Sunday, April 15, 2018

How not to prove it

This is 10 years back.

This relative of mine, had migrated to A 2 decades earlier, and was in India for a short trip. He was in town, and gave me a call, and invited me over to his hotel to meet him for tea. I said sure and was looking forward to catching up.

He is about 20 years older than me, and had clearly changed quite a bit.Specifically, he was shooting from the hip about once every 30 seconds. I found this mildly irritating and amusing, until he finally picked on me :) He made a reference to a product that had recently been launched in A. I didn't know about that product. He then made a reference to some specific aspect of Halloween that I wasn't familiar with. He then proceeded to announce 'You are smart, but you should be smarter' !

I was taken aback by this judgement. My mind went into overdrive.. 'What right did he have to judge me based on my familiarity with what was happening in A? I'm gonna show him that I'm smarter than he thinks I am. Doesn't he know my academic credentials, or the awards I've won? Surely, if I put my mind to it, I would be able to recollect something about A that he himself wouldn't be aware of. Or I could dazzle him with brilliance on a topic of my choice that I would fortuitously introduce into the conversation'.

All this mind chatter lasted 5 seconds.

Finally, common sense prevailed, and with as much non-chalance as I could muster at the moment, I repled with 'Maybe.'

Later that night, I felt anger for having been judged.

But It wasn't until a few years later, that I thought about this episode more deeply, and some hidden dynamics came into light. What bothered me was that I had briefly considered 'proving' my worth to this near-stranger that I hadn't met in 10 years. Even though I was angry with him for having judged me, I had wanted his approval as regards my smartness. What an irony.The Anger and need for approval coexisting. And if I were to manipulate the conversation to 'make' him change his mind about me, and win his approval, the fact still remained that I would be attempting to 'control' his opinion about me rather than just being myself. Yes. It dawned upon me that operating from a place of 'need for approval' was in fact controlling behaviour.

When we get into the mode of 'proving' ourselves to people that don't really matter, we are directly playing into their hands by getting into a game in which they have set the rules, and they take on the role of a referee. Needless to say, the dynamic automatically places them in a relative position of authority.

Fastforward now. I just dont care what strangers think about me, especially if they are shooting from the hip :) I welcome constructive feedback from people whose judgement and opinion I value. The rest haven't earned the right to get me to value their input deeply enough for me to feel anger.

In what areas of life do you find the need to prove yourself to others ? What is that which if others thought of you would put you more at ease with yourself? What is it that you do to shape what others think of you ? And what validation are you looking for and what is possibly the underlying anger that is causing you to behave this way?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Five Magical things

  •  I didn't realize that I have posted only about 5 times in the last 4 years, and yet, it hasn't been for lack of things to write about. Much has been happening. 

  •  Towards the end of 2017, I spent about 15 hours writing and planning out 2018. What exactly I wrote down in those 15 hours isn't that important( actually it is, but not as much as one might think:) ; what is important is the amount of energy I was bringing to the intention. After investing so much energy, the odds that I will follow through are dramatically higher than if I were to whimsically declare my 'new year resolutions' after 3 minutes of thought. 

  • The 3 key attitudes( yes attitudes)  that will dramatically shift your life are - appreciation, gratitude and joy. Appreciation and gratitude - well you know.. 

Joy - how do you have an 'attitude' of joy ?

Until some stage in most people's lives, youthful exuberance takes care of this without much effort, until ... the battery runs out :) And about the time it runs out is the time to set up an energy harvesting system in place, where you take in the energy around you, and harvest it into an attitude of 'joy'. A simple 'tactic' I lately use to accomplish this is to read some Wodehouse each morning these days. Wodehouse offers, what I call a ' Try me for 30 minutes or have your misery back' guarantee :)

  • The 2 qualities that will make the biggest difference to your life, if consciously developed are 

a) Confidence/self-esteem
b) Discipline/commitment

It is not lightly that I have zeroed in on the above two.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

News to Share !

I am writing my first book. Non fiction. First draft will be ready in 3 months. Will publish it next year. More details later !

Friday, June 03, 2016

Random Thoughts

  •   My creativity in coming up with post titles hasn't improved one bit..
  • I have an official announcement to make. I have completely stopped watching news on the TV. For last several months. This leaves me occasionally clueless in tea-time conversations, but really, that's a very small price to pay for all the benefits you get.
  • Every person who has achieved something of significance in their life has at some point, mastered a few skills - the forces that hold one back , the fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success, not caring what others think, overcoming negative self-talk.. I decided that I want to learn everything I could about each of these.And about courage and boldness.                         
As they say, 'once the student is ready, the teacher will appear'.  I made it my immediate mission in life to learn and apply this stuff. I really stuck with it, and learned many many concrete techniques that go much beyond the simplistic advice of 'Just do it' .

This blog is perhaps not the best place to discuss these topics, and it would be a really long story, but I can assure you - I truly believe that undertaking this endeavour has been one of the most fulfilling and worthwhile things I've done, and am doing in my life.. I am still very much in the process, the  difference, being my belief that I now know the path to get there..

Many smart people I know make one of the two following mistakes . I know I have made both in the past ( despite not being smart:)

1) Trivializing this stuff
2) Getting the insight about this stuff, but not applying it in their lives..

 Also, the sub-conscious doesn't quite work in 'logical' ways which is also the reason that some of the strategies are also not necessary logical, nor can you explain them intellectually. This dissuades several smart people, who are looking for solutions that 'make sense' to them.

Anyhow, I will just leave you guys with a little teaser. There are 6 human needs, but there are two that are most important in this context.. 'The need for certainty' and 'The need for significance'. The need for certainty is what pushes us to stay in the comfort zone. The need for significance is a bit more interesting, and more sneaky. One question we need to ask ourselves is ' Where am I getting my need for significance from ? Is it from a talent of mine ? Is it from being a good spouse/friend ? Is it from doing my job well ? Or is it from the believing that I have the biggest problem in the world that no one can solve ? "

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Trip to Kashmir

And here we are ! It's been a long time since I posted here. Much has happened in my life since then.. I got married to a wonderful girl. I'm actually learning cooking now! ( Credit goes to my wife for the patient teaching. ) Not quite experienced enough to start a cooking blog though( I'd run out of content in no time if I did ;)

I've gotten way more disciplined, focused and have a set morning ritual that I do every single day. ( Here's a secret I'm letting out for free : Please start a morning ritual if you don't already have one.. Mine includes Meditation, Journaling and a bunch of other things. It works best and will do wonders to your sense of living with purpose, if you do it consistently over a period of time, and eventually make it a part of your life ). Other tips will be made available on demand, for a nominal fee ;)

There's been no shortage of travel either.. I've been wanting to travel to Kashmir with my wife. The situation there has been volatile for years now. I checked with some locals, and we did travel anyway early this April, and it turned out to be absolutely fantastic ! Seeing the Tulip Gardens in full bloom ( They are in full bloom for about 2-4 weeks each year starting early April) will remain an unforgettable memory...

The pictures aren't quite bright since the weather was cloudy much of the time. The actual scenery is spectacular... Our infamous pony-ride ( of which there are no pics here ) will be featured in an exclusive post at a later date..

Tulip Gardens, Srinagar


Aru Valley

Betaab Valley

Betaab Valley


Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Practicing Mind by Thomas Sterner 

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.
-Eckhart Tolle

Maybe you know the feeling. The feeling that a writer has secretively found out about your existence, and overcome with an overpowering sense of altruism, has written a book exclusively for you. I have that feeling. Of all the books I have read in my life, 'The Practicing mind resonated with me and my life the most.

Sterner starts out with a simple enough premise. How do you go about learning a new skill ? What mindset do you need to adopt while practicing the skill, and refining your technique? And just as importantly, how do you do so without experiencing a sense of struggle ? And taking it a step further, how does this apply to our life. In fact, as he points out, this applies to every aspect of our lives.

The whole of life is a practice. Each day requires us to learn new things. We can go about this in a harried way, just doing enough to get things going, while simultaneously worrying about a million other things that demand our attention, or we can deal with it all in a calm manner, giving our complete undivided attention to the task at hand at the present moment. He breaks down the process of developing this mindset into relatively simple steps.

This is a tiny book, but Sterner has managed to pack in an incredible amount of wisdom into it while still employing a down-to-earth writing style. His choice of everyday episodes as examples to illustrate his thought process, infact makes them seem all the more powerful.

I have little patience for abstract theories that have nothing useful, or 'actionable' to offer. What makes Sterner's ideas truly credible is that he has been an entrepreneur, an endeavour that is bound to have one facing reality and dealing with practical problems on a regular basis. A process that works in such a context is also one that is likely to benefit most people.

Lastly, this book has cemented in my mind, a thought that has occupied it for the last year or so. One of the most underrated forces on the planet is the power of self-discipline ( when applied to good habits) Self-discipline lends a sense of direction to our lives..Constantly and repetitively doing something pushes us steadily in a certain direction instead of allowing us expend our energy in scattered efforts that die out every so often.

This is a truly powerful book, and I strongly recommend it.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Pun Intended

'Prenounce the word' - When you quit trying to pronounce/spell a word 'correctly', and pronounce it however you like.. A silly play on 'renounce the world'..

Usage - "Pronunciation, and not pronounciation you say ?  Never mind ! I prenounced the word ! "