Life Learnings

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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Leadership

Warren Bennis once stated, “leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Great leaders possess impressive social intelligence, a zeal for change, and for the most part, a vision that allows them to set their sights on the issues that truly merit attention.

The responsibility of leaders is to develop a vision, provide direction and foster inspiration. Yet, while leaders set direction, they must use management skills to guide their people correctly. The mapped route must arrive at the proper destination.

An effective leader, therefore is a person who –

  • Creates an inspiring vision of the future. Leadership is proactive – problem solving, looking ahead, and not being satisfied with things as they are.
  • Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision. Effective leaders link together two different expectations – first, that hard work leads to good results, and next that good results lead to attractive rewards or incentives. This motivates people to work hard to achieve success, because they expect to enjoy the resulting rewards.
  • Manages delivery of the vision. Work allocation, delegation and monitoring will ensure effectiveness. This also includes change management. Changes must be implemented smoothly and thoroughly.
  • Coaches and builds a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision. Individual and team development are important activities. First, great leaders understand their team dynamics. Successful teams are created because the leader ensures that team members have the necessary skills and abilities to do their job and achieve the vision. They identify, leadership potential in others and nurture this. This creates and environment that ensures success over the long term.

Leader and Leadership should be understood properly. These roles are often confused with people who are just managers. Managers may be highly skilled, good at their jobs, and valuable to their organizations – but that does not make them leaders.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

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Don’t Postpone Work

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” – Pablo Picasso

To postpone is to cause or arrange for (something) to take place at a time later than that first scheduled. It is the nature of the mind to postpone work to tomorrow. The mind has the habit of flitting from one thing to another, from one thought to another. We have to still the unstable mind, stop it from wandering and focus it on one idea. This needs to be done repeatedly. Unfortunately though, most of us are unable to control the mind. So, we keep postponing the task at hand to tomorrow, which obviously never comes. Poet-saint Kabir put it so succinctly: ‘Kaal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab / Pal mein pralaya hoyegi, phir karoge kab’ — Do tomorrow’s work today and today’s work now / If this moment is lost, how will the work be done? Kabir advises us not to get into the realm of procrastination. No one knows how ‘tomorrow’ will turn out to be, whether we will be around or not. Time and tide wait for no one. At the end of life’s journey, all unfinished tasks will come to haunt us and we will be full of remorse and regret; this dissatisfaction becomes the cause of transmigration.

If there is something you have to accomplish, don’t postpone it. If it is possible, do it as soon as you can. Even if it is uncomfortable, time wasting or something else. When postponing becomes a habit, you learn to avoid uncomfortable situations. You search excuses not to tackle them. As soon as difficulties come flying in, you run away. That is definitely not the path to be effective or successful.

As long as you continue to avoid the task, nothing will happen and precious time would have flown by before you realize it. No sooner you address the issue, it might take some time to resolve it, but you can move on and focus your energies elsewhere.

Here it’s important to divide tasks into the matrix of Urgent – Non-Urgent v/s Important – Non-important. Highly effective people live in the 2nd quarter – Non-Urgent, Important. Because it’s the most effective way to live and manage your time. They don’t spend time in the 3rd or 4th quarter as these are always unimportant. And to live in the 1st quarter means to deal with constant fire-fighting. It is extremely stressful as you are constantly dealing with urgent AND important issues. Because they are important, you cannot reject them. Because they are urgent you cannot postpone them.

In the 2nd quarter, you deal with things that are important BUT not urgent yet. You have time to solve them without fear of deadlines. This gives you inner peace.

The habit of procrastinating work also keeps us away from spiritual pursuits. The mind tells us ‘enjoy the present moment. There is a lifetime ahead to finish our work’. It seeks to find newer excuses to not do the work at hand. Thus, an entire life might be wasted and there is nothing to show for it. As the deadline to finish a task gets closer, we get stressed and wonder what to do now. The habit of postponing work increases our stress levels.

Live in the 2nd quarter. Complete your work in the moment.

“The clock of life is wound but once, And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop, At late or early hour.
The present is the only time you own, So, live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in ‘tomorrow’, For the clock may be still.”
~ Robert H. Smith

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Ikigai 生き甲斐

I am confused. I don’t know what course or career to follow. Can you guide me?” Contradictory to popular opinion, there is no single or absolute answer to this question.

It is easy to put people in familiar boxes created by our education system and society. To compound matters, the market is inundated with aptitude tests. And there are enough pontifical gurus to direct you in one or the absolute opposite direction. That too, with great self-assuredness.

However, one thing is for certain. People are happier when they follow their passion, rather than a course or a degree.

A woman in a coma was dying. She suddenly had a feeling that she was taken up to heaven and stood before the Judgment Seat.

A woman in a coma was dying. She suddenly had a feeling that she was taken up to heaven and stood before the Judgment Seat.

“Who are you?” a Voice said to her.

“I’m the wife of the mayor,” she replied. “I did not ask whose wife you are but who you are.”

“I’m the mother of four children.”

“I did not ask whose mother you are, but who you are.”

“I’m a school teacher.” “I did not ask what your profession is but who you are.”

And so it went. No matter what she replied, she did not seem to give a satisfactory answer to the question, “Who are you?”

“I’m a Christian.” “I did not ask what your religion is but who you are.”

“I’m the one who went to church every day and always helped the poor and needy.” “I did not ask what you did but who you are.”

She evidently failed the examination, for she was sent back to earth. When she recovered from her illness, she was determined to find out who she was. And that made all the difference.

The Voice is asking the woman to name her ikigai but when she does, the Voice replies that that’s not the meaning of her life – ikigai – tell me again, what is it that defines who you are, that gives your life meaning, that makes your life worth living. One who lives for work will soon enough retire, or get laid off; one’s lover may leave; children will grow up and be gone; one’s dreams may fade; God may disappear. One will eventually die, and what will it all mean then?

So what is it that makes life worth living? What is your ikigai? Is it Work? Lover? Family? God? Friends? Is it a vocation? Many will answer “Yes,” yes to some, many, all or more of these. Our lives are very full, for many there are multiple sources of meaning, value and fulfillment – and those change too.

Of much greater value, than naming a single something that defines life value and meaning – ikigai – is nurturing and sustaining an attitude that embraces the promise of living every day, that takes delight in the ‘ongoingness’ of living.

Allow me introduce the Japanese concept of ‘ikigai‘. “Iki” (生き) refers to life and “gai” (甲斐) pertains to what one hopes for.  English has no equivalent, and ikigai applies not only to Japanese lives but to all. Ikigai is what, day after day and year after year, each of us most essentially lives for. The French have a similar concept – raison d’être, which literally means ‘reason of existence’. In the culture of Okinawa, ikigai is thought of as a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to enjoy life. In a TED TalkDan Buettner suggested ikigai as one of the reasons people in certain geographical zones had such long lives.

All of us have an ikigai. The word is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. Alternatively, it could refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable. It is not necessarily linked to one’s economic status or the present state of society. Even if a person feels that the present is dark, but they have a goal in mind, they may feel ikigai. Behaviours that make us feel ikigai are not actions we are forced to take – these are natural and spontaneous. In the article named Ikigai – jibun no kanosei, kaikasaseru katei (“Ikigai: the process of allowing the self’s possibilities to blossom”) Kobayashi Tsukasa says that “people can feel real ikigai only when, on the basis of personal maturity, the satisfaction of various desires, love and happiness, encounters with others, and a sense of the value of life, they proceed toward self-realization.”

Practising your ikigai takes you away from stress. This does not imply that there may not be angst. You may still aim at perfection and make yourself work harder. But the bliss is deeper. The desire is more innate and the fulfillment more intrinsic. It will never restrain or stifle you. And it is never, ever a chore. I am at my happiest when I just sit down and write.

What defines your ikigai ? It is a beautiful blend of four primary attributes.

That Which You Love: 

We all know this one. It relates to actions & deeds we value most in our life. Or it may be an inborn talent. This will be diverse for different people. It is also likely to change for the same person at different points of time in life. Know that your ikigai will shift and transform as you evolve. People start life as bankers, then discover their joy and passion is writing!

That Which You Are Good At:

The ikigai will be a natural inclination to follow a particular course without any end result or desire. The act itself is the reward. There is nothing contrived or laboured within the ikigai. The entire process of reward follows as a consequence and not as the motive or primary purpose of doing something. Do you now see why A.R. Rahman stands head and shoulders above others?

That Which The World Needs:

What you live and what you are good at must align with the the popular choice, needs of others. A state of conflict will exist when your passion does not match with societal demands. It is unlikely that the ikigai could be found by following popular dictum, practice or culture. Hence the necessity for aligning and adapting.

That Which You Can Be Paid For:

The icing on the cake! Do what you love, Be good at it, Satisfy the world needs and get paid for it.

Ikigai

The role of a mentor should be more of guiding people towards their ikigai. Necessitating a blend of two very practical elements. Marry what you love doing and what you are good at with what other people would be willing to pay you for. This is no easy task and needs tailoring, amending, adapting. This is also the reason that people elect to be entrepreneurs. It allows them to channel and sustain their ikigai.

Success comes to those who dedicate everything to their passion in life. To be successful, it is also very important to be humble and never let fame or money travel to your head.” – A. R. Rahman

One struggles each day to overcome the original question – “I am confused. I don’t know what course or career to follow. Can you guide me?” To point people away from multiple-choice questions on aptitude tests analysed by computer-aided software. There is no magic formula for determining the reason of your existence. The ikigai is highly unlikely to be discovered through aptitude tests or analyzing scoring patterns. The search is simpler and more intuitive. We need to move away from the gravitas of algorithms to answering the simpler question: your reason for getting up in the morning.

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Idleness > Busyness

Have you ever caught yourself lying in bed looking at the fan lazily turning over, or gazing at the waves lapping the shore, or just dreaming – in fact, doing nothing? If not yet, then just reading the first line made you long for it. Ignorantly, we call this wasting time. But and in this age of ‘busyness’, idleness could be the way to be. The stress, the chaos, the ‘no time for yourself’ life – doing nothing – could be the only way to give your mind that craved for peace and refresh your energies.

La dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) – is a way of life perfected by the Italians, especially those in the South. (Spaniards and Greeks do it too, but the poetic Italian words take my vote everytime!) I learned about this concept while watching Elizabeth Gilbert’s masterpiece – ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. The scene is set in a barbershop in Rome, where Julia and her friend get educated on the ways of the Italians. One of the male characters rubbishes the American idea of ‘relaxing’ – working themselves to the bone all week just so they can lay around in their pyjamas on weekends, down six packs and watch other people live their lives on TV. And then he presents the concept of la dolce far niente.

Based on the premise that doing nothing is actually an activity in itself, this idea can develop your problem-solving ability. It can make you creative. It could make you a solution seeker. Research says all these qualities are borne out of letting your thoughts wander randomly. Giving your brain time for self-reflection, improves the quality of your life.

Bill Watterson, the creator of that famous comic strip ‘Calvin & Hobbes’ said, “There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” ‘Time-wasting’ might actually become the movement for people who find themselves running on a treadmill of activity, that has sapped their strength to the extent that they don’t function like normal human beings anymore.

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Says author Manjiri Prabhu, “Doing nothing is actually far more productive than people think. For me, it also includes not thinking of doing anything, taking long walks, connecting with nature, watching movies, listening to music, chatting with friends, family or playing with dogs. These things nourish my soul.”

Research shows that indulging in hours, even days, of nothingness is a smarter way to live and work. Realising the need to give people’s brains the much-needed vacuum, companies such as 3M, Pixar, Google, Twitter and Facebook, have made ‘disconnected time’ a key aspect of their workplace. To be disconnected, is possibly, the first step to an idle mind. This January, France passed a law that gives citizens the “right to disconnect” after office hours. They cannot be forced or asked to check official emails or respond to them after work hours.

We have all been told that people who whiled away time were not doing anything useful with their life. But in this age of 24×7 ‘connectedness’, we crave – even lust for – seconds of serenity. Even as we think, we yearn to give our mind a rest. Our fingers are furiously working our smartphones or tablets while other people’s lives and comments occupy our headspace. Fashionably saying “I’m busy” to everyone, we take pleasure in the self-serving indulgence of ‘busyness’. We have enough warning about the ill effects of the ‘connect crave’ and recent studies have shown that our brains get a dopamine hit each time we experience something new. As we scroll through our social media, we get a ‘high’. Given this, Idleness, as a feeling, will not come easy.

A different perspective is brought in by life coach Jasmin Waldmann, who tells us that people are scared to be caught from doing nothing. She explains, “You are confronted with your inner self, and not all of it is ‘sunshine’.” We tend to be happy with mindless activities – phone, social media, TV, etc – that lets us live in the happy bubble we have created around ourselves, instead of letting our thoughts wander off to nothing-land. Author Sanil Sachar’s reasons for the unease is a little different. He says, “Everyone is running to outdo others in this made up rat race. There’s a fear of doing nothing because people think someone else is doing something you should be indulging in.”

How does one go about being idle? Waiting at that traffic signal – still your mind instead of muttering under your breath. In your seat before the film begins or awaiting company at your appointment – don’t play with your phone, just let your mind rest. Take work breaks and let your mind wander to far-off places, or just let it be blank. A blank slate is the best place to start over.

Relaxation, which we seek and yearn for – does not exist in the exotic, in the unknown or in the rare. Relaxation exists within each of us and is ours for the taking if we’re willing to put in the effort towards La dolce far niente – the sweetness of doing nothing!

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Laws Of Attraction And Success

“You attract what you fear, feel  and think.” – Denzel Washington

“We’re all born superstars, you just have to pull it out of yourself” – Lady Gaga

“Visualize clearly, precisely and frequently and it will manifest itself into reality.” – Conor McGregor

“Visualization works if you work hard.” – Jim Carey

“Decide what will be, who you will be and how you are going to do it.” – Will Smith

“As you think, so you shall become.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

“Don’t allow your thoughts to be on anything you don’t want.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

“Like attracts like.” – Steve Harvey

“If you can see it in your mind, you can hold it in your hand.” – Steve Harvey

“Laugh every chance you get.” – Steve Harvey

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Hope In The Dark

“It’s important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is, or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and tremendous destruction. The hope I’m interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It’s also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse narrative. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings.

Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes — you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.

Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away. And though hope can be an act of defiance, defiance isn’t enough reason to hope. But there are good reasons.

Hope is only a beginning; it’s not a substitute for action, only a basis for it.”

Hope Rebecca Solnit

Excerpted from “Hope In The Dark” by Rebecca Solnit

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Light Your Fire

A man was traveling and stopped at an intersection. He asked an elderly man, “Where does this road take me?” The elder one promptly questioned, “Where do you want to go?” The man replied, “I don’t know.” To which the old man opined, “Then take any road. What difference does it make.”

How true.

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​When we don’t know where we are going, any road will take us there. Enthusiasm without direction is like proliferating weeds in a garden. It will lead to frustration. A whole lot of energy is being wasted and nothing concrete is being seen. Goals give a sense of direction. Would you sit in a train or plane without knowing where it was going? Obviously ‘No’. Then why do people go through life aimlessly, without goals?

That was the easiest part. Because it did not require any effort to ask a question. But it is really challenging to find the solution. And for this riddle, there is no perfect answer. Some people know what they really want, but just haven’t pursued it. So, for them, it is only a matter to focus and realize what they wanted all along. Others will have a more difficult time. They have not yet figured out what their dream is. Or what they’d like to accomplish.

For those wandering aimlessly but would like to get a grip on things, it is best to start simple. Small steps, like thinking. Close your eyes and think about things. Deep inside, you already know what you want, only that it has not surfaced enough to be visible. That is why you have to go inside. Close your eyes and think.

Think about what’s important to you. Think about what you’d like people to talk about when you are no more. Think about how you would like to be remembered. Write down the things that come to mind. This should not be a one-time exercise. You will need to do it many times. Until you can see clearly. Your goal should be visible right in front and everything else will be a blur. Continue to explore your inner consciousness till you can see clearly.

This was the easier part. The struggle starts as you build a road map to get there. There are always several roads to get where you want to go. The ones that are easy have many shortcuts and compromises. The others will be difficult, treacherous and full of hardships and obstacles. But one has to walk down this street. There is a technique here which works – think backwards. From the end to the beginning.

What is the last thing you’ll need to do to achieve that outcome? What is the thing you’ll need to do just before that step? What is the thing you’ll need to do before that step? And so on, until you get to the first step. The first step is what you need to focus on.

On the best sunny day, the most powerful magnifying glass will not ignite the paper if you keep moving it around. But focus and hold it in place and the paper will light up. That is the power of concentration.

This was the easy part. Now you actually have to go and do it. You have your plan outlined. Surely you can now have the 1-2-3-step guide laid out too. What is needed and critically so, is to monitor how you stick to the plan. It could get very complicated keeping track of several goals with different time frames. What can be done to simplify things ? It is suggested to break down the goals into smaller components. And then monitor them. So you have just one small sub-goal one at a time. And several such sub-goals leading to a short-term goal. And a bouquet of short-term goals building up to your medium-term goal. A number of medium-term goals lead to a long-term goal and finally targeting the life-time goal.

The reason you focus only on one goal at a time is because it is difficult to follow many objectives at the same time. So, we sort them into actionable aims. When you need to accomplish only one thing this week, you actually boost your chances of success. As you can really focus more energy into making it happen. However and when you decide to do 3-5 things in the next two weeks, it is much more likely that you won’t do any of them.

When you achieve the short-term goal, select another one which is in line to get you to your medium-term goal. Once the medium-term goal is accomplished, choose a new medium-term goal to get you to your long-term goal. No sooner is your long-term goal accomplished, set your sights on a new long-term goal. Keep this up, and you will achieve your aim. Importantly, you won’t be wandering aimlessly anymore. You will have discovered purpose, hope, faith, confidence and success.

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We aren’t who we want to be

We aren’t who we want to be. We are what society demands. We are what our parents choose. We don’t want to disappoint anyone; we have a great need to be loved. So we smother the best in us. Gradually, the light of our dreams turns into the monster of our nightmares. They become things not done, possibilities not lived.” – Paulo Coelho

We Arent Who We Want To Be

All of us have been tuned to create pictures of ourselves in our own minds. Pictures of what we believe we are. We can wrap this idea around us as much as we want, but that will not make it true. The age-old question we are asked at every family gathering, every counselling session, every casual conversation is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Mind you, this has nothing to do with the person you actually are. It’s a trick question. Most often the questioner is not really interested in your answer. He/She is just opening a door to seed your consciousness with his/her own thoughts. Thereby super-imposing your personality with a neat, presentable cover supposedly acceptable to society. You’re trapped.

You don’t want to disappoint anyone – parents, teachers, friends, your peer group. So you acquiesce – accept something reluctantly but without protest. And you gradually start believing it. The lie becomes your life. Now, your thoughts, actions, behaviour, everything starts adapting to this new perception which is being created for you. This persona you are creating is slowly suppressing your inherent self. Dimming that inner light which is so essential to present the reality to the outside world. You don’t move on enough. You stay because of reasons that are usually non-existent. You make up reasons why one cannot do something or go somewhere. Because your inner soul has been squashed. That voice has been silenced. Of course, one has responsibilities that cannot be easily abandoned, but those are not usually the things that keep us fixed in one spot. It is your belief, your idea about what it means, what is required of you, what is expected of you. Because, you don’t want to disappoint anyone.

Here’s where things can change. Must change. The good news is: You are whoever you choose to be.

It solely depends on how you choose to view yourself. Say, “I don’t want to care about the way other people perceive my lifestyle. I am what I am, I do what I do. End of story.”

No sooner have you uttered this magic mantra, the world completely turns around. Everything you thought to be true and necessary and wanted can be changed and discarded and thrown away. The truth is inside you. Awaken and find yourself. You do not need permission to be yourself. It’s your right to be who you want to be. It’s your mind, body and spirit, so how you use the three is your choice and your choice only. Once you become aware of this your inner voice can be assertive again. That inner light will start shining brighter. That is the light which you need to illuminate your path in this dark world. Nothing else.

Since, your self-perceptions were instilled before you had any say in the matter, learning to change how you see yourself helps find hidden strengths. Self-perception is simply being aware of who you are, what you’re like, and what you’re capable of. Your self-perception must project your positive self-esteem. But it should also acknowledge your shortcomings. Adjusting your self-perception is basically being honest with yourself. Recognizing your weak points helps you identify when you need to ask for help. Acknowledging your strengths gives you the confidence, if you feel down.

You can’t grow if you don’t try. You will have to actually plant the seed in your life. Nothing is holding you back except yourself. Unleash the possibilities to get things done. Opening your mind to new things means trying new things. Make it happen; don’t make excuses! Don’t restrict yourself. When you pre-fix ideas of what you’re “able” to do or not do, you have limited your opportunities. Open your world by unlatching this door and you can create, experience, feel, and learn.

All those things you considered impossible are simply so because you taught yourself to believe that. Whatever you believe you achieve, so do not let fear stand in the way of your desires. If you’ve been dying to do something, but you fear failure down the line, it’s time to let go of your fears and make your move right now. Just by taking action, you open your mind to new beliefs and possibilities. Fear should be what it really is – just another way of telling you to take action.

The time to be yourself is now, not next week or next year.

 

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Harsh Words, Deep Scars

We should try to avoid saying harsh words to loved ones and colleagues as they can leave scars on the mind. If necessary, be firm but polite. When seniors in office or elders speak rudely, we should try to stay silent or politely express our point of view. Ahimsa or non-violence means not injuring others in thought, word or deed.” – Pankaj Kumar

How many times have we heard, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me”. Humbug! In truth, hurtful words can cause profound emotional harm. Recent research shows that people who were verbally abused as children grow up to be self-critical adults prone to depression and anxiety. Other people’s words have an incredible power to affect how we see and feel about ourselves. While positive words of encouragement can uplift and inspire us, negative words cut to the core and resonate over and over again.

To help people become happy, treat them the way you’d like to be treated yourself. Talk nicely. Don’t be mean. Sounds simple, but those are some of the most important things you can do.

Verbal abuse includes insults, swearing, threats of physical abuse and spiteful comments or behaviour. People may have learned this from their own parents or peers. But it is more likely they are simply not aware of positive ways to motivate. Verbal abuse is often overlooked and difficult to identify. Culturally, we don’t take the consequences seriously because the scars are not immediately visible and the victims are often so used to being treated in a certain manner that they do not seek help.

Over time, people begin to believe the negative things they hear about themselves and start to use those negative statements as explanations for everything that goes wrong. A pattern of self-criticism and negative thinking follows. In many cases, verbal aggression by people leads to physical aggression by the victims. The consequences of verbal abuse should not be underestimated. Physical abuse may leave actual scars but verbal abuse leaves invisible scars. The impact of verbal abuse on vulnerable, developing regions of the brain can have damaging effects that last a lifetime.

So why do people choose to abuse others? It’s all about power and control. In every healthy relationship, partners will try to build each other’s confidence. But emotionally controlling behaviour undermines their partner’s sense of self. The victims start to believe that they cannot cope, leading to become more dependent on the abuser.

A quick checklist can determine if you have someone who might be an abuser. More importantly, it can point to changes which you can make to avoid becoming one.

  1. Use words and attitudes to disrespect others?
  2. Persistently demand and retain control?
  3. Humiliate, criticize or shout?
  4. Treat others so badly that they are embarrassed amongst their peers?
  5. Ignore or put down others’ opinions or accomplishments?
  6. Blame others for their own abusive behaviour?
  7. See others as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
  8. Treat others as though they are inferior?
  9. Manipulate?

Harsh Words Deep Scars

People should avoid yelling, demeaning, or otherwise acting in ways that erode confidence in their children, family, friends, colleagues. “Being a good parent is probably one of the most difficult jobs in the world, and one of the most important,” Dr. Sachs-Ericsson says. “A good childhood can last a lifetime.” Dealing with verbal abuse is simple. But it needs loads of patience and self-esteem.

  • Focus on positive attributes and actions. Convey your support and approval for them.
  • Smile and compliment them. Kill them with kindness! Keep your cool, then smile, and say something very nice in return to their comments.
  • In case of misdemeanours or mistakes, make it clear the behaviour is bad, but don’t deride or put down.
  • Whatever you do, don’t lose your temper! As feelings escalate, things might just spiral out of control before you even realize it. Keep your cool, and remember you can always let off steam at a convenient time later.
  • Be firm, yet polite. Be very clear about your requests and statements. Smile, and be polite, but stand firm. Then, follow through with your actions.
  • Read books and talk to other people to learn more effective man management skills.
  • Find support for yourself so you can better deal with the stress.

“Kindness and politeness are not overrated at all. They’re underused.” ~ Tommy Lee Jones

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