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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To Be Great

To be great, One need not be special. One only has to be willing to work hard at it.

No great achiever – even those who made it seem easy – ever succeeded without hard work.” ~Jonathan Sacks

Very often one hears that people are born with natural talent. This is just not true. We are born with hardly any innate skills. Excellence therefore, is primarily born not of inherent ability, but of deliberate practice.

We all want to be excellent at what we do. So, how does talent actually work? Actually, you can be good at whatever you want… within reason. The keywords are … Whatever you want …

The questions that now arise are – How do you know? Where are you supposed to focus? What if you don’t even know what you’re passionate about?

So what do you do?

There are umpteen books, essays and writings which extol one to strive for greatness. People struggle and agonize over this conundrum for lifetimes. They chase one career after another, just to realize that they were originally cut-out for a third. Necessarily, one has to pass through all these processes. The answer lies in the lessons that must be learned.


Learnings start in school. The entire environment in school conspires to push one towards seeking out new opportunities. Every day, children arrive at school and return home, wonder-struck at the myriad possibilities there small world provides. They pick up new abilities, new habits, new choices. Sports, Music, Arts, multiple avenues of learning. Yet, the child is not born with any of these abilities. Yes, he is drawn to a certain type, but he knows nothing of it. The only way he can actually get better is therefore by practice. And practice. And more practice.

Although, a school provides the breeding ground for developing these talents and abilities, it is the home where the child actually begins learning. It is a natural progression from parent to child. The first things children want to do, and excel at, are what their parents do. Day in and day out. One would see that musician parents produce musically inclined children. Academicians produce researchers. And so on.

One will also note that the school environment is limited. And generally, the child’s upward progress will flat-line at some point. This is because their abilities are not being challenged enough. They get comfortable with a certain level of talent. As that is what their immediate audience demands. So, why do they need to get any better? This is where the first steps towards greatness actually germinate. They just want to get better !

They step out. Out of their comfort zones. Into the world. They expose themselves to more challenges. They begin to see others who are equally good or better. And these people tell themselves that they can get better too. And with more practice, they begin to realize that they can now do things in their field which sometime back, they never imagined were possible.

Thinking that talent has a limit and that one is born to only achieve a certain level of skill, people grow comfortable with what seems a reasonable amount of talent. Always tell yourself – ‘I can get much better’.

Then, there is nothing holding you back.


As time passes by, interests wane. Sometimes, other attractions pop-up. Sometimes, responsibilities crop up. Sometimes, people just don’t want to do it anymore. We call this flagging motivation. You know, at every stage of your life, you are the best at a particular activity. As good as you ever thought you could be. The lurking danger is that you may no longer want that ability.

At this stage, ask yourself – ‘If it’s possible for anyone to acquire any skill, why don’t more people do it? Why don’t they get good at things they’ve always wanted to do, like cooking or sports or playing the piano?’

The first answer, of course, is that it’s difficult, much harder than people realize, and requires an incredible amount of discipline. It just takes time and effort, which most people don’t have or aren’t willing to give.

But the second answer, the one that’s not addressed enough, is ‘motivation’.

Eminem reminds us – “If people take anything from my music, it should be motivation to know that anything is possible as long as you keep working at it and don’t back down.”

And so it begins. Where this comes from is a mystery that escapes the current grasp of science. But make no mistake. You cannot become great without motivation.

Thinking over this, one cannot ignore the thought that pops up – ‘If I can do anything, what makes me choose one pursuit over another?’

It has to come down to desire, to passion, to what truly motivates you. Otherwise, you will eventually lose interest and never master a skill.

A successful individual typically sets his next goal somewhat but not too much above his last achievement. In this way he steadily raises his level of aspiration.” – Kurt Lewin


The last of the learnings is sorting out hobbies and pastimes from something one really wants to do. For many, what they did at school were things they did not want to fully dedicate themselves to. They were just hobbies. One needs to give some serious thought to these activities. Think of these as greater than just misplaced passions.

Parker Palmer writes, “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am”.

It’s not just about being good at it. It’s about being good at the right thing. Many of us could spend our lives climbing the ladder of success only to realize it was leaning up against the wrong wall. So be careful what you choose to excel at.

Listen to that tiny voice in your head. Listen to your life. It is your heart calling out your true desires. “Your calling,” Frederick Buechner famously wrote, “is the place where your deepest joy meets the world’s deepest need.” That’s what personal greatness looks like: finding what the world needs and what makes you come alive and combining them. That’s your sweet spot.

What it takes to succeed in the world and how to find that thing you were meant to do –

  1. Find something you love. Ideally, surround yourself with others who share your passion. Your environment matters.
  2. Do it until you can become good, eventually even great, at it. And don’t worry if you’re not that good yet. This is what practice is for. But make sure this is something you are motivated to do even when you are bad at it.
  3. Share your gift in a way that helps other people. If you do this, you actually can get paid to do what you love. Otherwise, it will only ever be a hobby.

Remember to begin by discarding the idea that “people are born with it.” It’s just not true. Talent has little or nothing to do with greatness. You can make yourself into any number of things, and you can even make yourself great.

Because the truth is, just about anyone can get better at just about anything.

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“Take those chances and you can achieve greatness, whereas if you go conservative, you’ll never know. I truly believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Even if you fail, learning and moving on is sometimes the best thing.” ~ Danica Patrick

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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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“Change is rarely straightforward… Sometimes it’s as complex as chaos theory and as slow as evolution. Even things that seem to happen suddenly arise from deep roots in the past or from long-dormant seeds.” ~ Rebecca SolnitChange 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.

​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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Be An Eagle

Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks?

The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift itself higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

Be An Eagle

If achieving goals were easy, everyone would do it quickly and without difficulty. Even if your vision is clear and you can articulate a detailed roadmap, there are always obstacles in the path. ​

What stops you from achieving success is often yourself. With a little unwanted help from those around you. This lack of support from those closest to you – family, friends – plays a critical role in halting a challenge before it has even begun. ‘There’s no way you can do that’ is the classic response from these people, when presented with a potential challenge. Overcoming this barrier should be the first step on your path. 

An important key to delivering success is to dissect the challenge into a number of smaller steps. Each small step can be viewed as a short-term goal. Combining a number of short-term goals leads to the delivery of a medium-term goal, and combining medium-term goals leads to the completion of your journey, the delivery of your challenge and success! Goal-setting, by itself, is relatively simple. A goal should be challenging but achievable – it is important that you establish your goals at the beginning and make sure they are outside your comfort zone; don’t set your sights low. Having committed to the challenge, you must construct a plan to optimize each of the areas required to deliver success. Beware of the common risk that comes from friends who do not share your enthusiasm and continually offer you de-motivating lollipops. Do not leave anything to chance; success is not a chance event. Monitor your progress regularly. Celebrate each small successful step. 

Generally, we challenge ourselves in physically measurable terms – losing weight, running a marathon, developing a beach body – but the brain is central to the delivery of success whatever the challenge. It is our loss of belief, commitment and motivation that leads to failure. This psychological trio conspires together to lead you astray. Believing you ‘can achieve your goal‘ provides the foundations to overcoming your challenge. With belief comes the commitment to invest – the time, effort and resources to make sure you continue to deliver your short-term goals. And success in achieving these goals increases your motivation.

A bizarre tool to stick yourself on the chosen path would be to make a contract. With yourself.  To deliver success. This simple commitment can become a pillar to lean on when you are struggling with belief or commitment or motivation. Your contract re-iterates the importance of your goal. It is a measurable deliverable and It indirectly induces the motivation needed to invest the appropriate amount of work until you have completed the tasks at hand.

Use your own priceless resource. Your brain. Thinking about your problems is the only way to really beat them. There’s no better place to apply expansive thinking than on issues holding you back. Quit banging your head against the same brick wall over and over. Take time to think things through and find creative solutions that bring fun and progress to the grind of obstacle removal. Discipline yourself emotionally, commit time and effort to your benefit regardless of external factors. Make the obstacle the No. 1 priority and focus on it every day until it’s gone. It’s the joy and journey of clearing those obstacles that makes life rich, and helps people feel truly accomplished when they finally reach the pinnacles of success.

Understand that obstacles come in different colours. There could be obstacles outside your control such as the economy, natural disasters, physical limitations, etc. Then, obstacles could be one-time issues but you have direct control over them, such as resources, cash flow, time availability, needed skills or talent. And finally, there are habitual obstacles. These obstacles reflect how people get in their own way. They can only be removed with behavioral change.

If you don’t see the obstacle or believe it’s a hindrance, you’ll never reach your goals, blaming everything and everyone but the real cause. So, pause and reflect from time to time. Evaluate, monitor your progress. Search for probable impediments that could disrupt your progress. Be patient. Learn to bide your time. To ride the storm, the most effective time would be to rise above when the storm actually hits. Hence, timing is crucial. The tougher the obstacle, the more time it might take to overcome. Observe the small progressions. They should encourage you to put in more effort. With time comes momentum. And momentum is the best way to knock off the obstacles.

When the storms of life come upon us, like the eagle, we can rise above them. What is your greatest challenge now? Write it down. Then let it lift you higher.

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Can’t Slow Down Enough

“We get such a kick out of looking forward to pleasures and rushing ahead to meet them that we can’t slow down enough to enjoy them when they come,” ~ Alan Watts

Cant Slow Down Enough
We live in a very tired world. The majority of workers suffer from burnout and extreme fatigue. And things nay not be different in other countries either. Slowing down can be frightening because ‘doing nothing’ leaves us feeling vulnerable and exposed, emotionally. Overworking hides these feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness, not just from others but also from ourselves.

As long as we keep busy, we can outrun that internal voice that says things like – ‘I am never good enough.’ Workaholism, therefore is just a form of escapism. The good old advice from zen masters is to “be more, do less.” For sure, you’ve heard that before. But we turned it on it’s head – ‘do-less; be-more’ has been made a personal development fantasy of our busy time – an honorable aspiration that everybody knows about but few actually practice. When meeting someone for the first time we usually ask, “What do you do?” We ask because, in our time and culture, identity is defined in large part by occupation or job title. It is how we typically define ourselves and how we understand our place in the world. We also classify and value people based on what they do. So, when we tell people that they should be less busy – that they should slow down, we get a ‘ yes, but ….’ reply.

Yes, but stamina and will power should be worshiped. Success through stick-to-itiveness is something our society adores. We have been told by the great men who walked before us: Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going!” and John Rockefeller expanded on that by mouthing, “There isn’t any other quality so essential to success as … perseverance … it overcomes almost everything, even nature.” We have conditioned ourselves to admiring perseverance to the point that – denying the needs of one’s body, mind and soul in pursuit of some external goal is seen as super-humanly virtuous.
Yes, but we believe our self-worth depends on how much we do. Nobody ever says it out loud. Yet, most people feel better when they’re overly busy. We believe that the more work we can stuff into a day, the more deserving we are. We judge others by how much they accomplish, because this is the way we judge ourselves ! So much ingrained in our psyche it has become, that most of the time we don’t even realize it is there.
Yes, but being busy gives us a sense of control. We like progress. We like growth. We fear stagnation and dormancy. It doesn’t matter if we are just circling uselessly around the same spot, just being busy gives us a sense of advancement. Even shooting arrows blindly into the dark, makes us feel safer than simply sitting warming our backsides. You see this clearly when disasters strike, be it a terrorist attack or a natural calamity. The first thing people ask is: “Why isn’t the government doing anything?” Because to most of us, a government that does, no matter how stupid or counter-productive its actions are, is way better than a government that does not.
This is the sum of our collective consciousness. Our global beliefs. All of us carry some of them around no matter who we are. Like all beliefs, they are neither good nor bad. They simply are. Sometimes they’re useful, other times they do you harm. However, being aware of these beliefs is far from being cleared of them. Start with a to-do list. Then, truly say that you won’t feel guilty when you’re idling around. And despite all your good intention to not judge yourself, that tiny voice in your head is ready to tear you apart.  Now the good news. You can actually change your behavior in spite of what you believe and you’ve been told over and over. Take new actions in place of what your habitual patterns would dictate. This ‘manually overrides’ your old conditionings!

One simple action that can free you from the blind busyness is this: Ask yourself what you need.

Ask yourself, at this very moment, what your body, mind and soul need. Then shut up and listen. Your body has an intelligence sharper than any IQ test can portray. Your soul has a wisdom so profound that no words can do it justice. But these superpowers of yours have a soft voice. And for many of us, that voice is further muffled and drowned amidst the loud clattering of our social conditioning, of our learned ideas about good and bad, right and wrong, “should” and “should not”.

When you listen with respect, you will hear the truth about what you need. Not some trumped up imaginary ideals approved by your ego. But, something to live in harmony, health, and joy. Certainly, you’ve censored this soft voice for a long time. So, it might get tough and the voice of truth may not speak to you for a while. But eventually it will, if you sincerely listen within. It may not present itself as a voice, but as a feeling, a knowing, a desire, or a whim coming out of nowhere.

It may tell you that you need to go lie down for twenty minutes, right now. It may tell you that you need to go to that little park near your office at lunch time and watch the birds. At times it may not be something you’d expect – that you need to drop the research assignment and go pick up a novel.

Of course there is the hard part. You need to trust the message you’re given and follow its lead as much as you can. Your inner knowing will only grow stronger if it’s taken seriously. Besides, what good does it do to have all the wisdom in the world, but not follow up with action? But it won’t be easy, at least in the beginning. The shackles of your existing belief structure will try to protest. Your self judgment will try to trap you in fear and guilt. They will give you a thousand reasons why you absolutely cannot afford to go take care of yourself, at least not in the now.

Part of who we are is what we do. God is a worker, and we are workers as well. Yet, we should be first of all – human beings. But mostly, we’re content with using shiny accomplishments to embellish a self that otherwise is vastly ordinary.

  1. Give yourself permission to slow down.
  2. Say NO to things that are not high on your priority list.
  3. Don’t forget to take time to breathe!
  4. Get enough rest!

Life makes heavy demands. Just remember to take time for yourself. The journey is long and tiring. Slow down and make yourself a priority in this life journey. Remember, you will get there in due time.

Slow down, enough. Ask yourself what you need. And take action to give yourself exactly that.

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