Stop Lying Yourself

Lying to others is wrong, but lying to yourself is an absolute tragedy. The worst lies are the ones we subconsciously tell ourselves. They’ve been ingrained in our minds by bad external influences and negative thinking. Next time you decide to unclutter your life and clean up your space, start with your intellectual space by clearing out the old lies and negative self-talk you often recite to yourself.

Some of these lies which you should immediately stop telling yourself are :

I don’t have enough yet to be happy. In every mistake and struggle there is a message. Some people miss the message because they’re too busy berating themselves for the mistake, or fretting over the problem. To be upset about what you don’t have is always a waste of what you do have.  The happiest of people aren’t the luckiest, and they usually don’t have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes their way. The reason so many people give up is because they tend to look at what’s missing, and how far they still have to go, instead of what’s present, and how far they have come.

My dreams are impossible. Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of going after yours. The best thing you can do in life is follow your heart. Take risks. Don’t just make the safe and easy choices because you’re afraid of what might happen. If you do, nothing will ever happen. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Let your dreams be bigger than your fears and your actions speak louder than your words. Do something every day that your future self will thank you for.

I am stuck with people who hurt me. Life is too short. Look out for yourself. If someone continuously mistreats you, have enough respect for yourself to leave them. It may hurt for a while, but it’ll be OK. You’ll be OK. Oftentimes, walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth, but because we finally realize our own worth.

My failed relationships were a waste of time. There are certain people who aren’t meant to fit into your life. But no relationship is ever a waste of time. If it doesn’t bring you what you want, it teaches you what you don’t want. We rarely lose ‘friends’, we just gradually figure out who our real ones are.  Never force someone to make a space in their life for you, because if they know your worth, they will surely create one for you. And remember, when you’re up, your ‘friends’ know who you are, when you’re down, you know who your ‘real friends’ are. It just takes a little time to figure it all out.

Things will never get better. There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. That’s not how we’re made. In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s part of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become. When you find yourself cocooned in isolation and cannot find your way out of the darkness, remember that this is similar to the place where caterpillars go to grow their wings. Just because today is a terrible day doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t be the best day of your life. You just got to get there.

Failure is bad. Sometimes you have to fail a thousand times to succeed. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.  Don’t get so hung up on one failed attempt that you miss the opening for many more. All of your ideas that don’t work are simply stepping stones on your way to the one idea that does. And remember, failure is not falling down; failure is staying down when you have the choice to get back up. Always get back up! Oftentimes, good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

Great things will come to me effortlessly. We are who we choose to be. Nobody’s going to come and save you; you’ve got to save yourself. Nobody’s going to give you anything, you’ve got to go out and earn it. Nobody knows what you want except for you. And nobody will be as sorry as you if you don’t achieve it. Never leave your key to happiness in someone else’s pocket, and don’t wait on someone else to build your dream life for you. Be the architect and keeper of your own happiness.  The more you take responsibility for your past and present, the more you are able to create the future you seek.

My past is solely indicative of my future. At some point, we’ve all made mistakes, been walked on, used and forgotten. We’ve let people take advantage of us, and we’ve accepted way less than we deserve.  But we shouldn’t regret one moment of it, because in those moments we’ve learned a lot from our bad choices. We’ve learned who we can trust and who we can’t. We’ve learned the meaning of friendship. We’ve learned how to tell when people are lying and when they’re sincere. We’ve learned how to be ourselves, and appreciate the truly great people and things in our lives as they arrive. And, even though there are some things we can never recover and people who will never be sorry, we now know better for next time.

I never need to meet anyone new. It sounds harsh, but you cannot keep every friend you’ve ever made. People and priorities change. As some relationships fade others will grow. Appreciate the possibility of new relationships as you naturally let go of old ones that no longer work. Trust your judgment. Embrace new relationships, knowing that you are entering into unfamiliar territory. Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to meet someone that might just change your life forever.

I can’t live without those who are gone. If someone comes into your life and has a positive impact on you, but for some reason they can’t stay, don’t mourn for too long. Be thankful that your paths crossed and that they somehow made you happy, even if it was just for a short while. Life is change.  People really do come and go. Some come back, some don’t, and that’s okay. And just because one person leaves, doesn’t mean you should forget about everyone else who’s still standing by your side.  Continue to appreciate what you have, and smile about the memories.

I’m not ready because I’m not good enough yet. Nobody ever feels always ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. Stop berating yourself for being a work in progress. Start embracing it! Because being a work in progress doesn’t mean you’re not good enough today; it means you want a better tomorrow, and you wish to love yourself completely, so you can live your life fully. It means you’re determined to heal your heart, expand your mind and cultivate the gifts you know you’re meant to share. You are ready. You just need to start.

I have way too much to lose. In the end you will not regret the things you have done nearly as much as the things you have left undone. Trust me, you’d rather look back at your life and say, “I can’t believe I did that ” instead of, “I wish I would have…”  It’s better to think “Oh well,” than “what if.”

It’s better to have a lifetime full of mistakes that you learned from, rather than a heart full of regrets and empty dreams.

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Protagoras’ Paradox and the Great Corona

The Sophists in ancient Greece were a class of teachers who, for a fairly high fee, would instruct the affluent youth in politics, history, science, law, mathematics and rhetoric as well as the finer points of grammar and history. The man named as the first Sophist, and certainly the most famous, was Protagoras of Abdera (c.485-415 BCE) best known for his claim that “Man is the Measure of All things” and that the gods’ existence could neither be proven nor disproven. While Protagoras, like those who followed him, charged exorbitant fees for his services, a story is told of how the great Sophist was once outsmarted by one of his pupils and this tale came to be known as Protagoras’ Paradox.

Protagoras agreed to instruct a poor young man, Euthalos, in law and rhetoric free of charge on the condition that he would pay the Sophist’s fee in full if, and only if, he won his first court case. Once Euthalos had completed his course of study with Protagoras he assiduously avoided taking any cases at all. Protagoras, finally out of patience with the young man, took him to court for payment and argued, “If I win this case, Euthalos will have to pay me what he owes me. If I do not win this case then Euthalos will still have to pay me because, under our agreement, he will then have won his first court case. Therefore, no matter what the outcome, Euthalos will have to pay me.” Euthalos, however, contested this claim, stating, “If I win this case, I will not have to pay Protagoras, as the court has declared his case invalid. If I do not win this case I still do not have to pay as I will then have not won my first court case. Therefore, no matter what, I do not have to pay.” This is known as Protagoras’ Paradox, which ever way you look, both have equally convincing arguments, one can go either way in supporting the teacher or the student and would not be wrong. This argument (for which no solution was ever offered in antiquity) came to be known as the Paradox of The Court and a resolution to the question is still debated today in law schools as a logic problem.

We, in the present day situation have an uncanny similarity to this paradox. The Protagoras’ Paradox succinctly captures the paradox of our times when the coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 212 countries and territories around the world . Health and economic issues aside, the virus is playing havoc on our social fabric. Projected figures of the death toll due to the coronavirus, from Harvard to Imperial college, are based on complex calculations beyond the comprehension of most of us. Equally baffling is the downward or upward revisions by the same institutions. It is truly an infodemic within a pandemic. While the value of a human life can never be compared or quantified with economic cost, there is enough evidence to suggest a direct qualitative and quantitative relationship of economic wellbeing with life.

Those in the medical practice often come across such situations, either in making diagnostic or therapeutic decisions. One physician recommends a course of treatment based on scientific evidence and another recommends a diametrically opposite course, again, based on medical evidence. Right or wrong, but some merit would exist on both sides. Often the physicians are having an internal struggle to make a decision about the most appropriate course of action, Protagoras and Euthalos are arguing in their minds and the horns of dilemma are tearing them apart.

This essay was prompted by someone’s tweet , ‘hope the cure is not worse than the disease’. I hate to say, but I find some merit in this tweet. In our global attempt to flatten the COVID curve, one must hope not to flatten the global economy curve. The question is what’s the best way forward. Do we continue lockdown for a very long time and wipe out our economies or let a few 100 million die and keep the economies going ? One group recommends ‘total lockdown’ to break the transmission chain, based on the evidence from China (they managed to control the spread of the virus by ruthless lockdown and 3 months later they are telling the world that the disease has been controlled in Wuhan). On the other hand, the other school of thought is divided on graded isolation and protection of elderly and the very young and those with co-morbidities. They believe in letting it spread amongst the young and healthy, hoping that the disease will ultimately be controlled when we achieve ‘herd immunity’. The medical community is divided in these two groups. To enforce complete lockdown or graded isolation?

To complicate the issue, the epidemiologists have joined the bandwagon with their own interpretation of statistical analysis saying that if we don’t opt for a complete lockdown then a million people will die in 1 year. No, say some more, like 90 million will die in 1 year. Whose data analysis is correct ?  Some suggest do nothing, nature will take over in a few months and all will be well, they quote historical data to justify their recommendations. On whose inputs should we base our disaster management strategy.

Then come the economists with their doomsday predictions. If this continues after May, our medical resources will be overwhelmed, agriculture will suffer, food shortages will occur and all production will come to a standstill. There will be an economic crisis of the proportions that world has not seen ever. So, break this lockdown nonsense and let’s get back to work as usual.

What will our political masters do? My guess is they will listen to medical experts, epidemiologists and economists and then decide what course of action will ensure their survival. What will get them people’s votes and they will run with that. At present, ‘lockdown’ finds favour with them. UK had to abandon the recommendations of the medical community about graded response because of the people’s perception that the government is not doing enough to protect the citizens. So, screw it, lets go with total lockdown if that’s what the people want. Gradually people will get tired of lockdown and demand to let the life go on. Then, with equally convincing arguments the governments will say the time has now come to lift the blockade, we have controlled the contagion, we have won. Unfortunately, the costs in either case will be huge in terms of both, lives and money.

Who are we going to blame for this pandemic? Pandemics come out of nowhere and go the way they came. When all this ends- and fervently hopes sooner than later– proponents and opponents of every action will undoubtedly claim to be vindicated and pat their own back even as distinction between experts and astrologers will increasingly get blurred. Didn’t Malthus predict that when population would overshoot the earth’s sustainable capacity, natural calamities and disease would restore the balance? It is really a perplexing situation and no one seems to be correct or in the winning mode. The Protagoras’ Paradox is as true today as it was then.

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Rewire your Brain with Happy Thoughts

Have you felt like insults stick more than compliments? The answer is that it is just how our brains work. Nastiness makes a bigger impact on our brains than happy thoughts. It is due to our brains ‘negativity bias’, a phenomenon by which we have a greater sensitivity to unpleasant news and bad experiences. When we experience negative stimuli, there is a greater surge in electrical activity in our brain. In turn, our attitudes are more heavily influenced by negative news than good news.

The good news is that you can still stand up to your negative thoughts and learn the habit of happy life thinking. Using the following techniques, you can rewire your brain to think more happy thoughts.

Teach your brain to see the positive. Remembering the bad things will make you miserable. But if you will teach your brain to see the positive in every situation, it will make life easier for you. Showing gratitude for the good things is perhaps the most powerful happiness boosting activity. Not only will it make you happier, but it can also make your life better and for everyone around you.

Do what you are good at. The secret why starving artists are happier is because they use their ‘signature strengths’. These are the things you are uniquely good at painting, playing instruments, and the like. Using your signature strengths often increases happy thoughts. So, think about what you are good at and do it often. It is the secret to experiencing more ‘flow’ at work and in life.

Spend time with people you like. Happiness is more contagious than unhappiness. If you spend time with the people you love – family and friends, it will bring about happy thoughts. The happiest people are those who have strong relationships. So, make the most out of your life and spend it with them. Not spending more time with people, we love is something most people regret the most.

Give a lot. Have you noticed that when you give, it makes you feel good? It is because giving makes us happier than receiving. You don’t have to give money; it can be anything. You can give time, effort, doing nice things; it can create a feedback loop of happiness in your life.

Get busy. Sometimes, you don’t usually do what you love. We just do what is convenient and easy for us, for example, sitting on the couch watching TV does not really make us happy. When you get to work and do what you love, you are happier. It’s because when your mind and hands are busy, you are focused. A wandering mind is not a happy mind because it can lead to negative thoughts. Thinking and working can beat sad feelings.

Now, these were some of the techniques using which you can train your brain to think happy thoughts. Again, here are a few ‘happy thoughts’ which can help you get out of a negative thinking slump.

The difficulties are not permanent. By thinking that “this too shall pass and life will go on,” you are redirecting your focus away from the negativity of the situation. This is an excellent thought to entertain to counter all the other thoughts that are arising.

Good things will happen. Life is not all negativity. When bad things happen, it is certain that good things will come soon. You may think you are battered with trials and tribulations, but the rain will stop soon. Remind yourself that there will be better days. Doing so will help you to keep going and to keep searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. By entertaining happy, positive thoughts during these black days, you are rising above the negativity.

I am loved. When you are down and feeling lonely, remember that there is/are someone(s) in this world who love you. There are a lot of people who think about you, care about you, and want the best for you. They are your friends and families. Allow yourself to savor how powerful and breathtaking that is. Let the feeling of being loved give you a sense of warmth, peace, and happiness.

I am intelligent and capable. All of us are born unique. No one can be you except you. You were born with the ability to think, to problem-solve, to create, to analyze, to achieve, and to survive. Do not listen to the lie that you are worthless. You have plenty of natural and learned talents and skills. So rather than focus on what you cannot do, focus on what you can do to be successful.

Everything happens for a reason; everything leads to something better. If you are a person who believes that your life is predetermined, then good for you. However, this thought has nothing to do with destiny. Instead, it is a brilliantly encouraging thought that will bring happiness. It will help you accept the bad things that happened and look forward to the lessons it brings. It will also open yourself up to start searching for meaning in the difficulties you faced as well as being optimistic about what will happen in the future. When faced with a bad experience, it is easy to blame ourselves. But if we entertain this happy thought, it encourages us to shed off our role as a helpless victim. Once this process has kicked in, our mindset will go from victim to victor.

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. You’re always best when things are the worst. We must remember that setbacks and difficulties cannot be avoided. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, we must use these experiences as opportunities to grow and become a better version of ourselves. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So, whatever happens to us will ultimately help us become a stronger and wiser person. There are a lot of people who have started shining in the brightest light during times of great despair. In fact, without the challenging hardship, they wouldn’t be the person they are today. They’ve come out with great characters and unshakeable willpower.

When one door closes another door opens. Sometimes, life closes a door and we can never open it again. We experience “bad season” – our business fails, we get fired from our jobs, or our loved ones leave us. It can also be in the form of missed opportunities but remember for everything that is taken from your life, you will gain something new. What you do is not to remain standing in front of the door that closed because it will bring resentment. Instead, try to seek new opportunities and be positive about the future.

You are the only one you can compare yourself with. The problem about comparisons is that they are unjust and can make you feel insecure. Most of the time, you lack the right metrics to compare the accomplishments of your life with those of other people. We also tend to compare our weaknesses with other people’s strengths, our poverty to other people’s affluence, and our incapability to other people’s power. The truth is that you are unique – you can do what others can’t. Just like an axe that cannot cut hair and a scissor that cannot cut wood, we all have different strengths.

Comparisons cause dissatisfaction, discontent and great levels of unhappiness. Instead of comparing yourself to other people, compare your own progress with your former self. See how you have grown and developed as a person. When you compare yourself to your previous version, you will realize the important accomplishments of your life, instead of letting other people’s accomplishments drag you down.

When you train your brain to look for the silver lining in every situation, you’ll notice that you quickly catch yourself in negative thinking. With that, it will be easier for you to automatically reframe your thoughts to something more positive.

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Vibration

Vibration in quantum physics means everything is energy. We are vibrant beings on certain frequencies. Every vibration is equivalent to a feeling and in the world “vibrational”, there are only two species of vibrations, positive and negative. Any feeling makes you broadcast a vibration that can be positive or negative. Here are  a few things (and suggestions) that may affect your vibration frequency from the point of view of quantum physics.

Thoughts. Every thought emits a frequency to the universe and this frequency goes back to origin, so in the case, if you have negative thoughts, discouragement, sadness, anger, fear, all this comes back to you. This is why it is so important that you take care of the quality of your thoughts and learn how to cultivate more positive thoughts.

Your social circle. The people around you directly influence your vibration frequency. If you surround yourself with happy, positive and determined people, you will also enter this vibration. Now, if you surround yourself with people complaining, gossiping and pessimist, be careful! Indeed, they can reduce your frequency and therefore prevent you from using the law of attraction in your favor.

Music. Music is very powerful. If you only listen to music that talks about death, betrayal, sadness, abandonment, all this will interfere with what you are feeling. Pay attention to the lyrics of the music you listen to; it could reduce or enhance your vibration frequency. And, remember, you attract exactly what you feel in your life.

Things you look at. When you look at programs that deal with misfortunes, death, betrayals, etc. your brain accepts this as a reality and releases a whole chemistry into your body, which affects your vibration frequency. Look at things that make you feel good and help you vibrate at a higher frequency.

Atmosphere. Whether it’s at home or at work, if you spend a lot of time in a messy and dirty environment, it will affect your vibration frequency. Improve, if you can, what surrounds you and organize and clean your environment. Show the universe that you are fit to receive much more. Take care of what you already have.

Words. If you claim or speak wrong about things and people, it affects your vibration frequency. To keep your frequency high, it is essential to eliminate the habit of complaining and bad mouthing about others. Avoid drama and bullying. Assume your responsibility for the choices of your life.

Gratitude. Gratitude positively affects your vibration frequency. This is a habit you should integrate now into your life. Start to thank for everything, for the good things and what you consider to be bad, thank yourself for all the experiences you’ve experienced. Gratitude opens the door for good things to happen positively in your life.

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Work-Life Balance

Workaholics are often praised rather than looked down upon. Many admire the hard work and grit they put into bettering their career prospects. While being a hard worker is indeed a necessary trait to succeed, it’s essential that we realise just how important our lives outside of work are.

Good for your health. People who overwork are known to experience what is commonly called a ‘burnout’. This happens when too much of your mental energy is dedicated towards stressful and demanding tasks. This can even lead to more severe problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and mental illness such as anxiety or depression. Chronic stress can be more harmful than you think it is, even if it seems to be having little of an effect on you.

More time for yourself. Dedicating all your time to work is often at the cost of the other important aspects of your life, such as hobbies or any other leisure activities. Most workaholics are guilty of using work as an excuse to procrastinate other obligations, like going to the gym or working on a potential side project. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice too much of your personal time to be a good employee. Having a life outside of work will leave you more fulfilled with what you have achieved. After all, what’s the point of having a lot of money if you don’t have the time to spend it?

Improves your relationships. Another important trait of healthy individuals is maintaining wholesome relationships with the people they care about. This could be your family, your partner or your best friends. Having the time to build upon and strengthen your relationships is necessary for your well being. Don’t be that guy who missed your anniversary dinner or birthday party for a frivolous work event.

You enjoy the work you do more. When you devote all your time to a single thing, you don’t allow yourself to appreciate it. Being able to take time off work is essential to ensure that you enjoy the time that you do spend working. The little bit of time you spend away from the office could be just what you need to re-spark the passion you do feel for your job.

Makes you more productive at work. This can seem counterproductive, but it has been proven to be true. A balanced work-life relationship allows you to perform your best when you are at work. This is because being able to switch off, once in a while, will give you the necessary boost you need to get back when you need to.

Think of all the times you’ve taken a break from a complicated task only to come back with fresh energy and a recharged drive to tackle the issue. Productivity is present in limited amounts. Use it wisely.

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Our Uncertain Reality

The Golden Buddha

In the mid-1950’s, the leaders of Thailand decided to build a new highway into their largest city, Bangkok. The highway would pass through an area with relatively low population density where an old broken-down temple stood. The government purchased the property rights to the old temple and the surrounding grounds, and agreed to let a few local monks move a 500-year-old white stucco statue of Buddha to a safer location.

The stucco Buddha was absolutely immense in size and weight. It stood nearly 11 feet tall, with a 6-foot circumference, and weighed in at nearly 15,000 pounds. So the local monks worked with the government leaders to arrange for a large crane and transport to safely move the stucco Buddha from the old temple grounds to a new home on the other side of the city.

A couple weeks later, when the crane was actually in the process of moving the stucco Buddha, it was clear that everyone involved had miscalculated the statue’s weight and fragility. At one point, a turbulent wind gust forced the crane operator to bring the stucco Buddha back down to the ground with a hard thud. The massive idol cracked open in several places the moment it hit the ground, and the local monks screamed and pleaded for all crane operations to be halted for the day. Then, tarps were placed over the cracked statue to protect it from ensuing turbulent winds.

That evening, one of the monks was still very disturbed and couldn’t sleep a wink. So he put on his windbreaker and returned to the stucco Buddha with a lantern. He wanted to evaluate the damage to his sacred and holy idol. As he peered under one of the tarps and through a crack in the stucco, he noticed something odd buried several inches beneath the surface of the statue.

He picked up a mallet that the crane operator had left on the job site, and carefully chipped away at a small, loose piece of stucco that was wedged in the crack. When that loose piece of stucco eventually fell to ground, he peered through the now larger crack and was absolutely amazed by what he saw. So he returned to his monastery, woke up his fellow monks, and asked for their immediate assistance.

He told each of them to wear a windbreaker and bring a lantern and a mallet. Together, they returned to the stucco Buddha and, working against the winds, they began to chip away at the enormous sacred statue they and their ancestors had idolized and protected diligently for 20 generations.

When they completed their work the next morning, they all stood back in astonishment and gazed at what, together, they had worked tirelessly to uncover: their giant stucco Buddha statue wasn’t made of stucco at all. Instead, it was made of solid gold. And today, in the year 2020, the Golden Buddha—as it is now known—remains the largest known solid gold statue in the history of mankind.

In today’s dollars, just the price of the gold alone that makes up this behemoth of a Golden Buddha is worth more than $250,000,000.

Life’s Turbulent Winds

As Einstein so profoundly said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

Of course, there are dozens of life lessons we can gleam from the seemingly impossible true story of the giant Golden Buddha. But, at this moment, let’s just reflect on Einstein’s sentiment.

Reality is frequently inaccurate, and in the long run, the eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend and discover.

We as a species are forever fighting through turbulent winds and chipping away at the layers of figurative stucco in our lives—layers of new truths hidden beneath old ones. And isn’t it funny how we can wrap our minds so tightly around things and fit them into our own version of reality? Sometimes for hundreds of years straight before we are forced to see things differently?

So, let that sink in right now. Life is a series of natural and evolving updates to what’s real. What we know to be true eventually changes, because time and growth both demand it. Don’t resist these changes; that only creates sorrow. Instead, choose to soar in life’s turbulent winds.

New Discoveries & Realities

Truth be told, sometimes you simply need to let go and accept the feeling of not knowing exactly why things happen the way they do, or where your journey is taking you. And you need to train yourself to appreciate this freedom. Because it is only when you are suspended in the air, with no clear destination in sight, that you force your wings—and your mind—to open fully so you can fly.

And as you soar around you still may not know where you’re traveling to. But that’s not what’s important. What’s important is the opening of your wings and mind. You may not know where you’re headed, but you know that so long as your wings are spread, and your mind alert, the turbulent winds of life will guide you forward to new discoveries and realities none of us can even fathom right now.

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Courtesy : Marc Chernoff

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Healing Stress

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Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th Birth Anniversary

Today, the world is Celebrating the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Guru Nanak Dev Ji was the first Guru and founder of Sikhism. He was a poet, a religious teacher, a social reformer, and a householder. Guru Nanak Dev Ji rejected the path of renunciation and emphasized householder’s life (Grista), instead of materialism. The service of mankind and faith in ‘One’ Omnipotent God are the basic tenets of Sikhism propounded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. A social reformer, Guru Nanak Dev Ji upheld the cause of women, downtrodden, and the poor. Nanak was content to be a teacher. He made no claims to divinity or to kinship with God.

Guru Nanak (1469–1539) was the son of a petty official living in a village some thirty miles from Lahore. He took to studying the Hindu and Muslim religions almost from his boyhood, and found himself constantly involved in argument and discussion with itinerant holy men. Although he married and reared a family, the urge to find spiritual truth for himself proved too great. He temporarily abandoned his family and became a wanderer. He fasted, prayed and meditated. After many years of ascetic life, thought and contemplation, he felt qualified to convey his experiences to the people. He started with the simple statement: ‘There is no Hindu, there is no Mussulman.’ He took as his companions a ‘low-caste’ Hindu and a Muslim musician, and the three went preaching from hamlet to hamlet. The Guru composed his sermons in verse, which his Muslim colleague set to music and sang with the lute. He was strongly opposed to asceticism involving renunciation of the world.

Guru Nanak Practiced What He Preached

Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings are eternal and universal. He practiced what he preached – the principle of selfless service to others – and set an example for all of us to emulate. They are as relevant today as they were 500 years ago. He expounded the Three Guiding Principles of “Naam Japana”, “Kirat Karni”, and “Vand Chhakana” that inform Sikh ethics and way of life. The principles mean ‘repeat God’s name’, ‘be ready to engage in the labour of one’s hands’, and, ‘be willing to share with others what one has gathered. His teachings fired the imagination of the Punjab peasantry and a large number of followers gathered around him. At first, they were merely known as his disciples, in Sanskrit shish. Sometime later these disciples became a homogeneous group whose faith was exclusively the teachings of Nanak. The ‘shish’ became the Sikh (corruption of the Sanskrit word). Nanak was content to be a teacher. He made no claims to divinity or to kinship with God. ‘I came in the course of nature’, he said, ‘and according to God’s order shall I depart. ‘Guru Nanak made people come to him, not through a sense of remorse or repentance, but as to one who was at once warm-hearted and understanding – a friend and a father.

He did not invest his writings with the garb of prophecy, nor his word with the sanctity of a ‘message’. His teaching was essentially a crusade against cant and humbug in religion, and he had the courage to pattern his life according to his teachings.

Guru Nanak Got People to See the Ridiculous Without Being Ridiculed

The success of Nanak’s mission in the short space of twenty to thirty years of teaching calls for comment. It was partly due to the fact that the ground had already been prepared for him by the Sufis and the Bhaktas. It was chiefly due to his own personality, in which he combined a gentle disposition with a stern and uncompromising attachment to principle; humility with a conviction of the greatness of his mission; and, above all, a kindly sense of humor, with which he got the people to see the ridiculous without being ridiculed. He made them come to him, not through a sense of remorse or repentance, but as to one who was at once warm-hearted and understanding – a friend and a father. He did not spare himself from his humor: When I am quiet, they say I have no knowledge; When I speak, I talk too much they say; When I sit, they say an unwelcome guest has come to stay; When I depart, I have deserted my family and run away. When I bow, they say it is of fear that I pray. Nothing can I do that in peace I may spend my time. Preserve Thy servant’s honor now and hereafter, O Lord sublime.

Two incidents in his life illustrate his method of approach. He went to bathe in the Ganga as all devout Hindus did. The Brahmins bathed and threw water towards the rising sun as an offering to their dead ancestors. Nanak faced the other way and threw water in the opposite direction. When questioned, he answered: ‘I am watering my fields in the Punjab. If you can throw water to the dead in heaven, it should be easier to send it to another place on earth.’

Guru Nanak Strongly Opposed Asceticism

On another occasion, he happened to fall asleep with his feet towards Mecca. An outraged priest woke him up and rudely drew his attention to the fact. Nanak simply said: ‘If you think I show disrespect by having my feet towards the house of God, turn them in some other direction where God does not dwell.’ As he himself had combined his mission with the domestic obligations of a husband and father, he advocated a way of life which allowed for the discharge of civic obligations with the spiritual. He was strongly opposed to asceticism involving renunciation of the world: Religion lieth not in the patched coat the yogi wears, Not in the staff he bears, Nor in the ashes on his body, Religion lieth not in rings in the ears, Not in a shaven head, Nor in the blowing of the conch shell. If thou must the path of true religion see amongst the world’s impurities, be of impurities free.

There are no totally reliable accounts of Nanak’s travels. By the time his biography came to be written, sixty or eighty years after his death, a mass of legend had been built around incidents of his life. He apparently travelled all over India and even as far as Persia or Arabia. His life was mostly spent in bringing Hindus and Muslims together. His personal success in this direction was remarkable. He was acclaimed by both communities. When Guru Nanak died, his body became a subject of dispute. The Muslims wanted to bury him, the Hindus to cremate him. Even to this day, he is regarded in the Punjab as a symbol of harmony between the two major communities. A popular couplet describes him as Guru Nanak Shah Fakir, Hindu ka Guru, Mussulman ka Pir. The following that Nanak had created in his lifetime could at best be described as a group dissenting from both Hinduism and Islam. It was left to his successors to mould this group into a community with its own language and literature, religious beliefs and institutions, traditions and conventions.

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References : ‘The Sikhs’ by Khushwant Singh, Harper Collins India.

Universal Laws of the World

If something is true in one field it’s probably true in others. Restricting your attention to your own field blinds you to how many important things people from other fields have figured out that are relevant to your own. Here are a few laws – some scientific, some not – from specific fields that hold universal truths.

Littlewood’s law: We can expect “miracles” to happen regularly, because in a world with 7 billion people the odds of a one-in-a-billion event are pretty good.  John Littlewood was a mathematician who sought to debunk the idea of miracles being anything more than simple statistics. Physicist Freeman Dyson, who from what I gather named the law, explains,    ”Littlewood’s law of miracles states that in the course of any normal person’s life, miracles happen at the rate of roughly one per month. The proof of the law is simple. During the time that we are awake and actively engaged in living our lives, roughly for eight hours each day, we see and hear things happening at a rate of one per second. So, the total number of events that happen to us is about 30,000 per day, or about a million per month. With few exceptions, these events are not miracles because they are insignificant. The chance of a miracle is about one per million events. Therefore, we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month.”

Littlewood did most of his work in the 20th century. He would, I think, double down on the law today because social media has opened the door into other people’s lives and given tail events a spotlight like never before. Daniel Kahneman has a related take: “Human beings cannot comprehend very large or very small numbers. It would be useful for us to acknowledge that fact.”

Gibson’s law: “For every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD.” In law and public policy, the observation that equally qualified expert witnesses can come to opposite conclusions. There is no field this doesn’t apply to, and it happens for three reasons. One, is that there’s nuance and context to almost everything involving people, so experts can seem like they’re coming to different conclusions when discussing a variation of the same topic. Harry Truman said he just wanted a one-handed economist – “Every time you come in here you say, ‘On the one hand this, on the other hand that.” But that’s how most things work. Gibson’s law is triggered when an expert – often in an innocent attempt to simplify for a lay audience – tells one side of a story that has many sides, offsets, and counterbalances. A second, is that training and data can be overwhelmed by ideological beliefs and life experiences. This is especially true in fields that study people. There are no conservative meteorologists or liberal geologists, but we happily accept the equivalent in economics and sociology. A third, is that incentives are the most powerful force in the world. They not only get people to say things that aren’t true, but actually believe those things if it’s in their career interest to do so.

Brandolini’s law: “The amount of energy needed to refute bullsh*t is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.” Coined by Italian software developer Albert Brandolini, who also refers to it as the Bullsh*t Asymmetry Principle. Prevalent in every field, the non-satirical version acknowledges four truths: 1.People don’t like to admit not understanding something, so when confronted with nonsense they are more likely to nod their heads than say “I don’t get it” – especially in a group setting. 2. In law, the reason the burden of proof lies with the prosecution is that it’s often impossible to prove something didn’t happen. Outside of the courtroom the opposite rule prevails, and the commentator is allowed to give an opinion but the critic must debunk him with evidence.3.There is a thriving market for bad commentary because they give readers intellectual cover against their own biases, prejudices, and incentives. When many people want bad commentary to be right it becomes harder to convince them that it’s wrong. 4. The barriers to entry to publishing an opinion have dropped precipitously in the last two decades.

Goodhart’s law: When a measure becomes a target, it stops being a good measure. Charles Goodhart is an economist who recognized that once a central bank set a specific monetary target, the historical relationship between that target leading to the outcome they want breaks down.    ”[T]hose subject to new policies and regulations will react in different, and often unexpected ways, [and] also takes cognizance of the fact that, having set a new policy target, the authority involved has some reputational credibility attached to successfully meeting that target, and thus may adjust its own behavior and procedures to that end.” One reason this happens in other fields: once a goal is set, people will optimize for that goal in a way that neglects equally important parts of a system. Task your company with hitting a big sales target and customer service may wither as the goal cannibalizes employees’ attention. Or they’ll game the system to meet a goal in a way that distorts the benefit of achieving that goal. Investors set quarterly earnings goals for a CEO to meet, with a huge incentive if they’re exceeded. Then stuff like this happens.” [General Electric] for two years in a row “sold” locomotives to unnamed financial partners instead of end users in transactions that left most of the risks of ownership with GE.   The sales in 2003 and 2004 padded revenue by $381 million … critical to meeting GE’s end-of-year numbers. This is a cousin of observer effects in physics: It’s hard to know how some things operate in the real world because the act of measuring them changes them.”

Dollo’s law: In evolution, organisms can’t re-evolve to a former state because the path that led to its former state was so complicated that the odds of retracing that exact path round to zero. Say, an animal has a tail, and then it evolves to lose its tail. The odds that it will ever evolve to regain a tail are nil, because the path that originally gave it a tail was so complex. This affects businesses, too. There are things that, once lost, will likely never be regained, because the chain of events that created them in the first place can’t easily be replicated. Brand is one. Good brands are hard to build, requiring the right product at the right time targeted to the right users who want a specific thing, produced the right way by the right people, all done with consistency. Once lost brand is very hard to regain, because the odds of building a successful brand in the first place were so low to begin with. Teams can be another. Success is often personalized among one person, discounting how important members of their team were to winning. Many star employees have joined another firm, or gone out on their own, only to realize how much of their prior success was due to the unique team they were on, not necessarily their individual skill that can be replicated elsewhere.

Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. In 1955 historian Cyril Parkinson wrote in The Economist, ” IT is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Thus, an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and dispatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent in finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half-an-hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar-box in the next street. The total effort which would occupy a busy man for three minutes all told may in this fashion leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety and toil.” His point was that resources can exceed needs without people noticing. The number of employees in an organization is not necessarily related to the amount of work that needs to be done in that organization. Workers will find something to do – or the appearance of doing something – regardless of what needs to be done.

Several corollaries exist. One is that expenses expand to fill an income. Same for expectations and success. In IT, data can expand to fill a given level of storage. My phone used to hold a few hundred photos; now it holds many thousands. I’ve taken advantage of that storage increase by filling it with many thousands of stupid photos I’ll never care about.

Wiio’s laws: “Communication usually fails, except by accident.” Osmo Wiio, a Finnish journalist and member of parliament, coined several laws of communication, including,“If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just that way which does the most harm.” “The more communication there is, the more difficult it is for communication to succeed.” “In mass communication, the important thing is not how things are but how they seem to be.” Wiio made these laws in the era of carefully hand-written letters. Multiply them by 10 in the emoji and social media intern era. I could elaborate further but no one would understand.

Sayre’s law: In a dispute, emotions are inversely related to what’s at stake. In 1973 the Wall Street Journal wrote,”Academics love to lay down laws. One of the more famous is attributed to the late Wallace Sayre of Columbia University. Sayre’s Third Law of Politics—no one seems to know the first two, or whether there even were a first two–holds that “academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.” As far as I can tell no one quotes Sayre saying the line himself. But like many smart sayings it found a deceased owner and never let go. The logic might go something like this, wwhen the stakes are actually high people within a culture have a pretty good track record of putting more of their differences aside for a common cause. You bicker when there’s little downside to doing so.  The part of your brain whose bandwidth deals with threats doesn’t like to stay still. There’s a baseline level of stress people need in their lives to keep their minds alert, and if they don’t get it from legitimate sources, they’ll find something meaningless to fret about. Many of you know a trust-funder who validates this theory.

Stigler’s law: No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer. University of Chicago statistician Stephen Stigler coined the law. For consistency he says he stole it from sociologist Robert Merton. Stigler writes in his book Statistics on the Table, ” Examples affirming this principle must be known to every scientist with even a passing interest in the history of his subject; in fact, I suspect that most historians of science, both amateur and professional, have had their interest fueled early in their studies by the discovery (usually accompanied by an undisguised chortle) that some famous named result was known (and better understood) by a worker a generation before the result’s namesake.”

I think this happens for two reasons. One is that few discoveries happen in isolation. Most are combinations of existing discoveries that solve a new problem with an old invention. In his book How We Got to Now, Steven Johnson writes,” Innovations usually begin life with an attempt to solve a specific problem, but once they get into circulation, they end up triggering other changes that would have been extremely difficult to predict … An innovation, or cluster of innovations, in one field ends up triggering changes that seem to belong to a different domain altogether.” Combining other people’s work into something you get credit for happens within companies, too. Bill Gates put it: “Steve [Jobs] and I will always get more credit than we deserve, because otherwise the story’s too complicated.” The other – and more applicable to Stigler’s law – is the long history of the crowned winner being the person who communicates an idea the best, not whose idea is the best. A pop psychology book will always sell better than deep academic research with original discoveries because people are busy and lazy and want to learn about a topic with the least amount of effort required. My impression is also that 90% of “viral” content that gets recognized is luck, the product of just the right promotion by just the right person at just the right time.

Mill Mistakes: Assuming the familiar is the optimal. James Mill was a 19th century Scottish economist who reasoned that a constitutional monarchy is the highest natural form of government. He had his logic, and arguing whether its right isn’t the point. In his book At Home in the Universe, Stuart Kauffman makes a good observation, ”James Mill once deduced from what he considered indubitable first principles that a constitutional monarchy remarkably like that on England in his day was obviously the highest form of government. One is always in danger of deducing the optimality of the familiar. Let’s call this a Mill-mistake. God knows we all suffer the danger.” Assuming the familiar is the optimal requires extra skepticism because what you’re familiar with will create the most coherent story in your head, giving it extra credit points over other ideas that might hold more water but are harder to contextualize. Daniel Kahneman writes, ” Neither the quantity nor the quality of the evidence counts for much in subjective confidence. The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little. We often fail to allow for the possibility that evidence that should be critical to our judgment is missing—what we see is all there is.”

 Hickam’s dictum: Problems in complex systems rarely have one cause. Occam’s razor in medicine guides doctors to a diagnostic rule of thumb along the lines of, “If there are several explanations for a patient’s symptoms, choose the one that makes the fewest assumptions.” It’s known as diagnostic parsimony. Doctor John Hickam once pointed out the limitations of this rule: “Patients can have as many diseases as they damn well please.” His observation was that a patient is statistically more likely to have a few common ailments than a single rare one, so the push to get to one grand underlying cause can lead to false precision at best, misdiagnosis at worst.

The human body has 11 systems, 79 organs, 206 bones, and 600 muscles. The global economy has 7 billion people and 200 million businesses. So, you do the math.

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Courtesy : Morgan Housel @ collaborativefund.com

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Truths of Life

The route to our destination is never a straight one. We take questionable turns and we get lost. But it doesn’t always matter which road we embark on; what matters is that we embark. Either way life will likely get a little complicated, and bring unexpected hurdles and changes. But that’s okay. Sometimes you have to stumble and feel weak for a little while to realize how strong you really are. The following are just a few simple truths we learn on the road of life…

  • Real friends won’t ask you to change who you are. The right people for you will love all the things about you that the wrong people are intimidated by. Don’t change so people will like you. Be patient, keep being your awesome self, and pretty soon the right people will love the real
  • Cheating is a choice, not a mistake, and not an excuse. If you decide to cheat, and you succeed in cheating someone out of something, don’t think that this person is a fool. Realize that this person trusted you much more than you ever deserved, and they learned a lesson about who you really are.
  • The past can’t hurt you anymore, not unless you let it. Forgive and move on! Forgiveness allows you to focus on the future without combating the past. Without forgiveness, wounds can never be healed, and moving on can never be accomplished. What happened in the past is just one chapter. Don’t close the book, just turn the page. Cry when you must and push forward. Let your tears water the seeds of your future growth and happiness.
  • Adversity will come to every person at some point. How you meet it, what you make of it, and what you allow it to take from you and give to you is determined by your mental habits and personal choices. In short, you can’t change the cards you were dealt, just how you play the hand.
  • Sometimes things fall apart so better things can fall together. When things fall apart, consider the possibility that life knocked it down on purpose. Not to bully you, or to punish you, but to prompt you to build something that better suits your personality and your purpose.
  • Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right. Keep an open mind. The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know. We all have our own unique path and feelings. When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.
  • Everything has been just the way it needed to be. In life, we do lots of things. Some we wish we could take back. Some we wish we could relive a thousand times. All of these things, positive and negative, have taught us important lessons and have collectively made us into the person we are today. If we were to reverse or adjust any of them, we wouldn’t be who we are; we would be somebody else. So just live, make mistakes, make memories, and take chances. Never second guess who you are or where you’ve been.
  • Silence is often the loudest cry. There’s always some truth behind ‘just kidding,’ knowledge behind ‘I don’t know,’ emotion behind ‘I don’t care,’ and pain behind ‘It’s okay.’ So, pay close attention to how people feel, especially those you care for most. And remember, silence is often the loudest cry. Sometimes what a person needs most is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
  • The difference between where you are and where you want to be, is what you do. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. Don’t wait until everything is just right; it will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. But with each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more skilled, more confident, and more successful. So, start doing what you need to do today. Life is a courageous journey or nothing at all. We usually can’t become who we want to be by continuing to do what we’ve been doing.
  • It’s not who you are that holds you back, it who you think you’re not. Judging yourself is not the same as being honest with yourself. Don’t sell yourself short. You are capable of great things. And don’t ever let someone else make you feel like you’re not good enough. If they can’t see how amazing you are, then they’re the one who’s not good enough for you.  Their approval is not needed.
  • Right now, is the only moment guaranteed to you. Smile through the hard times, even though it doesn’t always seem to get any better. A smile is the first step to fixing things. The trick is to enjoy life by noticing what’s right. Don’t wish away your days waiting for better times ahead. Right now, is the only moment guaranteed to you. Right now, is life.  Don’t miss it.

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The Art of Mindfulness

The world doesn’t need another nasty person because it already has more than enough and there’s no shortage of rude people out there. What it needs are people who are polite, modest, agreeable, and kind. In short, people who are mindful and charming.

The good news is that mindfulness is an attitude and a skill that you can learn.  Most people, have trouble turning on their charm but they don’t have to worry even if they are not innately charming. Here are some easy-to-master tips on being mindful and developing an attitude of mindfulness :

Respect people. When people meet someone who is respectful, they will feel naturally drawn to that person. When they find someone who respects their opinion, their point of view, their experiences, and whatever else they’re trying to communicate, it will make them feel important. You don’t have to always agree. Showing respect is enough.

Show a little vulnerability. The beauty of showing vulnerability is that it makes us more humane. There’s no reason to hide it. Charming people don’t try to win unstated competitions with the people they meet. There’s nothing more charming than owning up to your vulnerabilities and rising above them. Charming people compliment, get impressed, ask questions, feel excited, and are willing to admit their weaknesses.  In short, they don’t compete with other people’s achievements. They are not afraid to let their defenses fall because they know their weaknesses don’t control them.

Talk less, listen more. One major sign of superficial people is that they talk about themselves all the time. But a charming person listens more than he talks. You can cut out all of the distractions when you talk to someone because by just listening to the other person you are giving importance to him. When someone is talking, it can be tempting to interrupt especially when you have the same experiences but, it is selfish and rude to do so. By listening more, you will earn the trust of the person divulging sensitive information to you. And, this is backed by the research conducted by the State University of New York.

Remember people’s names. How awkward it is to forget other people’s names. I’m sure you have felt that sinking feeling when you forget someone’s name, especially if it is someone you really should remember. Of course, our memory fails us sometimes. Nobody’s perfect, right? However, charming people remember names. They try their best to remember even small details. For the other person, there is nothing sweeter than hearing their name. It makes them feel they’re important enough to be remembered by you. When you’re first being introduced to someone, repeat their name back to him or her. That’s enough to emphasize that at least you care enough to remember them. What matters most is that you made an effort to remember.

Practice the right body language. Communication is not only through words  but also through body language. When talking to someone, a charming person’s body language exudes quiet confidence and openness. Their arms are open and their legs are relaxed, which makes them approachable. If you have a problem in this area, work on being comfortable in your own skin. Most people who tend to cross their arms could be revealing insecurities and the fact that they are uncomfortable.

Use the right tone of voice. Your tone of voice is also incredibly important. Communication experts always mention the “7-38-55 rule,” first posited in 1971 by UCLA Psychology Professor Albert Mehrabian: 55 percent of what you convey when you speak comes from your body language, 38 percent from your tone of voice, and a paltry 7 percent from the words you choose. Therefore, avoid shouting or coming across as aggressive. You can do this by using a relaxed and gentle tone of voice. Be assertive but without being defensive or aggressive.

Use the right words. Keep conversation friendly and professional at all times by using polite language. Try and keep every word positive. Talking about polite, professional and happy things will draw people to you. Whenever you notice yourself complaining or being negative, try to stop yourself and reframe it something into more positive. Overtime, you’ll get in the habit of being more positive, and less negative.

Smile. When you smile, others feel comfortable. Everyone loves a happy person, right? Your happy state of mind will shine through and will make you very likable to others. Grumpy or disinterested people scare people away. You never know all the good that a simple smile can do. In fact, a smile can literally rewire your brain to be happier. Psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people whose ability to frown is compromised by cosmetic Botox injections are happier, on average, than people who frown. Likewise, NBC says that research suggests that a smile spurs a powerful chemical reaction in the brain that can make people feel better.

Praise others instead of getting involved in gossip. There will be a time when you meet people who love to gossip. These are people who talk about others in a negative way. At the very first sign of gossip, run away. If you can’t, just don’t get involved. Instead, say something really positive about the person they’re talking about. If you want to charm people, steer clear from backstabbing and gossiping. It’s not nice and it only creates toxic energy. Never be afraid to compliment people directly on their face. Research shows getting a sincere compliment gives us a similar positive boost as receiving cash.

Find other people’s interests. If you find yourself in a situation where the conversation is slow, try to discover the other person’s hobbies or passions. Make it about them and not about you. Ask about their hobbies. Do they like basketball or baseball? Do they like traveling? You will know when you find a topic that they’re interested in because it makes their eyes light up. When you do, ask lots of questions and be genuinely interested in their passion.

Look for common ground, if possible. If you find yourself in a heated argument, take a step back and assess the situation more carefully. To avoid escalation, try to find some common ground. Do not be too aggressive when other people don’t accept your opinion because they are entitled to theirs. Instead of arguing over your difference of opinion, you can agree to disagree. Charming people take time to put themselves in other people’s shoes. More agreeable people are viewed more positively than those who engage in arguments.

Do not use your phone when talking to other people. Your Instagram/Facebook/Twitter feed will survive without your careful supervision for five minutes. It is a basic social etiquette not to look at your phone every now and then when you are talking to someone, because that’s rude. Any situation that commands your attention should have it in entirety. For example, if you’re being confided in or someone asked for your advice on an issue, then give them your undivided attention. This person trusts you – don’t blow it off.

Mind your manners. There’s a reason why we were taught to say please and thank you. It makes us likable and charming. Be appreciative of those actions that others do for your benefit. If not, the law of karma will get you. Have you heard of the “Waiter Test”? If you really want to know how an individual treats people, look more at how he interacts with the waiter than how he interacts with you. This test says how you treat waiters and waitresses can say a lot about your own personality. Yelling and screaming at an employee serving you will make others around you think you’re an elitist jerk. Charming people respect everyone, no matter what their status in life is , they treat everyone with respect and kindness.

Use the power of touch selectively. Touch, doesn’t mean the sexual touch. What I am referring to is the non-sexual touch which is a powerful way to convey what you mean. For example, when you’re congratulating someone, shaking their hands or patting them gently on the shoulder or upper arm can help reinforce the sincerity of your words.

Meditate. Meditation is taking control of your mind. Practicing mindfulness to achieve a heightened sense of self. Mindfulness will help you perceive and affect the emotions of those around you. In fact, researchers at Emory University have developed a form of meditation called cognitive-based compassion training which has been proven to increase empathy.

Be happy. Last but not least, being happy makes other people happy too. A happy person can light up any room that he walks into. Nobody wants to be surrounded by negative and toxic people. On the other hand, everyone needs friends and allies who are positive and upbeat. To be a charming person, always look on the brighter side of things. It’s because charm comes from all things nice and beautiful.

In conclusion, charming people can woo and wow people without overdoing it. They stay cool and don’t make life all about them. They gladly avoid the center of attention and make the limelight shine on those who deserve it. They do not brag about who they are and what they can do. Mindfulness is an attitude and a skill that you can learn to make your life better by keeping others happy.

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The Silent Retreat

Four monks, knowing the power and strength of silence, decided to meditate silently without speaking for two weeks. They began with enthusiasm and no one said a word the whole day. By nightfall of the first day, the candle began to flicker and then went out. Soon, the first monk blurted out, “oh, no! the candle is out.”  Then the second monk said, “hey! we are not supposed to speak!” Now, the third monk said in an irritated voice, “what is this? why did you two break the silence?” And soon the fourth monk smiled and said, “wow! I’m the only one who hasn’t spoken.”

Each monk had broken the silence for a different reason, each of which is a common stumbling block in our inner journey: distraction, judgement, anger and pride. The first monk got distracted by one aspect of his experience, the candle,  and forgot what was more important, the practice of witnessing without reacting. The second monk was more worried about others following the rules than in actually practicing himself. He was quick to judge without noticing that he himself was guilty of what he was criticizing. The third monk let his anger towards the first two monks affect him and the singular burst of his anger ruined the effort of the day. The fourth monk lost his way because of pride. He was convinced that he was superior to all others, proving his ignorance.

Why did the fourth monk speak at all? He could have simply maintained his silence and he would have been successful in his endeavor. But if he had, chances were, the other three might have continued to argue and not even noticed his silence. Some people are like this. Their life’s motto is “if I’m doing something good, but no one notices, I might as well not be doing it at all.” They believe that the reward is not in the effort, but in the recognition.

There is a beautiful quote, “It is the Provence of Knowledge to Speak; It is the Privilege of Wisdom to Listen.” When we learn to truly listen, witness and observe without impulsively reacting with distraction, judgement, anger and pride, then only do we understand the true meaning of silence.

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Preparing for Difficult Conversations

Do you ever find your emotions getting out of control when you’re having a difficult conversation? What steps could you take to keep them under control? Is there a difficult conversation that you’re putting off right now?

If so, imagine the relief you’ll feel once you get over with it. No one welcomes the prospect of a difficult conversation, whether it’s with a professor, a parent, a spouse, a teammate, or anyone else. Remind yourself that while you may not be able to change the information that needs to be shared, you can take steps to make the conversation itself less upsetting—and to keep emotions from spiraling out of control.

Make your conversations as trauma-free as possible with these tactics :

  • Don’t put it off. Although it’s natural to want to avoid an unpleasant confrontation, waiting usually makes things worse because you have to live with the anxiety for that much longer.
  • Don’t go in angry. While you don’t want to put off a difficult conversation, don’t jump into it if you’re still angry about something that happened, even if your anger is justified. Anger can cloud your perception and spur you to make bad decisions or say things you’ll regret. Find a way to cool off first.
  • Don’t make excuses. If you made a mistake or failed to meet a commitment, own up to it. You’ll feel better about yourself and earn respect from the other person.
  • See things from the other side. Regardless of who is at fault, if anyone, take a moment to consider what the other person is going through.
  • Ask for help if you need it. Admitting you need help can be a difficult step. However, if you’re in trouble, the bravest course is often to ask for help.
  • Be the boss of your own emotions. Be conscious of your emotions and actively control them; don’t let them control you. This is not easy, but it can be done.
  • Be kind. Unless you’re being taken advantage of, you’ll never regret being kind to someone, regardless of the circumstances.

Even if it’s likely to be a painful experience, it could be the start of repairing a damaged relationship or getting your life back on track.

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Introspection and Self-Analysis

Napoleon Hill suggested in his famous book , Think and Grow Rich, that a periodic self-analysis is not only essential for your personal growth but also for the marketing of personal services, effectively. Your annual introspection and effective self analysis should disclose an increase in your virtues and decrease in your faults besides your personal development whether you have gone ahead, or are you standing still, or have gone backward in life during that period . The effective marketing of personal services requires one to move forward even if the progress is slow. Your object should be, of course, to make progress and go ahead.

Your annual self-analysis should be made by asking yourself some serious questions and by checking your answers with someone who will not permit you to falter on their purpose and accuracy.

Self-Analysis Questionnaire

  • Have I attained the goal which I established as my objective for this year? (You should work with a definite yearly objective to be attained as a part of your major life objective.)
  • Have I delivered service of the best possible quality of which I was capable, or could I have improved any part of this service?
  • Have I delivered service in the greatest possible quantity of which I was capable?
  • Has the spirit of my conduct been harmonious and cooperative at all times?
  • Have I permitted the habit of procrastination to decrease my efficiency and if so, to what extent?
  • Have I improved my personality, and if so, in what ways?
  • Have I been persistent in following my plans through to completion?
  • Have I reached decisions promptly and definitely on all occasions?
  • Have I permitted any one or more of the six basic fears [poverty, criticism, ill health, loss of love of someone, old age, death] to decrease my efficiency?
  • Have I been either “over-cautious,” or “under-cautious”?
  • Has my relationship with my associates in work been pleasant, or unpleasant? If it has been unpleasant, has the fault been partly, or wholly mine?
  • Have I dissipated any of my energy through lack of concentration of effort?
  • Have I been open-minded and tolerant in connection with all subjects?
  • In what way have I improved my ability to render service?
  • Have I been intemperate in any of my habits?
  • Have I expressed, either openly or secretly, any form of egotism?
  • Has my conduct toward my associates been such that it has induced them to respect me?
  • Have my opinions and decisions been based upon guesswork, or accuracy of analysis and thought?
  • Have I followed the habit of budgeting my time, my expenses, and my income, and have I been conservative in these budgets?
  • How much time have I devoted to unprofitable effort which I might have used to better advantage?
  • How may I re-budget my time, and change my habits so I will be more efficient during the coming year?
  • Have I been guilty of any conduct which was not approved by my conscience?
  • In what ways have I rendered more service and better service than I was paid to render?
  • Have I been unfair to anyone, and if so, in what way?
  • If I had been the purchaser of my own services for the year, would I be satisfied with my purchase?
  • Am I in the right vocation, and if not, why not?
  • Has the purchaser of my services been satisfied with the service I have rendered, and if not, why not?
  • What is my present rating on the fundamental principles of success?

Make this rating fairly, and frankly, and have it checked by someone who is courageous enough to do it accurately.

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Excerpted from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill , St. Martin’s Press , 2019

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Overhaul for Better Life

Ever felt down in the dumps, absolutely sure that you wanted to transform your life but no idea where to start? All of us have some time or the other stood at that intersection at some point in life. 

It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to take a giant leap forward only to stumble backward.

I am sharing, here, a list of some of my experienced and tried small changes that I personally made in my life and attitude which actually helped me and I hope that these may help you, as well.

Less Anger, More Understanding. When we can understand why the other person acts the way they do, whether they are three years old or thirty, the need to yell and anger automatically starts to diminish.

Less Complaining, More Gratitude. When we look at all the wonderful things in life, the things that don’t go well start to seem trivial.

Less Blame, More Guidance. When we get hurt, it is instinctive to want to make the other person ‘pay’, but if we can guide the person to fix the situation, things are more likely to get better sooner.

Less Judgment, More Wonder. We are all unique, different, and a wee bit crazy in our own way. The best way to counter the urge to be judgmental is to cultivate a sense of wonder at each person’s uniqueness.

Less Resistance, More Acceptance. The more we resist something, the more it persists. The more we accept it, the less it bothers us.

Less Shame, More Vulnerability. Shame is a deep-seated fear that we are not enough. Yet, it’s a fact that none of us is perfect. When we accept the imperfection and embrace it, the tight grip of shame starts to loosen up.

Less Fear, More Action. We cannot reason with fear, especially the irrational one that stays in the head. The best way to make change happen is to take action and keep moving forward.

Less Comparison, More Contentment. Our life seems like a drag when we compare our “behind-the-scenes” with the highlight reel of someone else’s life. Focusing on contentment kills the need to try to keep up with the Joneses.

Less Will Power, More Habits. It’s scientifically proven that we have a limited supply of will power, and the more we exert it, the less we have for future use. So whenever possible, turn things into habit, limiting the need to use will power.

Less Guilt, More Communication. We all make mistakes. Communicating how badly we feel and figuring out how to fix things will keep guilt from gnawing away at our happiness.

Less Obsessing, More Balance. Embrace all shades between black or white, and the need to obsess on the extremes starts to shrink. Particularly helpful for recovering perfectionists like me!

Less Competition, More Cooperation. Come at things from a place of abundance and seek intentionally to cooperate, and the fear of competition starts to melt right away.

Less Stress, More Fun. If there is one thing we can learn from kids, it is to have fun. Ever notice how few kids are actually stressed?

Less Greed, More Generosity. Finding joy in giving is the perfect antidote for the habitual greed.

Less Distraction, More Rest. Seriously, make getting a fixed number of hours of sleep each night a priority, and distractions like social media and television will automatically stop killing productivity.

Less Bitterness, More Forgiveness. Bitterness only hurts the person carrying it. Forgive those who hurt us and move on.

Less Control, More Flow. Some things are simply out of our control. Learning to go with the flow helps tone down the urge to control.

Less Stubbornness, More Openness. What if we are wrong some times? Being open to accepting failure and constantly learning makes life so much simpler and beautiful.

Less Expectation, More Patience. Start small by delaying gratification with little things. As we learn to be more patient, our expectations of how/when things should turn out start to relax as well.

Less Ego, More Humility. Easier said than done, but the more easily we can say “sorry” and “thank you” (and really mean it), the less hold ego has on our life.

Hoping that these small changes that you would make (some would already be exercising most of these principles) in your daily lives would surely help you in a life overhaul for a better and healthy living.

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Mental and Emotional Wellness

Life can sometimes be really tiresome, one minute we’re high up riding on that crazy rollercoaster and the next second, we’re back down where we started. All that unpredictability and madness can mess with a person’s physical as well as mental wellbeing. And despite the fact that sometimes can be hard to tell if we are physically exhausted or we’ve just lost all hopes for the future it is safe to say that the only thing a person with this condition needs is a good rest and relaxation. Whenever life strikes us with some rocks along the way, it is essential to cool off for a while and let others take the lead. Taking some time off doesn’t necessarily means giving up, it’s making time for self-love and healing.

If we are experiencing any of the following telltale signs, it is possible we are going through a rough patch in life. Just don’t let it drain you to the last bit. Stop, breathe out and recharge. We can do this!

Easily Irritated. Hopelessness is the inability and the lack of power which makes us feel more and more irritated. We should be out there making the best of it, yet we feel much safer avoiding any possible contact with the outside world. Don’t beat yourself up, we’ve all been there. I know, it sucks. But, instead of recklessly wasting your time, spend this ‘time off’ to work on yourself.

Motivation Levels Low. Feeling like we are incapable of getting the work done. We struggle to find the motivation we need. The goals that once stimulated us to work hard are not enough. If this is your case, you need to give it a rest. Don’t push yourself too hard. Inspiration is everywhere around us and it will strike us when we least expect it.

 Experiencing Anxiety. As a result of over exhaustion, we feel more and more stressed than usual. Anxiety attacks are becoming a daily routine. Please, don’t be afraid. Try to find a way to center yourself in order to heal your wounds. Spend some time alone and figure out what you need in life.

Trouble Sleeping. Feeling like you are out of the place. The overwhelming feeling of exhaustion makes it harder for us to calm our thoughts and fall asleep. And insomnia becomes just another thing on the list. Proper environment and healthy diet combined with some light breathing exercises could help with a good night’s sleep.

Getting Upset Easily. Because of our increased sensitivity, we feel much more intense than we used to. Getting upset over trivial things and the intense feelings brings tears to our eyes. Don’t let yourself suffer. Take some time off and reconstruct your world. No matter how hard it is. It will all be worth it, I promise.

Dizziness and Nausea. One of the biggest symptoms noticed in over-exhausted people is constant dizziness and nausea. Whenever a person experiences a mental breakdown this naturally manifests physically as well. However, we should prevent it before it’s too late. Take matters into your hands. If you don’t, nobody will.

Crying Without Reason. When we are in bad place in life, it seems like the whole world is plotting against us. Our senses are heightened, we suddenly reach a hypersensitive state in which even the slightest joke could make our eyes sparkle with tears. When we’re exhausted both physically and mentally, we pretty much lose the strength to cope with challenging situations, and regular day-to-day stress is intensified. The only mechanism our body and soul use for cleansing is crying.

Feeling Detached. And after a while, we end up being “comfortably numb”. We don’t feel bad, nor good. We’ve gone senseless. It is the stage when we lose all hope.Please do not allow yourself to reach this point. When you feel even the slightest negative change in your wellbeing, stop and relax. Take your time off, breathe out and start healing your wounds. We can overcome anything life gives us. We just need to take care of ourselves first.

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Karma

Buddha was sitting with his disciples, one of them asked him “What is Karma?”

Buddha said, “Let me tell you a story after which we will look for an answer to this question, again.”

A king was touring his kingdom on his elephant. Suddenly he stopped in front of a shop in the market and said to his minister, “I don’t know why, but I want to hang the owner of this shop.” The minister was shocked. But before he could ask the king why, the king had moved on.

The next day, the minister went to that shop dressed as one of the locals to see the shopkeeper. He casually asked him how his business was faring. The shopkeeper, a sandalwood merchant, reported sadly that he had hardly any customer. People would come to his shop, smell the sandalwood and then go away. They would even praise the quality of the sandalwood but rarely buy anything. His only hope was that the king would die soon. Then there would be a huge demand for sandalwood for performing his last rites. As he was the only sandalwood merchant around, he was sure the king’s death would mean a windfall.

The minister now understood why the king had stopped in front of this shop and expressed a desire to kill the shopkeeper. Perhaps, the shopkeeper’s negative thought vibration had subtly affected the king, who had, in turn, felt the same kind of negative thought arising within.

The minister; a nobleman, pondered over the matter for a while. Without revealing who he was or what had happened the day before, he expressed a desire to buy some sandalwood. The shopkeeper was pleased. He wrapped the sandalwood and handed it over to the minister.

When the minister returned to the palace, he went straight to the court where the king was seated and reported that the sandalwood merchant had a gift for him. The king was surprised. When he opened the package, he was pleasantly surprised by the fine golden color of the sandalwood and its agreeable fragrance. Pleased, he sent some gold coins to the sandalwood merchant. The king also felt sorry in his heart that he had harbored unbecoming thoughts of killing the shopkeeper.

When the shopkeeper received the gold coins from the king, he was astounded. He began to proclaim the virtues of the king who had, through the gold coins, saved him from the brink of poverty. After some time, he recalled the morbid thoughts he had felt towards the king and repented for having entertained such negative thoughts for his own personal goal.

If we have a good and kind thought for another person, that positive thought will come back to us in a favorable way. But if we harbor evil thoughts, those thoughts will come back to us as retribution.

“What then is Karma, according to this story?” asked Buddha. Many replied, “our words, our deeds, our feelings, our actions, …. etc.”

Buddha shook his head and replied, “Your thoughts are your Karma!”

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Personality Development & Lifestyle Improvement in 2019

Success has less to do with hard work and more to do with massive focus on your few best opportunities.

  • Why resist change when it’s the main source of your growth?
  • The more you invest in growing and developing your mindset and way of seeing the world, the more everything you touch transforms in a breathtakingly positive way.
  • Pursuing perfection really does matter (in a world highly accepting of mediocrity).
  • Spending full days with zero technology to refuel or do important work is a game-changer.
  • Doing something super-nice for at least one stranger a day gives them a gift and an even larger one to yourself.
  • Adore your parents. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
  • The smartest thing you can do to grow a great company is to first sweat getting only A- Players onto your team and then sweat training and developing them so they play their A-Game.
  • Most TV is toxic.
  • Have the discipline to clean out all the energy-draining people in your life. You really do rise or fall to the level of your associations.
  • Doing huge dreams we have never done can be frightening. Yet when we push to the edges of our limits, our limits expand.
  • If you don’t make the time for yourself to get inspired, no one around you will ever be inspired.
  • Your diet affects your moods. Eat like a superstar.
  • Talk less. Do more.
  • Integrity is more valuable than income.
  • Model Mandela and you’ll find at the end of your life, you lived an awesome one.
  • Learn to love yourself. It’s the great rule for loving other people.
  • When your dominant business focus is to deliver outrageous amounts of value to your customers every time they do business with you, they become fanatical followers who tell the world about what you do.
  • Money invested in personal development and professional growth generally has a x30 plus return on investment.
  • Real leaders have the guts to have the hard conversations.
  • Your environment (your home, your office, the magazines you read, etc.) dramatically affects your levels of achievement.
  • The quality of your practice affects the caliber of your performance.
  • Reviewing your Big 5 annual goals every morning and working on your plan every day is an exceptionally powerful way to breed unbeatable focus and drive.
  • Measure your success via your influence and impact versus only by your income and net worth.
  • To become successful, first learn how to be happy. Too many think that the route to happiness is to get successful. Untrue.
  • Getting ultra-fit lifts every other area of your life.
  • Self-belief is so incredibly important. Because if you don’t believe you can achieve a vision/goal, then you won’t even start to do the work needed to achieve that vision/goal.
  • Our biggest enemy is our own self-doubt. We really can achieve extraordinary things in our lives. But we sabotage our greatness because of our fear.
  • Drink more water.
  • Watch the documentary “Searching for Sugar Man”.
  • Join a mastermind group. It’s just remarkable what being in a room full of people who are smarter than yourself does for your performance.
  • Related to the above, remember what Dennis Kimbro once said: “If you’re the smartest one of your friends, you need new friends.”
  • Dopamine is the elite performer’s best friend. You rarely go wrong when you trust yourself.
  • Writing down what you learn works so much better than typing things down on a computer.
  • If you try to do it all yourself, you get very little done. The most productive people set the dream and then hand it over swiftly to a project manager to execute with precision.
  • Become one of the rare people who don’t know how to quit (unless it really is time to quit).
  • It truly makes a difference to the people around you.
  • Just because excellent manners are not so common doesn’t mean that excellent manners are not incredibly important.
  • Always remember that there’s food on your table thanks to the customers you are privileged to serve.
  • It’s so much better to fail trying than to not even get into the game.
  • Music just makes life a whole lot better.
  • You can change the world or you can worry about fitting in, but you just can’t do both.
  • All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and beautiful at the end.
  • The real key to getting great things done is to stop doing so many good things.
  • Small little details done excellently and consistently stack up into something the world sees as Mastery.
  • Spend time in nature to renew and refuel.
  • Less entertainment, more education.
  • Gratitude is the antidote to misery.
  • We become happier not by accumulating more things but by creating richer experiences.
  • Your self-identity is what really determines your income, influence, impact and lifestyle. Retrain that and your bigness comes out to play.
  • The more you serve, the more joyful you’ll become.
  • Life’s short. Have fun.                                                              ______________________________

Courtesy: Robin Sharma

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