Life Learnings

Desire

To strongly wish for or want something is Desire. According to the Rig Veda, the Universe began, not with light, but with desire, ‘the primal seed’. Desires constantly arise in us, only to be replaced by other desires. Without this continuous stream of desires, there would no longer be any reason to do anything: life would grind to a halt, as it does for people who lose the ability to desire. An acute crisis of desire corresponds to boredom, and a chronic crisis to depression.

We were born from desire. But cannot remember a time when we were without it. So consumed are we to ‘desiring’, that we lose consciousness of our desires. And only realize when they clash with other desires.

If desire is life, why should we desire to control desire? —For the simple reason that we desire to control life, or, at least, our life. Paradoxically, our ancient religions almost always warned us that ‘Desires’ are the cause of conflicts.

In Hinduism, Desire is referred to as the ‘destroyer of knowledge and self-realization’. The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism states that the cause of all suffering is ‘lust’, ‘coveting’ or ‘craving’. Even Christianity, presents that four of the seven deadly sins (envy, gluttony, greed, and lust) directly involve desire. Rituals such as prayer, fasting, and confession all aim at curbing desire.

Suffering can be traced back to desire. Fear and anxiety can be understood in terms of desires about the future. Whereas, anger and sadness relate to desires about the past.

Desire is not only hurtful, but its outcome even more so. The accumulation of material wealth – houses, cars, and other riches rob us of our time and peace. You think that acquiring things will make you feel secure, but the reality is that the more you have the more fear for losing it. This continually drags you further and further away from the peace your soul is yearning for. An excess of desire is called greed. Because greed is insatiable, it prevents us from enjoying what we already have. The greater problem of greed is that it is all-consuming, reducing life to nothing but an endless quest for more. To want something and not get it leaves you feeling frustrated. Learning to be free from desire is learning how to be peaceful. Desire causes peace to disappear.

No sooner is one desire fulfilled, people formulate new desires. The problem is that our desires evolved ‘merely’ to promote our survival and reproduction. They did not evolve to make us happy or satisfied, to ennoble us, or to give our life any meaning beyond them. Today, survival is no longer the most pressing issue. Yet here we still are, chained to our desires like a slave to his master.

“Our desires always disappoint us; for though we meet with something that gives us satisfaction, yet it never thoroughly answers our expectation.” – Elbert Hubbard

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Feeling anxious? Nothing to fret over.

To feel anxious when one attempts something new is natural, it becomes a problem though when it stops us from achieving our goals. When it grows into a feeling that we just don’t seem to be able to shake off.

Mistakes are a big cause of anxiety. We all make mistakes. It is natural. The trick is to learn from them. Ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this? How can I learn from this?

‘Make Mistakes’ might be a goal worth considering. At the least, it deserves to be called a New Year resolution. Why? As Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Mistakes are the essence of learning. As people encounter new things and develop new skills, they will make mistakes. Mistakes or failure must not be seen as incompetence but as growth challenges – necessary for learning.

Mistakes must become opportunities to learn and grow. Have the courage to say to yourself – ‘I am going to practice thinking differently’. Although, learning from mistakes cannot be automatic, we can teach ourselves that they are an important part of the learning process. How many things you know were actually invented by mistake – Penicillin, Fire-crackers, Velcro, Potato Chips, X-ray images, even Plastic and Ice-cream!

Having some fear of mistakes might be a good thing as it may actually help performance enhancement. But excessive fear could cause problems. Avoiding fear-provoking situations, social meetings – dating, presentations, etc., and procrastinating about not being able to complete a task.

A helpful tool to overcome mistakes is – Repeated and frequent practice. Over time, you start to feel more comfortable with making mistakes. Don’t be discouraged if your anxiety doesn’t lessen right away, this is normal and expected. Keep trying and repeating as frequently as you can.

Never think that you cannot conquer your anxiety. You can. Just imagine a life without anxiety.

Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” -Charles Spurgeon

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Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

The text book definition of “comfort zone” is that psychological state in which things feel familiar. The person is at ease and in control of the environment. It can also be termed as “an anxiety-neutral position.” Simply put, Comfort zones are those plush, cushy places that are nice to be in, but really do not offer you any real support for personal development.

Although, stepping out of a comfort zone raises anxiety and generates a stress response, this also results in an enhanced level of concentration and focus.

Inspirational quotes encourage you to get out and do something strange – something you wouldn’t normally do – as getting out of your routine takes so much work. With a little understanding and a few adjustments, you can break away from your routine and do great things.

Why is it that we tend to get comfortable with the familiar, but when we are introduced to new and interesting things, the glimmer fades so quickly? Pushing too hard might cause a negative result, and reinforce the idea that challenging yourself is a bad idea. It becomes our natural tendency to return to an anxiety neutral, comfortable state.

So, what do you really get when you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone?

• You will be more productive. Comfort kills productivity. In the absence of deadlines and expectations, we lose the drive and ambition to do more and learn new things.

• You will have an easier time dealing with new and unexpected changes. By taking risks in a controlled fashion and challenging yourself to things you normally would not do, can prepare you for life changes.

• You will find it easier to push your boundaries in the future. Once you start stepping out of your comfort zone, you become accustomed to that state “Productive discomfort”. As you challenge yourself, your comfort zone adjusts so what was difficult and anxiety-inducing becomes easier as you repeat it.

• You will find it easier to brainstorm and harness your creativity. This is a soft benefit, but seeking new experiences, learning new skills, and opening the door to new ideas inspire us in educative ways. A positively uncomfortable experience helps us see problems in a new light.

The benefits you get after stepping outside of your comfort zone can linger. There’s the overall self-improvement you get through the skills you’re learning, the new foods you’re trying, the new country you’re visiting, and the new job you’re interviewing for. There’s also the soft mental benefits you get from broadening your horizons.

Now, a few quick tips –

Do everyday things differently. Take a different route to work. Try a new restaurant without checking the reviews first.

Whether the change you make is large or small, make a change in the way you do things on a day-to-day basis.

Take your time making decisions. Slow down, observe what’s going on, take your time to interpret what you see, and then intervene.

Do it in small steps. It takes a lot of courage to break out of your comfort zone. Identify your fears, and then face them step by step.

The experiences you have may be mind-blowing or regrettable, but that doesn’t matter. The point is that you’re doing it, and you’re pushing yourself past the mental blocks that tell you to do nothing.

Trying new things is difficult. If it were not, breaking out of your comfort zone would be easy and we would do it all the time.

It’s not a good idea to live outside of your comfort zone all the time. You need to come back from time to time to process your experiences. The last thing you want is for the new and interesting to quickly become commonplace and boring.

So, get out of that armchair or couch you are lounging in. Challenge yourself. to try something different. Anything that makes you a better version from what is today. Unlock the power and energy that comes from getting out of your really comfort zone.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy
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Resistance

Resistance to change is the act of opposing or struggling with modifications or transformations that alter the status quo.
Resistance is a sign that our ego is being challenged and it occurs as we perceive the imminent change as a threat. Key words here are ‘perceive’ and ‘threat’. The threat need not be real or large for resistance to occur.
When we have to ‘face’ something new the first thing we meet is our own resistance. As we realize that there is something within us that needs to change, we experience resistance. To allow the change to flow through you, Let Go. Let go of things that you are comfortable with. Let go of abilities you have gained competence in. Because, you now have to move on to new challenges. Once we pass through this process, we find that something has ‘softened’ and ‘melted’ inside us. This was resistance.
Embrace Change.
“The resistance that you fight physically in the gym and the resistance that you fight in life can only build a strong character.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
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Be Flexible

Things that break easily tend to be rigid and hard. Therefore and to be unbreakable, we need to be flexible.

Circumstances change. Being flexible is about adjusting to such changes while keeping our goal in sight. This makes us unbreakable, and the journey easier.

It is also about resilience and sensitivity to things others say and do. Faith in ourselves. Confidence in our potential. Belief that there is benefit in everything that is happening.

Resilience is the super quality that can be best described by looking at people who have been knocked down by life and have returned stronger than before. Rather than letting failure overcome them, they find a way to rise.

Cultivate flexibility, build a positive attitude, promote optimism, manage emotions, and see failure as a tool to improve.

Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” – Tony Robbins

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Fear Of Failure

The belief – ‘survival of the fittest,’ has been ingrained into our psyche since the earliest days of civilization. Repeatedly told that the world is competitive and only the ‘top notch’ can survive, we live comparing our successes apropos others. Competitiveness is explained as the possession of a strong desire to be more successful than others or the quality of being as good as or better than others of a comparable nature.

We live in perpetual fear of failure. Of threatened survival. Is it true that being an ‘always winner’ can bring genuine happiness? Can it even guarantee happiness? Is it not more likely that buying into this belief, might actually be ensuring unhappiness?

Ask anyone why they have not accomplished their goals yet, and fear of failure will always crop up as the number one reason to, most of the time. But, this has nothing to do with being born with low self-confidence. It has everything to do with fear of failure being a socially acceptable behaviour. What we really fear is failing to do something right the first time. Is it really reasonable to expect anyone to do ‘right the first time around’? No. People require several attempts and lots of practice to get things right at all. Yet we go on expecting ourselves to ‘do it right’ the first time.

Why are we in this situation? Right from school, we are trained that getting the ‘right’ answer the first time is the only thing that is rewarded, whereas the wrong answer is punished in a variety of ways: low grades, scolding and contempt from teachers and peers. By our late teens, we have been very effectively trained to fear failure. And most certainly not been taught to embrace failure as a key step in learning.

Most of us are still stuck with a big, ugly Fear of Failure staring us in the face whenever we try to break out of our current reality, go after big goals, or think about learning something new. Somewhere along the way, one has to de-learn the lesson to fear failure. Learn to go after what you want regardless of how often you might probably fail. Embrace failure as a part of getting what you want out of life.

The keys here will be –

Re-training your brain to go after new things. Take a class in something you’ve never done before. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you’ve never done it before, you are bound to fail the first few times you try it. This is a great way to relearn how to court failure, and then overcome it on your way to achievement.

Remind yourself that, fear of failure wasn’t always there for you. When you were a toddler, you had absolutely no fear of failure. If you were afraid to fail, you’d never have learned to walk! Somewhere inside who has absolutely zero fear of failure. That inside man wants to try to do everything. Access that brave little person once again, and you can achieve anything.

Choose to cultivate contentment, joy and bliss. Real, lasting happiness is about being who we really are and not something we have to strive for or can buy. Choose happiness now.

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden

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Hope: I think, I can!

‘Hope’ – a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.

Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. Amidst the constant changes in life and continually arising confusing, chaotic situations, Hope becomes our life jacket. Hope helps us to keep afloat in the storms that at times cause unexpected changes. Living with Hope keeps us awake. Hope opens us to the opportunities that life offers. We overcome fear and expect the best. We develop the vision that everything will get better and all things will themselves fall in line.

Hope helps us to keep the meaning of our life alive.

Barbara Fredrickson argues that hope comes into its own when crisis looms, opening us to new creative possibilities. That with great need comes an unusually wide range of ideas, as well as such positive emotions as happiness and joy, courage, and empowerment. Hopeful people are “like the little engine that could, [because] they keep telling themselves “I think I can, I think I can”. Such positive thinking bears fruit.

Hope has the ability to help people heal faster and easier. Individuals who maintain hope, especially when battling illness, significantly enhance their chances of recovery. This is important because people with chronic illness believe they have little chance of recovery. If health care providers begin to recognize the importance of hope in the recovery process, then they could learn to instill hope within their patients; thus enabling patients to develop healthy coping strategies. Shaping people’s beliefs and expectations to be more hopeful and optimistic is an essential component of positive psychology. In general, people who possess hope and think optimistically have a greater sense of well-being.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

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Being Bold

Do you remember what it was like to ride the bicycle with support wheels? The constant swaying. A little to the left and then resting on the little wheel, then off to the right. Lurching from one side to the other. Stopping and starting. Hiccups. All the way. Now, do you remember the exhilaration when, as a child, you could cycle without those aids! Free as a bird.

You can still do this. Every day. Facing all those daunting tasks and looking around for those small support wheels. You never needed them. And you don’t need them now. However challenging the situation may be. Even when the job at hand is totally new. It’s just learning to cycle again. Whatever obstacles are put in you path, whatever hurdles you come across. You don’t need those little support wheels. Ever again.

Pick yourself up. Remind that you did it before. You can do it again. Drag yourself out of your comfort zone.  Discard those feelings of discomfort. Those misgivings. The niggles of suspicion. Slay the ghosts of fear. Have faith.

Trust yourself and go for it; you will achieve. You will be surprised by your own force. Sitting in the comfort zone, you will stagnate.

“Being bold is being firm, sure, confident, fearless, daring, strong, resilient, and not easily intimidated. It means you’re willing to go where you’ve never been, willing to try what you’ve never tried, and willing to trust what you’ve never trusted.” – Mike Yaconelli

Being Bold 20171128

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Move On With Determination

Determination is defined as firmness of purpose. Determination is that positive emotional feeling which involves proceeding towards a difficult goal, despite obstacles. Determination serves to motivate behaviour that will help achieve one’s goal. Determination is the pre-cursor to goal attainment.

To be successful at any activity, one should follow a series of steps. First, have the desire to achieve. Immediately followed by motivation to be on the top. To do so, one needs determination. And to get this determination to work, we need passion. Passion is strong and barely controllable emotion. It is pure energy.

This is the energy inside each of us. It is this energy that gets blocked when we resist change. When we are not prepared to change our thinking. When we do not own responsibility for our own well-being. When we lack self-esteem. When we react rather than respond to situations. When we suppress feelings. And when we are comparing and criticising. We do not realize that not expending energy itself consumes energy. In other words, remaining at the same status (being static) will also use our energy.

Determination is the positive emotion that pushes individuals toward action, that results in important outcomes such as diligence and perseverance, and the development of constructive coping mechanisms. Acting with determination also boosts physical health and mental well-being. Specific positive outcomes include illness resistance, increased survival rates and decreased levels of depression.

An individual experiences positive personal growth when they are able to proactively cope with a difficult situation. In such a case, an individual can acknowledge a demanding situation, take action and maintain high coping potential. One can acknowledge the benefits of a difficult experience yet display a willingness to put forth an effort and achieve specific personal goals.

It is very hard to move on, but once we do move on and with determination, we will realise it was the best decision we have ever made.

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” – Mario Andretti

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When Doing One Thing, Do Just That One Thing

I’m a person of whim, and easily distracted. I don’t like multitasking. When I’m doing one thing, I like to do just that thing.” – Margaret Atwood

Multitasking is working with split attention and currently enjoys a great reputation, but the fact is that we are never actually multitasking. Instead the brain switches between tasks so quickly that it feels we are performing each activity in succession. Imagine a machine were to switch between tasks. We know how much downtime is involved, changeover operations have to be scheduled and performed fully, else the machine will malfunction during the process. It’s not easy for our brain to switch tasks. It takes time and invokes a second level of executive functioning, meaning that we have to use a lot of resources to switch tasks. Do we pause to think what kind of costs we are loading on each task switch? Multitasking drains our effectiveness. We end up performing each activity far more poorly than if we had done it on its own. And the task-switching overhead multiplies exponentially with the number of things being juggled.

The antidote to doing too many things at once is, of course, to only do one thing at a time. That’s the most basic definition of concentration: doing one thing at a time. It is the easiest thing we can do to create a substantial increase in our ability to focus.

When we reduce the number of things you are mentally juggling, the cognitive cost is vastly reduced. Just changing from three objects to two objects frees up a tremendous amount of overhead. The best, however, is to reduce the number of things we are doing or thinking about to one at a time. This lowers the juggling overhead to zero, and allows us to focus 100 percent of our brainpower on one topic.

Develop a habit of doing one thing at a time.

Distractions have become the norm in this tech-driven world today. But it’s more of a habit we have got used to. The challenge now, to break this habit is to make a new habit. Which should be – doing just one thing at a time. Every time we catch ourselves doing too many things at one time, let’s consciously return to just that one essential. The thing that matters. Practise this at every opportunity, at work, at home, while driving the car, all day long. Gently remind ourselves, “One thing at a time.”

We can take a quick check on how strong our habit for distraction has become. Shut everything off and do something simple with no distractions. The first thing that happens, often, is that the mind begins to complain “This is boring. There’s something on TV. Why can’t I just play some music? What’s wrong with eating while studying?” And so on. We will experience anything from mild discomfort to an almost irresistible compulsion to bring back the distractions.

That’s the place to start. To attempt some discipline about doing one thing at a time while trying to concentrate. Concentrating without distractions will eventually turn out to be incredibly pleasant. It will refresh and energize. Stable focus can increase our feeling of satisfaction in what you are doing.

It’s not that difficult. All it takes is a little practice.

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