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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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!

 

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?

 

The Match

maxresdefaultBefore you read ahead, let me clarify, this is not a blog about sports  🙂

I was reflecting today on what makes people differ in opinion, in values, in ways that leads them to disagreements and almost pulls them apart. It all really boils down to different people operating in different planes.

Let us say, one person wants to go right, the other wants to go left. They meet and they start walking. Oh..but..I thought..no..actually..well..awkwardness! What just happened? It was all going well until, they started walking. That was the beginning of awkwardness.

What really happened was that two people, wanting two different things, never really discussed what they wanted. Leave alone discuss, never thought it important to articulate it, to state what they wanted.

The result – a mismatch. The root cause of a mismatch is not stating what is on your mind. Multiplied by many instances, it leads to broken relationships and irreparable damages which take eons to reverse, if they ever do.

How does one avoid it? The thing is we do not live in a homogeneous world. We will always have mismatches everywhere, with everyone we meet about something or the other.

If we could only find a way of sharing what is on our minds. Talk more. Really talk…connect…despite the distractions of the environment around us. Share with people what you want often…what makes you happy…what you are looking for…what you are not ok with..it helps minimize mismatches..helps reduce stress and heartburn…and eventually…makes for a happier life.

So, what DO you want? WHO should you be sharing that with? WHO else needs to know that?

Go on..get started…the list of MATCHES that results keeps growing..and you will see, so does your happiness 🙂

 

Being single in a relationship

Couple crisisSome of us who are in a relationship, either live-in or engaged or married know what it is like to be in a relationship. Others still feel as though they are single. Singlehood is often a state of the mind and not necessarily a social status.

Many-a-times, being in a relationship is about sharing responsibilities but more importantly, it is about sharing experiences. Not being able to share experiences day after day, simply because there is a lack of opportunity for conversation can be detrimental to a relationship. This could be on account of many reasons, maybe one partner travels extensively or keeps long hours at work or has a widespread social circle, so much so that your relationship takes a backseat and feelings of confusion and doubt creep in, often leading to disillusionment and heartbreak.

The good news is, there is a work around. Women who find themselves ‘stuck’ with partners who seem to be occupied with a zillion other things and are unable to be there when it matters and when it is required can find ways of getting through such times. All this needs is an acknowledgement of the situation, prior planning and the desire to have some fun. Acknowledgement is usually the toughest part as it means waking up from our dream of ‘one fine day…’ and starting to live our life, despite everything. As a starting point, consider falling back into your social circles. Look up friends from school and college and find opportunities to get out and spend time with like-minded people.

Consider planning your week ahead of time. Being able to look forward to the weekend to catch up with friends or family over meals or a movie can boost your spirits a great deal.

Self-care and spending time with oneself are as much or more important. A wonderful way to get back in touch with yourself is to revive your long lost passions – refresh your music collection, join a dance or fitness class or just take up a new hobby – learn gardening, baking, music or meditation or better still, consider adopting a pet.

Another interesting way to spend time reflecting on your day and to engage in self-talk is to write a journal or a blog. Focus less on facts and more on feelings as writing is therapeutic and often recommended for people dealing with a lack of clarity about a situation at hand. To be happy in a relationship, it is important for you to be happy first. If what we have does not work, change it.

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

Honey, the stork is here!

getty_rf_photo_of_parents_kissing_infantIt is one thing for a husband and a wife to say that they are ready to have a child and it is completely another to make adjustments on a daily basis so as to preserve the marriage, even if it is at a steady state.

If one were to plot the graph of the relationship between the husband and the wife before and after a child, it would obviously vary drastically from couple to couple but I suspect what might be common would be an inflection point which marks the birth of a child.

So what happens to a marriage after a child is born? I am sure each of us have very different experiences, though by and large, I would contend that most mothers tend to get impacted at multiple levels: physically, mentally and emotionally. It is tough to not be able to get a full night’s rest night after night after night; to keep track of the household chores; to prepare for the socialization that follows and of course, to have to deal with a new addition to the family who now needs your love and time, more than you sometimes believe you might be capable of giving. Added to that, dealing with the weight gain and the resultant self esteem issues coupled with the sometimes drastic decisions related to one’s career, do make for a phenomenal degree of change.

While the mother grappling with these changes, the father is perhaps battling with emotions of neglect and is still getting used to being second on the priority list. It is tough for the man, to suddenly realize that not being responsible is no longer a choice and that a lot more is now expected, of him, apart from also having to deal with the mood swings of the wife. Financial pressures could set in or perhaps just the thought might be disturbing enough. Additional people staying in the house might add to the chaos and the amount of change in everyone’s routine and expected set of tasks is quite the recipe for flaring tempers.

What does this do to a marriage? The entry of a child in a marriage puts the marriage through a very stringent test. It is important to acknowledge that the birth of a child is just the beginning of a permanent and big change and that any change requires people affected but it, to adapt. The time that the husband and wife could earlier take for granted now needs to be planned for, rationalized and sometimes, skipped. Being able to plan for alone time to spend as a couple and discovering new ways of having fun as a family are early signs of adapting to the change. Change is tough but brings with it new opportunities.

A child is born. A change has happened. The point is, are you up for dealing with it? The answer to this question can have a lasting impact on your happiness and that of those around you.

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column on Relationships written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

Shape up

keep-calm-and-prepare-yourself-1Imagine that every relationship you are in, presents itself in a 3-D shape. Choose your favorite shape – a sphere or a cuboid or whatever.  Imagine you are in it, with the person with whom you share this relationship. And this could be any relationship – of any kind. Could be with someone from the family or a friend or an employer perhaps. The point being, that when we are in a relationship, we try and sustain the shape we are in. We try our best to let the cuboid remain a cuboid and not transform itself into a sphere lest it create discomfort for us. We hence, also try and play it safe with our relationships and fear experimentation.

As and when we find the nature of our relationships (viz.  the shape we are in), changing, from what we originally thought it might be, we start feeling uncomfortable and do take a while to get accustomed to the ‘newness’ it presents to us. No wonder then, we take time to ‘settle’ into a new relationship..are unsure..need time..and all of that. We are really trying to figure out what shape we are in and how to keep it from distorting.

The birth of a child does, in most cases I know of, unsettle relationships. Could it be because we forget that with the addition of one more person, it is time for a new shape and we perhaps are still trying to force fit ourselves and everyone else into the old one? A parent moving in with his / her children or a child moving out once he / she grows up; a spouse who has started to work or another who has given it up – all present us with an opportunity to recreate the shape of the space we are in so that it becomes a comfortable setting for all.

So, why would we, then, want to be fixated with something that is old and want to retain it, knowing that it has the potential to make everyone uncomfortable?

Welcome change. It is an opportunity to create life all over again.

So, what shape are you in?