Let go of the box

While decluttering is certainly something I am passionate about, this post is not about that 🙂

Did you know, that every day, 7% of our body cells change and replace themselves? In terms of volume, as shared by Tom Chi, co-founder of Google X, that is about one arm of our body. In a year, about 98% of our body cells have changed. Which basically means that every day, we become a new person. In fact, every moment, there is something in us which is changing.

The same phenomena happens with every living being, every moment. Change, as we know, then, is truly, the only constant. It is interesting to note how suddenly, so many things can be explained with this one concept.

Think about a few years ago, the person you remember being, your choices, your ideas, your beliefs –  it seems like a different you, almost like a past life. Well, as explained by science, it clearly was a different you! Now think about the people you live with. For people who stay with families, you can now understand why sometimes you feel disconnected from the same people you felt connected with at one point; why you feel they have changed and you have trouble identifying with them. So much so, that sometimes you start questioning your own self and your set of choices.

Well, there is good news! You probably made the choices which were right for you at that point in time and then, change happened, bit by bit, every day. New thoughts led to new experiences and more change happened, every day. During this time, people around you were changing too, bit by bit, every day. As Barbara Frederickson explains in Love 2.0, love is connection. How connected you were with our family on a daily basis, would explain how connected you feel after a few years. Robin Sharma says that the secret to your success lies in your daily routine – the same goes for relationships. The secret to a successful relationship lies in your daily connection.

So now, the box.

I find it fascinating that as human beings, we love boxes. We find a box that we think we fit in and we get into it – let us say it is the box of a working professional, who is also a parent, and so on. Everyday, as we are changing, the box tries to keep up with us and then one fine day, we realise that we don’t fit into that box any more. It clearly happens with women I know after they have a child and then they try to find new boxes to fit in. The mom box is a tricky one 😉

Either ways, the thing is, when we outgrow a box and try to find a different box to fit into, what we don’t realise is that we are going to soon outgrow that too. It is just that brief comfort that makes us want to find one anyways. I am going to be off work now and will just be a housewife or I will now be an entrepreneur and will work from home or I will just sit back and enjoy life.

No wonder then, when people ask us for an introduction, we start sharing the labels on our boxes (mostly including past ones, even though we feel disconnected with them), little realising that we are not the box. We have never been the box and we have never identified completely with only one box. And when we have tried to do that, we have felt limited and restricted and whether we acknowledge it or not, it has caused us more pain than giving us comfort.

YOU are not the box. So who are you? An infinite, limitless, abundant being. I know – might sound too blah blah or fuzzy and might us uncomfortable, especially for those of us who love definitions and prefer structures. But well, you are infinite. Everything is connected and you are limitless. Let go of the box. You don’t belong in it. Nobody does.

One million people do not get up in the morning everyday. You did. You read this post. And you still want to go back to the box? Let go of the box. Just be.

P.S. I watched this video that said – How to save the world in 3 simple steps. Do watch it. Bottomline – meditate. Try using Insight Timer. It is an awesome App and will get you started 🙂 Enjoy!

 

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The One Minute Hack

I don’t have time – as I often say – is the world’s favourite excuse. If something does not make it to the top of our priority list, we are forever caught up in our world of excuses. And we all know, that does not help. It only makes things worse as we start getting that feeling of inadequacy, of not being able to do enough, as a result of which, it only reinforces our belief that we cannot do this or that.

So let’s say, you want to start an exercise regime (it seems to be the most common issue for working moms wherever I go, hence I am taking this example). You haven’t been able to do that because of the one hundred reasons you know best. So what do you do?

One of the very powerful things I learnt in a day long session I attended on Veganism by Dr. Nandita Shah recently, was ‘Don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything‘. If you think about it, that is really what it boils down too. It is our biggest obstacle. We do not think we will ever be able to make that one hour in a day so we never get started with exercise.

My spiritual teacher, Nithya Shanti, has taught me many things but one thing which I find extremely relevant to all of us who might be feeing stuck, is the power of 1% improvement. Here is what he says – “If we make 1% positive change everyday for a year, which means 0.01 change compounded 365 times, then in a year, there will be an improvement of 37.78 times of what we had a year earlier. There is power in small wins and slow gains. That is why mastering your habits is more important than achieving a certain outcome’.

So let us go back to our original problem statement – you don’t have time to exercise. Give yourself a 1 minute challenge. I am taking 1 minute because I am sure you cannot say I don’t have 1 minute. If you would like to start with a stretch goal, go ahead, take 5 minutes. Stay with that. Can you commit to doing 1 minute of exercise everyday for 3 weeks? Habit changes need 21 days hence the 3 weeks. Can you? What do you want to do for that 1 minute? Pick anything – spot jogging or breathing exercise or a set of 7 super brain yoga. Can you just do this one thing you pick for just one minute, without fail, everyday for 21 days? If you can, you will be able to then learn, that you can, indeed make time for yourself. You can then challenge yourself to 15 minutes and then to whatever works for you. The key is no exceptions. No matter what happens, no matter where you are, no matter how you are feeling, just stick to that time you have committed to yourself.

So there, that is the 1-minute hack. If it sounds oversimplified, it is because it is 🙂 Who says life is complicated? It isn’t, really. Choose to simplify your goals. Nobody is measuring your improvement or tracking your consistency. Only you are 🙂 Can you do it? Remember – Don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything!

P.S. If you have watched Dangal and would like some inspiration from a celebrity, look up Aamir Khan’s video on YoutTube on how he lost the weight that he had put on. That is his mantra too. Don’t worry about the end goal of inches or kgs or speed. Just be at it, one day at a time.

Hey! How are you?

c2b31202-7694-4fab-8b8a-812cb68b7e85For the longest time, having worked in corporates and subsequently with them in a different capacity, I have wondered about the relevance of this phrase. I have lost count of how many times, how many people ask me this question, more as a means of registering their presence rather than as an intention to really know me. You ever feel that?

I figured there is a simple hack that you can use to tell if the other person really wants to know how you are doing (and there are some really nice, genuine, caring people in my life who I am grateful for). If they pause after asking, look you in the eye and wait for even a couple of seconds, know that they are at least somewhat interested in how you are doing. The sad part is, most times, people ask you how you are doing and then move on hurriedly to do the next thing or say what is on their mind, the reason why they uttered those words from their mouth to begin with.

Unfortunately, many of us experience this at home too. You walk in and your spouse asks ‘How was the day?’ and then turns to his / her phone or the TV. Many of us do this with our kids too, especially after kids return from school. ‘How was school?’ and then somehow, the attention dwindles and the kid can be raving or ranting but we might get disengaged and won’t have a say in the matter.

Let us pause for a minute and think about what this does. What does this do to you when it happens to you? How do you feel? Well, for one, you certainly don’t feel special. If you have had a bad day, you probably feel worse knowing that what you say does not really matter. What happens subsequently, is a sad, slow breakdown of relationships. Why? Because communication is the backbone of any relationship. Asking a question and forgetting about it is not communication. Having an intent to genuinely know how the other person is doing, being curious about it and being open and present to listening is what communication is all about.

All our fancy gadgets do play a major role in taking the attention away from where it belongs. Keep gadgets at bay – off or silent when you meet people, even if it is for a few minutes. The world will not end, I promise 🙂 Some people have event started making gadget free zones at home. Try it!

So the next time you ask someone how they are doing, pause, look them in the eyes, wait for them to share what has really being going on. Who knows what might emerge. Kids learn by role modelling. They won’t have to sit in a training program on communication skills later on in life if they know this simple way of connecting!

So, how are you doing, my dear reader? I do hope you are doing well. Unfortunately, this blog is one sided so unless you leave a comment, I really would not know how you are doing. I would absolutely love to know, so do share 🙂

P.S. I am writing this post after a long break. I have been off writing for a while, thanks to my spiritual pursuits, so thank you for being around and reading it 🙂 Enjoy the present!

 

Circle of Positivity

1I have been doing a lot of reading and research on Happiness of late. Happy people are a resource I always recommend to participants of my workshops,  although it just struck me that not everyone might be purposeful about forming such connects. If you intend to be happy, there is an invaluable resource you must be purposeful about tapping into. It is, what I would refer to as a Circle of Positivity. This circle is really an imaginary circle surrounding you, at all times, acting like a shield when you need protection, like a source of strength when you feel weak and like a sponge when you feel overwhelmed with negative emotions of any kind. It is quite remarkable if we think about it this way but unfortunately, not all of us consider creating or rather, curating one for ourselves.

Many of us would have heard about the vibes we get from people, about auras, about negative and positive people, about energy vampires and various such constructs. Simply put, there are people who raise our energy levels and there are those who tend to deplete them. If we pay close attention, any one interaction is often enough for us to gauge the impact that a person might have on us. However, not many of us are purposeful about making time to spend with those people who enthuse us, energize us and fill us with positivity and hope.

Most times, we flow through the day, moving from one interaction to the next, from one task to the other and from one place that leads us to the next and so on. This is essentially, flowing through the day on a default mode. An alternate would be, a design mode, which is governed by an intention. While we do complete tasks and meet the people necessary for the same, we do ensure that we make time to interact with those to help us dip into the source of energy that, perhaps, all of us draw our energy from. It could be the sun, or the supernatural or anything else you might believe in – but there is, certainly, a source.

Surrounding ourselves with people who exude positivity and those who leave us with a sense of possibility and recharge us, is almost a life skill. If you are familiar with Buddhism you might have heard of the ten angels or you might be familiar with any other such similar concept which basically indicates that in times of distress, there are people around you who are there to pull you out of your situation. If you think about it, you already know who these people are in your life, They could be in your family, your friend circle, or even at work. What if we plan to include them in our lives everyday instead of reaching out to them and hoping they would be there when we are really down and out? Imagine how that might infuse us with positivity each day and might, in turn, enable us to be that source for someone else. I hope not having time is not the excuse you might be planning to cite for not being able to do this 🙂 You do know that not having time is the world’s favorite excuse!

So who forms your circle of positivity?

I have a story to tell..

cvqsvjkuyaaqvahOnce upon a time, there was a little girl. She was good. That one word described her very well. She listened to everyone and she did the right thing, sometimes, even when she did not want to 🙂  She liked that everyone around her was happy and she liked knowing that she was good. As she grew up, she realized that being good was not always the best thing. There were other kinds of people around, those who wanted their work done, no matter what. They did not care much about being good. She was told that getting work done on time was the best way of being good.

She decided it was time to change her view on what being good meant. It was time to grow up. She started getting work done on time and was acknowledged by many people. I am good, she thought. However, she realized that she was not happy. She was puzzled by this as she thought that she was being good and being good is what makes you happy. However, she continued being good, because that is what was important.

One day, she met a happy boy. He was just happy. He was not exactly doing what someone who is good should have been doing. He was not exactly getting work done on time. He was just happy. What fun, she thought! She decided to stop being good for a while. She started doing what she felt like doing and sometimes, her work would not get done on time. She was happy! So this is what it was all about. This is why she had not been happy. She had been doing what others thought she should be doing. Now that she was able to do whatever she pleased, she was free!

She thanked the boy. It was because of him that she realized that she had always been free. She just had to make the right choice.

This story is about courage. It is about how I lacked the courage for many years to admit that I was the only person holding back on my happiness.

This story is about happiness, of course.

This is also my life story. The little girl is me and the boy is my husband. It quite aptly describes how we met and why we got married. I have told many stories about my life to myself and to many people before this moment, but this one perhaps, is the most magical 🙂

We are nothing but the present moment and the stories we tell ourselves. ~ Nithya Shanti

This is my story. What is the story you have been telling yourself? Is it time to change it?

 

Something’s missing..

e78e1a68a7d5d5ec8633e3925f49bd46Ever get that feeling? Technically, you might have everything going for you but do you get this feeling sometimes..can’t say exactly what it is…but something seems missing?

To begin with, know that it is completely normal and there are millions of others across the globe who feel the same way at different points in life.

That being said, then what is it? What is missing? And more importantly, how do you find out what is missing?

Unfortunately, the Math that I studied at school and college did not have a formula to find ‘x’, where ‘x’ is the missing factor to complete happiness. The funny thing is, that many of us start on this quest as if we have morphed into Sherlock Holmes, in search of the missing ‘x’. We do all kinds of things – depending on whether you are a man or a woman reading this – things range from bungee jumping to river rafting to refreshing your wardrobe to coloring your hair and the list goes on and gets crazier, as you know!

And then, what happens? We feel something is changing, yes, we are so close to finding ‘x’ and then we realize that we are back from where we started, with ‘x’ still missing. In fact, by not finding ‘x’, we have further complicated our lives and convinced ourselves that the pursuit of ‘x’ is tougher than we thought and some of us tend to try even crazier things at this point.

And then what happens? It goes on and on and on in a loop..till one day…maybe some day..hopefully some day soon…we realize…either as a Eureka moment or through our reading or our religious pursuits or through some other way..that there is no ‘x’. That in fact, ‘x’ is just like the new Pokemon Go – we create it, we catch it and we think we have caught it but it is not there. It never was. It never will be. It is augmented reality. Augmented by our mind. To make things exciting. To make us believe that there is excitement in life, somewhere, out there.

Ok..so no ‘x’, no Pokemon, no Santa Claus? I know..not fun. However, that still leaves us with ‘What is missing?’. If there is no ‘x’, then what is missing?

So, here is the thing. What is missing is exactly this, it is nothing. We have everything we need. Well, if you are reading this blogpost, then I can safely say that you have everything that you need to live happily on this planet. We just want to believe that we are incomplete. We are perhaps raised to believe that things or people complete us. When I have a…then, I will be happy. When I get a…then, I will be happy. When I…well..keep waiting..the clock is ticking..and ‘x’ is still not be found. It never will be.

So here it is. Nothing is missing from your life. You are complete. Your life is complete. You do not need anything or anyone to be happy. So give up the search for ‘x’. Be one with ‘x’ for it has always been and continues to be within you at all times. Cherish each moment you are alive. Who knows how many you have left?

Stepping into the unknown

6a00e5537b38b688330168e4b366c8970cI love to write! I just want to state it again today because this is a special post..more as a memoir. I am writing this post as I am on my way back from the much talked about Jaipur Literature Festival. The fact that it was one of those events that leave a mark on you forever could either mean I don’t go to enough of these or that I was probably at a stage of my life when I was so ready to receive what the event had to offer.

Having recently published my book, The Possibility of Balance, I was, of course, curious to know what it is like to be amongst authors and publishers. It was unimaginable to think of the names on the books we buy, as real people who are there, somewhere, like you and me. Each of the names have a life, a story, and are accomplished in many things other than what they are known for.

It got me thinking of how we all define a world for ourselves and live in our small bubbles unless another world catches our fancy or we step in it accidentally.

Stepping into an unknown world is somewhat like a trip to Mars I think. The rich getting a glimpse of what life is like for the poor, by staying in villages, or a programmer who has learnt the art of coding an application for the first time or a child stepping into a wonderland like Fun City for the first time – all of these offer the thrill of discovery. So much so, that for a fleeting moment, one might be tempted to shift one’s reality and change one’s world for good.

Some of us have probably experienced a change of worlds in the past, though it might have been with an anchor to get back to where we came from, whenever we want. It is like having a safety net. It is strange how this behavior of ours has deep implications on how we form relationships or meet people.

I am reminded of the beginning of the Bollywood movie Tamaasha, which appealed to me far more than most movies I have ever watched. When we meet someone, we choose to keep one foot in our existing world and only offer half or lesser, to the other person. In the movie, the actor, Ranbir Kapoor challenges this way of being. He states that he has chosen to not follow the norm. In fact, he is totally unaware of the person whom he is meeting, so decides to create a new world altogether. He makes a brilliant point, that, in that moment, he can choose to be anyone he pleases. The fact that he was in a different country and had no anchors holding him back, other than himself, perhaps made it easier for him to make that choice.

Do you remember meeting someone amd being totally fascinated by what they do or who they are? It is, perhaps, a desire you have, to experience their world, to step into it, even if for a moment.

I propose that the more worlds we experience, the wiser we become, the happier we become. This has many implications, depending on how long you choose to dwell in the worlds you step in.

Bored of life? Step into other worlds unknown to you..stay there for a while..or create a new one..wherever you are. What fun it would be!