psychology and psychology is the study and treatment of human behavior, mental attitudes and mindset which also give birth to mental illnesses.

Point here is that mental illnesses are mostly caused because of the mindset and attitude prone to that illness and are triggered by the circumstances that negatively affect the illness prone psyche.

Understand this with an example of a 30 years old person, Amit. Amit is a very ambitious person who wants to achieve big in life. He started a business which was doing well and Amit was proud of his work but now due to the lockdown and its effects Amit’s business has suffered huge losses. As a result Amit has started feeling very low and hopeless, he cannot sleep properly at night, feels anxious and agitated.

If Amit decides to visit a psychiatrist, the latter will diagnose his problem as depression and prescribe medicines for the same.

If Amit chooses to see a psychologist, this professional will empathetically listen to him, diagnose his psyche by conducting a personality test and some other psychological tests and by interviewing him and will give him therapy or counseling. The psychologist will be able to understand that Amit is a result oriented, ambitious person with a high Emotional Quotient and hates facing failures. His business losses have caused him stress and anxiety which have led him to his depressed state of mind.

A good psychologist will not label him as depressed but will comfort him with the knowledge that it is normal and natural to feel low in such a scenario. He will alter his mindset by showing him a positive side to the current problem, give him hope and suggest ways to relax his mind and use his mental and emotional strength and intelligence to find opportunities in adversity.

A good psychologist is an empathetic, non-judgmental listener and an expert counsel and advisor who can change the thought process, perceptions and beliefs of a patient by giving the relevant therapy and thus can teach him to deal with the highs and lows of life.

A good psychologist counsels, guides, mentors, motivates and does almost everything but does not give medicine.

And medicines do nothing that a psychologist does. Medicines do not listen to a person’s worries and anxieties, they do not offer new insights and viewpoints, they do not turn a negative thinker into a positive thinker, they do not give hope and faith.

Medicines only alter the chemicals in mind but mental illnesses are not only the result of chemical imbalances. Chemical imbalance does play a role but it too is an effect of change in mental state and thought process of the person.

If dopamine and serotonin are feel good chemicals they also get released when a person is relaxed, eats and sleeps well and feels good.

So why not change the patient’s attitude, lifestyle and life itself for his betterment and make him better equipped to live a peaceful and joyful life.

The psychiatrists who are also trained to do psychotherapy can use the therapy sessions and cure the causes. If they do they are your “go to professionals” for mental health.

The actual debate is not psychologist or psychiatrist, but therapies or medicines.

Mental illness patient doesn’t know what is the right treatment. He follows his doctor and he too prefers getting the prescription as medication is easy to be administered whereas therapies involve changing lifestyle, way of thinking and mental and emotional transformation.

Little do they know that their illness is actually a signal that the ongoing way of life is doing them harm and needs some change and transformation.

Medicines may make you feel good for some time but they in no way transform your life. Rather they make you dependent upon them and their prolonged use have many side effects which are harmful for the body as well as mind.

So in case you ever choose to visit a psychiatrist ask him/her if you will be given therapy sessions and not just medicines. If the psychiatrist downplays the role of therapy or introduces you to a young intern as your counselor, go somewhere else as your therapist needs to have a good experience of own life to help you deal with yours.

In some illnesses medicines are important. They are maniac disorder, acute depression and schizophrenia as in these cases the patient is not in the right mental state to go through the therapies and benefit from them. In these mental illnesses the medication improves the patient’s condition and then therapy becomes more effective.

In all other cases counseling or therapy alone is sufficient. Other than curing illnesses, psychotherapy or counseling has many other benefits too.

Mental illnesses are never immediate, rather they take years to reach the stage when they get noticed. That’s because they get attention when the worst becomes apparent.

No one gets depressed overnight or suffers from an anxiety disorder in a day. People have tendencies to be depressed and anxious and to a good observer and an empath it would show at a much earlier stage.

For your knowledge, people who are more emotional and intellectual are more prone to being depressed and anxious because overthinking is a big cause of these mental conditions. So actually there is nothing wrong with being occasionally low and worried.

Mental issues are actually oversold as illnesses to sell the chemicals. Naming the illnesses and labeling the patient helps in selling the chemicals.

Out of the hundreds of mental disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the official book of mental disorders, it is possible for every person to have at least one or more disorders.

If you have a mind then you will occasionally have an ailment of mind.

In the long human life span of 60 – 70 years, there will be many tough times which can make even the strongest of minds to become worried and low. What we need in these times is not to be labeled sick for life but an empathetic listener and guide who can teach us to accept the tough times as a part of life and take lessons from them and be strong again.

If you are going through a tough time and need help from another person’s perspective and expertise, go see a good psychologist or psychotherapist and take benefit from his unbiased and open minded counsel.

Psychologist do not just cure, they also do preventive counseling. They diagnose their patient’s personality and psyche and thus can say what kind of response the person’s psyche will give to certain circumstances.

Human mind is our very complex slave and its mastery is the key to a happy, peaceful and contented life.

A good psychologist can suggest many dos and don’ts to a person and can teach to live a conscious life in place of letting the unconscious to control the person’s thoughts, beliefs and actions.

There is reason that I have again and again written good psychologist/psychotherapist because like any other profession there are few not so good psychologists/psychotherapists too. A good psychologist can teach you to know, discover and discipline your mind to help you reach your full potential and live a peaceful existence.

A great psychologist will not make you dependent on him/her for long because his/her real job is to help you awaken the buddha inside you and help you become self sufficient in resolving your inner conflicts and be peaceful with life.

So next time when you are low, anxious, worried, aggressive, stressed or depressed, seek a good psychotherapist’s help and if you benefit from your interactions with him/her, make your therapist your regular ally and ask him/her to teach you mind management for life.

A Word For My Angry Young Girls and Boys

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These days almost everyday I meet one or two adolescents or young adults with an aggressive and even violent behavior problem. The aggression is mostly directed towards parents and other family members and sometimes towards self too, posing a risk of self harm.

Excessive energy, anger, assertiveness, aggression are very common traits of today’s young generation. Are there any causes specific to these young minds and the way they are living that make them easily volatile and explosive?

Yes, there are. There are many reasons that contribute to the restlessness of the young minds. They are too sensitive and demanding, have too many expectations, are too self-centered, require immediate gratification, are over-ambitious with no realistic plans, fear failure and are intolerant to criticism. The list is long.

But there is a key reason that is mostly responsible for bringing out the worst out of the best ever provided for human generation till date. That reason is that their pleasure pain principle has gone haywire.

Many of you might not know what this pleasure pain principle is. Let me explain.

We humans are driven by two forces in our life – the desire for pleasure and the need to avoid or remove pain.

We do all that we do to gain pleasure. It is a basic, primal need to seek pleasure. The most basic sources of pleasure are food, sex, materials and power. Since our very origin we humans have been driven by these urges which make us very similar to our earthly co-inhabitants, animals.

Since time immemorial humans have been toiling , fighting, manipulating, begging and even killing their fellow beings to satiate these desires. All good as well as bad karma is performed to seek pleasure and avoid pain.

Sigmund Freud, the pioneer psychotherapist, explained it perfectly as ‘id’, that part of our psyche that contains our basic needs and drives. Id works on pleasure pain principle and constantly strives to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Hunger, thirst, carnal and material needs when satiated provide pleasure and if are not available and are unsatisfied cause craving and pain.

Please note that both pleasure and pain are equally important as efforts, their quality, their urgency, their results and the satisfaction that is derived from the results, be it pleasure gain or pain avoidance, is what makes a life purposeful and worth.

As per Sigmund Freud’s famous Psychoanalysis Theory, there are two more domains of human psyche other than id and they are called Super Ego and Ego.

Id which we all are born with is very animal like but we are not animals because human mind created a super ego which every human acquires after his birth. Super ego contains the social and moral codes and value systems created by man himself. Our super ego is a check on our id and reins our animal like drives and desires by restraining us by binding us to our moral and social values.

Understand it with an example. If a person is hungry and is without food for long, he feels pain of hunger and wishes to derive pleasure by eating food. His id may tell him to snatch food from the person eating his tiffin sitting next to him. But he won’t because his super ego tells him that snatching is immoral and will not look good.

In everyday life, there is a constant tiff between pleasure pain principle i.e id and values ‘super ego’. In case of such conflict what happens to the pleasure pain principle which is the trigger to all efforts and actions?

That’s where our third domain of psyche comes to work. That is our ego which is our intelligence that gives us ways and means to gain pleasure and avoid pain without compromising our values. Ego resolves the conflict between id and super ego by inventing ways to get what a person wants while abiding by the values and morals. Ego is inherent as intelligence as well as acquired and enhanced with education.

In the example above, ego tells the hungry man to request the neighbor to share food with him. It is the ego that actually made people discover agriculture, trading, barter, persuasion, communication, seduction, religion, marriage and all other means so that pleasure could be earned, owned and enjoyed and pain could be avoided with dignity and rightfulness.

This principle of pleasure and pain is an all important principle as all the human progress is a result of this principle. Id made man hungry for more, super ego gave him restraints and differentiated him from animals and ego gave us new and more means and ways.

All individuals have all three but differ in their actions, results and states of mind because all have different combination of the three domains. An ideal human life is the one who can find the perfect balance between the three.

Unfortunately for our current young generation the balance has gone topsy turvy. The pleasure pain principle or the id that manifests all desires is not in order anymore.

The over indulged and over protected young ones especially those belonging to middle and upper class are now mostly accustomed to only the pleasures of life. Since their birth they have eaten well, lived well, traveled well, been well entertained and provided all that is best. The list of pleasure giving comforts is long and mostly at their disposal. As a result to them life is all about pleasures.

From their over protected lives, pains are missing and a little pain caused by absence of something causes their fury. They don’t wish to experience any pains of inadequacy and lacking. If they are denied anything they perceive it to be unfair and unjust and the things that they receive abundantly are not valued much and rather are seen as their entitlement.

Result is a life of excesses which means too much undervalued pleasure and no real pain. Sometimes they have some perceived or self inflicted pains and the worst is that those unrewarding, meaningless pains become too much for them to tolerate and the consequence is more anger.

Another consequence is that because they mostly have everything and if they want more they can ask for it, there is no need to make individual efforts because there isn’t much to strive for.

In simple words, such youth has become passive, idle, goalless, purposeless, enslaved to useless pleasures the absence of which cause pain thus addicted, unaware of the real pains of real worthy wants, yet still in pain, anguish and depressed.

The principle of pain and pleasure that applied to entire humanity for a hundred thousand years, that turned the hunter gatherers into agriculturists, innovators and then industrialists, has gone upside down in the current generation.

With due respect to Sigmund Freud and Aristotle before him who scripted the principle, the principle isn’t working anymore.

In fact all the three domains of our psyche aren’t in order. Id is not hungry anymore or is hungry but wants not self but others to provide the pleasures and when in pain rather than working to remove pain blames others for the pain.

Super ego is not able to restrain the youth as the old values are diluted and obsolete. Rather now there is a new social value that is to appear good and seek social approval. More than morals and ethics superficial vanity is given importance. So either there isn’t much conflict inside them which had to push the ego (intelligence) to find ways and work or all intelligence and efforts go into maintaining shallow appearances.

Result is that the smartest and best equipped generation is busy indulging in pleasures earned by their predecessors, suffering pains created by idle, superficial minds which they are not able to cure and sulking over anything which does not come easily their way.

So, for them “When the going gets tough, the tough doesn’t get going”. Instead they get angry and aggressive.

They need to be reminded that, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” And there will always be a way because the will is our desire and the way is the means learned and discovered by the ego or our intelligence.

Remember, the laws and principles of nature can never go wrong. Likewise, the principle of pain and pleasure is neither wrong nor it needs a revision. It is still applicable and there is a part of the youth that still is reaping the benefits of their desire to find pleasure in achievement and avoid pain of failure.

But there is a major part of the young generation that is not in compliance with the simple principles of life and hence are facing consequences.

This article doesn’t intend their bashing because they are not the culprits but victims of the times they are born in. This article intends to educate the reader who either is a part of this young aggressive group or is their provider or caregiver.

If you are someone who gets all worked up without much reason or fault of someone or you know someone who does, do perform a self check up and see if you have some real goals whose achievement you hold yourself responsible for. See if you have some deprivations and inadequacies in life that cause you pain and you are directing all your energies to acquire them to reduce or remove the pain.

If the answer is yes then you are living a life abiding by the laws of nature and in return nature is nurturing your psyche and life. But if the answer is no then it is time for a correction.

Nature has already made an effort and slowed down the machinery of the world. The economic meltdown is in a way a correction to shake us all up and out of the complacent life of excesses and revise our goals for self and the world.

The angry youth has a lot to achieve and unlike their predecessors maybe not just for self and materially but for bigger reasons and causes. I wish our youngsters feel the pain of the world they are witnessing and seek pleasure from repairing all that their greedy predecessors have ruined.

May the angry energies find direction and get engaged in creating a new and better world order.

May there be a new breed of environmentalists, economists, wildlife and nature preservers, social activists, philanthropists, writers, influencers, liberators, peacemakers, crusaders, reformers, leaders and saviors of this world.

May they stop being angry over trivia and start feeling anguish for some real reasons.

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How Is Your Child’s Affective Learning?

One of the biggest concerns of every parent is their child’s academic performance. Most of their daily efforts and engagement with their young ones is in some way or other related to the child’s study regime and results.

Parents, especially mothers can be all the time seen either telling or yelling at the children to study, read their books, finish the homework or projects and prepare for the tests.

For everyone from parents at home to teachers at school, a child’s academic results are so important that his awards, rewards, appreciation, even the parental affection and love that he receives has become conditional to the marks scored in exams.

If a child fares well in school or higher studies, he becomes worthy of all praises and perks and if he doesn’t perform as per expectations he loses all credit and credibility.

Is the immense importance that is given to the numerics or alphanumerics on the scoresheets really right and rational or not is not the topic of discussion here. It’s an important one so will discuss that in another write up.

Rational or not, there are reasons why so much stigma is attached to the child’s good academic evaluations and why everyone goes bonkers pushing their progeny to prepare, perform and excel in their academic assessments.

Let’s assume for some time that it is imperative for children to learn and do well in their educational pursuits and hence the parents and academicians who provide them the resources, instruct them and then remind them regularly to do well are doing a great job in doing so.

But is all that is being done sufficient for the child? Is a child’s academic performance really just a function of learning the languages, texts and arithmetic and then recalling what is learned and producing it on a sheet of paper? Is the cognitive learning provided in school system enough to educate a child?

Cognitive learning entails studying from books, comprehending the meaning, memorizing the texts or formulae, applying logic to the problems, reasoning, analyzing the problem, recalling the information and then producing it during the assessment which is conducted again to check the performance of the cognitive skills used to learn the inputs and provide the output.

Cognitive skills are skills of perception, memory, attention, logical reasoning, comprehension and all other skills required to learn and acquire knowledge and cognitive learning involves using cognitive skills.

Undoubtedly, cognitive abilities are important to learn, reason, use and apply learned information and hence are crucial for academic performance. And that’s the reason a child is taught to use these capabilities and is constantly subjected to a curriculum that requires the application of these skills.

The school curriculum is designed to enable, employ and evaluate the cognitive learning domain, hence, it may imply that students with good cognitive learning ought to perform well in academics and vice versa.

But that may not necessarily be the case. It was earlier believed by psychology scholars and academicians that cognitive learning is the sole key to educational excellence and its effective application.

But not anymore.

It is now a well known fact to the academic researchers that cognitive learning alone may not necessarily make someone proficient in gaining knowledge.

Rather it is quite possible that someone who is absolutely capable of perceiving and applying the information given to him may fail to learn and apply it effectively.

I, as a parent-child counselor meet youngsters everyday who have excellent cognitive abilities, who are proficient at learning languages and applying logic to mathematical problems, but are not at all performing well in their academics. The parent accompanying the child would say that she knows that the child is very intelligent but for reasons unknown do not yield desired results.

The reason is not unknown anymore. The fact is that there is another domain of learning that supplements the mental abilities to learn and acquire knowledge.

It is called affective learning.

Affective means related to moods, emotions and attitude and hence affective learning deals with the learner’s moods, emotions, interests, attitude and motivation to learn.

A child, irrespective of his capabilities, learns when he is willing and motivated to learn. If cognitive learning is the how to learn then affective learning is the why to learn.

Affective learning is a much ignored domain of learning and is not given much space and importance in the annual school curriculum.

The school system works primarily to provide the inputs to a child’s cognitive learning but ignores the fact that it is the child’s affective learning or affects (emotions and moods) that have to be willing to receive and respond to the inputs being given.

Similar mistake is made by parents at home who again emphasize on reading, writing, memorizing functions but miss out building up the right emotional environment for the effective affective and cognitive learning.

Affective learning entails the willingness and motivation to learn and use the cognitive abilities. It precedes the cognitive learning.

In simple words, it means being in the right mood to study, being emotionally charged to pay attention and learn, to value the learning process, to be motivated to spend attentive hours to gain knowledge and feel happy and accomplished with the knowledge gained.

Affective learning is the precursor of all learning. If you have a child who is not doing very well in his/her academics ask yourself a few questions.

“Does she seem interested in her daily study program?”

“Does she look forward to her classes where she will acquire knowledge about the various subjects?”

“What is her attitude about studying and all that it involves?”

“Is she really motivated to learn and to apply all that she learns?”

You may think that every child feels unhappy and uninterested when asked to sit and study but that is not always the case. There are children who read and learn with joy and enthusiasm. They enjoy using their cognitive abilities and their results always show that.

Even they occasionally lose their enthusiasm or may find one or two subjects less interesting but fall back in line with time or little intervention. You definitely know someone like this.

And it is okay and normal to be uninterested and unhappy sometimes but the real concern is mostly or permanently having a negative feeling and attitude towards the learning activities.

In your case, your answers to the above questions have told you what your real concerns are if you have any and if you belong to the category of parents who wish to see good academic results of their young ones, now you know what requires your attention.

If you have understood by now that your child does not have the right emotion, attitude towards learning and is not too willing to receive, respond and value the process of acquiring knowledge, then know your real and immediate job is to work on improving his/her affective learning.

Affective learning is all about providing an affective environment where a child is happy, not criticized or judged, neither too anxious nor too carefree, is not over indulged, has right role models and is motivated to learn and apply knowledge.

In today’s time, the affective learning is mostly inadequate and ineffective because of the following reasons.

  • The young generation of today is over provided and over indulged. They already have everything and that does not provide them enough motivation to strive and work hard to perform and excel.
  • They have too many distractions in their lives. There is so much that attracts their attention and thus does not leave much willingness to divert that attention to the tedious task of studying.
  • They are either too pampered and protected or are too much judged and criticized. This results in either making them too carefree or too anxious and both conditions are negative affects for learning.
  • In some home environments, especially where parents are engaged in running traditional business, there is sometimes less importance given to their academic activities or that is what the children perceive. They are unable to relate knowledge and success and thus may not realize the value of learning and seeking knowledge.
  • Another major reason is less engaging ways of imparting education in schools. An effective and engaging teaching system can make the process of learning interesting and stimulating and once a child starts to enjoy the process and its outcome and the appreciation that follows, it becomes a continuous cycle of enjoying learning, performing, enjoying getting appreciated and repeat.
  • A child is less interested in learning when cognitive abilities are poor and despite efforts the results are not good. If affective learning precedes cognitive learning, the later also effects the former. If a child finds it easy to comprehend and learn, he will enjoy learning but if despite putting in hours he is not able to solve the problems he will lose all enthusiasm. Both the domains are interrelated.

Considering the reasons for poor affective learning of the students, what are the ways to improve the ignored but essential domain of learning.

First of all, out of the reasons mentioned find out the reasons responsible for your child’s indifference, lack of interest and motivation. Acknowledge all the things missing in his/her emotional environment. Is he over indulged or over criticized, lacks some cognitive skills, is not aware of the advantages of being well educated or is the way of teaching less engaging and encouraging?

Whatever is lacking find ways to improve it. If the lack of good feelings and motivation is in initial stages you can talk it out yourself but if it has become a deep rooted belief then you may seek professional help from a good counselor.

Change the environment at home and in school. Make sure your child is happy, not bullied, is less anxious, not judged and is constantly encouraged and appreciated. Give him/her realistic goals and support him/her to achieve them.

Tell your child to enjoy the process of learning new information and knowledge and not to chase the high scores. If he/she will do his/her best to just learn, excellence will automatically follow.

Ask the school and teachers to follow a more engaging teaching program and to include affective learning in the school curriculum. it is a prevalent practice in most of the developed countries where a lot of emphasis is given to the emotional and psychological well-being of the students.

Affective learning is all about a happy, confident, alert, aware, empathetic, keen to learn child who knows how to enjoy studying as much as she enjoys playing.

Affective learning does not just apply to academics but to every sphere of learning and life. If your child enjoys playing a game he will put in the efforts required to learn it, the same will be the case for learning arts, music, dance and every other skill. In case of academics it is more important as the academic curriculum is lengthy, needs long hours and more attention and efforts. The key to gain knowledge is to feel happy while doing it.

Affective learning is not about results but the feelings and the efforts and parents, you too learn to appreciate their feelings and efforts.

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Mental Health In Current Times

First time in our lifetime we are witnessing a global pandemic which has forced most of the people world over to quit their day to day pursuits and sit idle at home. Stay at home to stay safe became the new mantra for our wellbeing.

Now it has been almost four months since people had their usual life; when students went to schools and colleges to study, adults went to their workplaces and everyone had their usual routines of visiting shopping malls, hanging out with friends, dining out, traveling to beat the blues and all the normal things we had got so accustomed to and called life.

How has this temporary but seemingly indefinite pause in our living life affected our mental well-being? There are definitely many repercussions of the first ever global lockdown on our minds.

First of all, idleness itself breeds many mental woes. The biggest advantage of a busy life is that it keeps the mind off useless thinking and worrying. In the normal course of life people are usually too busy to indulge in unwanted and unsettling thinking. Their daily jobs and tasks keep their overworking minds occupied and even those who are habitual over thinkers do not make time to reflect everyday. But in this case of forced sit down with nothing much to keep the mind engaged, overthinking and especially negative overthinking is natural. Most vulnerable are the emotionally sensitive and chronically anxious people who in current times have the habit as well as all the time to over analyze things and then worry about them.

Excessive thinking and worrying causes anxiety in people. Thousands of people are getting sick and are losing lives everyday and there are 24 X 7 news channels reporting the numbers and the horrors of what’s happening in every corner of the world. People are bound to worry and get anxious about their and their dear ones lives. Anxiety leads to poor sleeping and eating and many somatic symptoms that give us a feeling of being sick and the health scare aggravates.

The financial losses and worries that have resulted due to the pandemic and the lockdown are the other reason of anxiety. Businesses are closed or down, jobs are being lost, all spendings except for necessities are postponed and hence people are not earning as usual and nobody knows when things will improve. People of all classes and status are bearing the financial losses of varying magnitude. In a country like India where Government packages do not compensate our earning losses and people have to be self reliant for their monetary needs, this stress is inevitable.

Another casualty of this situation is the relationships. In normal days, everyone gets a break from each other, but now people have been forced to live together with their immediate kin all the time inside the four walls of their houses. For some it came as a blessing to have gotten an unusual chance and time to spend with their families which generally got ignored while making living for them. But for many it came as a disaster as living constantly together and finding no usual ways to escape from each other has led to frustrations, increased quarreling and fighting among the family members.

Overthinking, anxiety about wellbeing and life, financial stress and lack of leisure and distractions are causing a feeling of hopelessness and depression in many. There are many people struggling with the evils of depression right now and as mental health is still an ignored sphere of life, they are suffering in silence and without help. If you are one of them or know someone who you feel is being agonized by his/her mind, seek the necessary help. For my readers I am offering some solutions for their mental concerns.

1. The first and the easiest solution to your woes is to find ways to stay occupied. Clean your whereabouts, cook the good food you are missing, water your plants, de clutter your overfilled spaces, do a physical workout at home, watch the series you weren’t getting time to watch, read the books lining decoratively on the shelves or start a new hobby, just do something and keep busy. Do enough to get tired and doze off peacefully at night.

Staying occupied is essential for everyone. Children need to keep busy with useful activities, else they will get more hooked to mobile phones, internet and television. They may start losing interest in studies and even lose some basic cognitive skills while idling away from the usual school routines. Thus, it is imperative that they should be encouraged to read books, solve mathematical problems, play board games and engage in some sort of physical activity like cycling or running.

Stay at home and stay busy to stay absolutely safe should become the new slogan. This pandemic is not going to last forever and when it does people need to come out physically as well as mentally stable and healthy.

2. The best way to deal with your anxieties is to develop a positive outlook about what is happening in the world. God knows how the disaster broke out but what had to happen has happened. The best we can do is is to think of the positives of our situation.

There are some optimistic viewpoints we can adopt. The nature needed a pause from our excessive, abusive activities and has healed somewhat since the closing down. Many of us needed to stop and think of better ways of living life. For some the rat race may become over and a more contended life may begin.

Some of us may wake up to realize that there are many more endangering challenges lying ahead and a new much needed revolution to save the planet may be in offing.

For the less philosophical and more realistic people who need more reason to feel optimistic, look at the data because the data is not pessimistic. Wherever you live, analyze and see that only a very small percentage of people is getting infected and an even smaller number becomes severely sick and very few die. The numbers are not very scary and if you are taking necessary precautions you may never become infected. Most of us personally do not know anyone who got infected or has died due to corona breakout.

You need not give too much attention to the news which is mostly aired to scare you. I strongly suggest, neither be unreasonably optimistic nor absolutely pessimistic. Be realistic and go about your normal life with some caution that your mind has already become accustomed to and you may never catch the virus and even if you did, you will survive as it is curable in most of the cases.

Another way to feel less anxious is that you are not alone in it. The entire world is struggling and all the world powers and medical experts are working to find the solution (the vaccine and the cure) which is going to be delivered sooner than you can imagine. Stay hopeful and use the time to do what best you can do. Like all other good and bad times even this time is going to pass.

3. In case of your financial worries you have to again deal with your situation with a more positive outlook. It is again something everyone is dealing with. Look for opportunities as they are aplenty now, reduce your overheads if you can, revise your goals and plans and if nothing else works, be grateful to be alive and start afresh.

The economy will bounce back once things improve, the money isn’t just rotating right now but it is there and will start churning again and with more momentum maybe. Save your good business sense and energies till then. Rather use this time to brush up or learn new skills.

4. If you can remain busy, feel optimistic about your future and stay calm in these times, then you can definitely enjoy this time as one of your best times with your family and vice versa. Our family life affects our mental well-being and our mental peace reflect in our family bonds.

Work hard and consciously to improve at least some aspects of your life and the rest will follow automatically. This pause is actually the time you have been granted to reflect upon your life and to review and reassess your life situation. Take stock of your life, relationships and all that you hold valuable and make an extra effort to improve the inventory. Reach out to your friends and whoever needs help and share your hopes and enthusiasm with those who need it. As they say, maintain social distance, not emotional distance.

5. Lastly, some people may have become paranoid in the current times when you have to mind your social distance while simply going out to run errands or working if your work has resumed and constantly maintain the hand and body hygiene. Never in our entire lives we had ever been so conscious as we are now.

I personally call it meditation as meditation is nothing but being conscious of now and here. By being alert we are actually living in a permanent mindful, conscious and meditative state. We are not lost in thoughts of past or future but are aware and alert to the present. So, don’t be paranoid, just enjoy being fully conscious and don’t forgo these healthy and hygienic habits that we have been forced to adopt.

The historical event that we are witnessing in this historical year is going to become history soon but how we come out from it physically and especially mentally will become our personal story to be shared in the times to come. So make sure that you don’t make yourself mentally sick with bigger but less talked about illnesses while trying to protect your bodies from the lesser but more popular ailment.

Stay at home and stay busy and hopeful for a better tomorrow.

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A Message For My Contemporaries

Those who were born around 1980 and are now almost forty or a year or two plus or minus, I call them my contemporaries. Me and my peers, we are a very special genre and are going to have a very special place in the future history of mankind. I take our place and position in the world very seriously and I will explain it why and thus want your absolute attention on every word I write here.

Earlier we either fell under the Generation X (born between 1965 to 80) or the millennials (born between 1981 and 1995) cohorts, but now we are called “xennials” a combination of gen-X and millennials as we were born at the cusp of the two. So if you were born between the year 1976 and 1984 you are a xennial, someone who has seen the best and worst of two worlds.

As the ones born in the transition we have some very significant distinctions from our predecessors and successors. We have the dual traits of two very different generations.

1. We have both the hardworking, workaholic genes of gen-X and the easygoing attitude of the millennials. That probably makes us seek a good work-life balance in our life.

2. We have the gen-X conservative values as well as the liberal ways of millennials. And that’s why we are mostly conflicted in the inside.

3. We are neither completely devoted and loyal generation X nor we are absolutely indifferent and impatient generation Y. Hence, we are less rigid and more flexible and agile to change.

4. We lived our initial twenty years of life without mobile phones and internet but have been using the technology and social media for almost twenty years now. So we are tech savvy and also know both the advantages and disadvantages of the necessary evil.

5. Like our predecessors we did not get to reap the economic boom for good 15 to 20 years and like our successors we did not start career in global recession. We had had five to ten years of career amid plentiful prosperity under our belts before the meltdown began. Thus, we may enjoy extravagance but we aren’t pound foolish.

6. We love our families and care about the society as we inherited it from gen-X and those before them and we are somewhat self-infatuated narcissists too as that’s what our next in line evolved to be.

7. We are neither pessimists and over-cautious like the ones born before us nor we are audacious optimists and outgoing like those who came after us. We are realists and are trying to deal with the realities of life in the best possible way.

In the nutshell, we “xennials” are neither old school nor we are new wave and this distinction makes us a very good mix of the two worlds. We are the last generation to have lived our old traditions and the first one to go ultramodern. We have read books and we have played video games. We have owned audio tapes and we have used iPods and Bluetooth earplugs. We can wear chic westerns and can carry traditional wear with equal elan. We relish our local foods as well as the global cuisines with identical fervor.

All this duality at times makes us confused and conflicted especially while dealing with our children who unlike us belong to a pure cohort, generation Z. Generation Z are those who are born between year 1996 to 2015. Most of xennials are parents of almost or already teenagers which is the generation Z. This generation was born with phones and tabs in their hands, have ambitious and indulging providers, are compulsive consumers of all kinds of trends and desire absolute freedom without questions asked.

Now the question is how our conflicted cohort is dealing with this overindulged, narcissistic gen-Z? This is our life’s current scenario:

1. We are liberals so we give them liberty but get worried because we are conservatives too.

2. We mostly earn well and are indulging. Hence, we have provided them with almost everything but we flinch when we see them not valuing what they have and feeling entitled to have more.

3. We use technology in every form, we are all over the social media but we want to limit their access when we see them overdoing.

4. We eat, drink, party hard as a modern way of life and when we are being replicated by the gen-Z we aren’t sure if it is right or wrong.

Everyday, we are facing one or other dilemmas in our life especially as parents of teenagers because we are a mixed generation. We can’t completely let them loose and we don’t know how to stop the inevitable without being the despised hypocrites.

My fellow xennials, what to do in the fix that we all find ourselves in, just because of the year we were born in?

In my opinion it is not a predicament but a blessing that we are where we are. Our generation has been given a perfect chance to evolve and become better than all our preceding generations. Our prerogative is not to choose to be either X or Y but to take the best of the two and let go of the worst of both. This generation has a unique chance to amalgamate the finest of two wonderful worlds and be the best breed ever.

The job may sound tedious but is doable. Our generation actually has a lot of de cluttering to do. We are almost everything that our parents were and all that they were not. We have all the inheritances as well as the new learned ways of life influenced by the two generations overlapping our lives. For a life less complicated and conflicted we need to emerge as a new entity. If you agree to what you have read so far, there are simple steps to follow.

1. Be mindful of all that you are. Separate your own inherent attributes and values and the ones you have merely adopted to fit in among others especially the newer generations. Ask yourself, “Am I really a very social person or I just hang out because everyone does?” “What purpose the use of technology is serving for me?” “What is my true calling?”

2. List down the characteristics and values that have served you best and are important for your well being especially as a parent. Retain those.

3. List down all those features, values and habits in your life that are detrimental to your peaceful existence but you are holding onto them for sentimental reasons or merely because you never realized that they were undesirable. Unlearn them or give them up.

4. After the unlearning and de littering if you feel the need to learn a new skill or value, learn it. Remember, we have to have the best of the two worlds.

This process will take time, conscious effort and especially a lot of self consciousness, but will make you free from lot of unnecessary baggage. If you aren’t able to manage it on your own, you can take a Life Coach’s help. Do it yourself or with someone’s help, just do it because you are overloaded, over-burnt and overwhelmed by the old and the new and the contradicted, unsorted and inconsistent you cannot guide the gen-Z.

My fellow xennials, it’s high time we do our self appraisal because it’s around 40 that midlife crisis strikes and we are almost there and some self discovery and decluttering will certainly help us find our balance and become the better people we were certainly born to be.

Will share my thoughts on how to deal with the gen-Z in my next blog. Till then help yourself.

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Fatherhood, A Casualty of Conventions

This blog is for those of us who miss and/or have missed their father’s active participation and/or attention in their lives. It is also for the fathers who think their children, who they work so hard for, are more closer to their mothers and do not share an as good rapport with them. This blog is also for the mothers who want their spouse and offsprings to share a bond better than it is right now. All those who don’t fit in any of these categories may stop reading here.

What are your best childhood memories? I am sure many of those memories would be those rare parent-child things you got to do with your father.

Why did I write rare? They were rare because our fathers were mostly either too busy working outside home and earning a living for the family or they were too tired after a day’s work to play with us or help us do our homework. We probably never even expected them to do those tasks because fathers, the men of the houses weren’t supposed to do those.

If they did have time and there was a moment when they were needed by the children, they were hardwired to not show us their feelings and emotions and if we did sit down to talk, it was mostly critical appraisal of our behavior or misdoings and moral preaching, that we got.

So those times were very few when we hugged, laughed, played, had simple funny times or experienced mushy moments with our personal superheroes.

When I think of my early years’ fondest recollections, I think of my father cooking an occasional delicacy for us, our once a year one day trip to visit the temples in our state (this was the only annual trip when he accompanied us), when he went with me for my admission in the University, when he once told me that it tormented him whenever he saw me crying, when he couldn’t eat the good homemade food thinking that I must be eating awful hostel food, when he occasionally spoiled me bad by indulging my reasonable and sometimes unreasonable wishes.

These memorable instances were very scarce and sparse, when I got to feel my father’s love and affection for his favorite offspring and how I wish that there very many many more such times to hold onto especially when heavens didn’t grant me many years with my favorite parent.

These countable on fingertips occasions are few not because your or my father wasn’t emotional, loved us less or didn’t want to be around us more than he did but because of the stereotypes that are attached with being a man and a father.

Here are some of those cliched conventions:

  • Men have to be strong and unemotional.
  • It’s a man’s job to earn for his family.
  • Men can’t cry or have a sentimental meltdown.
  • It isn’t a man’s job to do household chores.
  • Fathers have to be strict and discipline their children.
  • Fathers only have to provide comforts and materials to their children.
  • Either they have to be critical of their progeny, else they become spoiled or spoil them with stuff at the end of a work day.
  • All else is a mother’s job.

Because of these stereotypes, fatherhood and its role in a child’s life hasn’t changed much with the changes in generations. In today’s times when women are better equipped to earn and are earning and hence sharing or are capable of sharing the bread earning responsibility, when there are just one or two children and enough opportunities to play, travel, bond together, fathers are still shy of expressing love, spending quality time with the young ones and being more supportive and less critical.

It is an established fact that children benefit from quality presence and active involvement of their fathers in their day to day lives. Children who have involved fathers do well academically, have lesser behavior issues, are not delinquents, are physically fitter, are emotionally more stable, are less prone to anxiety and depression in their adulthood.

But more than the children, the fathers will gain from the increased camaraderie.

Fathers are as human and sentimental and sometimes even more than their female counterparts. The more involved father gets a much needed emotional outlet which can be the best medicine and de stressor for him.

Ever wondered why men are more prone to heart attacks, hypertension and depression. There are high chances that an involved father who doesn’t keep himself bottled up will be spared from these deadly ailments.

Fathers too need love and being involved gets them their share of love from their young ones, the love which they can never earn with the money they make but only with the time they spend with the kids.

The counsel, advice and guidance is more naturally accepted by the growing up adolescents when fathers have been involved from the very early years. In the opposite cases the teenagers mostly find their father’s new interest in their youthful lives intrusive and annoying. In such cases the youngsters don’t listen to their best guides and the poor fathers feel unwanted and isolated.

So what should the superheroes sans capes do? It’s very simple.

  • Break some stereotypes. Do a fresh appraisal of your own childhood and see what your own father could do more or differently.
  • Feel entitled to the love and companionship of the tiny or now not so tiny bundles of joys and earn it with more quality time spending.
  • Make time to attend all their meets, activities, drive them to their classes as often as you can, cook for and with them, find your common passions and pursue them together. Have some pure father child rituals and times.
  • Give some break to your alpha male and let out your beta father and spouse.
  • Be more expressive of your love and emotions. Let your child know how much he/she means to you.
  • Be an authoritative parent who empathizes, communicates and disciplines only when required and not an authoritarian parent who only demands obedience and discipline
  • Treat your wife as an ally in the upbringing of your child. Seek her help, ask for inputs and feedback and make amends. Stop showing each other down. You are not competition, you are collaborators when it comes to rearing the lives you created.
  • Relish the newfound role.

Parenting is God’s way of giving us another chance to relive and relive well. Fatherhood can be as rewarding and rejoicing as is motherhood. It’s high time when some role reversals happened, for everyone’s sake. Fathers need to shed some command and control to gain more space and stature in the young lives and hearts. Remember, the hands-on fathers are the happiest fathers and happier fathers are better than wealthier fathers.

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What Makes A Child Confident?

“I don’t think I can do this.”

“It is too difficult for me to try.”

Almost everyday I meet teenagers who are clueless about what they want to do with their lives. As a career counselor, when I suggest them various career options based on of their potential and inherent capabilities, rather than seeing their excitement on the prospects what I hear are their doubts and reservations. These apprehensions primarily stem out of their lack of self-confidence and self-worth.

Ever wondered why are our children and teenagers so full of self-doubt? Why does this generation of English speaking youngsters who are well groomed, sent to best schools and provided with extravagant lifestyles, lack in self-assurance when it comes to decision-making and acting upon the choices they make?

The key reason that our youth is engulfed in self-doubt and self-deprecation is their poor self-concept. Self-concept means one’s idea of self which gets constructed by the beliefs formed about self. Since the beginning of our life, whatever happens in our life, contributes to the building of our self-concept or self-image.

Some of the most critical yet overlooked contributors are:

1. Love and affection of parents.

When a small child is unconditionally loved and showered affection at by parents and other elders the innocent mind of the child doesn’t think, “My mother is so loving.” It rather thinks, “I must be very special. That’s why my mother/father loves me so much.” Think of it. ‘I am good or special’, is a self-concept that gets constructed by something as natural as a mother’s love.

On the opposite hand, when a child is often reprimanded or scolded by a parent, the immature mind doesn’t form a bad image of the parent but of self. “My mother doesn’t like me. I must not be good.” Thus, the self-loathing self-concept is formed.

2. Appreciation from parents and teachers.

Few positive words of acknowledgment on any small and big feats of a child can form the positive self-belief and the exact opposite happens when criticism is spewed on the young mind. In our society, negative appraisal is granted easily to the young ones as it is considered as a motivator. Parents think that if they tell a child that he can’t do something, he will be prompted to do it and prove himself.

Little do these parents know that their critical words are actually dispiriting the child by forming the child’s image in his mind as someone incapable of doing the job. And Why not? Those words are coming from the ‘know it all’ parents who are idolized by the unknowing children.

The opposite happens when an encouraging parent or teacher tells another child that he can do something. The simple words paint a picture of a competent self in the child’s impressionable mind. The child just acts his image and sometimes even an average child outdoes others.

Many a times parents are wary of bestowing praises on their progeny as they worry that accolades may make them arrogant. It is a myth. Appreciation doesn’t lead to arrogance. It rather forms a self image that the child wants to live up to.

3. Acceptance of the individual.

When a child is accepted for who he is, he gains confidence in self. On the other hand, comparison and discrimination are confidence killers. When a child is discriminated and given differential treatment because of her gender, color of skin, shape of body, height, intelligence, talents, performance, etc. the feeling of being less creeps in.

Every child is unique in his unique self and shall be treated equally and fairly. Give your child respect for who he is and see the leap his self-confidence will make. And also protect your child from any discrimination he might be getting from other sources. The world is still full of its prejudices and our children need to be proofed from it with our confidence in them.

3. Accomplishments of the child.

The biggest motivator in one’s life is one’s own achievements. Our previous accomplishments are the reference points for our self-confidence for our next endeavors. When a child does well in her tests, exams or other competitions, the self-concept of being competent gets formed automatically. The child faces the next competition with her positive self-image and performs well again and the positive image gets further reinforced and then the cycle continues.

The opposite happens when a child doesn’t perform well consecutively a few times and then another pattern of failure persists. It is thus vital that a child does well in something or anything. It can be academically, in sports or in any curricular or extracurricular activity.

They say, “nothing succeeds like success.” That means every success leads to the next success because every success creates a successful self-concept in the person’s mind.

The renowned psychologist Erik Erickson in his psychosocial development theory has called the age between six to twelve years as the stage when every child has a crisis or conflict of industry and inferiority in her mind. A hardworking or industrious child succeeds and forms a positive self attitude and the not so hardworking kind forms an inferior self image.

Thus, victory or failure becomes a natural self expectation and we in easy language call it self-confidence or lack of confidence.

So, how do we enhance the confidence in a child? It is clear by now.

  • Love your child. Shower your affections on him.
  • Say encouraging words to your child. Give genuine appreciation whenever you get a chance.
  • Help your child achieve. Tell him it is important to do well and make it happen together.
  • Celebrate the successes and the failures. Celebrate the efforts.
  • Never let your confidence in the child go low. Never give up hope in him.
  • Teach him perseverance.
  • Be a good role model yourself and share your stories.

A confident child is a dream of every parent and it is also your own creation. Your own small acts of love, kindness and empathy paint his best picture in your child’s mind. Be mindful of this and help his mind see him as a self-assured doer and capable of fulfilling his dreams.

My Wishes For My Girls.

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“Que sera sera. Whatever will be, will be.”

A song I heard for the first time when I was a little girl. At the time, I did not at all understand what it meant, but it somehow remained with me and now I very often find myself singing it to my girls.

The song means what is meant to happen, will happen. On one hand I understand the reality of this sentence but on the other my mother’s heart doesn’t stop wishing for all that’s best for her beloved children. There are a million things that I hope for, when I think of my daughters’ future.

First of all, I want both of them to have a very positive view of life. Their lives will have their shares of ups and downs, good days and bad days, victories and failures but in any situation they find themselves in, I wish that they see an affirmative reason and outcome at the end of it.

Besides being positive, they must be pragmatic too while dealing with what life serves them and always find ways to make something beautiful and worthwhile out of whatever they have.

I wish them both to be believers. Believers of God, goodness, miracles, love, happy endings. Those who believe find it easier to be hopeful, happy and at peace with life.

When they grow up I wish them to be at peace with their life and to never be tormented by any demons from their past. I want them to experiences life closely and learn from it but my mother’s heart wishes to shield them from any ugly and frightful incidents and if there’s ever any such troubling event I wish they learn their lessons and move on with more strength and wisdom.

I wish them to be intellectuals and deep thinkers, someone with ideals and strong beliefs. They must be strong minded and not submissive or meek followers.

I hope the seeker in them connects with the depths of their minds and souls and they learn to live a life with consciousness and mindfulness.

A superficial and shallow life is a wasted life. I wish them to feel, think, reflect and contemplate deeply and then stand by what they think and feel. They should question what is not acceptable to them and not conform to norms and prejudices just to fit in. They should rather enjoy being different and influence those around them.

I wish them to be distinctive and original yet open to new ideas and knowledge. They should know people with different views and ideologies and engage in healthy discussions and exchanges. They must be willing to learn, adapt, change and evolve when they come across a better way of life.

I wish they have many good friends and nourish and cherish friendships that are fun, inspiring and are there for life. I hope they enjoy great bonds with good people from all over the world and inspire and be inspired to live a good life.

I wish they remain their beautiful selves, both inside and outside. They should be elegant and delightful but more than that they must be kind and empathetic.

I wish they turn their passions into professions and love and enjoy what they do. Hope they never make their living at the cost of living a happy and fulfilled life,earn enough to live comfortably and to afford the experiences they want and know that money is just a means to life and not a measure of their worth.

I wish they never forget the value of education and be well educated as well as well-read. May they never cease to love their best friends, the books and remain avid book lovers for life.

I wish they have an adventurous streak in them and should enjoy all the exciting, adrenaline pumping feats and adventures of the world. And to enjoy those escapades, stay at the peak of their health and fitness.

May they have an eternal love for traveling just like their mother does and see and explore the whole world and then find that one place they can happily call their home.

I wish they find people worthy of their love and trust and take little chances if and when their hearts tell them to but never cease to believe in love if their hearts ever get broken.

And above all else I hope they love themselves more than anything or anyone and know that no one has the right to make them feel less or unworthy. I hope they value their precious lives, dignity, respect and worth more than anyone especially those who can’t value the same.

It’s a mother’s wish that her girls, her princesses shall grow up and live life like worthy queens. I hope they rule their own small worlds and always know that they have one another world that was, is and will always be for them to rule. Their mommy and daddy’s hearts and home will forever remain theirs and they will be always welcome to be back and be our eternal little princesses.

Bond Over A Shared Passion.

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These days, we often hear parents complaining that their growing up children are mostly engrossed in their routines and they don’t spend much time together. Couples are struggling in relationships and the mother of the problem is not investing enough time in each other.

Reason is simple.

In this fast paced life, where everyone has a lot going on in their work spheres, lifestyle routines and busy social lives, spending quality time together for any two people is a dream.

People these days have so much to do for themselves apart from the usual day’s work. The fitness program to stay in good shape is important and so is staying updated with news from all over the world. Social networking is unavoidable and staying abreast on all Netflix series and shows is a new compulsion.

Novel interests of baking, painting, photography, YouTubing, Instagramming as well as old ones like reading and writing are contagious, so easily find place in our busy lives.

So in our busy lives, there is an office time, zen time, fun time, social time, and even the quintessential ‘me’ time but there is no ‘you and me’ time. That being so, relationships are withering and people especially life partners and parents who seek affection are feeling unloved and abandoned.

Today everyone has a lot of personal space with all the personal means like a personal income, phone, TV, room, car and circle of friends and hence there is no dependence or even need of bumping into each other.

But is it a lot of personal space or actually a huge, invisible boundary between the relationships, which could only exist and flourish, if there was some sort of dependence on one another?

The lack of time and over self-indulgence is causing deterioration of bonds between the closest ones. Hence, there is a need like never before to invent a new work-life balance equation, that has a place for the ignored dear ones in it.

There is an easy way to do it and that is to bond over one or more shared interests. Yes. There are too many interests and hobbies in everyone’s life so why not do some of the daily ‘to do list’ together. Don’t forsake the newfound passions or your life partner, just find out the common interests. If you are a parent, find some shared passions with your young ones.

So here goes the list. Read it and discover your common calling.

If you are a fitness freak, have joint work out sessions. If you both are cyclists, go out together on your favorite route, watch the stunning sunrise, challenge each other for a race and come home exhausted yet full of exuberance.

The creative ones can bond over the masterpieces or projects you can do together or help each other do better.

The culinary enthusiasts can bond over their favorite cuisines and occasionally cook a multi course menu and feed the gang or own clan and be applauded.

The nature lovers can grow and nourish plants and themselves, watch birds, go for nature walks and find solace in the greens in unison.

The readers can read together, exchange book reviews, tell tales, discuss plots and characters and engage in intellectual insights that this breed does have in abundance.

The dance lovers can boogie to the beats, perform a Zumba, salsa, Bhangra or whatever their heart desire.

The music lovers can have recitals, go to concerts, form own band, have karaoke evenings and if nothing listen to their favorite melodies and distress on the rug together.

The list is endless. Binge watch, have movie marathons, play domino or cards if that’s your calling, do anything but do it almost daily and do it together.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this list and could easily envision myself bonding with those who I call my family over our common obsessions. I am someone for whom my ‘me time’ has always been sacrosanct but so is the need to share my time and life with those who I call mine.

Life inside home in these times have proved that family is the new friends, our babies are our new buddies and spouse is the second self. So invest in them and insure your precious partnerships for life!!!

People photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

The Flashy, Fancy, Filthy ‘Frills’

Some of the most miserable people I know are not unhappy because they are living a life of drudgery and deprivation or are struggling to stay afloat in trying and testing times like right now. They are pathetic but not because life hasn’t been fair to them and haven’t bore fruits to their labor. They are neither worried about their uncertain future nor they are weary from the efforts and exertion done in their unkind past.

The ones I am talking about here are those, who life dealt a good hand to. They were born with the proverbial spoons in their mouths and are fortunate to have almost everything, rather too much of everything. They neither lack any comforts nor they are aware of the daily discomforts and struggles of common people as they hardly know any commoners personally and yet they crib and complain.

When these affluent, “A” leaguers lament that life has been uncharitable to them, the reasons quoted by them are often unfathomable to common minds. A normal person would be worried because he is not earning well, hasn’t created enough buffer to take care of his loved ones in case of an exigency, hasn’t built a house, is not able to fulfill some mediocre dreams like a trip abroad, hasn’t yet found a compatible life partner, fears a job loss in recession, is struggling with ill health, has lost a loved one and a similar comprehensible list.

But these lords and ladies of ultra lavishness and luxuries do not have these common concerns. Their troubles are uncommon and extraordinary as they themselves are. Problems and concerns if they say they have, then they definitely have but to a commoner they would seem more like self inflicted pains owing to their privileges and over indulgences. Just like a young boy causes himself stomachache by over-consuming rich foods, the filthy rich of the world mostly invite inconveniences by engaging in extravaganza.

They make a huge house and then there is a full time job to maintain it. There is a platoon of maids and staff which needs 24X7 management. There are a million instructions to be given and accountabilities to be taken. The fleet of cars need regular upkeep, updating and upgrading. Same goes with the gazillion gadgets. The clothing, accessories and other finery needs to be the finest. And why not?

How will the world know that you have made it big in life? Your lifestyle speaks of your abilities and accomplishments. The mansion, the motors, the bags and watches, the labels are bought for a reason and so need to be showcased. These “frills” are aspired and amassed because they are admired by all.

These “frills” are the well deserved and earned trophies and evidence that you have made it to the top echelons of the society that worships the worthy and the wealthy. And most importantly if you can afford the frills then you must own them, but if you do own them then you must, must and must enjoy owning them.

Exactly, you must enjoy them and not cause a stomachache because of them. It should be made an established universal law that “anything that is in moderation can be benefited from”.

Excesses of any means and materials are bound to cause pain. The pain that first goes into procuring and then preserving the wares. Then the daily pain and time that goes into managing, maintaining and measuring those excesses and the worthiness that they come tagged with. There is another pain that is caused by the fear of losing the collectibles and the constant pain of staying at the top of the game by acquiring the latest toy or ware put out by the high-end creators.

Then there is the excruciating pain (women know it best) when you are occasionally told that you have done nothing to own what you so proudly own and flaunt. And the most agonizing pain is when you do not find your successors befitting of carrying the legacy of neither works and nor wares created and collected over a lifetime enduring a lifetime of pain. And worst is realizing that the heirs were again made less capable and too much complacent by the expensive things you only pampered them with. Now the stomachache becomes chronic and incurable.

All the pain taken would be absolutely worth bearing if it brought peace, mental and emotional growth of the pains-takers. But ironically it mostly doesn’t. Because amassing and exhibiting excesses is now a never ending race thanks to the capitalistic world we live in. There is so much value that has been attached to the materials you own that your worth and validation in the world around you is dependent upon what own and not by what you become. The race doesn’t even leave much time and energy to seek light and live more purposefully.

So the focus is only on acquiring the right things and not becoming the right person. Money is lavishly spent on useless luxuries but will not be spent on useful learnings. An overpriced cup of coffee at a top notch lounge is fancied more than a cheaper life skill class. And that’s because you are not recognized for your skills but your ‘fancy frills’.

This is probably the worst that has happened to humankind. A man or woman’s worth is measured in the materials that he or she owns. And so a majority is miserable because they consider themselves worthless because they don’t own the frills and those who have managed to own them are pathetic because they are in reality owned by those fancy frills.

Shocking but it’s true that their time, attention and whole existence is owned by the things they were only supposed to own, if at all own, and then forget and occasionally remember and take a notice of. The things that are just trophies and are meant to be treated as trophies. Just the way champions treat their trophies. Showcased well and dusted occasionally. The champions don’t get owned by the laurels because they are owned by their passion for the game and playing well is always the biggest reward.

Similarly the materials are trophies and if you are fortunate enough to acquire a few, do not become obsessed with them. However valuable they may seem, yet living a happy, peaceful and productive life is the biggest human value and need. If despite owning the fanciest and flashiest of adornments, you are still unhappy, lack peace of mind, live a hollow, superficial and aimless existence, have a low self esteem and are clueless about the reasons, then be mindful of the fact that you don’t own the things, rather you are owned by them.

Check your daily schedule and routine. Are you doing much more than just living a fancy life in a fancy house in a fancy locality? Are your daily hours spent productively and engaged in learning and living the more significant values of life? Are you grateful for all the things that you have and are doing something to share your fortune with the lesser fortunate ones? Do you have friends who value you for who you are and not what you possess? Are you friends with some people who are not as materially wealthy as you are but are much richer in areas that you lack in? Are you investing some time daily in your emotional and mental growth?

Remember, you don’t eat excessively just because you can afford to buy a lot of food. Similarly you shouldn’t be consumed by excesses just because you have the means to buy them. It’s time we realize that things and materials should be used for their utility and not to boost the egos. It’s time you freed yourself from the fangs of filthy, fancy and flashy frills and focus on creating a more fulfilling and eventually living a fulfilled life.

For your own sake!!!

Break the Pattern

It’s been three months and I haven’t written one single article. Before this unintended and undesired break from my most loved literary pursuit, I would easily pen down at least two to three articles in a week. First, it had taken me years to start and when I did, it soon became an essential ritual of my daily life. And then just when I had begun to revel in the fact that I had finally set the ball rolling in the direction of living my long cherished passion and dream of writing blogs that the daily practice came to a halt.

This sudden discontinuance of a good habit happens with so many people. It is a pattern that many of us must have experienced in our lives. First, we are not able to start something and then when we do, we become addicted to doing it everyday. And then some event happens and there is a pause which again goes on indefinitely.

School students were going to schools everyday for so many years and then corona outbreak forced them to stay at home for almost a year and now many of them aren’t ready to leave their current, however unhealthy, routines and go back to the old habit of going to school everyday just like they had done for so many years before the pause.

People after years of resistance start reading books. Then they read a few good ones back to back until a break happens and they stop altogether and again years go by and they remain deprived of the pleasure only reading provides.

Thanks to our busy lives, excessively spending time on gadgets and little differences, we sometimes go adrift in our closest relationships. Despite wishing to spend more time together and doing things the old way, we are not able to make the move and restore love, passion or friendship. The ice that gets set in the once warm bonds doesn’t easily melt or we simply refrain from enough efforts to break the proverbial ice.

Why does this happen to so many of us? Why aren’t we able to start that physical fitness regime that we have been thinking of starting since long and keep wanting yet deferring? Why do the addicts so easily stop living their clean, substance free lives that they had lived for so long before that unfortunate moment and go on using the substance despite knowing and living the harms that they do to them?

Why aren’t we able to break old habits and form new habits easily?

That’s because the things that we start doing on a regular basis become a set pattern in our minds and it is very difficult to break the set patterns. Our brain actually understands and works in patterns or a fixed design. The neurons through their synaptic connections form patterns that our brain finds quick and easy to follow subconsciously.

The complex machine loves working in the loop and prefers following the code that gets embedded with a few days’ repetition of the act. So when I started writing daily it got into the loop and when some circumstances (actually my domestic help took a month’s off) prevented me from writing for a few days the old pattern broke and the new one formed.

In between I did find few times and opportunities but I just couldn’t get the rhythm back. On some days when I tried I couldn’t start, on some I felt I was too tired to think and write and on a few I simply preferred the new habits that had replaced my favorite one.

Now today I am finally able to write this one because I found the answer to my frustration and annoyance of past three months with myself over my disability to restart what I had become so natural and well versed at.

What actually happened to me was that my previous pattern which once took years to form got broken and in its absence a new one got established. I had to spend so much time attending to the chores my help earlier attended to that the writer’s routine got abandoned.

Our brain is such a smart and lazy fellow that once it starts finding some routine difficult to follow it not just stops trying, it also starts giving a hundred excuses why that task can’t be done anymore. This is how procrastination starts and we go on delaying and postponing the once loved task or way of life. We don’t deny it but we also don’t do it.

So how do we come out of the rut and start again?

By simply breaking the pattern. Your brain unlearned the old code in its absence of a few days or weeks and learned a new one. Now you simply make it unlearn this new one and relearn the old one. Sounds easy but you haven’t been able to do it because it requires following some rules.

1. Become conscious to the fact that you really wish to break a pattern. You need to be desperate to go back to the healthier and more useful habits or to acquire completely new ones. There has to be a burning desire to be in that desired state.

Most of the time the pattern doesn’t change because the will to do it is not strong enough. There has to be a strong longing or motivation to be in the craved routine or way of life. If you are too comfortable in your current routine then you simply can’t get out of it. So the realization, self acquired or found through a mentor’s words, that you want to be doing something very different from your present day activities is very essential.

Once the awareness is there, you need to ignite and fire it up everyday, till the time your wish becomes your reality. And for that use the power of your words.

2. Use the power of spoken words. The words that we speak are the instructions that we give to our mind. So start saying it everyday, every few hours that you wish to deviate and depart from this undesired way of living life. Pick up your favorite phrase and say it again and again. My favorite is, “I have to break the pattern.”

At the same time don’t say what you don’t wish to do. Like, “I am not able to write.” “I think I can’t do it anymore.” “It’s too difficult to be like that again.” These negative phrases will never let you break the rut so refrain yourself from using them. Rather tell yourself that it was you who did it earlier also and in case you wish to form a brand new habit speak of your other previous accomplishments.

Speak in affirmations and give an assurance to your mind that it is doable. Don’t scare it by speaking otherwise.

3. Start immediately. When the burning desire to form a new or reacquire an old pattern is so lit up that it starts making you restless and impatient, do not wait for a perfect moment or day but start immediately, then and there.

If you wish to really shatter a bad pattern of complacency and lethargy then do not resist taking an accurate action for another day. If the enlightenment happens at the end of a day then don’t wait for the next morning sun to rise. You can gear up wherever you are and set off on the new path. The neurons inside your brain may take the cue that it must be very important and may work overtime to form the new pattern.

Rather it must be a fact that the more excited and enthusiastic you are in starting something may become a habit more quickly. So the third rule is not to procrastinate again and start then and there.

4. Do extreme and intense action. If you really wish to break the pattern, then little and infrequent effort is not sufficient. Rather the pattern hasn’t been broken yet because you have been investing little, occasional time on the desired activity. Remember that your once moving cycle came to a sudden halt and to restart the stationed wheel you need to be in top gear.

So once you start immediately, go to the extreme. Set some audacious goals and press the pedal. If you wish to stop being lazy, then wear those running shoes that have been lying gathering dust and go out for a long, refreshing walk. Walk long enough to know how much fun and beneficial it is.

You might be thinking that too much action might be taxing. You are right. It might be taxing initially but if the realization to change your current design is strong and you know the benefits, you will endure the initial pain of doing the extreme. So to ensure your endurance, keep repeating the right phrases, just like I have been telling myself that I need to break the pattern of not writing anything.

Once I understood that I had done enough dilly dallying for months I knew I had to go to the extreme and write something immediately. So here I am, almost done with another heartfelt write up that I have managed to finish in record time because I can’t let my distracted neurons to come to play and spoil the pattern I so desire to put back in its place.

My friend, our life is a constant conflict between the subconscious habits that form mostly due to our ignorance or negligence and the conscious choices that we fortunate ones sometimes realize and recognize that we need to make. The first and fast mover wins the war.

If like me you too think that you too need to get back to a once forgotten habit or acquire a new one, then get up and break the pattern.

Just do it!!!

“I Am Not Angry With Her….. Because She Is Like Me”

“Why don’t you say anything to her?” “Why don’t you get angry with her?” My husband who was infuriated with our twelve years old daughter asked me the other day. He was somewhat right in being enraged with our super stubborn, strong willed, usually unyielding first born, who he loves and pampers to the core, but whose not so infrequent insubordination, as frequently, he can’t tolerate.

He asked me the question and it got me thinking that why I really don’t get angry with my beautiful bullhead. I know she is difficult and stubborn, she doesn’t agree much with our suggestions or viewpoints, has to differ with and resist all our advice and instructions, has a logic for all her contradictory opinions and actions and goes to all lengths to put across her arguments, but still I don’t get enraged by her mostly uncompromising conduct.

Because I know that my unruly, almost teenager is just like me. I too have always been known as stubborn, strong willed, obstinate, unyielding and all the same meaning words and I am today what I am because I never did anything that my mind didn’t approve of and had to do because people around me wanted me to do it.

I was called a rebel in my own young years and the rebel became the first girl in the ultra conservative clan to go out of our small town and study, get a professional masters degree, make a well paying career, earn own living and become independent. The rebel married the out of religion love of her life and has been happily married and well cherished since then.

I am not a self obsessed narcissist but I am proud of the way my life turned out to be and the fact that it happened because I was strong headed and believed in and stood by my own convictions. That did get me all the labels initially but now everyone I know is happy for me.

But the same important people who are happy with the outcome of my life are now concerned about the unconventional conduct of my junior self, my girl, who has to challenge every convention and custom.

Her grandmother and my mother is mostly miffed with her because she doesn’t accept any age old beliefs without a reason. I can understand my mother’s displeasure because I too was a cause of similar offense not too long ago. I can also hear her sometimes silent, sometimes spoken question that why I don’t get mad at her.

Again I have the same answer. Because she is like me so I can understand her inability to accept and follow anything she doesn’t understand and believe in. I know that she has a thinking brain which ponders over everything and comes up with original thoughts that hold her conviction and when she has a conviction she can’t be deterred.

I never did and still don’t believe in logic less conventions and stereotypes. I too challenged the dogmatic ideologies. I questioned the reason and relevance of whatever I was told to do and not do. “Why can boys do this and I can’t?” “Why do we pray to a thousand Gods?” “Why can’t I take care of my parents when I grow up?” “Why do girls have to go away from their family after marriage?”

Being born in a very conservative family and questioning everything the way I did, I did receive my share of criticism at my age but education helped me forge ahead and leave behind all that I never understood or believed in. My stubbornness in marrying the man I chose to marry against everyone’s pleasure was due to the reason that I found him to be someone who would not expect me to be someone I wasn’t willing to become.

I was an unorthodox, unconventional, radical, revolutionary thinker and this identity was important to my being and I am still not different.

And now I am also a blessed mother of a twelve years old bright, beautiful, intelligent and abundantly unorthodox, unconventional and original thinking girl, so how do I get angry with her. If I am anything, I am happy for her.

I don’t really applaud her misdoings for any encouragement is as useless as her discouragement and I personally feel resistance is fuel for thinking. Support makes the thinkers complacent. So I don’t support her but I don’t get upset with her either.

Being a mother of an independent, intelligent, inquisitive, strong-headed child is not easy. I am equally a target of her questions, annoyance, discontentment and displeasure as she doesn’t know I am like her too. For her I am not too old fashioned but still not as novel as her, so I do get my share of “You don’t know anything.”

But I still don’t get angry with her because though she is like me but she has to outgrow me as well and which she is doing already. She was probably born like me but she has to learn her own unique lessons, evolve, become much better than me and her own self and find her own path and journey.

So when she challenges my viewpoint too and offers her own piece of mind I don’t get offended, I rather feel pride becoming a lump in my throat which I swallow with the tiny bit of anger I too feel at times. After all I too am a humble human.

But I honestly don’t get enraged with my precious one because along with a hard, thinking head she also has a soft heart which melts and yields when she sees that hurt look on my face and hears a motherly emotional appeal that I occasionally make to tell her to agree to something to make peace at home with the people who love her equally but do not empathize with her unconventional ways and behavior at some occasions.

Finally, I don’t get mad at her because I can empathize and understand how hard it is be an unconventional thinker. Those who believe easily have, however flimsy and fake, but a footing under their feet and those who question have to create their own solid bedrock which when formed gives a new way of life to the world.

So rather than being angry with her I find myself sympathizing with her because I know it’s a lonely journey she has undertaken just like her mother and I so wish that she grows up into a mature girl real fast and we can find our allies in each other.

I also so wish that everyone would see her with my eyes and mind and could accept her uniqueness as I do. She is her mother’s pride because she is the embodiment of all that her mother could be and couldn’t be because she is not alone. She has herself and her mother who is rooting for her, always.