Happy, happy we shall be!

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There is an alphabet song where the lines are “Happy, happy we shall be! When I know my ABC”! Happiness is what we are all looking for in our lives. If one is always happy in life, then we think he has made it. But is it so? Life is never a bed of roses; with roses, there always will be thorns. Because of this combination of roses and thorns, we are all the time looking for roses.

There are hundreds of books and articles on the subject, “How to be happy in life?” or “How to be positive?” But is it essential to always be happy? Is it possible to forever remain happy? A life having only one or two dimensions is never full. Our emotions are going to change with different events. You have lost a significant order to a competitor, and you are brooding. On the way back home, you break a traffic rule and get a ticket. You don’t care much about the ticket because the loss of the order has made you really unhappy. Our emotions and the reaction to situations is relative and is never the same.

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Happiness and sadness are some of our feelings. What are emotions anyway? Emotions are the result of your mind comparing your external environment to your expectations. The same way you feel hot and cold when you walk outside (you step into open air, your skin feels the temperature relative to your body temperature and then sends a signal to your brain saying, “it’s hot” or “it’s cold”), your emotions do the same for complex psychological phenomena.

So you step outside, your body sends your brain the signal “it’s cold”, and you run inside and get a coat. Similarly, if you come home from work and catch your husband arguing with someone on the phone, your body sends the emotional signal to your brain, which says, “Oh! He is in a foul mood!” and then you go away from the husband who is talking on the phone and settle with a cup of coffee on the couch.

Emotions are designed to create strong incentives for us to take action and do something to get rid of conflict between our expectations and our environment, either by changing our environment or changing our expectations. Will someone be happy in life if he is always happy, at least outwardly? Life is full of happy times and sad times; sometimes, it has dark times and elated times. Such opposite emotions counterbalance each other in life. After a dark period, one would always like the ecstatic phase!

Consider an example from your office domain. You have worked hard, put in a lot of smart efforts, you get along very well with others. You have always shown initiative, completed your projects on time. When the time comes, you are given a big raise, and you have been promoted. Time to celebrate, you are happy! Consider the same situation. Except that you are offered the routine increase, you don’t get promoted. Your nasty colleague who does not get along with people but is related to the boss’s boss becomes your boss. In this case, you are miserable. You introspect and analyse the situation. You rethink about your career, your current job. After a couple of months of studying the situation caused by your anger, you decide to change your job; but this was done with proper analysis of your situation. You ultimately end up into your dream career.  The anger, adequately channelled, made you act!

That reminds me of a person who used to be always happy. He would be the centre of attraction at any party.  Under any situation in the office, he would try and help people to overcome issues, sadness, and negativity. All of us used to wonder how he could always smile in life. When his mother died, his colleagues went to meet him at home. They found something strange but could not judge it. Later on, after a few weeks, he confided in one of the colleagues that all was not well with his life. He had financial problems, and his family life was a disaster. He had significant medical difficulties with his child. His outward smile was a cover up for all the issues in life. He said that he was trying to overcome the problems by smiling all the time. But this was his way of not accepting the difficulties. He never wanted to face them head-on.

Our life is full of many stressful events to be happy in any situation, hence stay happy under no-matter-what is a wrong method of handling things. In life, we need emotional diversity. Emotional diversity is just what it sounds like: experiencing a variety of emotions. And it turns out that people who experience a wide range of both positive and negative emotions are a lot better off, both mentally and physically than people who only experience a few feelings regularly, good or bad. It is like investing in varied savings instruments like mutual funds, Stocks, SIPs, and so on. If one instrument loses value, others could help you.

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A diverse emotional life isn’t just made up of a few “good” and “bad” emotions. You can also have lots of emotional subcategories, like amusement, joy, contentment, gratefulness, pride, love, hope, and anger, sadness, guilt, contempt, anxiety, disgust, embarrassment, and on and on.

People who experience a more extensive range of these types of specific subcategories of emotions are more resilient in the face of adversity because they’re better at identifying what triggers those emotions. And thus, if you know what’s making you feel the way you feel, it’s a whole lot easier to react appropriately to it.

People who practice a wide range of emotions are self-aware enough to know what triggers these emotions and then act accordingly. It makes them feel more in control of their lives, a huge factor in determining happiness and general well-being. It also helps you to avoid continually think about how to achieve happiness! When we are always in pursuit of happiness or positivity, we tend to forget that emotions are transient superficial things and don’t mean anything by themselves. Emotions are very rarely absolute in life. When Djokovic won the Wimbledon final yesterday, he must be on the top of the world. But on the other side, Federer must have been sad or devastated. But they both have played enough tennis to know that these feelings are transient! At the prize distribution, the anchor said to Federer, “I am never ever going to forget this fantastic match.” Federer answered with a wry smile, “I am in a hurry to forget this match!” Same event different emotions!

So in life, if you are angry, it’s ok. Don’t suppress it; anger will go away after some time. If you are happy, enjoy it; some trouble is lurking around the corner! Similarly, if you are sad or unhappy, it will go away; something pleasant will come up.

Be human and don’t even try to become superhuman!

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Human Traits!

The more we live in this world, the less you are surprised with human reactions. Poorest of the poor will share food with the needy, and the rich guy will not give a morsel to the deserving. I am talking about human behaviour and the so-called traditions that are followed in our society. Now that I am near the seventh decade in life, I get a feeling that I have been there and I have done that. Nothing will now surprise me anymore. I suddenly come across surprises.

We have a lady who does cleaning work at home. She is 36 years of age and quite a chirpy lady. She asked Jaya for a couple of days leave as her daughter was to travel back to her husband’s home. Surprise one. The daughter was here for the birth of her second child. Thirty-six years of age and the second grandchild. Oh! Maharashtra is a progressive state; child marriages have stopped long back. I asked Jaya why does she need a couple of days of leave? There is a tradition in their family, that when the daughter goes home after delivery, her inlaws are gifted with 150 Puran Polis! Puran Poli is a Maharashtrian delicacy; it’s a bread with a sweet filling and very tricky to make. In the current summer weather, the Poli can quickly get spoiled! But who cares, there is a tradition, and it must be followed. How can any family finish 150 Polis before they get spoiled? But logic is not part of the culture. The anecdote is from the family who are in the lower economic strata. The expense to make the Polis must have been around Rs.1000/. That is a lot of money for her plus several hours of efforts.

But here is one about people from very high economic levels. There is a housing society in Pune Called Himali Soc. It is one of the oldest high-end housing societies with row houses and condos. In Pune, we usually have water scarcity during the summer, especially when the monsoon gets delayed. The people from that society complained to the municipal corporation about the water supply. Since the problem was not getting resolved, the society people kept on complaining. Finally, the corporation sent a team of people to check the issue. They found that there was no apparent issue with the supply side. Still, the problems in homes persisted. They started checking individual dwellings. They were shocked to find out that out of 30-row houses, 25 had installed pumps, to pull the water from the main supply line. Using pumps is strictly against the law. They acted immediately and confiscated all 25 water pumps. These are supposedly highly educated, sophisticated people living in a high-end society. But they were in the least bothered about the law and the inconvenience it caused to others. I am sure most of the people must be leaders in their own fields. For small gain, they behaved in an incorrigible way. Is this fair? Is it the right thing to do? These people could have easily bought their drinking water supply if required. Friends, do you approve of such behaviour?

Then there is one funny story about a petty criminal. The person is 49 years of age and is a habitual offender. Sometime back he had a minor fight with a cigarette kiosk owner. The criminal beat the owner and stole a few thousand rupees from him. He was duly caught by the police and kept in the lock-up at the Police Station. At night, he started making noise, shouting and created a big ruckus. He had a habit of making a show which an outsider would think that the person is mentally derailed, almost on the verge of being mad. Most of the times, the Police would get fed up with him and his noise. The situation would ensure that the Police release him. The officer in charge that night was a smart person. He decided to send him to a large hospital to check his mental health. The doctors put him in the psychiatric patient’s ward. The patients from the ward, started to interact with our petty criminal, they would hug him, they would shout at him. They would scream at him. On the third day, the criminal got both scared and fed up. When the Police team came to check about his health condition, he privately told them that he was wrong and he would never throw the tantrums again, ever. He requested them to remove him from the ward. He now behaves appropriately in the jail without troubling anybody.

Modern technology has achieved a couple of great things. It has given a gift of longevity to people in India and has brought old friends together. Whether longevity is a boon or bane depends on individuals and their attitude towards life. I have observed that people die much later these days. In my father’s generation, dying after a few years after retirement was the norm. When people died between 60 and 70 of age, it was not a surprise. But now this range has moved more towards 75 to 80. As usual, it has its pro and cons. One thing is your attitude and secondly the money. You now need more money after retirement than you would need previously. Once you are sure that there is enough money, then it is up to you to see how you remain happy.

From one of my groups, people have been doing many things; we are all around the age of 70. Pravin, the singer, has now started writing poems and does some paintings. Sudhakar has been doing lovely pictures for quite some time. Hemant remains busy as the board of director for several organisations. Vasant is active with social work. Another friend takes discourse on religious matters. One more friend has formally learnt to perform puja and goes to various homes as a priest. Suresh teaches yoga on weekends in Sydney, Australia. Surendra has passed a competitive exam and now is going to take admission to a full-time course to become a lawyer. I have now joined an online course at Oxford University for creative writing. Two or three friends have already checked with me the procedure to start a blog site on WordPress.

You must be wondering why I am telling you all this. Friends remaining busy is in our hands. First and foremost, we must remember that we are not immortals. Ill health, poor eyesight, physical disabilities are going to be part of our lives one day.  We may become bedridden for some time. But we should not get discouraged by what is going to happen in future. People do many new things post-retirement, you need to find your path to enjoy life, to find happiness. So are we going to give up?

People from our age group and above can set standards for future generations about positive attitude. Let us help overcome the negativity of the so-called traditions. Our “rich” traditions will continue, unfortunately. In countries like Japan, people handle their lives on their own, happily in the age group above 80. They have been doing it for many generations. By showing that you can be happy even at a late stage in life, we can make this a better world! Let’s do it!

Open and Closed Mind!

 

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In life, we find that some people always make progress, move ahead in life. But others keep on repeating the same mistakes and get stalled in life. Why does this happen? There is no clearcut answer for this. The main reason for this could be their approach to life, the way they try to solve the problems; it is about their mindset. The more successful people have an open mind, whereas those who don’t do well have a closed mind.

Open minded people have the willingness to learn and are not afraid to accept that they have gone wrong. Those with a closed mindset never want to admit that they have gone wrong; they will fight tooth and nail to prove how they are right. Ultimately, your approach to handle problems defines success or failure in life. In fact, the problem starts with closed minded people putting up a show that they are open-minded. This non-acceptance is dangerous.

Having the courage to accept that you are wrong is a good beginning. The progress graph slope depends on your ability to accept new ideas, especially the ideas which you do not prefer.

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Typically, a closed-minded person does not like his ideas challenged by someone. Such people cannot accept the fact that others may have better ideas, different ideas which need to be considered. These persons are not amused when someone asks them a question. The closed-minded person will never ask a question about someone’s idea, he will just make a statement to the effect, I don’t agree, or I don’t like it. The open-minded person will ask a question about new ideas. Why do you think it is a great idea? Can we do it slightly differently so that your concept becomes even a better idea? Such questions indicate that open-minded person is basically ok with the idea, but a few points are not clear to him. Maybe there is another way of looking at the concept which you might have missed. The person wants to contribute, and the question makes you think a little more. Such queries can lead to a better conclusion on the subject. It will lead to bringing different viewpoints forward. Finally, such arguments, questioning could lead to the concept of agreeing to disagree! Such conclusions are always drawn after healthy discussions.

The thought process brings us to a discussion on questions and statement. A statement indicates one track mind. I want to do this in the following manner, whereas the query means the thought process, of being open to the idea and trying to get into the depth of understanding the concept better. It also indicates that the open-minded person is accepting the fact that others can be smarter than them. Like closed-minded people, they don’t think that they are the best! Open-minded persons always have a curiosity about how others feel.

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People’s default behaviour offers quick information about them. When you disagree with someone, what’s their reaction? If they’re ready to rephrase what they just said or, even worse, repeat it, then they are assuming that you don’t understand them, rather than that you disagree with them. They have that superiority complex. Open-minded people will see through other people’s eyes, they will consider other people’s viewpoint. When you disagree with an open-minded person, they are quick to assume that they might have misunderstood something and ask you to tell them where their understanding is incomplete.

Close-minded people react with, “I may be wrong, but here is what I think.” This statement is trying to mask that you are close-minded. An open-minded person will put things differently. He will say, “I may be wrong, but why do you do it this way? Can you elaborate further so that my understanding will be better.” He comes up with a question and not a statement.

A close-minded person does not like to hear any voice other than his own. He will block others from speaking. He does not like the idea that he has to rephrase what he said and explain again in more details. The open-minded person will say, “Hey, friend! Why don’t you say something? I have put an idea which I think may be useful, but your suggestions will take care of points which I may have missed, or I may not have even thought of those points.”

I read an interesting theory on the net. The method says that the close-minded person uses an analogy that at the end of the day, only one sperm meets the egg to create life. Once this meeting takes place, the egg shuts off its system. No further sperms are allowed. But the open-minded person has a mind and a thought process where many ideas and concepts are accommodated, merged and tried leading to a far superior solution. His mind will think of these many ideas back and forth before finally concluding.

One thing the close-minded person does not have is humility. When humility is absent from your persona, one becomes close-minded. Where is humility hidden? It comes out from accepting your failure, recognising that you have made errors of assessment. Acceptance can never happen when you have a closed mind. Most important is that you do not have to worry about being close-minded. You have plenty of company. But do you want to change it? Do you want to become a better version of yourself? It is doable, and you need to work on it. It does not happen by accident.

Being open-minded does not mean that you spend an excessive amount of time considering patently bad ideas just for the sake of open-mindedness.

If someone offers you a freebie, be sceptical. There is no free lunch in life. If someone tells you that he has found a technique so that humans can fly, ignore him. If someone comes to you with a brilliant idea to cheat people or government by fraudulent schemes, close your mind. Being close-minded in such cases is the right thing to do.

When you find yourself exhibiting these behaviours at any moment, acknowledge what’s happening and correct it. Don’t blame yourself. As soon as you can, find a quiet place and reflect on what’s going on at a deeper level. Try to do better next time. Remember that this stuff takes efforts.

Friends, ultimately everything boils down to the company you keep. Everybody has a mentor in life and selecting a good one is a great beginning. If close-minded people surround you, you will have to work hard to remain open minded. But if you are close-minded, don’t fret, take efforts. You can change yourself provided you want to change. Things are not on auto-pilot; you need to work hard for it. Don’t worry; it is doable!

Wake-up People!

When we are born, we do not know what we are going to do in our lives, most of the times. But some are born, and their destiny is written at the time of birth! Like some are born to become kings and queens, or heir to a business empire, some are born to become Presidents of a political party. Children following their parents footsteps and sometimes parachuting at high positions is a routine phenomenon. It is known that such children listen to the subject discussions at home from childhood, so they are likely to be more mentally ready than other children 

But what is the Dharma of whatever we do in our life? We should try our best to act from the bottom of our heart and true to our ability. But does the world behave this way? People under the garb of modernity, liberal thought, show as if they are giving the yeomen service to the society. But in many cases, it is observed that the denominator is self, to hell with everything else, including the nation.  

During and after the recent election, a lot of discussions were going on about Political Pundits, Experts, Reporters and their ilk. What is the job profile of these people? To my understanding, these people are supposed to be connected with people at ground level, have the feel of what is happening. The ordinary person like you and me are supposed to be enlightened by these Gyanis! But have things happened this way? The answer is an emphatic NO!  

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How did things go out of hands? Years back, I had met Mr Pran Chopra, who retired as the chief editor of The Tribune. We met at Naukuchiatal, near Nainital during a holiday. We were together for almost a week, and the insights that we got about the life of reporters and the way newspapers worked in those days were interesting. The gist of what he said was that in whatever they did, the truth and the nation were the two main interests. Everything else was secondary. Now everything is reverse of what Pran uncle mentioned.  

We have been hearing about Luteyns gang or Khan market gang often. But these are not the only people who took this route. At the local level, too, in every state, in every capital, in every significant newspaper, the sycophants and people with selfinterest existed in large numbers. All these people had become blind with their own thought processes, their analysis of the situation and their prediction about the electoral mathematical equations, the usual caste and religion! They forgot about a small thing, the people. People who vote were last on their mind. They were all busy cursing Modi, looking down at NDA and assuming that caste, equations, statelevel bosses were good enough to win the election and form a non-BJP government in Delhi. They appeared to be drunk on their self-judgment. They were so blind to the realities of life that even when exit polls started indicating a resounding victory for NDA, they simply refused to accept the polls. Many said that the lowest numbers shown in a poll were the correct numbers and those too were exaggerated. Reporter after reporter would give his/her theory how finally “Acche Din” (good old days) will come once the current government loses.  

Personally, I am for any leader or a party that tries its best to improve the state of the nation, the society and the people. I really don’t bother if party A is winning or B. All governments, leaders make mistakes, have their quota of blunders. But the government should have the least number of corrupt people. In India, we have seen that the number of schemes that have been floated since independence are the means to make money. The leakage in such programmes was reported to be very high, and only 15% of the money reached the people. The % is very similar to social work done by Rotary Clubs where their social work “achieves” the same success rate! In the case of Rotary, the money is spent on dinners, parties. In one example, the money is blown, and in the other, it is made; but the result is the same.  (Disclaimer- I am NOT a rotarian and this information is shared with me by some resrious rotarians!)

How did such close groups start? In Delhi, you were either an insider or then you were an outsider like Modi. The insiders went to the same schools and colleges like Stephens and Oxford. Everybody knew everybody; either your brother or sister was together in the class, or you were neighbours in Delhi, of course, Lutyens Delhi. Your address could never be Chandani Chowk or Nizamuddin! The coterie was formed, and modern court jesters were born. You got the exclusive news leak and were always the part of the gang of reporters on foreign jaunts on the Prime Minister’s plane. On TV shows or in your weekly columns you wrote and discussed whatever was fed to you; your stomach was too full to challenge anything.   

Of course, some reporters did their job and somehow managed to “break the news”, in spite of the coterie! Such people were challenged and openly called to be working for “interested” groups. But the coterie never bothered to take a look at their own face in the proverbial mirror!  

Why were these people against Modi and BJP? I can understand having a different political viewpoint. But is it possible that anything and everything that is done by a government is wrong? Chidambaram was finance minister in the previous government. He writes an article in Indian Express, every Sunday, discussing how all the steps taken by the government are leading India to the precipice of no return! In the financial world, every decade or so, we get recession, stagnation or sometime stagflation. But this is the part of the natural economic process of correcting itself. The world had the same issue in 2008, and in 2019 the same problem has started. Car sell is plunging by 25%. Instead of talking about the economic cycle, these people start blaming the government as they are now out of favour, out of their “dole” from the government.  

One crucial thing everybody forgot was that everybody’s assumption about the default people in India. Some kept on thinking that default ruling party or an alternate option was Congress; like people thought that default business families were Tatas and Birlas. When Dhirubhai Ambani came and took over, nobody knew. Ambanis turnover is now Rs. One lac crore. Similarly, when Congress got 44 seats in the 2014 elections, the same group thought that it was a matter of time and Congress would be back with a bang. NDA was the new Ambani of the political scene, was never understood by these people.  

But some of the intellectuals have realised their error and have openly started writing about their mistakes of perceptions. Shekhar Gupta, a well-known commentator, has  publicly accepted in the interview below that somehow he was blinded  

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=372025410115387&id=234508140533782 

Meghnad Desai is another person who is bluntly telling Congress about the irrelevance of Rahul Gandhi.  

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/out-of-my-mind-dear-rahul-just-go-5760615/ 

It comes back to the same thinking; a democracy prospers only when there is a good, positive opposition party. Opposition should be constructive. Even today, Congress made a statement that with around 50 MP’s, they can make life miserable for the government in the Loksabha. Is that your narrative? Where does nation come into the picture? Where is the positive intent?  

These changes will happen only when people introspect, (Ashok Chavan has made a statement that Congress lost in Maharashtra because of Vanchit Samaj party ditched them at the last moment, Congress was perfect in what they did), show positive intent, have pragmatic policicies, not just shout the slogans.  

We should learn from the Westminister System followed in Britain by having a shadow cabinet. The Shadow Cabinet or Shadow Ministry is a feature of the Westminster system of government. It consists of a senior group of opposition spokespeople who, under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition, form an alternative cabinet to that of the government, and whose members shadow or mirror the positions of each member of the Cabinet. It is the Shadow Cabinet’s responsibility to scrutinise the policies and actions of the government, as well as to offer an alternative program. The Shadow Cabinet makes up the majority of the Official Opposition frontbench. Is it not a better alternative to stopping work in Loksabha at the drop of a hat? 

 

 

Connect to be Happy!

Passing through the doors, you rush ahead and hold the door ajar for the lady! Chivalry? But in today’s times, with women power and all, this could lead to an embarrassing glance or two.  Right? No, wrong! Don’t hold that door for only the ladies but do it for men folk too! The word for this gesture changes from Chivalry to empathy! Show empathy friends; you connect emotionally with others by showing compassion! Such acts are essential, and this is what differentiates humans from other species. An experiment was conducted in the 13th century, where newly born babies were kept away from human touch, emotions and interactions. All these babies died.

I came across a term Limbic Resonance. Limbic resonance is the idea that the capacity for sharing deep emotional states arises from the limbic system of the brain. These states include the dopamine circuit-promoted feelings of empathic harmony, and the norepinephrine circuit-originated emotional states of fear, anxiety and anger. Enough of tech terms which we don’t understand. It is the empathy and non-verbal communication between mammals that connects them. A child hugs the mother when there is fear or doubt in mind. The hugging gets things going in the child’s brain, and normalcy is slowly restored. Without Limbic Resonance humans will become unreachable and heartless like lesser animals. This property is common in all mammals.

There are some lessons about relationships. The first is that social connections are perfect for us and that loneliness kills. It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to the community, are happier; they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected. The experience of loneliness turns out to be toxic. People who are more isolated than they want to be from others, find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner, and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely.

I will share an example of a friend. This friend is from a different religion than Hinduism. He lives alone in Mumbai and has gone through health issues. Luckily after the initial scare, the problem turned out to be an easier one to handle. He is a widower too! In the recent election in India, NDA looked like being a winner by miles. Media had been hyper how the NDA government will make India a Hindu state. After the election, the friend talked with his Hindu friends and requested all of them to help and make sure that Hindu fanatics do not become too aggressive. The friend asked them to ensure his safety in case of some unfortunate events. Due to loneliness, he has lost touch with society and his mind must be hyperventilating. Friend, start getting back in touch with the community, don’t remain away, don’t force loneliness on yourself. That you live alone is a fact. But whether to be lonely is in your hands!

A friend has an interesting way of looking at life. I was walking with him once; the friend had his dog with him. On a footpath, one beggar was sitting with his dog. The friend stopped, gave the beggar some alms. Then he asked the beggar about his dog, and they exchanged notes about the dogs. While we were moving ahead, I could see the shine in the eyes of the beggar. My friend said, “ I only acknowledged that the beggar exists. Such acknowledgement of persons is fundamental in life when you have nothing else to look forward to”.

I have experienced this personally. Once during my morning walk, I observed some very senior citizens, standing and chatting among themselves, outside the older people’s home. I stopped and said hello to them. One thing led to another, and we spent an hour talking together. My chat, now I realise, was making them feel wanted in this world. It gave them the recognition that at least some people in the world are aware of their existence.

Showing empathy is one way of connecting with people. A way to show your empathy is to listen, summarise and show! Very few people have the art of listening to people, and I am not one of them. When I am discussing things with others, I tend to answer even before the other person has completed what she wants to say. But if you follow the “listen, summarise and show” method, then the other person feels nice. The person feels that you are connected with them.

We see some people selling stuff at the road signal junctions. They are trying to live life and earn some money. Many people behave very brusquely with them. Some ignore them as if they don’t exist; others make some rude comments. It is quite simple. Is there any harm in showing them some empathy? Why not just smile at them and indicate that you do not want to purchase anything or say that you do not want to buy the stuff. This small gesture will make them feel a little better, knowing that someone is acknowledging their existence.

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You don’t have to change the world or find your one real purpose to lead a meaningful life. A good life is a life of goodness — and that’s something anyone can aspire to, no matter their dreams or circumstances. You don’t have to achieve something that will give you a Nobel prize. Giving a little joy to others is good enough. I had mentioned in one of the blogs,  the tag line of the Voice of America radio station of the ’60 s of the last century! If you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours!

To resonate with others, we need to connect when it matters. Such connections nurture both us and others and earn trust. Just as in cricket, timing is everything. Proper timing will score you six runs in place of dot ball. It is here the metaphorical doors come in. How do you feel when someone holds the door open for you—especially when you’ve got your hands full? When would you hold open a door for another person? Keeping a door open at the right time indicates tending to the need of the others when essential.

All those people want to be understood and appreciated. By connecting in this way, they trust you, follow them, and you are actually looking out for their interests. You are attentive and willing to open doors for them. The power of resonance will keep you happy and healthy and open doors for you too!

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So friends, open that door and hope that you have done it at the right time; you will see the inkling of a smile in the eyes of others, a little brightness, and an instant connect! The gesture might open some vistas for you! By the way, even empowered ladies love this, let me assure you!

Desire and Deserve Dilemma!

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Where one is born is not in your hands! How would one define “where” in this sentence? Where means which country, which family, which race and maybe which species! My knowledge about the other species is limited; humans are supposedly most intelligent of all species. So it will be a good idea to write about us. Ok! What is this about Desire and Deserve ( I will write this as D & D)? I had the usual banter with a friend Shekhar in the gym; talk meandered towards my blogging. He felt that Desire and Deserve are two words that are being discussed amongst his friends who have retired or who are on the verge of retirement.

We always read that if there is an intense desire, a human can achieve anything. There is a lot of talk about the American dream where people travel/migrate to the US for education or a job or as refugees. They are supposedly in a melting pot, and that is where the rags to riches stories are born! All the achievements and success are the results of intense desire, especially in the case of the immigrant population all over the world. When you migrate to an unknown territory, you are looking to settle down quickly. The people who migrate are generally known for their strong desire to improve on what they are doing in life. They are looking for their El Dorado! So they work harder than others and perform at their peak!

At a young age, this is the way one should go ahead in life, but when you are on the verge of retiring, or you have just retired people get into introspection mode. They start wondering if their achievement is more than what they deserved or less than what they deserved. Is such introspection the right thing to do? Your golden period is about to start, instead of planning for it and starting to enjoy it, why ask such a question? Our life events, many a time, are decided by being at the right place at the right time. In our life, there are so many ifs and buts, till the last moment many things remain hanging for us.

I will share the story of a friend. He was with me in engineering college. He was a champion sportsman and was almost offered a job in a large organisation. He had the benefit of being smart and an outstanding sportsman; there were some vacancies based on achievements in sports. A senior person from that organisation was known to him and had told my friend to get ready to move to Mumbai; an inter-industry tournament was about to start. The appointment letter never came. My friend came to know later that the son of a General Manager from the organisation was hired instead. My friend did very well in his career elsewhere, anyway!

The proverb, “Slip between the cup and lip” comes into play here. The original form was “there’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip,” which was an English proverb. The underlying meaning is that even when things seem sure, something can go wrong. The adage should be the byline of our life. In life, our desire may be to marry the beauty queen from our class, but she ends up marrying someone else. You had admission in the best college abroad, but at the last moment, there were problems in raising the money. In both these cases, probably you deserved to reach your goals, you also had a strong desire to achieve them. But this never happened. When you are younger, maybe you know that the world is your oyster. You can get more opportunities; perhaps you achieve much more than you desired. You may more successful than you ever deserved.

We have seen sports people who suffer in this struggle. Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli were both very good at their craft since childhood. They came to the test arena as expected. Initially, Kambli was considered better than Sachin. Both had a strong desire to succeed, and both of them deserved it. But the life’s dice played a trick on Kambli. Rest as they say is history! Is there any point in Kambli cribbing at this stage? Can there be any change in his situation?

D and D discussions start in our life right from when we are in the education phase. The debate continues through your career, marriage and life in general. How do we handle this? Dedicate yourself to the good you deserve and desire in yourself. Give yourself peace of mind; you deserve to be happy and delighted. No point in getting over excited about desires and always worry about whether you are getting what you deserve. Achieving the “Deserve” target with a lot of stress and too much anxiety may not be pleasant as you may not be able to enjoy the fruits.

In life, we meet two types of people who worry and fear a lot. They are also always anxious. One who has built the desire, more than his needs; and another who has got more, than he deserves. Both of them will always keep on trying to do everything to retain their position. Do you want to be one of them? There is one more critical aspect of our desires.

The desires should always be definite. Desires should always be tangible. Otherwise, it leads to a situation where we are never happy. How can you achieve a desire to be very happy? I want to be excellent at what I do! How do you quantify excellence? At the same time, your wishes should always be positive and constructive. If you plan your success by trying to ensure that someone else suffers, it is a strict no, no! We also want to be good humans. We know that ill feelings are going to haunt us all the time. While pursuing your goals, always follow your heart but take your brain along!

D and D discussions have its place in our life, but it is not necessary to have such feelings when you are in the golden phase of life. By discussing this after your working phase is over, you only bring yourself the stress. You don’t deserve this anxiety; neither do you deserve this sadness. At this stage, we need to let go of things and consider that your professional side of life is done and dusted! You should enjoy the fruits of life’s hard work; your achievements may be less or more than you deserve. But can we change the situation? When we have no control over things, what is the point!

Friends, don’t go on a path where you don’t have a solution. But at this stage, why not start something new! Who knows? That might be your real calling, in the second innings!

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Impulsive and Compulsive!

Meaning of Impulsive is done without forethought and Compulsive means resulting from an irresistible urge. My friend Jayprakash and I were discussing the anatomy of my blog writing. He asked me a question what percentage of my blogs are written impulsively? On thinking, I felt that about 30% of my blogs are impulsive and others are compulsive. After writing 400 plus blogs, I think I always have an urge to write something. On average, each blog has about 1200 words. It means that I have managed to write 480 thousand words which have got converted into blogs. To write something readable, it takes a lot of efforts and research. Thanks to the internet it is quite easy to research, Jai Google baba!

When you finally read my blogs, hopefully, the blogs seem to be smooth reading material; I can rightly express the meaning that I want to say. Actual writing can take between 1 ½ to three hours. Exact time from start to finish generally varies, depending on other things that I do at home and work. Stuff I do includes watching cricket matches, chatting with friends, doing professional work.  Walks and the gym are also part of the schedule! Sometimes I get writer’s block, and some blogs remain incomplete for months and others for a week or so. A couple of days is the norm. But when I write the blogs impulsively, those are finished in an hour and a half flat.

When I get an impulse, the beginning, the middle and the end are right in front of my eyes. The classic case of impulsive writing is my blog, Brave Art! https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/brave-art/

The blog is about a young girl Manasi from Nashik, who decided to do nude paintings. It was a brave move for a young girl from a family like yours and mine. I had read her articles, about the tough path she has chosen, in a Marathi newspaper. I was trying to know about her through Sudhakar, my friend. He sent me a WA message giving details about her with her photograph; at that same moment, I was reading a beautiful poem where the poet was describing the lovely transition in a woman’s body as she was getting drenched in the rain. My blog was ready in an hour flat.

Let us look at one more blog. This blog to me is also impulsive.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/sorrrrry-but-what-about-my-ego/

It is an old blog written three years back. The incident I have shared was very awkward even to watch. The gentleman, who was my age, behaved very irrationally, and the young lady was grace personified. I was very much agitated after the incident. It is a smallish blog, and I finished it in half an hour! I had full clarity in my mind the moment I started writing.

One thing that hits all of us hard in the guts is the death of young people. Such deaths keep on haunting you all the time. For the families, these deaths lurk in the background all the time.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/coping-with-death/

I wrote this blog when I came to know about the death of young niece of a dear friend. She had no known health issues. A couple of weeks before, another friend lost his forty-year-old son. That the son had a heart condition does not give us any solace. While speaking with my friend about the niece’s death, he told me how the whole family was devastated. Even while writing these sentences, I feel emotionally drained. I cannot imagine how the families have handled the deaths. What I have written is not a blog; it is an outpouring from a distressed heart!

My blog written a few days ago is a classic case of compulsive writing. I have been thinking about the subject for some time. The theme is Adhyatma.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/05/08/adhyatma-why-it-is-beyond-me/

Usually, when I complete a blog, my mind is clear, and I get the satisfaction about writing on the chosen topic in the best possible manner within my limitations. But not this blog; even after completing this blog I am not too sure what I wanted to say. I am still not sure what is Adhyatma. I somehow get a feeling that Adhyatma is Mount Everest of the intellectual process. A friend Prakash was surprised that I ended up with a firm No, No! We had some exchange of notes on WhatsApp. When he suggested that I have also done reasonably well in life, I am still not convinced. What is the meaning of doing well? I am not talking about financial aspects.

The word transcendental is used in the discussions about Adhyatma. The Cambridge dictionary meaning of the word is: A transcendent experience, event, object, or idea is extremely special and unusual and cannot be understood in ordinary ways. Probably this is what I am trying to write and explain. How many people reach the pinnacle of what they are doing? How many of us reach a peak in life and continue doing it? I had given examples of Tendulkar, Ambani, Rahman and Bachchan. A sport’s person needs to retire due to physical limitations. But for others, I feel that there is no limit of age and they can pursue what they are doing till they are physically able to do it. Why should they give up on material things in life? What happens if they occasionally indulge with the money they have made?

Another friend Kishor suggested that I need to read Bhagwad Gita to understand the meaning of Adhaytma. I have read a couple of chapters but have not done a serious reading of Gita. I came to know that people learn Bhagwad Gita by heart. People are encouraged to do so. I met someone who took that path; I asked her what did she achieve? She was honest and said, “Nothing”!  To me, she had climbed a hillock when there was a tall mountain in front of her.

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The saying depicted above is the most crucial part of Gita. It is implied that we get Adhikar to live in this world due to past karma from our previous lives. We start our life with a debt of our parents; every stage we go into, more debts of the other people and the society around us gets accumulated. As per the saying above we should keep on working without expecting any returns. You should earn your pay “package” on this earth to repay the debt. Repayment of debt is where I am still confused. Which debt should we repay? Societal obligation or family debt? The Adhikar or entitlement is given to us by HIM. Then we should repay His debt too! What is the meaning of repaying the debt? How do we repay His debt? How do we know that we have repaid it? Is this the meaning of renunciation?

At what stage do we start renunciation? At what stage should we go away from material stuff? Lord Krishna tells Arjuna to follow his dharma of a warrior and not bother about who his enemy is. Arjuna sees his family standing opposite him to fight a war. If fighting a battle with the family is correct dharma or walking away from such a situation the right dharma?

Prakash and Kishor, I have already mentioned that I am too ordinary a person to understand these lofty things. I tried to discuss things above my intellectual level and got more confused. At what stage do we want to start climbing the Mount Everest?  Are we equipped for it? At least I am not! Then which are the people who follow the path of Adhyatma? Honestly, I am personally ok with some indulgence. I would rather walk out than going to battle with family! This what I mean by back to square one! I love the fruits of my writing the blog, your love! Am I confused?

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