Humanistic Halos

Let’s Nurture Relationships

Each one of us may have been in these situations. There is a deadline to make, and we maybe did not realize that somebody may have needed us. Possibly, they simply asked: “Could you help me fix the photocopier? Could you just take this call?” Instead, so focused were we on what we think was ‘the right thing to be doing’ we do not ‘see’ these moments and we don’t cherish these truly important times in our lives when people seek our help. These are little moments where we could dip inside and use love, compassion or care.

To build meaningful relationships, people need to be not ‘just there’, but ‘emotionally available’.

The available partner is eager for introducing you and making you a part of their inner social circle. They are keen to learn and hope to become a part of your circle too.

The available partner is open about their life. And quite clear about where you stand with them. They like sharing their feelings and want you to reciprocate.

The available partner is excited by your emotions and feelings, which indicate that a closeness is developing between the two of you. It means you are investing in them and they are investing in you. There is a ‘want’ to love and be loved.

The available partner is all excited to learn about you. The more they know, the more the connection grows. And they want to share as much as they can with you.

The available partner is eager to share. Even the things they may be apprehensive about. They are eager for both to discover more about each other.

Let’s end the rat race. Let’s nurture relationships.

Where would you be without friends? The people to pick you up when you need lifting? We come from homes far from perfect, so you end up almost parent and sibling to your friends – your own chosen family. There’s nothing like a really loyal, dependable, good friend. Nothing.” – Jennifer Aniston

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Worrying

The state of being anxious and troubled over actual or potential problems is worry.

Worry is a way of thinking. Imagining the worst. Rushed responses, reacting under fear or duress, work deadlines are all forms of worry. When we rush we worry; while worrying we force ourselves to think about what will happen next. Instead, we should focus on what we can do now. When we think less, think slowly and think positively, then we can understand our thoughts and stay practical. Thinking clearly in the present situation, helps us visualize possible outcomes and next steps. As we begin to think clearly in the present, we programme ourselves to picture the future too. This dissipates anxiety over unknown possibilities. Worrying over how tasks will be completed and creating self-doubts over our competence, limits our ability to respond to challenges.

Flexibility is one solution to overcome worry. This covers acceptance and allows alternate thought processes. It lets us accommodate the unforeseen situations that we encounter and enables us to make the best of things. To an extent worrying is good stress. It can force one to look for creative answers, out of the box solutions. But you need to be in control of these situations.

If you are a worry wart and constantly fret about everything and anything – from health to wealth and everything in between and it sounds like you may be worrying your life away, you are a victim of chronic worrying. This is a mental habit that can be broken and you can train your brain to stay calm and look at life from a more balanced, less fearful perspective.

To tackle your chronic worrying problem, start first to distinguish between solvable and unsolvable worries. When a worry pops into your head, ask yourself whether the problem is something that can be solved. Is the problem something you’re currently facing, rather than an imaginary one? If the problem is imaginary, how likely is it to happen? Can you do something about the problem or prepare for it, or is it out of your control?

Solvable worries are those on which you can act immediately. Start brainstorming. Make a list of the possible solutions. It is not necessary to find the perfect solution. Focus on the things in your control. Once you have an action plan, you’ll feel much less worried. Developing the ability to embrace your feelings – feel grounded – help to control worrying tendencies.

Chronic worriers can’t stand doubt or unpredictability. They need to know with 100 percent certainty what’s going to happen. Worrying is then seen as a tool to predict the future. The problem is, this doesn’t work. You may feel safer when you’re worrying, but it’s just an illusion. Focusing on negatives won’t stop them from happening. It will only keep you from enjoying the good things in the present. So, if you want to stop worrying, start by accepting uncertainty. Ask yourself – ‘Is it possible to be certain about everything in life? How would having certainty in life be helpful? Will bad things happen just because they are uncertain? Is it possible to live with the thought that something negative may happen? Don’t look at the world in ways that make it seem more dangerous than it really is. Or treat every negative thought as if it were fact.

Your feelings are impacted by the company you keep. Emotions are contagious. People with whom we spend more time have a greater effect on our mental health. Spend less time with people who make you anxious. Choose your confidantes carefully. Few people will help you introspect, to improve perspective, while most will feed into your worries, doubts, and fears.

Talk therapy can help chronic worriers worry less by getting to the root of their issues. Individuals need to understand what causes their anxiety or what it is related to. Talking to supportive people helps you dig deep enough and go back to the origins of your worrying nature.

Since, worrying is usually focused on the future, the ancient practices of mindfulness and meditation can help by bringing focus back to the present. This strategy is based on observing and then letting them go. Acknowledge your anxious thoughts and feelings. Don’t try to ignore, fight, or control them. Instead, simply observe them from an outsider’s perspective, without being judgemental. Let your worries go. When you don’t try to control anxious thoughts, they pass by.

Using meditation to stay focused on the present is a simple concept, but it takes practice to reap the benefits. Your mind will inevitably keep wandering back to your worries. Don’t let this frustrate you. Each time you return to the present, you are re-inforcing the habit that will eventually help you break free of the worry cycle.

In situations where nothing can be done to change the outcome, worrying can still serve a motivating function in preparing you for bad news – if it comes. In essence, worry often provides impetus to do something rather than nothing.

“Life is too short to worry about anything. You had better enjoy it because the next day promises nothing.” – Eric Davis

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Friendship With Ourself

Our friendship with others can get a firm base only when our friendship with ourselves has been well established. A person who is not one’s own friend cannot befriend any other. Friendship is a complete feeling and not a fragment or a one-sided relationship.” – Acharya Roopchandra

Our Friendship

An oft-repeated cliche. Because the greatest struggle in life is the struggle to – accept all the faults, embrace all the imperfections, and over and above it all – love ourselves. To be really honest about who we are, how we feel and what we need. We have to learn to be our own best friends. Because we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies. We love the idea of others loving us, but we forget to love ourselves.

Be your own friend –

  • Focus less on winning the approval of others. Remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.  And you don’t have to get permission to do it differently either.
  • Distance yourself from those who bring you down. Don’t worry too much about people who don’t worry about you. Know your worth!  And believe it. Your friends in life should motivate, inspire and respect you. Your circle should be well-rounded and supportive.
  • Embrace the mistakes you haven’t even made yet. This will ensure long term success. Don’t let the fear of making the wrong decision prevent you from making any decision at all.
  • Do something every day that makes you happy. Life is too short. Invest in the activities you deeply care about. A good life is should include – caring for yourself – doing things you care about. There’s nothing selfish about self-care. You have to experience life on your terms before you can be life-giving to others.
  • Believe in your abilities. Nothing is impossible!  The key is – identify what you want, claim it as part of who you are, and believe that you are worthy to have it
  • Go out of your way to be kind to others. Everything comes a full circle. People who love themselves come across as caring, generous and kind to others too; they express their self-confidence through humility, forgiveness and inclusiveness. And be thankful for rude, difficult people too – they serve as great reminders of how not to be.
So put these things on your TO-DO list today.
People will come and go. Events will come and go. Day and night will come and go. But a true love for yourself will always remain with you, if you nurture it.
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Relationship With Yourself

Relationship With Yourself

One of the most significant areas of importance in every human being’s life is relationships. Anyone with good, close and harmonious relationships with loved ones, friends, colleagues, etc., is normally considered very fortunate. But of all relationships, the first and most basic is the one which we have with ourself. Today, check how good, close or deep is your relationship with yourself ? How well do you know yourself ? Are you your own friend ? Think over the last week or fortnight, how many of your reactions were unexpected or uncontrolled or basically not the right ones. How many reactions left you confused, sad, unenthusiastic, depressed, negative or uncomfortable ? If there have been such situations, it is a sure indication that there are still things deep within you that you do not know well enough. As in any worldly relationship, without knowing a particular person to the core one can never have a deep relationship with that person. Similarly, we cannot have a close relationship with our own self without knowing oneself well. While we spend much time ‘making up’ our faces to ensure our appearance is beautiful for others, We forget to make up our minds.

When we begin to communicate with ourselves, trust is re-born. Trust was broken when our conscience said do ‘A’ but we did ‘B.’ When we start following the voice of our conscience we experience a new beginning and the promise of new beauty. Each one of us must check before we rush into action: What is my conscience telling me? When you do and follow its voice the beautiful things promised start to manifest themselves in our lives. When we act with integrity and honesty and follow the voice of our conscience then there will be no need to worry or fear. We know when one door closes another one will open – there is no longer any need to worry about where we going or how we will get there. When we put the “lights” on darkness goes out – we don’t need to chase it away.

People need to know that they have all the tools within themselves. Self-awareness, which means awareness of their body, awareness of their mental space, awareness of their relationships – not only with each other, but with life and the ecosystem.” -Deepak Chopra 

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Kindness, With No Thought Of Reward

We usually know what the kind thing to do is – and kindness when it is done to us, and register its absence when it is not. We are never as kind as we want to be, but nothing outrages us more than people being unkind to us. There is nothing we feel more consistently deprived of than kindness; the unkindness of others has become our contemporary complaint. Kindness consistently pre-occupies us, and yet most of us are unable to live a life guided by it.

Kindness Og Mandino

Kindness is a good habit and it has a reverberating effect that echoes and creates waves for a good life. Helping others brings a deep satisfaction to both – the receiver of the help, and the one who provides the help. By recognizing another’s need for help and acting on it in a compassionate manner, makes the recipient feel valued. It also brings a feeling of pride for the giver and they feel better about themselves. Over time people who do good deeds develop a happy and joyful personality that attracts those they associate with. Like a magnet, kindness begets kindness. Kindness makes people want to be around us. One of the most common responses to kindness is gratitude – and that means people appreciating what we’ve done for them and seeking out our company.

An interesting facet of practising kindness is that this activity improves our attentivity. In order to be kind, we have to pay attention to what is happening around us. As we begin to notice more things while we help others, we get a glimpse of the ways others look at the same things. This broadens our perspective and helps to keep things in context.
  • Do one kind thing for yourself each day which doesn’t involve buying something. Congratulate yourself on your achievements, or have a long, relaxing soak in the bath!
  • Do one kind thing for someone else each day. Open the door, give a genuine compliment, or donate some money. Do something, anything, as long as it helps somebody else.
  • Resist any urges to be unkind. Stop and reflect: What are you hoping to achieve from this? And if someone is unkind to you, don’t take it personally.

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” – Og Mandino

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Struggles Develop Strength

An avid gardener once saw a small butterfly laying a few eggs in one of the pots in his garden. Since that day he looked at the egg with ever-growing curiosity and eagerness. The egg started to move & shake a little. He was excited to see a new life coming up right in front of his eyes. He spent hours watching the egg now. The egg started to expand and develop cracks. A tiny head & antennae started to come out ever so slowly.

The man’s excitement knew no bounds. He got his magnifying glasses and sat down to watch life – the body of a pupa coming out. He saw the struggle of the tender pupa and could not resist his urge to HELP. So, he got out a pair of forceps to help the egg break. A nip here, a nip there to help the struggling life form. And lo ! the pupa was out. The man was ecstatic ! He now waited each day for the pupa to grow and hatch into a beautiful butterfly. Alas ! that never happened. The larvae pupa had an over-sized head and kept crawling along in the pot for the full Four weeks and died !

Depressed the man went to his botanist friend and asked about the reason for this misfortune. His friend replied that the struggle to break out of the egg helps the larvae to send blood to its wings and the head push helps the head to remain small so that the tender wings can support it through its four-week life-cycle. In his eagerness to help, the man had destroyed a beautiful life !

Struggles help all of us, that’s why a wee bit of effort goes a long way to develop our strength to face life’s difficulties!

As parents, we sometimes go too far trying to help & protect our kids from life’s harsh realities & disappointments. We don’t want our kids to struggle like we did. But Harvard psychologist, Dr.Dan Kindlon says that, over-protected children are more likely to struggle in relationships and with challenges. We’re sending our kids the message that they’re not capable of helping themselves.

To quote clinical psychologist Dr.Wendy Mogel: “It is our job to prepare our children for the road… not prepare the road for our children…”

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The Seed : Honesty is the best policy

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

“It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO,” he said. “I have decided to choose one of you.”

The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today – a very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Every day, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by – still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil – he so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick at his stomach. It was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed. A few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back.

“My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO.  “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!”  And then, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the financial director to bring him to the front.

Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!” When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed. Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Here is your next Chief Executive! His name is Jim!”

Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed. How could he be the new CEO the others said?

Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead – it was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. “When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive!”

 

If you plant honesty, you will reap trust
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends.
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective.
If you plant hard work, you will reap success.
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.

 

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing.”

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Gratitude

Last week, in India we celebrated the Birthday of Lord Ganesh, the elephant God. This particular deity has always been very special for me for various reasons, primarily because of his looks, He is the wise one, whose head is that of an elephant and the rest of his body is that of a human. As a child He was an object of curiosity and wonderment. Just like me He is the favorite of everyone, especially the little children.

Lord Ganesh is invoked ( prayed to ) prior to all auspicious activities. He is the source of confidence and strength, it is said that invoking Lord Ganesh takes care of all the obstacles in the path of any desired course of action.

The most important and beautiful part of this invocation is expressing gratefulness for existence. That is why, in India, everything has become a deity -the Sun, the Stars, the Wealth and the Wisdom, all essential components of life are worshiped as deities. The reason being that one must always be grateful for ‘what is’ and for ‘what you have’, and my short note today revolves around this topic.

The essentiality of ‘being grateful’.

In these times when the speed of our achievements can only be matched by the frequency of our desires, when wants are churned out at faster RPM’s and when goals increase with every gigabyte we add, I think gratitude has become the most under used and under rated attitude.

It is alright to have goals for the future and work the present towards it, but I think it is equally important to take some time to love, appreciate and feel grateful for what you have now.

It is often seen, that when we are chasing a goal we get caught up in worrying about little things that really do not matter anymore, some things from the past or probably some past failures or setbacks. This is when remembering to be thankful for what we have in the present and feeling good about it can make a lot of difference. For this reason invoking the deity in India has been an essential practice as it allows the person to refocus and realign him/herself to the qualities desired for that occasion or challenge in life.

Life is full of simple and beautiful things, if and only if we take time to look around with open eyes. Sometimes joy lies in places we take for granted. An attitude of feeling grateful and being appreciative allows us to focus on the many good things that occur in our day to day life. Just give it a chance, the flowers will speak to you, the birds will smile at you, the water you drink will feel pure, the taste of the food will be relished more, it’s all there in those little things right in front of you, just look with eyes of gratefulness.

New research is showing that practicing gratitude may be the fastest single pathway to happiness, health, long life, and prosperity. In a remarkable study performed by Dr. Robert Emmons, people who kept a gratitude journal for just 3 weeks measured 25% higher on life satisfaction afterward. They exercised more, drank alcohol less, their families and friends noticed that they were nicer to be around and they slept well. Isn’t that great, probably that is why in some cultures the children are taught to recite gratitude prayers just before going to bed. Just being thankful for the bed we sleep on and for the roof upon our head can make us sleep better. Further studies have also shown how sense of gratitude helps recover from past traumas quickly and even if the past memories surface the feeling is less intense. A sense of gratitude and reflection helps make sense of negative events, these events can be looked at with a different perspective and lessons can be learned from them.

Its beautiful and helpful to have an attitude of gratitude, it helps the body and mind, and helps us to stay in the positive zone, when we are busy appreciating what we have and feeling good there’s less time to think anything negative, right ?

Here are some simple methods of generating gratitude and reminding to be grateful as much as we can,

  • Take five slow deep breaths when you remember.
  • Remind yourself to be present in the present.
  • Appreciate the beauty of some things in your environment.
  • Give events only the time they deserve.
  • Maintain a gratitude journal everyday for 10 minutes write down the good things that happened to you that day.
  • Make a gratitude list, quickly without much thought make a list of things you are thankful for, you will be surprised.

Just before you go to bed thank the body that you live in, that the mind that makes you think and thank you for being YOU.

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Donation – Hold No Reservations

Once Krishna and Arjuna were walking towards a village. Arjuna was pestering Krishna, asking him why Karna should be considered a role model for all ‘danas’ (donations) and not himself. Krishna, wanting to teach him a lesson snapped his fingers. The mountains beside the path they were walking on turned into gold. Krishna said “Arjuna, distribute these two mountains of gold among the villagers, but you must donate every last bit of gold”. Arjuna went into the village, and proclaimed he was going to donate gold to every villager, and asked them to gather near the mountain. The villagers sang his praises and Arjuna walked towards the mountain with a huffed up chest. For two days and two continuous nights Arjuna shovelled gold from the mountain and donated to each villager. The mountains did not diminish in their slightest.

Most villagers came back and stood in queue within minutes. After a while, Arjuna, started feeling exhausted, but not ready to let go of his ego just yet, told Krishna he couldn’t go on any longer without rest. Krishna called Karna. “You must donate every last bit of this mountain, Karna” he told him. Karna called two villagers. “You see those two mountains?” Karna asked, “those two mountains of gold are yours to do with as you please” he said,  and walked away.

Arjuna sat dumbfounded. Why hadn’t this thought occurred to him? Krishna smiled mischievously and told him, “Arjuna, subconsciously you yourself were attracted to the gold, you regretfully gave it away to each villager, giving them what you thought was a generous amount. Thus the size of your donation to each villager depended only on your imagination. Karna holds no such reservations. Look at him walking away after giving away a fortune, he doesn’t expect people to sing his praises, he doesn’t even care if people talk good or bad about him behind his back. That is the sign of a man already on the path of enlightenment”.

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