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.

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The journey

2Often times we find ourselves thinking of the past and wondering what prompted us to do what we did or what could possibly justify our actions in the past.

Every time I have caught myself thinking that, I try and steer my thoughts towards what I might have missed out on had I made a different choice. What if..this…or what if…that..?

We can continue to dwell in a world of what ifs or we can instead, move into a realm of acceptance. We can choose to accept the fact that like most people, we are, most of the times, thinking, rational beings. The choices we made in the past, were, hence, a result of the thoughts that transpired at that time. This does, however, pose a danger, in the sense, we can then use this to justify any ‘wrong’ that we might believe we have done. It is, hence, important to also trace back to the thoughts that led us to make those choices. If this is what I thought and that is the choice I made, I was left feeling so and so about it.

What happened was important, as without that, we would never know how we would feel. If we do intend to not feel that again or if we wish to change the outcome, we need to replace our thoughts with other thoughts and see how the related outcome changes.

In essence, nothing that happened in the past was not intended to happen. Can you accept that? Nothing in life is a coincidence nor does anything happen by chance. We are where we are, thinking what we are thinking, doing what we are doing, because that moment is meant to teach us something. Once we have learned what we were meant to learn, we move on to the next moment and create a different outcome.

Many religions and philosophies, including Buddhism talk about infinite possibilities in every single moment of time. If we think about the number of choices we have every single minute, we might feel overwhelmed. Hence, the way things unfold, it seems someone is making that choice for us. It is, in fact, we, ourselves, who make that choice. We make that choice by default by not acknowledging that other possibilities exist.

When you say hello, there are so many possibilities of how you say it. How loud, how soft, how energetic, how engaging, how detached, think about it. Even that one word has an impact on the resulting possibilities that get created in the environment around us.

It is convenient to not think about these as this means more work 🙂 The point is, we are all living our lives for a purpose..if some of us haven’t found it yet, we are unlikely to find it unless we recognize the choices we have every moment.

So how do you want the rest of your journey to be? Would you like to continue in the greys, blissfully ignoring the possibility of colors around you or would you like to paint each moment with a color of your choice?

HELP

Be_StrongHELP – a four letter word, one that I have known so many to shy away from.

For some of us, asking for help is admitting our weakness or inability to solve our own problems. Our ego gets in the way and we want to believe that we are perfectly capable of solving our own problems. The good news is that it is true. Each of us is in fact, very capable of solving our problems. The bad news is, not many of us are able to do so, alone. Asking for help is really, the best thing we can do to move towards solving our problem.

What kind of help are we talking about? All kinds, really. A mother asking her child to help her in keeping the child’s room organized is a good example of asking for help. It engages the child and inculcates a sense of responsibility and pride in the child. The mother might feel lesser of a victim and less burdened with household chores.

A person asking his / her significant other for an opinion about a work situation is asking for help. Getting a different perspective can only help in finding a solution.

A professional or an entrepreneur asking a colleague to share how he / she would have dealt with a seemingly complex business decision is really asking for help.

These might seem very simplistic examples but the interesting thing is, many of us, choose to take our problems and worries to bed with us and shy away from asking for help.

Most times, we don’t really think that people around us might understand our situation or be willing to offer their thoughts. The fact is, we have already made up our minds that our situation is helpless and we are quick to give up.

Agreed that not everyone is equipped to solve our problems though there are many people we know, whom we have just not considered reaching out to. Think about that one relative who has always made sense to you or been your role model. Think about that long lost friend who you know has always been willing to help. Think about your colleagues at work, the ones you look up to. What stops you from asking for help? What is the worst that could happen? Would it be worse than not being able to solve it?

Choose to ask for help. Sharing is a great stress-buster. Believe that someone in the universe around you, has an answer to your problem and is waiting for you to reach out.

Not sure whom to approach? Try coaching. You might not get the solution to your problem but you would certainly be able to find the path ahead. To book a trial session, email me at namrata.arora@growth-cube.com.

Survival by Denial

denial1Living with the acceptance of everything that is going on around us can be a very painful thought for some of us. I was reflecting on a book I was reading recently and then on a recent clipping in the newspaper about how a mother chose to not acknowledge what was going on in her daughter’s life  and chose to live in denial.

Looking back in my past, thinking about the lives of people I know, I realized that so many of us have spent so many years living in denial. I know of women who have known their husbands are having an affair and chose to deny that as they just did not have the courage to deal with what might surface. I know of mothers who know their children are suffering from ADHD but choose to deny it because it really does take courage to be able to accept what might follow. I know of people who are growing old and refusing to accept that aging has set in. They find it unbelievable that their bodies are no longer supporting their desired schedules and they have a very hard time dealing with things. I know of friends and relatives who continue to follow very hectic schedules to sustain their careers when they know that from a health standpoint, they have become ‘ticking time bombs’ which could explode at any time. They choose to deny the fact that they their overall energy levels have reduced and that their bodies now need a different type and degree of nutrition.

This is not to say that those of us who have lived in denial or continue to live in denial are wrong. As I had shared in one of my earlier blogposts, I don’t judge people. Why would I, when I have been in denial so many times myself..The point is, some of us do not acknowledge the fact that we are in denial till we reach a point when it is very late anyways. You deny the fact that you are putting on weight by not doing anything about it. You deny the fact that your child might be suffering or getting bullied at school by choosing to not talk about it. Denying what is going on around you, usually does not help in solving problems. What helps is acknowledging that there is a problem and starting to think of ways in which you could resolve them.

Accepting things can sometimes be very tough. It is important to have someone around to help you look at things in an objective manner and not get caught in the emotions of what you might uncover.

Hiring a coach can help you come to terms with situations you might have been denying. There are many coaches available today. Look for someone you think might be able to help you and give it a shot.

Deny denial the right to take over your life. It can help you survive but will not help you live happily.

About Wants

thinking-girlWhen I was a child, I wanted to grow up. When I went to school, I wanted to get to college. When I got through college, I wanted to go to another city. When I went to college in another city, I could not wait to get back home.

When I finished college, I wanted a job. When I got a job, I wanted to earn more. When I wanted to buy a really great music system to listen to music, I could not afford one. When I could afford it, I no longer had time to listen to it. When I wanted to travel to all countries, I did not have the right company to travel with. When I found good company, the only travel that was possible was for business and was alone.

When I wanted a car, I could not buy one. When I finally bought one, I did not really need it. When I wanted to lose weight to look gorgeous in expensive designer clothes, nothing worked. When I lost weight, I wanted to buy a bicycle and not designer clothes.

When I wanted to quit my job, I could not afford to. Do you notice a pattern here? I did..just then…after all these years…of wanting and waiting and wanting and waiting. I realized that I was stuck in this never ending cycle and I just had to break it. I did. I decided to break free. I decided to just do what I wanted and when I wanted it and not wait for a moment to present itself to me in the future, when, who knows, I might no longer be able to appreciate what I wanted in the first place!

I am no longer governed by what I want and cannot have. I look at what I have and what I can do with it.

A completely different perspective…very liberating. Try it…only you can break the cycle..choose to be happy with what you have, now..wants never end..

The Guilt Tax

thought2This is a touchy subject so let me start with a disclaimer that I really don’t intend to judge anyone for their actions – never have, never will. After all, we are the best judge of ourselves and the actions we take.

There are so many instances I could recall in general from my life and the lives of those around me, when I sensed someone feeling guilty or felt guilty myself. You might be able to relate to some of them too I guess.

The time when you perhaps forgot a dear one’s birthday or a special occasion and tried hard to make up for it by splurging and going overboard with your gift spend..? Or the time when you had a bad fight and realized later it was completely uncalled for..and tried all kinds of things to somehow wipe off the event..? Or the time when you found yourself slipping away with your emotions, bordering or even crossing the line with legitimate relationships and then being extra nice at home, sending lovey-dovey messages..or flowers? Or how about you really wanted to spend that time with your kid and just could not manage it and somehow thought some treats (mostly unhealthy) might make up for it?

There are many more…maybe some we witness every few days. The interesting thing is, that most times, our guilt tax ends up being something material. Guilt is monetized. The guiltier we feel, the more we might end up paying as tax.

The funny thing is..nobody I know is into the guilt tax collection business. People are in relationships and there is love (of varying kinds) in relationships. You give love, you get love. That’s really how relationships work. Love is given by spending time with people who mean something to us, doing the things they love to do…listening to them…making their unexpressed wishes come true.

In fact, I would tend to think that every time we pay a monetized guilt tax, we might run the risk of demeaning a relationship. A chocolate? Is that really what someone’s happiness is worth? Or flowers? Or an expensive watch? Is that really what you believe might give your loved one the happiness they deserve?

How about giving some thought as a tax? Think about what might be valuable to them? What might be something that would truly delight them and make them forget about what you did not do? I have tried it a couple of times myself and it does give me a great feeling at the end of it.

So here is what I propose – don’t monetize your guilt. Choose to pay ‘thought’ tax. Try it the next time you feel guilty – hopefully over time, you won’t have many more such reasons to be guilty :).

Think. Eat. Think.

Healthy-Diet-Plan-Tips-For-Women-How-to-Make-a-Healthy-Diet-PlanA Nutritionist? Really?! Well…you choose. Who would it be for you? A dietician or perhaps a Health and Wellness Coach? You might choose any one of these but in case you are seeking ‘qualified’ experts to guide you on how to lose weight or to get back your energy which seems to be fading away by the day, guess what – maybe you need to think again, as the answers, lie within us.

To be precise, the answers lie in the eating choices we make everyday, every time we eat…or shall we say, the choices we don’t make every time we eat.

Here is how it goes usually – step into the kitchen, open the fridge, open the racks, see what I find, imagine its taste and just dash for it – there it goes into my mouth even before I have given my mind a chance to think about it.

‘Think” – the one magic word, which can make a world of change to our general sense of well being.

So let’s see – what does one think?

Think Why

When you get up in the morning, do you think about what you should be eating that could perhaps give you lots of energy for the day but not wear you down with its heaviness. What if you started to think about what to eat and why? Fruits? Milk (unless you are vegan, in which case Soya milk or Almond milk)? It is important for you to know why you would eat something (a better reason than because I always do or because I like it!). Every time you eat, think about why you are choosing to eat what you are eating and how you will benefit from it. If you have some time, look up what it offers your body on google (prior to your meal, preferably). It is fun sharing what you learn with your friends and family and a great way of educating others too!

Think Where and When

Make a list of things you have not been considering at all in your meals and be purposeful about making them available to you. Buy things you think you should be eating and make them most accessible to yourself in the kitchen. Also, remember to find the things you know are not good for you and stack them away (everyone is allowed a little indulgence every now and then and how stringent you would like to be with yourself is really up to you). What is important is that you make the healthier food more accessible. Think about where you are likely to look for food and snacks and choose those places as the spots for placing healthy food.

Think Who

I read somewhere that family and friends contribute to a lot of junk eating habits. Take the kids to a healthier place – why junk food? Say no to your friends when they insist on those oily snacks or calorie rich drinks and rejoice in the feeling of being in control. Let nobody influence you on what you eat and when you eat. Plan for the in between meal snacks. Carry salads or fruits or nuts. Plan healthy options for your family and friends – healthy food is good for you and for everybody!

It will take some discipline and a lot of effort to begin with but you will see the results and you will love yourself for this newly formed habit.  Think about it. It will make all the difference.

(This blog post is a reproduction of my write up for The Goan – check under The Great Goan Weekend (under the Edition drop down) on the link http://epaper.thegoan.net.