Posts Tagged With: Life

Worrying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Gratitude

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

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

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

The essentiality of ‘being grateful’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Clarity Is A Choice

Career just meandering along ? Life following a course of it’s own ?

Maybe your focus needs to be clearer. If it is all just waking up each morning and seeing what happens, then it is absolutely crucial that you take the time to decide and write down exactly where it is you want to go. How much longer will you continue to climb the ladder of success, only to realize too late that it was leaning against the wrong building? Just pick a point in the future, whether it’s six months from now or five years from now, and spend a few hours writing out a clear description of where you want to be at that time. I know many people who aren’t sure where they want to go, so they avoid committing anything to writing in order to “keep their options open.” What would happen if you pursued that attitude to its logical conclusion? If you always kept your options open and never made any firm commitments, then you’d never get promoted, start your own business, get married, have a family, move to that new home, etc. except to the degree that someone else made that decision for you.

I used to have a friend like this, who still hasn’t decided what he wants to do with his life. He yields control of his life to others without even realizing it, simply because he’s unwilling to take the time to define a vision for his own life out of fear of making the wrong choice. His life is ruled by others who push their goals onto him, which he accepts by default. Ask yourself if you’re in the same boat. If a friend of yours became totally committed to getting you to change something in your life at random — your career, your living situation, your relationship, etc. — could s/he do it just by being absolutely certain and committed that it’s the right thing for you? Could a business associate come along and radically alter your plans for the week without you ever deciding consciously that such a change is consistent with your goals? We all suffer from problems like these to the degree that we fail to set clear goals for ourselves. There is a big difference between recognizing and acting on a true opportunity and being knocked off course without making a conscious decision to shift gears.

Waiting for something to inspire you and hoping that the perfect outcome will just fall into your lap is nothing but a fantasy. Clear decision-making won’t happen passively; you actually have to physically put in the time to make it happen. If you don’t have clear goals simply because you don’t know what you want, then sit down and actively decide what you want. That sense of knowing what you want isn’t going to just come to you in a form of divine inspiration. Clarity is a choice, not an accident or a gift. Clarity doesn’t come to you — you have to go to it. Not setting goals is the same thing as deciding to be a slave to the goals of others.

“The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.” – Conan O’Brien

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