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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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?

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?

When Plan B fails

quotefancy-106928-3840x2160People who know me might smile reading the title of this blogpost. I am known to be a planner and I almost always, have a plan. Sometimes, I also have a plan for when I cannot have a plan. I know it sounds absurd but here I am, like so many of you out there..who had a plan A that did not work. It happened again with me recently. I had a plan B, that did not work. While my unconscious mind kept working on Plan C and Plan D, I had a lot of trouble accepting what made my plans not work. Stephen Covey has talked about it one of my favorite books – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. There are things in our life that are in our control and then, there are things in our life, which are not. The things that are not in our control, should they even be a part of our plans, in the first place? No easy answer, this one, but usually, these are the things that make my plans fail. No matter how much we might be able to anticipate something not working, what we might never be able to fully estimate, is HOW wrong something could go. HOW much delay can something cause? HOW bad can it be? HOW low will this person go? It surprises me HOW so many times, it is that HOW that I am unable to estimate. It might be attributed to my belief that people are in general, smart and out to do the right thing. What happens along the way, is sometimes, best left a mystery. What is important, however, is learning how to cope with these failures. Over the years, I have tried many strategies – from my early years of writing nasty emails to giving people a piece of my mind to talking to other people about how something or someone is so not worth it. However, none of these really have made any difference to my state of mind and in fact, have only added to my frustration levels. The only thing that has worked, each and every time, is to productively redirect my energy into something that is of value. When I was young, I used to sometimes wash utensils in the kitchen when I was very angry. Today, I run down the stairs from my 15th floor apartment and take a long, brisk walk. These are only good to dissipate the negative energies that are brewing inside. What works, finally, to get oneself back to a positive state of mind, is a lot of self talk. In coaching parlance, this is referred to as self-coaching. I often find myself reminding myself of the larger view of life, of how insignificant that one instance or interaction might be and how grateful I am for everything else that is going right. So what works, when all plans fail, is just your intention to make things work. Just keep that and see how things fall into place. They take time, but they make the wait much easier and less stressful. Have you experienced failures of your plans? What have you done in such cases? Share with me, I would love to know! P.S. I have written a blog after ages! I feel as if I had never taken a break. I was working on my book, which is finally done. I hope to write a blog about it soon 🙂

Stop stressing and start adapting

Stress - business person stressed at office. Business woman holdA woman is key to the culture of a house and its level of happiness. Many times, owing to the transitions we women go through, we might feel unsettled but still choose to continue life in a limbo, without making a conscious effort to adapt to the change and reinvent ourselves appropriately.

Let’s say we move to another city. How much time do we spend in consciously planning how to settle in to the culture, how to get to know the life of the locals and most of all, how to really settle in. We tend to believe we are now in a foreign land, complain about how things are different and then expect for a magic fairy (usually the man in our lives) to make us happy in the new land. The same applies to other key transitions; say motherhood. While we do read books on pregnancy and are all geared up to have a baby, how many of us consider getting coached or counselled by maternity coaches or become part of support groups for new mothers? How many of us wallow in self-pity?

The same applies to working women and how we sometimes fail to reinvent ourselves to suit our changed roles as we move up the ladder. How many of us purposefully think about a promotion as an opportunity to rethink the way we dress or how we conduct ourselves? Suddenly, we find ourselves amidst a different audience, are required to manage teams, etc. All this requires is some proactive thinking and planning on our part. While the organisation would send us for training programs, most certainly getting one-on-one guidance by hiring an executive coach would yield far better results.

The point being that one of the things we as women often fail to do is to reach out to others for help. Even if it is garnering sponsorship or mentorship, we wait for someone to assign a person to us. Nothing stops us from identifying a suitable person we feel most comfortable with and requesting them to handhold us through a transition. Sheryl Sandberg, in her book, ‘Lean In’, talks about how women tend to hold themselves back and in the process, give up critical opportunities to their male counterparts. On deeper thinking, we would find that this happens not just at work but in everyday life. All we need to do is acknowledge the upcoming change and seek active support to cope with it. Smart women do!

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

Refuse to accept

whatever-course-you-decide-upon-there-is-always-someone-to-tell-you-that-you-are-wrong-ralph-waldo-emersonOver the last decade, I have had an opportunity to closely observe many family customs, rituals and practices. I feel blessed having been raised in a family that had a democratic set up. There are certain practices that my parents followed and while we were always encouraged to participate and contribute in whatever way I could, there was really no compulsion to do anything especially if it did not resonate with us.

Over time, this practice has become so deeply ingrained in me that I find it to be an extremely empowering way of dealing with situations in which people around me ‘expect’ me to do some things. Of course some people frown when I question them with the intent of helping them break free from age-old customs that they resentfully follow without questioning their rationale.

Your child turned one? Great! What would happen if you don’t splurge the money on inviting people who really have no reason to feel thrilled and instead, open a bank account for securing your child’s future? A baby boy was born in your family (very Indian :)) ? Congratulations! How would buying clothes and jewellery for relatives help you or the baby boy? What else could you do with that money? You just bought a new house? Yeeaah! It is time for celebration! You would need more money to settle in so why not celebrate modestly. Sure everyone likes to share happiness but it is important to remember the point. Share happiness. Why does money have to play a critical role in that?

Most times we tend to fall into this trap of ‘people will expect’ or ‘people will think’..when what we forget is..we are those people too! By doing exactly what has been done and what
other people expect, you are saying ‘Yes, I agree. That’s the right thing to do’. If you genuinely believe that, go right ahead. But, if even for a moment, you find your energy draining at the thought of doing that task, know that it is a signal your body is giving you to rethink your actions.

Refuse to accept things as they are. Make your own decisions about what works for you. You can do whatever you want to. The only person who stops you from doing that, is mostly, you.

The Bridge

T-C-header-cleanerRemember those times when someone who you thought you knew really well, did something or said something which stumped you and you thought ‘And I thought I knew this person all this while..’? I have a theory on why we end up in situations where we end up disappointed and would love to hear from you what you think about this.

This is not the Charles’ Darwin theory of evolution…but well, on similar lines, the theory of evolution of the psychology of people. Human beings, we all know, have evolved and we continue to evolve biologically. We do know that over time, our brain and our capabilities have evolved too. We are witnessing some of the youngest minds prove themselves better than some of the older, experienced ones and certainly, evolution is apparent. The thing to think about, and honestly, I found this thought a bit spooky, is that everyone around us, is evolving, constantly and well, so are we.

So? The thing is, that if we know that everyone around us is evolving, then, are we evolving at the same pace? The answer in many cases might be – not always. We all know of relationships that sour over time or just lose that spark or children who find they can no longer connect with their parents or vice versa. What happens? Well..everyday, each of us, go through a whole bunch of thoughts, feelings and emotions. We might think something, feel something and end our day with some thoughts. Every day, we evolve. We don’t know into what and we don’t know by how much and most people around us don’t know that too because they are busy evolving too!

If we did consciously acknowledge this constant evolution, then, perhaps we would get up in the morning and think..ok…now, let me think about how my spouse might have evolved post this travel and what I need to do to get up to speed so I can evolve a bit in that direction…or we might sit down with our friend and recount the many experiences and feelings and emotions they have been through to gather the extent and the direction of their evolution?

The less we do pay attention to this, the more surprised we are, at some point in time. We just wake up one day and say..I have no idea who this person is! Of course we have no idea! How would we, when we have not kept up with their evolution or shared about ours?

Relationships, by that construct, would be these continually broken down, vanishing and rebuilt bridges, connecting two people, who are moving from one stage of evolution to the next. The more disconnected we keep ourselves from the evolution of people around us, the wider and weaker our bridges might become.

So..did you rebuild your bridge today?