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!

 

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The wait

FamilyLivingPicture1I met this really old woman the other day at a party. She came by, assisted by a younger woman and sat at our table. She had this permanent, apologetic smile on her face and kept on looking at me and my friend, waiting for us to say something. We did say something polite and she replied – ‘This is old age. I have lost all of my five senses and I am unable to hear you. I am waiting for God to locate my file so he can finally call me to be with him’. I had this strange urge to just walk up and run away or just get up and hug her or just say something to comfort her but I did nothing of the sort. I just kept sitting, looking at her, trying hard to smile, feeling a strange sharp feeling – I don’t know what it was – maybe sorrow or fear or perhaps guilt. It made me think of all the people in my family who were getting old – the pain they were all going through, silently. In that moment, I prayed for all of them and their happiness.

I don’t know what it is about old age – like they say – it is your second childhood. I shudder to think how one must feel as one grows older – living with multiple medical issues which only get worse; getting up every morning, hoping someone might remember to call you or make the time to meet you; thinking every day, what can I do today while I still have some good days left; feeling torn between one’s desires and duties (which are usually born out of selfish expectations from one’s own children); not having anyone ask you for a very long time – ‘what do you want for your birthday’ or ‘what would you like to do today’?

It is like we treat our children sometimes – thinking we know what they want better than they do, when we actually don’t. My heart goes out to all the old people around me and I remember the irritation I used to feel as a teenager when I would find myself standing behind one of them in a queue. Maybe this is what growing up is all about..knowing that you are getting closer to being there yourself. It makes me think – how do I want my old age to be? How do I want people around me, my child to treat me then? What can I do today, to help them prepare for the future and what lies ahead of them? Who knows how long we have?

Wanting to stay young and being with young people is the easier thing to do. Choosing to make a difference to people who are growing old is tougher. Why the wait?

Your turn to live

5bbfef83c149036a5d8c93e60f58874bDo you feel that sometimes, you are stuck with doing some things because there is general agreement that you are good at it? Many times, we do some things so often that we might even not think about the fact that there just might be a possibility that we might not like doing those things anymore or perhaps, we would do well with a break from them once in a while.

There are many such examples which come to mind.  Say, cooking – the clichéd role that most women end up with by default, not always by choice. Of course you would get up early from bed and get home early from wherever you might be and do whatever it takes to fulfill this very essential duty, every day, day after day. It might have crossed your mind a couple of times that it would be great to experience what it might be to not cook one day and then it is possible you might have quickly dismissed the thought as being silly or juvenile.

Childcare, is another of my favorite examples.  Of course you need to be there to take the child out for a movie with his / her friends and of course you need to remember to buy a bigger size of shoes soon and of course you need to think about and plan his / her upcoming birthday and the list is never ending.

And on and on and we go and life passes by, bit by bit, day by day. At some point, though, it might hit us hard – the moments we let go, the choices we make choosing the tasks we believe are non-negotiable and allowing our life and so many of our dreams, pass by.

If you catch yourself thinking ‘how did I ever land up here?’, think back to the choices you made or chose to not make. You chose this path for yourself and the things you do everyday. Unfortunately, some of us believe that we are in a fix and we are somehow caught in a trap that we are unable to get out of.

The good news is, that this is not true and in fact, there is a way out of every situation if you are really committed to finding that way, you can find your happiness and live your life just way you wanted to…well, almost.

All you need to remember is to make time to do the things you have always wanted to do. Choose to live. Live well.

You are The Best!

You-are-the-best-womanThis goes out to all women I know:

to those who are single and drive themselves crazy by working more than so many other people I know; to those who are married and have adopted the lives of their new families and moulded themselves to fit into a completely new set up; to those who are single moms and continue to hold the fort everyday, better than so many others I know; to those who are unable to have children for reasons known only to the universe and deal with the trauma of that everyday; to those who gave up their work to be at home with the ones who needed them; to those who have  given up their comfortable lives for serving the larger cause of the society and to so many other wonderful I know.

There is one thing which all of you should know – you are the best! For being who you are, despite what you have been through, for hanging in there, despite where you would rather be, for being the one to hold fort when so many others around you would have crashed.

You are my hero so I hope you are your hero too. You are the best! Know that you are! 🙂

Wish you all a very Happy International Womens’ Day!

Paint your ‘I want this life’ scene

live-the-life-you-have-imaginedI love the concept of colors, the fact that they enhance the differences – the fact that they make us think about our likes and dislikes, the fact that they draw us towards them and hold a meaning for us which is sometimes not known to us.

As India prepares to celebrate the festival of colors, Holi, tomorrow on 8-March (on the International Women’s Day this time), I think of some of my favorite songs which have always held an attraction for me – ‘Red, red, wine’, ‘Black Velvet’, ‘…..he promised to buy me a pair of blue ribbons (can’t remember the entire song)’, ‘Over the rainbow’ and so many more.

People who know me well know that I am not a big fan of the festival per se, but well, I love the colors, by themselves and what one can do with them.

I think about the post I wrote recently ‘My Life Designer’ and I think about what colors my life would have if it were a painting. Would it be a bold background, with a faint picture which fails to provide clarity to anyone looking at it or would it be a white background with a very clear, bright picture representing a scene from the life I would want to have. Ever thought about it? Painting a scene from the life you want to lead? I did a virtual pin (Pinterest did not exist then) a few years ago – a memory etched in my mind from a beach I visited in Sydney – it is a scene from the life I know I want to have someday. I think about it sometimes and it inspires me to move ahead, even when life seems to stand still.

Choose to paint your ‘I want this life’ scene. Be a source of inspiration to yourself.

To those from India, Happy Holi!

No limit

2249f7c57114c43211487ed477cf5161Through my recent engagements with people outside of the corporate world, I bumped into a person who runs a school on parenting (Parwarish, based in India). He believes in creating no-limit children. What a way to think about people. Studying in the schools we did, working in the places we do, for some reason, we confine ourselves, our thinking, our actions to the limits defined by those institutions. We expect is how they start…and the limits start engulfing us even before we know it. Who expects that I do this or be that? If it is not me, then why should it matter in the first place? The only person who is allowed to set limits for myself, is me. The only person who often is the greatest limitation for me, when I have to think big and take risks, is also me. What would a no limit me be like? What would a no limit you be like? Choose to think no limit.

Choosing by elimination

OptionsThere have been times in my life, and there continue to be, as might be in yours, when I know I need to choose but I just don’t know what is the set of choices I have. What do I choose from? Not knowing your choice set can be most frustrating. I figured a good work around is usually to start with what I don’t want – start by listing things you are sure you do not want in your life anymore and you will be left with a lot less clutter. What emerges usually, is a natural set of choices, which you might need to prioritise, as they might all be things that you do want.

I learnt that I had been applying this process unconsciously while I coaching someone at the other end of the globe, helping her organise her living space. It has been a phenomenal experience and as every coaching experience, one which you end up learning from.

Choose to eliminate what you do not want to get to a choice set of things that you would want.

Happy New Year!