Human Discrimination!

What is the difference between nature and humans? What the difference between humans and other species? Outwardly we are all products of the solar ecosystem, so we all have almost the same processes of birth and death. In between these two events, we grow, we fall sick, most of the times we recover. When one’s time comes, we go back to nature. But I think! Oh, this is the main difference between humans and others. Humans think, but I am not sure how the other species think or if flora and fauna think at all like humans!

Human thinking and beliefs are what differentiates them from others. Humans got separated from others by the use of their thumb and brain. Till almost ten thousand years back, there was not much difference as there was no organised farming and hence there was no concept of ownership! There were no permanent settlements. Humans used to move around as nomads. There was no organised society, and therefore, there were hardly any rules.

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At this juncture, things started changing, and the idea of male dominance started. Humans began to share responsibilities. The concept of families started. The male body was made bigger and stronger by the laws of nature, compared to the female body. Hence, males started taking up so-called heavy-duty work and outside work. Females would manage the home front and raising the family. In all this thinking, it so happened that females were being treated as second class citizens. The situation has continued even today. The net result of this thought process is very much imbibed on the human mind.

From the beginning of the last century, females started taking more part in social activities and various professions. Last thirty years or so, they have become even more and more active. Males, it looks like forgot that females are contributing to the betterment of the society, actively. But apparently, they forgot to change the rules. Even when democratic rights of voting were concerned in many so-called developed nations, females got the rights very late, that too in many cases with restrictions. As against this, the new (and so-called third world countries) like India, Pakistan and Bangala Desh gave women the voting rights within a few years of their gaining independence. Why does this happen? Why are women considered inferior? Why are they not given the same rights in voting, property and many such areas?

There are many reasons and issues. When the female child is growing up, many barriers are put up in her way; don’t do this and don’t do that is the norm in the case of a female child. They are mentally, biologically and thought process wise different. But the males decided that the difference is because they were inferior. Any thought process not matching with that of males is inferior, has become the norm. Though it is changing in some societies, some countries, the speed of change is not good enough.

The parents of the female child, including the mother, will go out of the way to educate the male siblings, but in case of the female child, they probably still permit them to take only the minimum possible education. Oh! She is a girl. What will she do by learning so much? It is never compared with boys who are allowed to take maximum possible education. Do all the boys climb Mount Everest after education? Hardly, one’s achievement in life depends on individual performance, and a person will do well only by putting a lot of smart efforts! It does not depend on whether you are male or female!

In Pune, there is a professional program run to nurture the start-ups! It is appropriately called “Nurture”! A startup or start-up is a company initiated by individual founders or entrepreneurs to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. Founders design startups to effectively develop and validate a scalable business model. Hence, the concepts of startups and entrepreneurship are similar. However, entrepreneurship refers all new businesses, including self-employment and businesses that never intend to grow big or become registered, while startups apply to new enterprises that want to grow beyond the solo founder, have employees, and plan to grow large. This is where “Nurture” is playing the role. It takes such companies under their tutelage. A team of very successful experts from various field nurture them and guide them. They become the family heads or mentors for the start-ups.

The idea of nurture, according to me, has come from nature. Nature has been nurturing both flora, and fauna in the same way. Luckily in the case of vegetation, the issue of male and female distinction is not there. In the case of fauna, there is a difference, but during nurture phase, the same treatment is given without discrimination. Both the sexes will get the same food, the same shelter and the same love. They get the same training. When we grow plants in the home environment, we give them love, then we give the right amount of water, when there is harsh Sun, we move the pots in the shed. When we have pet dogs or cats, we get them special foods; when required, we take them to Vets! Some people get winter clothing for their dogs!

The question that comes to my mind is why we do not take similar care in case of the girl child? Especially about education, making them independent, helping them to educate to become professionals. Why don’t we nurture the girl child the same way we nurture our plants and pets? Ok, this is changing to some extent now, but families that have financial constraints, take the discrimination route.

When humans are close to nature, why not follow nature’s rules? Humans have better and sharper brains, but why do we not follow good things from nature? I know many families where girls were treated with discrimination as against what was done for their male siblings.

A lady from such a family got a nurturing atmosphere in professional life. She has done far better than the male siblings in life. All that she got was the right atmosphere which overcame her setbacks, which she got in her early life. When I checked with her about the old discrimination during childhood, she was not sure if that was their family policy; she was the favourite child in the family but never given the education that she deserved. Will all ladies will be so lucky? Will they be able to overcome the initial setbacks?

I recently met one young lady in the gym. I hardly know her, but she looked confident, running her professional business from home. She casually mentioned that she has two children and said that she does not have a husband. I was so pleased with her story (of course the loss of husband was the sad part), but something must have been done right by her parents family. She appeared confident; she has stood on her own feet. She has taken control of her life.

By discriminating against the girl child, we are losing some good assets which could contribute to our society, the same as the males do. Even in professional life, the discrimination continues; we are all aware of the glass ceiling. Is this all due to MCP’s of this world? Yes, they are responsible for discrimination in later life even when ladies are on the same footing as men. But it is equally important that the lady should also be willing to work hard. So what is the solution? It should start from home; the girl child should be given the same facilities as the male child; this will provide them with confidence and will teach them to oppose the later discrimination. In the current situation, ladies tend to think that discrimination is the norm!

Go with nature. Give that little shower when needed, allow her the breeze, so she does not choke. Give her the shed against the harsh Sun when required! Let her grow into a Big Banyan Tree! Only non-discrimination can help!

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Our dream of Immortality!

There is a lovely Hindi song, “Tum Jiyo, Hazaro Saal, Saal ke Din ho Pachhas Hazar”!  The song is sung to celebrate a birthday and  means, “My dear, please live for thousand years and let each of the years have fifty thousand days.” It wishes immortality to the blessed soul. When we discuss human life, we always say that our life span is a hundred years! From where this number has come from is difficult to say. But it indicates the wish for immortality or longevity. Immortality is also discussed in mythology! Dronacharya’s son, Ashwathama, is supposedly immortal, and that is later considered as a curse or a punishment.

In our day to day life, there are many examples of mortality. Mortality is not a curse, but it is a fact of life. Dalai Lama had spoken about Shunyata in one of his discourses; it means emptiness. This emptiness means all the objects in the universe have no meaning unless we attach the meaning through our thoughts and beliefs! In the real world, the atoms and molecules exist independent of our mind. But our mind also exists independently, and we feel this when we are angry or happy! Anything that exists physically has a life span or shelf life. The span depends on many variables. But till the beginning of the 20th Century, the lifespan of humans was pretty low. Longevity was a word which came into discussion about a tiny number of people.

Still, the fascination for immortality continues. Why is it so?  We forget that everything has a specific life. With futility, we cling to that toiletry pouch long after it has fallen apart. We visit and revisit the old neighbourhood where we grew up, searching for the remembered grove of trees and the little fence. We want to go back to our roots. We clutch our old photographs. In our churches and mandirs and mosques, we pray to the everlasting and eternal life. In every nook and corner, nature is showing you that nothing lasts, that it is all passing away. All that we see around us, including our bodies, is shifting and evaporating, and one day will be gone. Where are the one billion people who lived and breathed in the year 1800, only two short centuries ago?

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/another-view-point-the-native-place/

The above link is a blog I had written about native places. We get nostalgic about our good old native place where we spent our childhood. We remember that school where we spent an extended part of life. Some people keep on going to their native place ( गावाकडे or मुलुक ) every few years. They hope that everything has remained in the time frame when they have migrated elsewhere. But when they go there, they find most of the friends have left the place; those still left behind have changed beyond recognition. Their children don’t even know you. That old grocery shop is now converted to a modern-day cell phone shop selling Oppo and Samsung. Every visit, we see that our past memories are now becoming actual memories. Those teachers have died, the priest died 30 years back. There are more wine shops than shops selling those sweets which you enjoyed in childhood. There is a clear sign that things are changing, the old world is dying, withering, replaced by a new one. This change is happening in a short span of about 30/40 years. We don’t accept the changes, but inwardly, we know that the reasons for which we keep on going to the native place do not exist. The other day, I went on a road in Pune, where my grandfather used to live. Though I exactly knew the location where the Wada existed, I could see none of the old signs. Then suddenly I saw a flour mill or chakki from those days, that was still around! The sighting also brought a thought in my mind that in another five or ten years, the chakki will also be gone! Did I accept it? I am not sure. We humans do not accept the adage, “Time and Tide wait for none”!

Despite the preponderance of evidence against it, our culture strives for immortality and youth. We cling to a past like — photographs, memories of our children, old wallets and shoes. But it’s not only about our physical bodies that we want to be ever lasting. We struggle against every change — big and small.

We have seen these changes in real life, but we tend to ignore them until the last possible moment. Kodak and photography were considered synonyms. Till the ‘90s of the last century, other companies were called also-ran. Kodak invented digital photography but never understood its real potential. Well, Kodak does not exist any more. The change took place in front of their eyes in 20 years. Garware Nylons was a leading company, in Pune, and it prospered in front of our eyes. For various reasons, within 15 years of reaching its peak, it closed shop. There were many car manufacturing companies in the early part of the 20th century in the US. Only GM, Ford and Chrysler remained. Even GM and Chrysler were saved by the US government from Bankruptcy a decade ago.

The coast of Pacifica in California is a beautiful place to live. (The photos above)  But the sea erosion is eating away 8 inches of land every year. Those who did not understand the meaning of 8 inches per year are now suffering. In forty years, it meant almost thirty feet of erosion. People in that area have understood the real meaning of mortality!

Human life span is tiny, whereas the life span of the Universe is in terms of millions of years. Hence we hardly visualise any changes happening around us except for some happening in Pacifica. But let us not despair. In the cycle of mortality, some beautiful things and events have a life of a few hours. The night-blooming flower of Cereus or Brahmakamal blooms only once a year and has a life of a couple of hours. But during that night these flowers give us tremendous pleasure.   The other day a friend called to share the information that the plant in his home had 30 flowers in one night. He was really excited.

Why are we looking for immortality? Is it for pleasure? Is it enjoy life for an infinite period? Imagine you in the year 2219. I can not imagine what the world will be. I may be immortal, but my body cells may not be eternal, my muscles may not be immortal, nor may my brain be immortal! Will my contemporaries also be in a similar position? What will we do in those times?  Instead, it might be a good idea not to have immortality and in short span of life, be like Brahmakamal to your friends and near one; be a Brahmakamal those in your ecosystem. There are some great achievers who in the same life span cross the mountains of achievements and some reach the Mount Everest.

The joy of living life is an individual choice! Some are happy with the smallest of achievement and others are not happy even after climbing the Mount Everest! Immortality is not going to give us any special joy. But don’t forget that even the North Start (Dhruv Tara) is not immortal.  After a million years it might disintegrate into atoms and molecules. But one thing is is surely permanent and will always be available; that is God!  He will always be there as a concept and will last forever! Let us not try to imitate Him! We are humans!

Is 450 a prime number? The Math controversy in Maharashtra!

I am so good at Mathematics that I am 100% sure that the number after 449 is 450! But is 450 a prime number? Is 450 divisible by 3 or 5 or 7? What is the square root of 450? What is the nth root of 450? My first statement is 100% accurate, but after all these arguments, I am now uncertain how good I am at Maths. What is the meaning of being good at Maths? Is your aim in life to become Dr Mrs Naralikar or Dr Naralikar? If it is not so, then you do not need to know the answers to all these questions. Why do we need to learn any subject? Why are we introduced to so many subjects while we are students? I assume that the main idea is to make us a rounded personality. See, the aim is to round off; we do not need to know the figures in fractions or fourth decimal in real life. 450 is good enough in real life instead of 449.9999999… etc. Is 450 a Prime number is a rhetoric question!

Recently there has been a big discussion going on in the state of Maharashtra about the way numbers are spoken and pronounced in Marathi. Mathematics expert Dr Mangala Naralikar declared that by changing the way the numbers are currently pronounced, Mathematics as a subject would become easy to learn. Majority of people find Mathematics very tough and challenging to learn and understand. This difficulty can create problems in these people’s day to day lives as their skill sets may not be good enough to perform basic transactions in day to day life. QED!

Q.E.D. or QED (sometimes italicised) is an initialism of the Latin phrase “quod erat demonstrandum”, literally meaning “what was to be shown”. Traditionally, the abbreviation is placed at the end of a mathematical proof or philosophical argument to indicate that the evidence or argument is complete, therefore used with the meaning “thus it has been demonstrated”.

See the Mathematicians want to say “I am done with a problem”, but they make it complicated by using the term QED!

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People taking part in Maths Olympiad, people talking of Fourier transform, discussing algorithms among themselves is fine, but when they start talking about their expertise in a WhatsApp group of ordinary human beings, things become tricky. Is Math Olympiad winner a genius or Sachin Tendulkar? Who has achieved more? Is achievement in Cricket lesser than achievement in Maths? In the academic world, a lot of importance is given to people who are good at Maths. They are considered geniuses, super intelligent, and so on. Is being good at Maths so important in life? In our day to day world, too much emphasis is given to Maths. One writes excellent poems, or she is a fantastic singer. Is it not good enough? Are you dumb if you are not good at Maths?

Ok here is a disclaimer! I have done Master’s Degree in Engineering and have learnt a bit of complex Maths. Come on! How many engineers use Maths in their day to day work! In my school days, there was an emphasis on knowing number tables by heart. Smart ones were expected to know tables up to 30 and also the tables for 1/4, 1/2, 1 1/2. I remember an incident which happened ages back. We were in Dallas in an amusement park. We bought something to eat, and I had the US $7.38 ready to pay. When the girl completed her calculation, I paid the money. She was surprised and asked me if I were a genius. I just smiled. I felt as if I had conquered the Mount Everest! (Not exactly, some minor peak!)

Why is Maths challenging to learn? I can find so many reasons. Proper methods of teaching and good teachers are the most important ways of making Maths attractive. My daughter Priya had a teacher who mixed up between one million and one hundred thousand. Then students are afraid about answers; in Maths, these are either right or wrong. Because of this black and white clarity, the human gets a little worried because he is proven dead wrong.

Many researchers think that teaching to find out approximate value is one of the best ways of teaching maths. Using approximation teaches your brain to collate your eye observation and brain calculation. If there are 25 oranges in a tray, ask children to tell the number of oranges without counting. By observation, we start to understand how to visualise and then count.

Many things can go wrong while learning Maths. You may know the method, but you may not see the reason behind it. So any variation in the problem will create issues of understanding. You will start feeling that you are not good at maths. It can so happen that you have solved the problem correctly almost till the last step, but you make reading or writing error, and write minus instead of a plus sign! Examiner will give you zero marks! QED! You are not good at Maths! But it is not so, you only have made a small error in reading or writing!

Learning Maths is like putting the building blocks on top of each other. If the foundation is not right, then you will find it difficult at a later stage. What you learn in school, you should know even at a later stage in education. Some of us are required to use mathematical knowledge in the day to day work too! Knowing fundamentals is essential for such people.

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The slide above shows where Maths is used in different streams. While I was doing my Master’s degree in engineering, we had Prof Wartikar who taught us Maths. For three months, he explained to us why Maths is essential to understand engineering subjects properly. Till then, we just used to study and appear for Maths exams without understanding why we were doing it.

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You don’t need things shown above in day to day living. To me, the fear of maths will go away if you have the right teacher to teach you. There is one crucial aspect, dyslexia.  People with Dyslexia find it very hard to learn maths for obvious reasons. One more critical point is that some people have the brain needed for Maths, and some don’t have the brains for Maths. These two extremes are not more than ten % of the population. But it is the rest 90 % of the people in between who face problems in Maths. What do we know in real life? Plus and Minus, a bit of multiplication and division. In real life, it does not matter if you take a minute more to count your notes.

What is the big noise about anyway? It is not that people do not count even with today’s method of pronouncing the numbers. With digital payments and computerised billings, you don’t count these days. The world has enough people who are quite comfortable with Maths, and they will perform the necessary tasks where complex maths is needed. Others are only users. It is ok if they find Maths difficult.

In all this episode, I saw a giant size ego coming into the picture. After some other experts created a big noise against the new method, the authorities declared that they would rethink about the original approach. Dr Mrs Naralikar proclaimed that if this happens, she will resign the post! Why? Can it be only my way or the highway?

The chain reaction to improvement!

No human interaction is independent; generally, each action is the interaction of something that has happened before. Some people have the habit of not being neat and tidy. I know of a lady who never made her bed till she became a professional and started working independently, living on her own. She would make her bed and tidy up her room a bit whenever someone was going to drop in. Else things would be, helter-skelter! Somewhere within her, things were brewing up. She made her bed for four consecutive days, after waking up. Then on the fifth day, after making her bed, she picked up the clothes lying around and put them on the hangar or in the cupboard. Tiding up happened for a week, and then one day she got herself a basket to collect her laundry.

One thing led to another. The lady took the neatness drive to the kitchenette, washing her cups and dishes immediately after use. Once her mother came to visit her, without informing, on a Sunday morning. Our lady was fast asleep; she was happy to receive her mother. Her mother was pleasantly surprised to see everything spic and span. When her mother asked her about the change; the lady said, “The small act of making my bed made me realise the importance of not having clutter. But I always felt that doing so many chores was going to be tough; hence, I avoided doing even the basics. I know that I am a good professional, but now I feel that I am a good human being too!” One act of tidying up the bed led to another, like a Domino Effect. The result was being in a charming home was very pleasing and did not involve too much effort, as she had initially thought.

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Domino effect definition is – a cumulative effect produced when one event initiates a succession of similar events. Though this has nothing to do with the current subject, I will share with you the real meaning of the Domino effect. In the game of Cricket, a team is batting well, and they are almost cruising towards victory. A wicket falls against the run of the play, and suddenly the all remaining batsmen get out as if by Domino effect!

Getting into a habit of following routines leads to a domino effect. After I went into semi-retirement, my daily routine had changed. I had more time on hand. So, I added the activity of going to the gym and for a walk in my daily to-do list. While working, these activities were intermittent, but with time on hand, I set up my routine. As far as possible, I don’t change my timings. It took a couple of months, but then these small acts led to a domino effect, and my routine fell in place. I have also added reading activity as a regular activity besides blogging. For the Domino effect to succeed, consistency is very important. Yes, I have also added taking a nap, in my to-do list.emrgency1

Friends, don’t forget that the domino effect takes place in forming bad habits too! Social media is a prime example of how bad habits can also be a part of the Domino effect. Cell phones came in our lives; then came Facebook, followed by WhatsApp in our lives. Where are we today? People are already facing problems of addiction, depression, and what have you? How did it start? It probably started with being able to see emails on a cell phone; then FB and WA. From that small jump, we took the next jump in the precipice of social media. People got hooked and addicted to social media; this addiction may be worse than alcohol and cigarettes! At least people avoid smoking and alcohol consumption in front of elderly, but social media has almost become a socially accepted addiction.

As always, anything good needs a bit of discipline and adhering to specific steps, sequencing and rules. If these are not followed, success could be delayed. The important thing that can happen is that you will be able to analyse yourself, the reasons for failure. The reason may be that the step where you failed was too big a task. Break the task into easily doable steps, and you will succeed.

Start with something which you are most motivated to do. Start with something small and do it consistently. Initially, you may not feel that fall of a Domino! But it will fall. That fall may change your thinking, your way of doing things. But when the Domino falls, it will enthuse you to take up the next step.

Maintain the momentum and immediately move to the next task you are motivated to finish. Let the energy of completing one job, carry you directly into the subsequent behaviour. With each repetition, you will become more committed to your new self-image.

When in doubt, break things down into smaller chunks. As you try new habits, focus on keeping them smooth and manageable. The Domino Effect is about progress, not results. Maintain the momentum. Let the process repeat as one domino automatically knocks down the next.

Having good habits has many advantages. You get a good feeling because of the lack of clutter. I had attended one course of 5S, the Japanese techniques. The tutor asked a senior manager from a large company, “Where do you waste your time in office?” The manager gave a bit of thought and  said, “65% of our time is wasted in locating things.” The department obviously had bad habits, and the boss allowed the shoddy way of working. By not being into good habits, efficiency gets drastically reduced. Performance becomes poor. But such things cannot be changed overnight. A small beginning needs to made and then let the Domino effect take its own course.

Good habits are not for someone else, they are for your own good. You become a better person, you become an efficient individual. All these things are needed to improve your persona. Many times we don’t change because we do not allow the domino effect to take place. We try to reach Mount Everest without even trying to reach the top of your local hill. But to reach the top of a local hill, start with climbing four floors in your condo using a staircase!

I Ain’t bothered!

 

letgo2My friends keep on pulling my legs about my blog writing. Some say, “you are a better blogger than an Engineer”. But I “ain’t” bothered what they say! I mean, I know that my friends are pulling my leg hence I am not worried about what they say! But mind you, all of us are concerned about something or the other all through our lives. I feel that these concerns have reached an epidemic proportion.

People think that life is always a bed of roses, but it is not so. Sometimes some events will go against your way of thinking. You may have to face situations that you had never expected. But you need to understand and accept that this is going to happen and it is ok to be in such circumstances. It means that you need to accept certain things and move on. It’s ok to be hit on the chin once in a while. Once we stop accepting this fact, we start blaming ourselves. We start feeling that something is inherently wrong with us. Such thought processes drive us to show to people that nothing is wrong with us. We may end up buying ten pairs of trousers and shirts to show off. We may get drunk on a weekday. It is to show that we have enough money and we are not bothered about the social norms.

We get caught up in a vicious circle of a feedback loop. You overheard someone passing a casual remark about the way you wear your clothes. You get bothered, and you end up buying those clothes. You end up getting drunk too. But should you be upset about such casual remarks? Should you be worried about these comments with such intensity? Is it not easy to rethink and say, “Why am I getting so much upset? How does it matter what that person says about my clothing?” We should learn to worry about remarks like, “Pramod is not a good person, or he is a nasty person.” We should learn to give correct importance to events in life.

We should never think that life is always going to be bliss. There are going to be ups and downs. We will become uncomfortable in certain situations; there could be some suffering too! But learn to go with the flow, accept the position and move forward. Many times what happens is that we take many things personally. There is too much traffic; people are jumping the red signal. We get upset. Last night’s news you saw disturbed you! We must realise that these are not the consequences of something you have done. You cannot prevent such things from happening. Opposite of this, we start believing that good things that are happening are because you are a terrific person. Your being good may have some control over your close circle. You can create an atmosphere where your family members are behaving decently (sometimes there is no control on such things too!), you can be friends with people who behave well. But mind you that your definition and someone else’s interpretation of goodness is not going to match. So again you can be back to square one; your friend’s friend may not behave the way you want him too! That can still upset you. Learn to ignore things that are not serious enough. Learn to let things go which are unimportant!

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What happens if we do not learn to let go? Our life is full of events which are good and bad. Sometimes the bad period is longer and many times a reasonable period is longer. By not learning to let go, our mood swings from bad to good to bad. We blame ourselves when things are wrong and are euphoric when things are as per our liking. This swing of moods is not easy to handle. You are the person you are. Your persona is created and gets a reasonable shape as you mature. You are a person with some good things and some bad aspects. You don’t have to face these swings. Just let go; the cycle of good and bad events will always be there.

The million dollar question is what we should let go? At the beginning of my career, I bought a new car for the first time. Within a week, a van rammed into me from behind at a signal. It was the other person’s fault. I completed all the formalities and got all the money from the insurance. But I was agitated and felt very sad. I met one of my uncles; while chatting I mentioned this incident to him and said that I was distraught. He told me, “Pramod, car takes us from one place to another. After you receive your car back, you won’t even know that there was an accident. Just let it go. The good thing is that in the accident no human being was hurt and you got all the money from the insurance company. What more do you want?” I gave a thought to the whole thing and then calmed down. Such things are minor in life, and my uncle explained well. So, I let go what had happened.

Another important thing is, we must learn to change our beliefs if we find that we are not right in our thinking. We have a severe pollution issue in India. Some scientifically minded people know about this but do not accept the problem. If they don’t want to change their thinking, then nothing in this world is going to help them admitting it. We also behave and act like this sometimes. We should avoid such behaviour. We believe certain things based on information available to us at that time but many new facts come up later, and we are not aware of them.

I have read about a method that can be followed. Select ten things in life and write them down. Just think what will happen if your assumptions about those ten things are wrong and how those false assumptions, when corrected,  will change your life. The list need not include things like pollution I mentioned above. The items could be, “I am lazy, and I like to procrastinate, I don’t know how to deal with people in general.” You decide without thinking that you are not lazy and you are the best people’s person in the world. If you debate with yourself, you may find that in both these cases there is a reason why these points are on the list to start with. If you change your thought process, you may become less lazy and more efficient; you will be able to deal with people much better than what you are doing currently. These changes are going to make you a better person. These changes are going to improve you as a person. But sticking to your original thinking, you will remain what you are!

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One more thing you can do is to improve situations in life, by trying uncharted paths. You should work to learn the ability to do things with no expectation for results or accolades; this ability will train you to make these big, ambitious life decisions. It will teach you to start on something without knowing what is going to happen in future. You tread an unknown path; you may succeed or fail. But if you succeed in your endeavour, maybe you would have climbed Mount Everest; but should you fail, you may not have climbed even a small hill in your area. But to achieve significantly, you need to tread that unknown path sometimes. Many small failures on a hidden track lead you to the most notable success of your life. In short, don’t set a goal for everything when you start something new! Go with the flow and enjoy life!

To summarise, learn to let go, life is too precious to bother about small things. Learn to change your thinking don’t stick to your guns all the time, you could be wrong. Try and take the uncharted path to reach a peak in your life instead of remaining on the plateau all the time.

Distress or Destress!

Modern life has become quite stressful; that does not mean that older life was not stressful. Stress in modern times and olden times were of different types. In olden times, falling sick was very risky because chances of someone dying due to small health issue were very high. There was always a fear of famine, causing food shortages over a long period; attacks by other animals were not far away. Collecting food and water was a major daily problem. Compared to that modern times are a cake walk. But in today’s times the work pressures, performance pressures, financial pressures are very high. We have increased our “basic” requirements so high that there is always a rat race between the money you make and EMI’s you pay. Commute times have gone up in main cities. Luckily basic health issues are much less compared to olden times, especially deaths due to simple health complications are reducing, indicated by an increase in life expectancy.

A friend, before retiring, was top boss of a very very large company and would travel minimum 15 days in a month, followed by 12 to 14 hours of a workday, sometimes, when he was at home base! Stress was a part of his life. He took guidance from a life coach and over a period managed to reduce his stress levels. Here is what he tried.

Winning at all times: First thing his coach told him was to attempt everything, make life changes, on a very small scale and these changes should be incremental. The coach said it is the same as achieving success in your career. The coach told my friend, “You became a big boss over a period of 40 years. Were you made big boss within 10 years, you would have failed!” The coach told him a story of corporate honcho, who was in 40’s. The honcho decided to start running for exercise, he was reasonably fit and reached a stage where he ran a marathon! Next year, he again ran the marathon again but his timing was a couple of minutes slower, compared to the first year. He was very much upset for “losing out” to himself. He decided to run another marathon, but only after a six weeks gap. His body refused to cooperate with him, and his timing was one hour slower! He was devastated. Then he discussed this with his wife. She told him that you need not “win” everything in life. She said, “That you are able to run a marathon, is a great success in life, and on top of that you ran two marathons only with six weeks gap! That is a great achievement. You are not a professional runner, so timing hardly matters. Participation is the most important part of life!” Lesson learnt, do something incrementally and everything need not be a win-lose combination. Taking part itself is a win-win situation!

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Breathing and Meditation: These are two equal things which are useful for reducing stress. We always tell others in a stressful situation to take ten breaths, or count ten! What is that? It is breathing and meditation. Instead of reacting quickly to a situation, it is a good idea to give time, digest the situation, understand it, check different options, different views! When we rush into anything, it creates stress for you as well as others. Another thing that can happen due to rushing things is that we may not consider all the options available and can make mistakes.  It is well known and scientifically proven that deep breathing and meditation help improve oxygen level in our blood and help reduce stress! The meditation increases emotional control and brain power.

Listening. If we concentrate on listening to other people, the way we focus when we meditate, our interaction immediately becomes richer. The other person feels that we are listening, almost physically. And when they know that we are listening, they form a bond with us, faster. Life almost immediately feels richer and more meaningful. Listening is a positive interpersonal communication behaviour. When we form a quick bond with others, the effect on the relationship is excellent and mutual communication starts quickly between the two people. My personal experience is that the quicker you create a bond, easier it is to succeed in, your work. I had an excellent rapport with a senior officer from an organization. We used to fight tooth and nail, professionally, but conflict resolution was always a win-win situation for both the organizations, thanks to personal rapport.

Questioning. This isn’t about asking other people questions, it’s about questioning the thoughts your mind creates. Just because your mind creates a thought doesn’t mean it is correct. It is better to get in the habit of asking your mind, “Is that thought correct?” And if we are not absolutely certain it is, just let it go. It is good to thank your mind for coming up with the thought and move on. This liberates your mind from the negativity of throwing out an idea, originally thought by you. You learn to discard it because you are not sure about it. It is a good idea to acknowledge rather than repressing negative thoughts. Instead of trying to ignore something we believe to be true, questioning allows us to confront our thoughts head on and to discredit them because they are wrong.

Purpose. What is your purpose of doing something? It is not something about the purpose of life, I am not talking of  lofty thoughts! If you are trying to create a document and coming up with a great idea, you should give it your completely undivided attention. People are known to check their e mails more than 30 times in an hour! People immediately look at a WhatsApp message, the moment you get the receipt ding. It is not necessary and it is not really essential. Doing these things increases your stress levels because you want to give replies, take your mind away from your document, break the link in your thought process. If you are having a cup of tea, have that cup of tea! Don’t try to multi-task. That cup you take is to really to refresh your mind. In today’s electronics world, don’t let the electrons dictate your pace of work. We see a lot of glorification of multi-tasking. But does it really help? Suppose you are going to complete three things in four hours. While multi-tasking there is always a changeover time that our brain requires. I am sure you may take four and a half to five hours to complete a four hour job, and possibility of errors increases.

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Friends, enough stress is a good thing to have as it motivates us do things properly, efficiently, to achieve success. But if you have been participating in sports, you already know that “You win some, You lose some”! This attitude will take you to lead a successful, healthy life, no sleepless nights (with sufficient sleep every night)! You will be able to start every day with an urge to climb the hill just on the outskirts of your town! Mount Everest is for professional climbers!

Bring Back the Woman Power!

I read a story about a couple who were entering a garden after their lunch, in Malaysia. They were Caucasians. Vendors at the gate offered to sell them peanuts. Couple said they were full, thank you! But the vendor said that the peanuts were for monkeys that are there in the Garden. Couple bought a few pouches. They started their stroll and saw a group of monkeys. When they saw the monkeys, they were happy that they can feed peanuts. When the group was about ten feet away, a monkey jumped very swiftly, pinched a couple of pouches from them. Couple was a bit scared, woman had a minor scratch on her hand. Man was disgusted, felt offended and was boiling. How can the monkey pinch the peanuts from their hands which they had bought for monkeys? It was so much against the normal way of life of the couple!

We humans are so naïve that we think only about orderly way of life, especially westerners, they generally have a much more disciplined society and such occurrences are almost unheard of, except for one minor detail. The other party was a monkey. I am 100% sure that even in Asian countries humans will be as disciplined as in western hemisphere. Our friend wanted to take revenge, he was mentally prepared and they moved further. Another ten minutes, they saw another group of monkeys. Monkeys in that Garden must be used to pinching from humans. Twenty feet away from the group, our friend was ready and as soon the monkey started towards him, he started shouting loudly and made some menacing actions, bared his teeth. Monkey was surprised, he stopped, almost gave him a smile and walked away. Our friend was elated and almost made a victory dance! His primal instincts still intact and kicking.

He simply forgot that this is nature. The law of nature is fight or flight! In the first case our friend used the flight mode and in second case the monkey. It was no big deal for monkey, I am sure. It is us humans who have created many rules, laws of social behavior, egos and have gone away from nature. I am sure that in second case monkey was not fuming and upset like our friend. If opponent is strong, take a step back. Simple! Humans are engrossed in their own lives, as they are today, we obviously don’t remember how life was about 100 centuries back i.e. 10000 years ago. How was the human society then? What made it change over a period and took shape of “organized” society with rules and regulations and discipline!

In those times and before, there was no agriculture, no organized living. Humans were a nomadic, foraging animals like other species. Things really started to change when human race started agriculture. For agriculture humans had to stay at one place, sow the seeds and cultivate the crop. This led to the concept of ownership. So and so land belongs to person A, land on the other side of that hill belongs to person B and so on. Then ownership became single, co ownership, joint ownership and different ways of handling the situation.

Before this period everything was shared. A group of people would live together but groups were quite scattered. Hunt, gather berries, firewood and later cook, share and eat food together. At night, they probably slept in a huddle for the safety of the group, safety from other species not humans. Man and woman shared ALL the responsibilities. Except of course bearing the child! There was no concept of family, only man and woman. They had different sex partners, I am sure there must have been some laws for this but since nobody owned anything, there was no need to prove paternity of the child born. Child was owned by the mother. I am sure the group of humans in those days had predominantly matriarchal rules. All of us read stories that even today in certain tribal areas in deep jungles, women give birth to the child, clean the things and start moving out to collect food and wood for fire! An unheard of concept in modern world.

In fact woman must have been considered stronger than man for her additional ability to bear children. Agriculture and ownership changed all these concepts on head! People started defining boundaries, then everything was “mine”. Lake, canal, hut, crop, wife, children. Probably this was the beginning of nuclear family as we know today. Pre farming, it was a group of humans sharing everything equally including food and relationships between man and woman. I am sure there must have been occasional fights but survival was more important hence probably they adopted to “shared” way of life. During all these changes one important but unfortunate development took place; woman’s importance in the society reduced, she was confined to home, child bearing and cooking.

We get used to things so quickly and fast that we forget things were quite different, only some years back. Look at internet, where was internet 20 years back? Can we do without it? Look at cars, in last 100 plus years our method of personal transportation has changed so much that we can’t imagine that everybody used to travel in carts! Look at the global travel, advent of Jet planes has totally changed the concept of our travel. With supersonic jets we can be from London to New York in three hours. The list will go on and on!

Coming to my original story, we are all so much used to be away from nature that we are not able to understand the laws of nature. We go for a picnic in hills but we are so busy clicking photos that we forget why we have gone there. We forget so much that sometimes people die while clicking selfies instead of enjoying nature! Once while I was in Boston with my son, I saw some homes which were 150 years old. I was just wondering how they must been living in those times without proper insulation and heating in Boston winter! Today we go to Mumbai in the afternoon and attend to something and come back in the evening to Pune, thanks to modern cars and expressway. But even 25 years back it would take hours!

Let us not forget the laws of nature where men and women were not only considered equal but they were equal. 10000 years in our earth’s history is equivalent of day before yesterday! The changes made day before yesterday can always be modified or changed. This recent thought process came by forming new laws, new rules and norms.  During last fifty years the correction in giving importance to improving status of women is happening. My thinking is that if a woman could handle herself 10000 years back in primitive conditions, she will be able to do much better in today’s environs and backing of the society. Making some positive rules to help women in handling the way their bodies are made, their tough times during child bearing is a must by the society which has made rules to ensure that they remained home bound! Women need empathy not sympathy! So let’s go back to situation of 10000 years ago where women were equal, with advantages of 21st century! I won’t be surprised if we read every day, in coming years,  that a woman climbed the Mount Everest, which anyway she does in different fields in spite of obstacles!