Posts tagged meaningful life

47 Tiny Ways to Make Someone Happy or Smile

Though we all want to make someone happy or smile, we get so caught up in our work and lives and travel that we don’t bother to be any nicer or do beyond what is expected of us. 

I am no different and I openly talk about how my husband and I loosened up on being sweet to each other during the beginning of the lockdown to vent out a bit of pressure. But then we realized, hey, now we only got each other. There is no traffic, we can work together from home, and food is still abundant. We should sing don’t worry, be happy all day long. 

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The Pandemic Chronicles  – The Acceptance

On one April morning. The lockdown continues. Bengaluru, India.

 

Hello Friends,

How have you been?

I have been juggling with writing, admin work, personal stuff, cleaning, laundry, cooking, and staying updated with the news.

Different news clips catch my husband’s and my attention even though we both scroll Google News. We share and collate our information at the end of the day during dinner unless he decides to escape to the bathroom. (For context you would need to read the first part of these pandemic chronicles. I can only hint that he avoids a dinner of raw eggplants and bottle gourd still in one piece.) 

Only one morning did we see a video on COVID statistics else we prefer to not distract ourselves at the beginning of the day.

When I shut out the global crisis, I feel peaceful. The atmosphere seems perfect to work and just be. There is no traffic. Most factories have closed down. Office buildings, malls, and stores are closed. Flights are halted. People are at home. Of course, I feel horrible for appreciating the world peace as all these business shutdowns mean lost jobs, unemployment, lack of food, and irreversible life-long changes. 

Irrespective of how bad I feel I can’t help but notice that the skies, the oceans, and the land have been reset by a continuous world quarantine.

Within a month of the lockdown, ecosystems are returning to their old states. After years, Punjab saw the Himalayan skyline from its homes and mustard fields. The birds are louder. Civets and nilgais roam on Delhi roads. In Japan, deers have come out of the park and are now on roads. Someone posted a picture of peacocks in Mumbai streets. Olive Ridley turtles are laying eggs on the beaches of Odisha. Dolphins frolic on Mumbai beaches. There was an elephant in Dehradun. Someone saw wild boars in cities. Then there was sheep somewhere. No, it was not New Zealand.

Would anacondas, tigers, elephants, and sloths come out in another two-three months of lockdown?

Not only environments but people, too, are restoring to their adolescent versions when living freely and taking over the world was a higher priority than being puppeteered by the fear of missing out. We work, read, cook, eat homemade food, meditate, do yoga, paint, clean our kitchens, do gardening, and are taking control of our lives like never before. 

When I go out in the balcony, I see a foreign woman making milkshakes in her kitchen throughout the day. Or maybe she is making lassi to cool down in this Bangalore heat. From the same building, the confident voice of a guy on his team meetings races towards me.

But here I am pacing up and down trying to call my banks’ customer care. I understand that we are in a tough situation but I feel that my bank relationship managers have got more reason to not do their work now. 

If I could be any further frustrated by the dirty tricks that my bank plays, I would surprise myself. I have an account in another bank, too, but they are even more pathetic, if that is even possible. This is the nth time they’ve canceled my debit card (in the pretext to send me a new one) without even asking me. One day I swipe the card at the grocery store, and the machine says invalid card. Once I was traveling in Malaysia, I swiped my card at a store, and the store attendant said something I couldn’t understand. Google Assistant translated the message to say the card was invalid. I have many more stories. If you work at a bank and promise me that you won’t charge me interest on my savings, yes that has happened too, please reach out. (Do message me if you want to know the name of these banks and want to stay away from them. Hint: one of them is synonymous with town. Or should I just write the names here?)

If only systems worked. A car mechanic charged 400 rupees to visit apart from the usual service charges as he claimed that the police are beating the service guys even if they show the identification card especially granted for the pandemic times. I believe him in a blink and pay.

The service industry is suffering. Daily laborers are stuck in big cities, unable to go home. Artists have lost livelihood. The health care industry is overworked. I have still not been able to push away the Italian nurses’ faces deeply lined by wearing masks for a long time out of my mind.

Weirdly, some people are working incessantly while others are losing jobs, businesses, and even future opportunities for at least a few months. Nearly 200 million people are predicted to end up out of work.

Delivery guys must be in high demand right now though.

Amazon, Flipkart, Swiggy— the companies that never sell groceries — are now selling essential items, too. After a few weeks of shut down, the portals opened with limited deliveries due to a shortage of staff and other constraints. My husband and I compete amongst ourselves to see who can book an order for milk and bread first, and we are not the only ones racing for an online delivery slot.

When the daily laborers got a chance to go home, they fled. That there was no commute and they had to walk hundreds of kilometers, all the way home, in the rain and the sun, mostly without any medical help and food or a roof at night, didn’t deter them. Some walked for days on highways and railway tracks with their infants, with their newly married partners, with their hungry dogs, with their clothes in a bundle, with their stoves on their backs, stopping by the railway tracks to cook pulses and rice, or waiting in long lines to get some curry and chapati, so that they could continue walking. 

Those daily wagers moved despite their fear. We are all living on despite our fears. The fear of losing jobs, of losing incomes, of losing loved ones, of losing a complete year is slowly creeping up. We clutch onto whatever we have.

The human lot is a restless one though.

A friend said that now when she can’t travel, she wants to travel. 

I prefer not to think about visiting any place right now. More than hiking and breathing in the fresh air and stretching my limbs I would be worried about sanitizing and washing everything from the binoculars to the akki rotis. (More on traveling in the pandemic here.)

But how can we complain about not being able to travel when even funerals are banned. The one who had to leave is gone. Left behind are the friends and the relatives, masked and restricted, even from mourning together. They can’t even complain as the restrictions are for their good. Maybe the events should be strictly monitored to make sure people maintain distance and follow the best practices but does the government has that many resources to spare?

I didn’t know while writing this diary in April but soon I would also attend the prayer services of a friend gone too soon. In the hospital, instead of hugging her mother, I would caress aunty’s arm and then would soon soak my hands in sanitizer. Instead of wiping another acquaintance’s tears, I would imagine how bad it would be if I had to get admitted to the hospital due to COVID. The thoughts of getting sick, without anyone close to help, with my partner on my side, who might be restrained from coming close to me, the imminent danger I could put him in, the thought of all the days I would lose, the breath I would lose, and wondering if my body couldn’t fight the disease and how much my family would worry would keep me on my toes. I would keep distance and wouldn’t complain about not being able to hold a proper funeral. 

The death rate of Italy, the US, Brazil, and the UK has worried us all. 

I wonder how many old people who passed away were prepared to die. How many children and grandchildren were planning their elder’s 50th wedding anniversary or a hundredth birthday or waiting to show them their first published book or excited to have them at their wedding? Those plans must have been buried with the dead ones. 

Old people, pregnant women, children, and people with chronic illnesses — people who have weaker or a developing immunity are advised to stay home.

My parents don’t leave the house, they tell me. They have found solace in their garden, which is fragrant with the Queen of the Night year-round. Their madhumalti vine is pinker than usual, bowed under the weight of the flowers. The tailor bird’s chicks growing up in a money plant leaf nest keep my father and his phone busy.

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This is how I think of trees. Blobs of color and life.

 

While the elders have to be cautious, the young ones are bored at home. 

My friend’s son just received two lessons at home, and his teachers are wondering if they could continue the video lessons. Homeschooling might finally catch up, as work from home is lastly appreciated.

Hilarious work-from-home videos are doing rounds on the internet. Somewhere two furry cats are punching each other in the background while their journalist mother reads live news on the television. Pantless journalists have gotten some limelight, too. Some people didn’t notice their laptops had hung right when they were logging out of a Zoom meeting and undressed in front of their entire team on camera.

Life-long memories are being created.

But not everyone is sympathetic even now. Some Chinese pet parents have been throwing their dogs and cats from their balconies as “cats and dogs can spread coronavirus” news went viral on their social media. 

Stray animals seem better but they must be so clueless right now. What about the street dogs who used to eat out of the restaurants’ trash? Wait. What about homeless people? I am not sure about the homeless but on my rare evening walk, I see bamboo plates, some heaped with rice and some half-empty, on the streets. The dogs are being fed.

There are the homeless, and then there are people with homes. Some of them were moving jobs and homes and cities. Friends were to go to college this year. Parents were returning to India after visiting their children. Someone was selling a house. Someone was buying one. 

Nothing matters anymore. Life is on hold. 

Even crime rates have reduced. But what about those victims who were waiting for their case hearings or whose lawyers were in the middle of collecting proofs? What about the men and women stuck with abusive partners? What about the children who were being molested at homes?

This is an article in which, unlike my usual irritating disposition of wanting to consider every possibility, I don’t want to peek inside the nooks and corners of each and every situation. It is better to be ignorant sometimes. 

To keep my sanity, I avoid most news except facts and statistics that come from high-authority websites. But I read on Facebook that people are drowning in the pools of bad news. Please don’t believe everything you see. Also, we can’t control most of the things that happen.

 

 

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Pizza helps, believe me.

 

People are worried about getting jobs at this time. The US and the UK might establish universal basic pay and pay their citizens 1200$ a month, but would India ever be able to implement a country-wide support system? Let us ignore for the time being that in the US a forgivable debt of about half a trillion-dollar was distributed to big businesses and public companies and hitherto no one knows the real distribution. (Later both the US and Spain would roll out Universal Basic Pays.)

Beaurecracy, corruption, and religion have made the situation worse.

South Korea, Iran, and India — these are countries where religious congregations turned into coronaviruses’ incubation centers. You must have heard about Patient 21 from South Korea. What a shame and what a name!

But strange things are happening all around. Suddenly the movie Contagion is being viewed all around the world. Even though Netizens warned me not to see the movie in these panic times, I watched it and wasn’t gripped by fear, contrary to the popular opinion. Until we face something bad ourselves, we keep believing that nothing would happen to us. My deceased friend’s brother also said that mental health was never a thing for him much less imagining that depression would kill his sister one day. 

So much we don’t know. So much we ignore. As if life would be eternal. As if we are all immortals. 

Before this pandemic, I didn’t even know what pandemic is. I never searched. It was never a thing. But now when it is here, knocking on our doors, waiting to barge in, I wonder what we could have done differently. If you had a chance to go back, what would you change? 

But rather than focusing on the bygones, let us see what we can do now. 

I know that we will find balance out of this chaos. We will move towards equilibrium. We are moving towards equilibrium. But we can’t see it just yet. 

Until then, we need to take day by day. We have to hold hands. We have to let go.

 

Stay safe, stay engaged, and have a nice laugh.

Priyanka

 

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How’s your journey been in the pandemic? How are you coping? Would love to hear from you 🙂

 

The Pandemic Chronicles – The Beginning

Hello Friends,

How have you been?

Dictionary.com tells me that a virus means an infective agent that typically consists of a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat, is too small to be seen by light microscopy, and is able to multiply only within the living cells of a host.

A small molecule that cannot be even seen by the naked eye, that needs us, humans, to live and multiply, has pushed us inside our homes and have locked us from the outside. 

Here are some of my observations from the months spent locked inside the house during the pandemic. I wrote these updates as a personal diary for me to look back into the events later. But then I decided to publish the journal entries for everyone. Of course, not before sprinkling a little bit of humor to the otherwise serious matter. I hope you laugh a bit. And if I upset you unintentionally, please forgive me for I am just a die-hard comic. 

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Don’t Feel Like Working? Read This.

What to Do When You Don’t Want to Work?

I have put my computer aside more than once to cry over an unjust email or to get my fair share in a fight with my partner or another close friend. 

I have had bad days. I have sometimes taken off on those hard days. Instead of writing, I went out on a drive and bought tiger prawns or cried and slept or read Charles Darwin while drowning myself in chamomile tea.

These bouts of sulking in my misery or fighting followed by pampering and sometimes spending time with the other fighter of the duel leading to exhilaration and then to that moment of clarity where I justified the time spent crying as just another day lived and felt that life was as clear as a night sky have sometimes lasted for an hour and up to a day or even more.

One young summer of my life, I was living in Himachal, the home of the Himalayas. While learning the flute, practicing yoga, working on my blog, and trying to stick to Vipassana meditation techniques, I didn’t realize that I had buried myself under a lot of pressure to be the perfect Bohemian. Ironically, I was on a laid-back mountain staycation.

One Friday, my abuse of self-expectations pushed me to the abysmal depths of moroseness. I didn’t even want to lift my feet to walk to the bathroom. I spent two to three days lying in bed and weeping and sleeping and avoiding everyone and then hiking to a mountain alone.

 In the two days of nothingness, I ignored all work, didn’t practice the flute, and put the yoga and meditation aside for wiser people. And on the third day of the rendezvous, I hung out with my travel friends and chatted away in the sun while eating palak paneer with garlic naan.

I needed that break because I had tired myself while learning new skills and working continuously in a new environment for almost a month. I needed to relax. I needed to just be. 

The break from the routine did me good.

But when I am neither overworked nor under any kind of pressure and still spend hours or days brooding about how I don’t want to work today or do anything else, I try to correct myself. 

I say, hey, this time will never come back. You should use it well. Don’t be sad. Smile and chirp.

To manifest my ideas about how to get motivated to work and laugh, I have even written an article on how to make the most of the bad days. In the piece, I emphasize why we should get out of bed even when we don’t want to — we should acknowledge our feelings first, and meditate or read or do something else we enjoy and then slowly get back to work if we can.

I may sound like someone who expects life to be as perfect as an abstract Turing Machine. 

Or to some of you, I will appear like a mature person trying to channel her emotions and downfalls so that she can pick up herself faster than before. 

Well, I don’t want to stay fallen on the floor. Do you?

Also Read: Why we should keep climbing even if our hands bleed

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I love the idea of working even when we don’t feel like working to get our energy back. Working towards our goals irrespective of how we feel doesn’t signify that we are insensitive but shows that we are professionals who deliver what the world is waiting upon us for.

If you don’t go to work, maybe your presentation would get delayed and no one else would be able to step in your shoes. Or you might lose the opportunity of getting the project lead position because you didn’t take leadership initiatives. That conversation thread with a potential client might die for you didn’t follow up with your portfolio. If I don’t do anything for a few days at a stretch, not only would I feel a void, but my blog readers and clients wouldn’t be happy either.

We don’t always have to perform, but a continuous slack in our work attitude will show.

Or, instead of either moping or working, I would rather enjoy my time. Won’t we all? I would go out and buy more tiger prawns and cook them with bottle gourd. Or I will go cycling with a friend and revel in the fresh air.

Roaming around free on one or more bad days sounds better than working, especially when we don’t have the motivation to go to work.

But truth be told, our mind doesn’t let us tame it that easily.

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Work Usually Disengages Us from Bad Thoughts And Helps Us Look at Our Problem in a New Light

If I don’t engage in an activity that grips my attention, I keep revisiting the micro-nuisances of my otherwise beautiful life. 

I would be putting the scrabble alphabets together but crying intermittently about how the real estate agent was an incorrigible male-chauvinist unable to move on. But when I write, I am able to layout my emotions through my words (or any other work) in a wholesome way rather than mulling over them in my mind. 

Though the healing process could be different for everyone, most of us need something more capturing than entertainment to direct our thoughts. 

Mark McGuinness, a coach for creative professionals, said in the book Manage Your Day to Day“Treat your work as a refuge — an oasis of control and creative satisfaction in the midst of the bad stuff. Don’t beat yourself up if you are not on fire creatively every day — give yourself credit if you show up for work and make even a small amount of progress. When you put down your tools for the day you may even see your personal situation with a fresh eye.”

The above lines are true not only for creative people but for most of us. When we divert our attention from personal issues to our profession, we would not only progress on the work front but we may end up understanding our issues better.

How many times has it happened with you that while going through incessant meetings you forgot about that morning quarrel with your partner or an investment gone wrong? And when you do shake up work and drive back home, you realize how stupid the fight was or that one investment is bound to go bad in ten years of financial planning.

By dumping our energy into work we put ourselves into the driver’s seat of our life. We feel in control, at least professionally. Though our day might have started with an unexpected emotional speed breaker, we drive through the valley of work almost smoothly. Even if the drive isn’t that easy, the motion sets us for progress.

We should keep walking to become who we can in spite of the suffering, Nietzsche said. Or in other words, pain doesn’t mean that we should stop.

If you hate going to work or just do it for the money, you might find it harder to use task lists as a distraction. In such cases, I suggest you read these three pieces in which I talk about changing careers, finding passion, and how to build a career we love when we can’t find passion. 

But if you enjoy even some aspects of your work, chances are that you will be happier doing it and moving on rather than just sulking. Your service would be your anchor to positivity and growth.

When I immerse myself in editing a piece or scheduling Pinterest, I stay on the top of my work deliverables. Personal thoughts still come and go but rather than becoming the main thread of my brain they spawn on the side randomly. My work doesn’t let these unwanted notions take the full processing power of my brain, the unsettling threads die hungry, and I continue writing and researching about ancient caves and Marketing Analytics methods for dependent clients. 

I have also often seen that while I work the things that have been bothering me keep untangling themselves in the background. And I feel a growth, both, personally and professionally. 

“Depth of style can only spring from a deepening of our emotional life.” The greatest artist N. C. Wyeth once wrote in a letter to his youngest son Andrew Wyeth (Courtesy the book Posterity).

But if I was playing scrabble, the troublemakers would have overpowered the less-demanding gaming brain threads, and instead of winning with words such as conscientious and concomitant, I would be loosing with lost and found. I would be playing to beat my partner but my chain of thoughts would be, in turn, defeating me.

Work helps us channelize our thoughts, gives us control, and allows us to look at our problem in a new light, all three contributions are helpful when our emotions might otherwise drown us. 

 

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An Alchemist at Work, a painting by N. C. Wyeth / Public domain

 

Our focus on work shouldn’t be deterred by our mood for another big reason. 

Emotions Are Fleeting

How we feel change more often than we think — our emotions are not created just by our inner bodily reactions but also by our surroundings — an idea extensively discussed in the book How Emotions Are Made, by the famous psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett. A sunny morning invokes a gush of positivity but a dark evening brings along the clouds of doubt.

We never feel the same all the days of the week. We don’t even feel the same throughout a twenty-four-hour day. 

As we are constantly faced with volatile emotions, we cannot depend on them to guide our mood, our professions, and thus our lives. 

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Our emotions can show us thousands of faces every day. And they come and go.

Working Hard Implies More Skills = More Fun at Work And Less Hesitation

We can neither resolve our doubts nor our problems by sitting on our hands. But by working even during hard times, we would not only direct our energy but also get better at our job, while feeling more in control. And when we are more skilled we enjoy our work more and are less hesitant to do what we do even when we are not motivated to work. 

As Cal Newport writes in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, forcing the skills to come is the hardest phase. And then he shares the story of a bluegrass musician who plays 3-4 hours straight for a month to master a new fast tune.

A study conducted at Yale University proved that the more time we spend at work, the better we get, and the more we enjoy it. (I have written more about what makes for a good career in this article about following our curiosity rather than chasing the passion.)

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) also tells us that we need competence, the feeling that we are good at what we do, and autonomy, control over our day, to feel intrinsically motivated for our work.

To digest the idea of working to feel better, think of the difference between learning to swim and then swimming to relax. While we learn, we almost want to skip the lesson every day. But once you know the strokes, swimming is fun and helps us feel better.

“Life is or should be full of doing things you would prefer not to do,” John O’Hara wrote in a letter to his daughter, Wylie O’Hara. O’Hara was a popular and successful writer and his commitment to writing was at the peak even at the peak of his career. (Courtesy Posterity)

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I often wonder how patient a fisherman has to be. He has to work hard, even when the sea is rough.

How to Motivate Yourself to Work When You Don’t Feel Like Working?

As I said in a piece on creative rituals, I let my mood expire.

Instead of deciding whether we should go to work or not, we should just work. We can take the day slow, do some self-care, and then head out to work irrespective of our mood. It is like any other day but we would be easier on ourselves. Rather than criticizing ourselves about our emotional turmoil, we should pat ourselves on the back for going through the tough times like a warrior.  

The trick is to not think of work as an enemy but to perceive work as a savior. Something that anchors us. That holds our hand when we are falling. When we feel bad about everything or our heart is broken or we are facing a financial problem, we can still pick up that pencil or pen or get on a project that can add value to not only ours but others’ lives too.

Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art and Turning Pro, said in the parting away notes of the book Manage Your Day to Day about which I have talked above and which has inspired me to write this article,

“What is a professional, anyway? A professional is someone who can keep working at a high level of effort and ethics, no matter what is going on — for good or ill — around him or inside him. A professional shows up every day. A professional plays hurt. A professional takes neither success nor failure personally.”

He adds, “In the end, for me, it comes down to the work itself. A pro gets younger and more innocent as he or she ascends through the levels. It’s a paradox. We get salty and cynical, but we creep closer, too, to the wonder. You have to or you can’t keep going. Any other motivation will burn you out. You develop a practice, and the practice gets simpler and less self-oriented over time. We rise through the levels of professionalism by a process of surrender. We surrender to our gift, whatever that may be. We give ourselves up to the goddess and to the process.”

And then he ends his thought with a rhetorical question, “Is this a path you want to travel? Did someone say it was easy? Do you have a choice?”

But it is easier said than done.

When I am sad or feeling low, I still spend a couple of hours agonizing here and there but then I also look forward to opening an empty document and writing. Or I do some other admin work. Or something else. Or something else. 

Slowly I forget about the problem and the dark clouds and the inconvenient conversations for I have submerged myself in the fictional world of words. 

No matter what profession we are in, we all have our fictional worlds. We just have to get inside them.

When you get into the habit of embracing work rather than pushing it away in hard times, you will be able to surrender to it when you need the distraction the most. And if you practice enough, the distraction would have taken its own independent form. It would have become something larger than life. It would become your gift. 

Try working when you don’t feel like it. It isn’t as bad as it seems.

Or to say,

“When the fields get sodden, let’s not retreat to our homes. Let us put ourselves in the yoke. Let us pull harder. Let us sow. Come rain or thunder, we tend. Finally, we reap. And we see that the rain doesn’t make us sickly cold and the process doesn’t hurt us. But these are the things that keep us sane.”

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When we work hard, we receive the fruits. Our toil turns into flowers.

 

If you want to know what really matters, read this: 30 Life Lessons I Grasped From My Twenties

 

How often do you say I don’t want to go to work today? What are your thoughts on how to be motivated to work? Let me know in the comments.

Creative Routine and Rituals – How to Dream and Create Consistently

A creative routine is a topic that could expand to be as large and to shrink to be as small as you like, a bit like being able to sleep. While some people can’t focus until they have meandered around for hours and finally give in to guilt, others sit and get amazing work done by just holding the pen right: having a daily creative schedule could be complicated or could be simple and natural. 

What does a creative schedule even mean? A schedule that inspires creativity and helps the creators (writers, painters, entrepreneurs, designers, artists, and other creative professionals) forge their imaginations most desirably.

Also, creativity is subjective. A coder is creative when she can write a 100 line code in 10. A marketeer is creative when he can sell a toothpaste such as Pepsodent to the entire human race. 

Anyone with original ideas (in or out of their work sphere) is creative. 

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77 Deep Questions About Life – And Their Answers

Important Life Questions to Ask Yourself

 

I remember a quote that once said, ask the right questions. Over the years I have realized that questions are much more important than answers as without asking the right queries we can never hope for the right knowledge.

But it took me a while to even understand what questions I should ask of myself. Some of those doubts were always there in the background, hovering, emphasizing that I didn’t understand life. I had a vague feeling that I was dismaying over things that didn’t matter while ignoring the universal realities that would pull me out of my little problem bubbles. But I wasn’t sure. And I never took out time to pin those deep questions about life, and, hence, could never answer them.

The process of questioning deepened when I started writing and reading full-time. As I had redesigned my life from a corporate cycle of drudgery, I was too eager to question everything and to be better at the things I had failed at before. It was like I had found vigor again. The more I read, the more I understood, the more life questions I had, and the more incomprehensible it seems now.

As Franz Kafka once said, “Anyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate… but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins.”

The effort continues.

I am putting down some thought-provoking questions that have hitherto found me here. I have followed a natural course and have clubbed thematic questions together.

I have answered all the questions to keep an account of my thoughts on the matter. As you will see, I have some answers, but some of the questions to life still dodge me. You can completely ignore my responses and find your own.

Along with the important questions about life and their answers, I am also putting down the books that have helped me understand the matter.

I plan to update these self reflection questions and answers year-on-year or whenever my understanding changes.

Till then, I present to you the questionnaire of life from my lens.

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Travel Inspires Change and One Small Change Can Transform Our Life.

Everything begins with a story.

Let me recite a story from Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habits. This is a true story of a woman named Lisa(as per the records) who was the subject of a scientific study for understanding behavioral change and habits.

Please note: Though the story is the key to appreciate this article, I am summarizing the story for those readers who don’t want to read it. If you want to read the story, go to it here. Else continue reading the summary. 

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Powerful Quotes On Everything in Life

Powerful Quotes on Life

 

Like many others, I read about the lives and work of many great artists, writers, physicists, musicians, innovators, thinkers. But rather than quoting them, I prefer to share my interpretation of their ideas, generally. I feel that I haven’t assimilated their words well if I share them plain rather than doughing them with my thoughts.

But it is not always about the source or amalgamation of motivation. Ideas and inspiration need to keep floating in the universe irrespective of where they come from. After all, we are only the means to an end, and we all need a guiding light.

In this piece, I am sharing some of the most profound quotes about life that I have come across. The hope is to read these avant-garde quotes, to come back to them whenever we need them, or sift through them even when we don’t feel we require them to keep ourselves soaked in inspiration and to not let it deplete.

Let the journey of inspiration and belief begin.

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Note: Titles recur and follow a random order of inspiration.

On Contemplation.

There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality — Seneca.

(Read Open Letter to My Mind to see what all do we worry about.)

 

On Choosing.

“No” is a complete sentence — Annie Lamott.

Any justification dilutes the intent.

 

On Human Condition. 

Pity is a paralyzing mental luxury ― Will Durant.

But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated — Ernest Hemingway.

To be tough is to be fragile; to be tender is to be truly fierce — Farhana Qazi.

Don’t make adjustments an excuse — Yours Truly.

We hide behind the circumstances and never explore who we can be.

 

On Understanding Life.

Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves, we make poetry – W.B. Yeats.

We should never be shy about questioning ourselves.

 

On Love. 

Why does the sun go on shining? Why does the sea rush to shore? Don’t they know it’s the end of the world, ’Cause you don’t love me anymore? — From The End Of The World by Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee.

These lines don’t form a quote but they show how deep love can flow.

 

On Thinking Right.

Change your thoughts and you change your world — Norman Vincent Peale.

What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality — Plutarch.

But your questions, which are unanswerable without exception, all spring from the same erroneous thinking — Herman Hesse.

 

On Dreams.

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them — Walt Disney.

 

On What is Important.

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

a child with butterflies at sunset used in enouraging life quotes article.jpg

 

On Determination.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward — Amelia Earhart, an author, and the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

(Read why we need to continue even if we are bleeding.)

 

On Honesty.

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom — Thomas Jefferson.

 

On Getting Started.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started — Mark Twain.

Never wait for the perfect moment. If you do not start right away, then it means you never wanted to do it.

All glory comes from daring to begin―Ruskin Bond.

 

On Success. 

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at — Stephen Hawking.

Be the best sweeper you can be, and the doors of life will open in ways unknown.

(Read how to find something you can love.)

 

On Learning.

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own — Bruce Lee

 

On Belief.

Believe you can and you are halfway there — Theodore Roosevelt

The rest is logistics.

 

On Life. 

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving — Albert Einstein

Things work out on their own when you move.

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced — Soren Kierkegaard, an existential philosopher.

 

On Kindness.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted — Aesop

One morning, I told my cleaning lady to wait until I finished my shower so that I could make tea for her. But I couldn’t get out of the bathroom because the door was jammed. I shouted a few times so that she could hear me, and she did and pushed the door open. We can’t always see kindness flowing freely, but it always does.

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud — Maya Angelou

People rejoice when they receive an unexpected smile or a gentle hug. Their eyes speak. They feel that everything is okay. When I get out of my plastic bubble of sadness and smile, people smile, and we all fly high.

 

On the Matters of Heart. 

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart — Helen Keller

street art in penang boy and girl on cycle used in life quotes to show how simple life could be.jpg

On What is Important.

Having no limitation as limitation — Bruce Lee

Limitations are imaginary constructions of the human mind.

One those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go — T.S. Eliot

 

On Innovation.

I believe you have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate — Jeff Bezos

Don’t expect others to understand or appreciate your vision.

 

On Happiness. 

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking — Marcus Aurelius

You always have what you need.

 

On Eccentricity.

Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric — Bertrand Russell

Do what you think is right. The rest follows.

Every society honors its live conformists and dead troublemakers — Mignon McLaughlin.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it —  W.H.Murray.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
― Rob Siltanen

(Read my journey from coding to writing: Breaking the barriers)

 

On the Troubles of Life. 

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky — Rabindranath Tagore.

If we detest problems, we would always think of life as troubles and solutions. But life isn’t binary. It is an infinite equation.

On Relationships. 

Hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other — Rainer Maria Rilke.

We can only be with someone if they can be with our solitude.

(Read the importance of relationships and how to create them.)

 

On Pragmatism. 

History is something that very few people have been doing while everyone else was ploughing fields and carrying water buckets — Yuval Noah Harari, as he wrote in his book Sapiens.

A few plan, communicate, and lead. And the rest allow them.

 

On Doing. 

The shortest answer is doing the thing — Ernest Hemingway.

If we do, we get more answers than we would get by pondering.

 

On Fear. 

Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them — Rabindranath Tagore.

I always tried to please or patronize people because I didn’t want them to be upset with me or fight with me. Over time, I realized that people will think what they want to think. Instead of trying to be in their good books always, I should be least bothered about what someone would say. I can stand up for myself if the other threatens my integrity or peace.

 

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On Art.

No great art has ever been made without the artist having known danger — Rainer Maria Rilke

 

On The Most Important.

If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is nature’s way — Aristotle. [Marcus Aurelius writes this in his diary Meditations as well]

What is natural can never be wrong.

(Read why we should let like takes its course, inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet.)

 

On Being Larger Than Life.

I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death — Anne Frank, as she noted down in her diary.

(Read along: what is the purpose of our lives.)

 

On Belief.

My mother was the greatest mother in the world. She thought I was the greatest thing on two feet. I’d come home with a little composition I had written at school, and she’d look at it and say, ‘It’s wonderful! You’re another Shakespeare!’ I always assumed I could do anything. It really is amazing how much that has to do with your attitude — Stan Lee.

First, believe.

 

On Everything in Life.

When asked, ‘How do you write?’ I invariably answer, ‘one word at a time.’ — Stephen King.

You can apply this to anything in life.

(Read everything I have learned so far: in 4,500 words.)

 

On Being Larger Than Life.

Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it — Rabindranath Tagore.

 

On Truth.

Opinions are nothing, better than all is the self-contained calm of true realization. What does it matter which argument is true and which is false — what has been gained within is the real thing — Rabindranath Tagore writes in his book Gora.

 

children playing at sunset.jpg

 

On Love.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage — Lao Tzu.

(Read why we need a life partner and how to find one.)

 

On Loneliness.

The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself — Douglas Coupland.

 

On What is Important.

You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop — Rumi

You are complete in yourself.

 

On Life. 

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not — Henry David Thoreau.

Every journey to the outside begins from the inside.

 

On Human Condition.

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves — Henry David Thoreau

 

On Dreams and the Cosmos.

Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work — A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.

Dream and work; the universe puts the rest of the pieces together.

 

On What is Important.

Never stop smiling not even when you’re sad, someone might fall in love with your smile — Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

On Being Larger Than Life.

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly — R. Buckminster Fuller

Only you know what you are capable of.

people having at the beach blowing big sized bubbles.jpg

On Learning.

Instead of a grand pool of knowledge, a teacher should have a kind heart to facilitate an environment of learning — Yours Truly.

 

On Life.

There are no separate systems. The world is a continuum. Where to draw a boundary around a system depends on the purpose of the discussion― Donella H. Meadows.

 

On Truth.

Look, further on ahead, there, between truth and falsehood, a little empty space — Amrita Preetam.

 

On Becoming Better.

If you believe you can change and start changing your habits, the change becomes real― Charles Duhigg.

(Read why are habits so important.)

On Truth.

Live only with reason— Marcus Aurelius.

 

On Human Condition.

My grandfather was a wild-raspberry patch on the side of a mountain, and my grandmother was a flower garden in a concrete city — From The Stump Ranch Fish by Quinn Grover.

Do you believe that you don’t belong? We all have a place in the world; sometimes, it is the whole world.

 

On Art. 

The business of art is to reveal the relation between man and his environment — D. H. Lawrence.

 

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On Travel and Life.

It is not down in any map; true places never are — Herman Melville.

It is never about following the directions, it is about exploring.

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware — Martin Buber.

(Read what I have learned from traveling the world.)

 

On Writing.

Stories are our souls. Write and edit and tell yours with your whole selves. Tell them as if they are all that matters. It matters that you do it as if that is all there is — Jacqui Banaszynski

(Read my collection of articles on writing.)

 

On Time.

There’s never one sunrise the same or one sunset the same — Carlos Santana.

 

On Fear and Life.

Life is ours to be spent, not to be saved — D.H.Lawrence

Embrace fears. Overpower insecurities. Spend it for it was meant to be lived.

 

On Human Condition. 

The human soul needs actual beauty more than bread —  D. H. Lawrence

(Read and go back to the basics of life with The Little Prince.)

 

On Being Yourself.

Be yourself, everyone else is taken — Oscar Wilde

On Being Larger Than Life.

Another voice in his heart was telling him that he must not fall under the sway of the past and that one can do anything with oneself — Leo Tolstoy (as he wrote in Anna Karenina).

It is about overcoming the voices inside.

On Learning.

Life must be understood backward. But it must be lived forward ” — Søren Kierkegaard

We don’t know what will tomorrow bring but we can learn from the past.

(Read the 30 life lessons I learned in my twenties: Moving forward with pride.)

 

On Happiness.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony — Mahatma Gandhi

I rarely quote Gandhi, but this quote emphasizes the way of nature and the way of nature is always right.

 

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On Success.

Those who achieve the extraordinary are usually the most ordinary because they have nothing to prove to anybody. Be Humble — Aaron Lauritsen, as he wrote in his book 100 Days Drive.

We do the most amazing things when we mind our own business while rendering prestige useless.

 

On Life.

“Dig deep into your soul” — A Star is Born.

Don’t scratch the surface all your life. Fight. Strive. Bleed. Sweat. Cry. Run. Dig deep.

Once you lose that sense of wonder at being alive, you’re pretty much on the way out — David Bowie.

Don’t get so overshadowed by the problems, that you can’t see what is it all about. Live.

 

On Love and Work.

Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it —  Buddha

Devote yourself to your purpose.

(Read why work shouldn’t be boring and how to find and do what you love.)

 

On Travel.

यस्तु सञ्चरते देशान् सेवते यस्तु पण्डितान् !
तस्य विस्तारिता बुद्धिस्तैलबिन्दुरिवाम्भसि !! (A Sanskrit shloka that I can seem to find the source of. Please let me know if you know.)

The wisdom of the one who travels to many countries and serves the learned there increases as an oil drop spreads on water.

(Read why I travel the world.)

trekking+in+dharamshala+kangra+valley+waterfall+dharamkot+hike+himachal+pradesh.jpg

 

On Creativity.

All of my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it — David Bowie.

Prestige or fame shouldn’t be your drive. Your only drive could be your own ghosts.

What I like my music to do is awaken the ghosts inside me. Not the demons you understand, but the ghosts — David Bowie.

 

On Success.

The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity — Joshua Waitzkin, as he wrote in his book The Art of Learning.

Nothing special is going to come to save you.

(Read how to nurture the art of learning, inspired by Josh Waitzkin.)

 

On Truth.

Always go too far, because that’s where you’ll find the truth —  Albert Camus.

To infinity and beyond.

 

On the Power of time and Persistence. 

If you want to direct your life on a continual positive change, then you need to tap into the most powerful force for change in the universe. Fortunately for you, that force is always with you. That force is time  — Jeff Olsen (as he wrote in his book The Slight Edge).

Time is what keeps everything from happening at once —  Ray Cummings.

If time frightens us, this is because it works out the problem and the solution comes afterward —  Albert Camus.

But how else would it be?

(Read the importance of the process of learning versus the result.)

 

On Happiness. 

Happiness isn’t the result of getting all the other stuff right, but something you can do right now, and that then leads to getting the other stuff right. Be happy and the reason will appear — Jeff Olsen (as he wrote in his book The Slight Edge).

 

On Human Mind. 

Once in a great while, a few times in history, a human mind produces an observation so acute and unexpected that people can’t quite decide which is the more amazing — the fact or the thinking of it — Bill Bryson, as said in his book A Short History of Nearly Everything.

 

On Human Condition and Art. 

A human being is the only animal that thinks about future — Daniel Gilbert, as he wrote in his book Stumbling Upon Happiness.

I began to experience the fullness of winter in Kashmir, and finally understood what artist Cezanne meant when, as he painted, he attempted to capture the multiple reflections of a scene. “The landscape thinks itself in me…I am its consciousness,” he once said — Farhana Qazi, quoting the French Painter Cezanne in her book Secrets of the Kashmir Valley.

(Read the 15 things we overthink about)

animals+children+bunbuni+pastures++parvati+valley+india+mountains.jpg

 

On Suffering. 

Is it not a relief from suffering to be permitted to express it? —Paul Cézanne.

On the Past and Doing Better.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better — Maya Angelou.

Don’t rue over the past. We couldn’t have done any better when we didn’t know any better. To live is to learn.

On Hope. 

Hope is the magic carpet that transports us from the present moment into the realm of infinite possibilities —  H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

On Truth.

Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth.’ — Khalil Gibran.

 

On Human Condition.

Don’t underestimate the power of a human being. If needed, human consciousness can reach farther than the depths of the ocean—Yours truly.

उध्दरेदात्मनात्मानम् — udhdaredātmanātmānam —  Save yourself by yourself —  Swami Vivekananda

No one hurts you as much as you hurt yourself.

(Read how to manipulate consciousness to change reality.)

 

On the Small Things of Life.

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life — William Morris.

Without the details, the bigger picture won’t matter.

 

abstract colors bubbles life universe cosmos.jpg

 

On Worrying. 

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it ― Daniel Kahneman, as he wrote in his book Thinking Fast and Slow.

 

On Power. 

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any —  Alice Walker.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent — Eleanor Roosevelt.

 

On Being Larger Than Life.

The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun — George Orwell.

 

On Happiness and Experience.

The way an experience ends is more important to us than the total amount of pleasure we receive — until we think about it — Daniel Gilbert, as he said in his book Stumbling Upon Happiness.

The ending might seem to matter the most until you think about the experience. So think.

 

On Happiness and Human Condition. 

We treat our future selves as though they were our children, spending most of the hours of our days constructing tomorrows that we hope will make them happy — Daniel Gilbert, as he explained in his book Stumbling Upon Happiness.

To be a human being means to possess a feeling of inferiority which constantly presses towards its own conquest. The greater the feeling of inferiority that has been experienced, the more powerful is the urge for conquest and the more violent the emotional agitation ― Alfred Adler.

It is up to us to stop it.

(Read how to choose between ambition and happiness, lessons inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche.)

 

On the Redundancy of Abundance. 

So much is available, almost nothing can be found — Pico Iyer.

 

On Human Condition.

And dimly she realized one of the great laws of the human soul: that when the emotional soul receives a wounding shock, which does not kill the body, the soul seems to recover as the body recovers. But this is only appearance. It is really only the mechanism of the re-assumed habit. Slowly, slowly the wound to the soul begins to make itself felt, like a bruise, which only slowly deepens its terrible ache, till it fills all the psyche. And when we think we have recovered and forgotten, it is then that the terrible after-effects have to be encountered at their worst — David Herbert Lawrence, as he wrote in his book Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Time only seems to cover up a wound while the experience seeps into the deepest crevices of our consciousness.

 

On Being Larger Than Life.

One who daily puts the finishing touches to his life is never in want of time —  Seneca, as he noted in Letters From A Stoic.

Live as if no one is watching.

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On Doing Less. 

Most people think that big success is time-consuming and complicated. As a result, their calendars and to-do lists become overloaded and overwhelming. Success starts to feel out of reach so they settle for less. Unaware that big success comes when we do a few things well, they get lost trying to do too much and in the end accomplish too little. Over time they lower their expectations, abandon their dreams, and allow their life to get small. This is the wrong thing to make small.

Going small is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do. It is recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most. When you go as small as possible, you will be staring at one thing. And that’s the point — Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, as they explained in their book The One Thing.

 

On Forgiveness.

I thought that I needed your apology to move on. I really needed to forgive myself first —  Najwa Zebian.

When someone wrongs us, we need to forgive ourselves for trusting that person. Only then her side of the story comes in.

 

On Consciousness.

We don’t just treasure our memories. We are our memories — Daniel Gilbert, as he illustrated in his book Stumbling on Happiness.

On Truth.

Necessity is not an established fact, but an interpretation — Friedrich Nietzsche

We need much less than we think we do.

On Truth and Life.

The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is —  Kurt Vonnegut.

 

On Human Condition.

Caught in the deluge, we were torn — wanting to run for shelter but tempted, also, to sing in the rain — Joyce Maynard, as she wrote in An 18-Year-Old Looks Back on Life.

(Read about mindfulness and how to practice it, lessons inspired by Buddha as interpreted by Osho.)

 

 

On Being Larger Than Life.

To use your head you have to go out of your mind— Timothy Leary.

Psychedelics or no psychedelics, this is true.

 

One moment is dark,

and the next moment there is light,

you don’t have the slightest hint

of what is going to come next,

then why do you knit your brows,

smile for the now,

smile for the blue sky under which you sleep,

smile for the bright moon that gives strength,

smile for the bread you have just had,

smile for that you still breathe,

because you don’t know what would happen the next moment,

but don’t be scared,

for you cannot change anything,

all you can do is face the today fearlessly,

and that might just do it.

By Yours Truly.

tree near beach peaceful life.jpg

On Love and About Everything in Life.

To live in this world

you must be able

to do three things

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go.

By Mary Oliver, as said in the poem “In Blackwater Woods”.

To the Great Ocean,

Of the sunken arm that throws up a drop of water nothing remains but a kiss of salt.

Of the bodies of mankind along your shores a misty scent of wet flowers is all that lasts.

Your energy seems to slip away without ever being exhausted,

it seems to circle back into your calm.

By Pablo Neruda, from his poetry book, The Essentials of Neruda.

 

On Pausing. 

With every click of the shutter,
you’re trying to press pause on your life.
If only so you can feel a little more comfortable moving on
living in a world stuck on play — 
Morii, From Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

 

On Strength.

So few grains of happiness
measured against all the dark
and still the scales balance.

The world asks of us
only the strength we have and we give it.
Then it asks more, and we give it.
by Jane Hirshfield.

 

Let’s inspire ourselves when we are down, but not before accepting our feelings, letting them linger for a while, looking at them objectively, and when we know better, we can move on to deal with more.

In a moment, a moment is gone. And all we have is this moment. Let’s spend it with reason.

 

a woman with an earth shaped ball at sunset quotes about life.jpg

 

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Which one of these encouraging life quotes did you relate to the most? Tell me in the comments.

 

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Everything I Have Learned So Far

Important Life Lessons to Fall Back Upon

 

The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself — E.E. Cummings

While writing full-time for almost three years now, I have spent a lot more time looking inwards (and would continue to do so) than I did before. When I reflect on myself, I am able to look outwards with more compassion and a deeper understanding of life. And this growing insight into the external world and my own form the roots of my personal growth and my art, both of which, in turn, feed the soil with the dew from their leaves.

Learning paves way for more learning.

In this piece, I share everything that I have learned so far as a writer and from before. I believe that all that was important must have made itself available to my mind and heart while I was writing the article. And if I have missed something, either I do not care about it enough or it will appear in some form later and is not crucial until then.

Though this is more a cheat sheet for me and less an article for a reader looking for the wisdom of life, I hope I have shared some experience that will help you sail along this immense sea of life with a bit more ease. I am 32 years old, and this list of life learnings is long so you can skip ahead and read a section (all are randomly arranged with short titles) or go grab a coffee and then come back later to continue from where you left.

life learnings-Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Landschaft_mit_Gebirgssee,_Morgen.jpgBy Caspar David Friedrich / Public domain

 

Work, Skills, and Perseverance.

Quoting Galib or Bukowski or Edison doesn’t make anyone a poet or a writer or a visionary. Ideas hit hard as a hailstorm by living a dedicated life. 1

You will have to put in immense effort to create a remarkable life. There is also a teeny-tiny factor of luck. 2

Things take their course. Hydrate yourself with patience. 3

You can only shift the world right now, not in five minutes. 4

In simple terms —The quality of the 10,000 hours you spend to build skills is significant. The number of hours I sit on the chair to write is important, but the number of hours I don’t know if I was on the chair is even more important. Don’t pretend, do. 5

A tiny bit and one more tiny bit and another tiny bit matters̶ more than one large bit. The sum of many small things might not be greater than one big one, but several intangible forces start working in your favor when you are consistent. 6

 

Honesty. 

Your honesty aids you more than it benefits anyone else. 7

Honesty is a formless invincible savior. 8

 

Personality and Behavior.

A good life is not defined by work or relationships. The size of your bungalow or the freshness of the kingfish at dinner doesn’t quantify happiness either. Though these things might affect your mood or make you more comfortable, none of these alone or together can keep you happy and fulfilled. 9

Your temperament decides if you would live a good life filled with happiness. Temperament is the mesh that holds everything together. 10

If you get upset at small things, you will stay unhappy and guilt-prone. 11

Having a bad temperament doesn’t make you a bad person. But people around you would feel like using you as a punchbag every full moon. 12

You can always improve your nature but you will have to lift heavier weights¹ than you do in the gym. 13

Every day, the smallest of the things that you do make up who you are and what you would become. 14

 

Work.

If someone talks about work-life balance, tell them they are lying. 15

Work-life is not different from personal-life— You don’t enter into a new realm after breakfast. It is the same world of your ideas, your cat, your husband’s messages, your ginger tea, and your books. 16

After work, you don’t migrate to a new realm of personal life, but you get access to a more freely flowing time. It is the same world of your thoughts, interests, and temperament unless you hate your work. 17

The more fluidly work and personal life flow into each other, the easier it is. And then one day you can’t tell the difference which is which. 18

Work should not suck. 19

Passion is the remedy for some people. 20

In the absence of passion, there is still always something that you can be good at. Find it. 21

 

abstract-color-paint-painting-art-exploring.jpg

 

Life. 

Practice abstinence from following people unless you want to always walk behind. 22

 

Performance.

How you do one thing is how you do everything. 23

How to know if you are doing the best? A constant judgment of your choices or results would leave you more confused than a cat looking at her reflection. Your best efforts aggregate over a period of time when you work with compassion, dedication, patience, and maneuver your path every time you realize you have made a mistake. 24

You can always do better, but you don’t know how, yet. 25

 

Past. 

Rueing over a mistake is worse than trying to unfry the salmon. 26

You shouldn’t care about that Friday in 2014 when your ex Italian boyfriend threw your cashmere sweater out of the balcony as you would lie to yourself to fill the gap of memories³ and would hurt yourself by thinking imaginary things that are not winning you the best humor-book award either. Past is a fading star, and your reality is that milky moon up in the sky today. 27

The more you think about the past, the more habitual you become of thinking about the past — You start thinking to justify your actions and life so far but every time you feel you are done you will find more things to defend. You increase your reasons to worry rather than reducing them, ironically. Now you are watching the past from behind a hazy screen while your present is hazing away, too. 28

Letting go is the key to fulfillment.29

 

Things of real consequence. 

Small things are small. To keep them small you will have to stop obsessing over them. 30

Remove the phrase “it wasn’t fair” from your vocabulary and act as you deem correct or else get ready to unfry the salmon again. 31

Don’t be burdened by things that don’t seem to go your way. Things happen on their own accord, and it is hard to say what would do us good or what would do us bad. 32

You start to lose your understanding of yourself over a period of time. But remembering your roots is important to stay kind and compassionate. As they say, keep those old clothes hidden in the back of the closet. 33

The easier it is to bother you, the more you will be teased. 34

 

Happiness.

The world doesn’t care if you are in a bad mood or a good one even if you are Amitabh Bachchan. 35

No one is responsible for your happiness. 36

Self-pitying people always create a reason to pity themselves. You are not a reason for anyone’s unhappiness or the heart attacks they tell you they might get. 37

 

People and Human Condition.

If you want people to care, tell stories that they care about first. 38

People are waiting for you to cheer up so that they can laugh with you. 39

Laugh and make people laugh to keep it light. 40

People will always tell you to do what they think is right. And they all think they are right. 41

The more you try to please people, the difficult it becomes to please them. 42

People accept criticism better once you have appreciated them. 43

People like you if you put yourself below them. Put yourself on a lower pedestal a few times but don’t get used to it else you will always find yourself crawling on the grass. 44

People like you more if you let go of small things. 45

If you banter with people and show that you understand where they are coming from and you are like them, too, you have them. 46

The day you stand up to lead, people will follow you. But they will only continue following you if you bring conviction and relentlessness. 47

Everyone – even the richest and most popular people – get scared of missing out. Everyone gets jealous. 48

 

group of people.jpgChristian Satin / CC0

 

Worry and productivity.

Worry is constipation for the mind. 49

You worry more than you need to —You always overestimate the amount of effort or pain required to complete a task. When the time comes, you don’t quantify the effort and only care for the thing to get over. Later on, you always feel that it wasn’t that hard or it was different from how you had imagined it. Worry less. 50

Bad days won’t leave you alone. Someone who doesn’t have bad days is playing PubG on Google Pixel or binge-watching Money Heist. 51

Instead of brooding on bad days, do something you enjoy, whatever gives you pleasure or brings clarity. Get to your deliverables when you stop wishing the world to end. Now you don’t have a bad day but a few relaxing hours. 52

 

Fun.

Sometimes doing nothing and watching squirrels frolicking around should be your g̶o̶a̶l̶ essence of the day. 53

Fun is not the coolant but it is the fuel. Or: Don’t play to work better — Play to play. 54

Enjoyment doesn’t mean instant-gratification — You don’t have to grin every second, but the idea is not to cry to sleep every day either. 55

Instant gratification does refill our willpower. Now manipulate the willpower to do whatever you like. 56

children learning through different phases of life - everything I have learned so far.jpg

Communication.

Language needs to be changed with the company like one changes socks as per the wind of the day. 57

 

Seriousness versus Frolick.

In the advent of being sincere and poetic and philosophical, you don’t have to don Neitzsche’s countenance or stop forwarding cat memes. The greatest philosophy is in knowing and accepting who you are. 58

You can not only alienate yourself from others by being too solemn, but you can also miss out on intersecting with the free wavelengths of life. 59

Be sincere, not serious. 60

 

Knowledge.

If you know a little bit about everything, you are better placed than a lot of other people. 61

The easiest way to learn a lot about a lot of things is by reading books. 62

Don’t learn to be better than others. Learn to understand better. 63

 

Money.

Money can’t buy happiness or wisdom or well-being or relationships or anything valuable. But no-money buys unhappiness. 64

You are precious if you are not running behind money like everyone else. If you have skills, the money will come. 65

Money can buy flight tickets to Colombia and peri-peri french fries and these come close to happiness on some days. 66

 

Kindness.

Every act of kindness has the power to multiply like water hyacinth. 67

Kindness flows back. 68

Being kind sucks sometimes. 69

Ask everyone who shows up at your home for water. You never know who is drying in the drought. 70

You shouldn’t depend on your partner to do all the benevolent deeds — If he is softer than you, you still have to keep your flame of compassion and kindness ablaze. 71

 

Care, Writing, Art, and Performance.

Everyone can write. But you can only write well on the things you care about. 72

A lot of things can be only done well if you care. 73

Don’t shun something you aren’t proud of. See how you can improve. And that might make all the difference. 74

Lack of focus might not have anything to do with the quality  of the result— Maybe it wasn’t the right time for that idea. Try it later. 75

Believing in a secret ingredient can delay you from forming your own magical formula. 76

You cannot be there before you are there. The process is the result. 77

The road only shows up when you walk ahead. 78

 

the road the journey the path.jpg

 

Feelings and experiences.

We feel, and that is why anything matters². 79

You can never feel anyone else’s experience or happiness so don’t pity them or hate them. 80

 

Jealousy, Comparison, and Copying Others.

Everyone is figuring out something or the other. 81

The people you think got it easy never had it easy. Even a white, well-educated American male struggles in deciding how to handle the privilege. And his experience counts. 82

If you want to get something that someone else has, you should try exchanging your genome to theirs, living their past life, and getting in their head first. If you haven’t had enough, try following their routine for a month. Start with Elon Musk. Now notice how absurd the idea was. 83

The more we try to become like someone, the further we go away from becoming ourselves. 84

If you are doing something because others are doing it, then the only thing you are doing is copying. 85

You don’t have to avoid something because others are not doing it. 86

 

Forgiveness.

You can forgive people or you can reproach them about how they hurt you — But it is not about them anymore, it is about you. 87

Instead of a reprimand, a gentle nudge in the right direction can do more good to everyone. 88

 

People, Dispositions, and Human Condition.

Experience helps but being a novice at something could be lucky sometimes. 89

People don’t mean everything they say. Stop taking everything literally. 90

Not everything is about you. 91

Instead of defending yourself, hit a joke with another joke. Have fun. 92

Crime isn’t committed by bad people — It is committed by people. You could have been one of those people if things didn’t work out for you the way they did. 93

Good looks leave a better first impression. Sorry, the world is biased. 94

 

a girl freely playing in water.jpg

Friends.

Close friends can heal you faster than a cup of tea. Create healthy relationships for they carry you when you cannot walk. 95

Friends won’t wait for you eternally — Their life is going on while you are busy creating yours. You can either be in both lives at the same time or you can see yourself disappearing slowly from their story. 96

 

Doing One Thing at a Time.

Don’t try to do it all . 97

If you can’t resist doing it all — do it one at a time. 98

Multitask in things that aren’t that important. 99

 

Blogging and Art.

Blogging or writing or cartooning or doodling or Youtubing comes from a space within. It is not about how much you know, it is about how less you know and how curious you are. 100

No two blogs can be the same — people behind them are driven by different things. 101

A dilettante can’t win long-term by pretending. 102

 

Everyone looks at things differently.

 

Things of Real Consequence.

The world is a jungle book — and you can be the man-cub. Being different could be your way. 103

Not everyone cares for your stupid examples. 104

If you are thinking about the same problems over and over (the dictionary of Obscure Sorrows describes this weariness with the same old issues as Altschmerz) it doesn’t mean that you haven’t made any progress. Progress reflects in how you struggle with those problems. 105

It is okay to not know about the art classics as long as you know about the classics of life. 106

 

jungle of the world depicted in the louis vivin painting.jpg Fotographie Stephan Rohner / CC BY-SA

 

Love.

There are fewer things better than love. Let yourself fall in love. 107

Love will come and go but don’t forget to work on yourself while you are floating in the pool of love. Else you will sink soon. 108

Your partner is your portable home. 109

 

Overthinking.

If you are on the wrong path, you wouldn’t miss it because you were not thinking about it. But if you overbear yourself with the same thoughts, you would definitely end up tumbling. 110

 

Work, Monotony, Skills, Fun, and Life.

When something becomes really boring, then we are in a position to change the rules. 111

This constant tug of war between work and recreation cannot be always justified by spending more time at work — it can be only pacified by being more aware while working. 112

Doing laundry is not a waste of time. Rather than detesting the household chores, you can be open about learning something new and giving it your best as life isn’t only about the time you spent typing on your Mac. Instead, you type because you live a life away from the keyboard. Remember that work and life aren’t disjoint. 113

 

Things of Real Consequence.

It is okay if you don’t remember high school science. But high school science does make adult life better. 114

Keep your basics right. Visit the dentist. Get that checkup done. Now shift to autopilot and free yourself for other stuff. 115

Don’t get married or have a baby as absentmindedly as you switch on the television every night after returning from work. Getting married or having a child is a personal decision in spite of what the world tells you. 116

Television is designed to engage you in brainless activities that keep you hooked. Unhook and pick a book or play cards with friends, you will be more fulfilled. 117

 

Habits.

Habits can kill you or make you. Go back to the time when your mother used to discourage you from eating chocolate solely by making a statement about it being a good habit or not. 118

Worrying about forming good habits is paradoxical. Don’t do it. 119

playing as a child.jpg

 

Things of Real Consequence.

Life could end anytime. But you live like it won’t until the last moment. 120

Most probably people would judge you, but it has nothing to do with you. 121

Keeping a gun isn’t about personal protection. 122

Democracy is a pretense. 123

Don’t let any relationship define you. 124

Banks never care about the customer. They only pretend to. Think for yourself. 125

It is okay to feel lonely. 126

Parents are jealous of their children. Your life always seems easier than theirs. Don’t hold it against them. 127

 

Getting the Best.

Getting the best every time is only worth it if you are unaffected if you don’t get the best. Worrying over perfection is paradoxical. 128

 

Things of Real Consequence. 

If you can think about it, someone else can, too. If you feel it, someone else has felt it, too. What makes you different from others is what you do then. 129

Life isn’t like a book, but more like concentric circles. 130

Creativity is larger than life because it creates life. 131

A day is made up of good time, okay time, and bad time. 132

Every day is different from the previous one, even though it seems like exactly the same. 133

Not everything can be resolved by reading an article about it. 134

Stubborn, egotistic, and relentless avant-garde people shift the world. 135

You like to hide things deep inside. Then you think about those things to comfort yourself in the hour of need, and that is okay. 136

You would feel like hurting people at times. Especially if they are more successful or more beautiful or they have hurt you before. But don’t do it. 137

 

Learning.

Ethnolinguistics should be a subject in school. So should be emotional intelligence, personal growth, sex education, writing, arts, speech, gender identity, international relations, communication skills. If they are not, study them on your own. 138

Learn new words to express the best you can.  139

Studying a subject meticulously doesn’t take the poetry out of it. You would know the concepts and patterns so that you can identify them and use them or refuse to use them on your will. 140

 

sketch of a woman.jpg

 

Fulfillment.

Watching that molten sunset could be one of the most fulfilling things of the day. 141

 

Following instructions.

Don’t do something just because someone else asked you to do it. Run on reason. 142

 

Things of Real Consequence.

Until you think right you are compromising. 143

Find the fuel that your creativity demands. To begin with, live, laugh, run, cry, talk. 144

When you don’t understand something, pause. Or restart. 145

 

Traveling Solo.

You don’t need to justify why you want to travel alone. (the linked article is only an expression of how I feel when I travel and not a justification. )146

The beginning of a solo trip is always a little scary. You feel that it is you against the world. You imagine that everyone is watching you or laughing at you because you are wandering alone. But if you let the fear go for a second and look up, you will see that people are minding their own business and not staring at you. Trust the universe. 147

You would have to step out of your comfort zone if you want to grow. Travel is the means to this end. 148

 

Things of Real Consequence.

A cat, or anyone else, is yours because of the time you give to each other⁴. 149

Everyone gets scared. But in spite of the fear, you should let yourself walk, make a mistake, receive feedback with open arms, and do it again. Break that wall of fear brick by brick. Now you are free to face another fear. 150

You would never be able to win the approval of negative people, so the earlier you show them the way out, the less emotional baggage you will carry. 151

The show goes on. Participate. 152

 

 

The Continuum of The World.

Everything is connected — The work we do, the way we treat people, the way they talk to us, the appreciation we get, the food we eat, the people we hang out with, the places we want to visit, the guilt we carry, and the memories we relish. Don’t have disjoint expectations from each part of your life. 153

The world is a continuum. The better we can interconnect ideas, the more easily we can float in life⁵. 154

 

Things of Real Consequence.

Only experience can tell if something will work. 155

You can’t win by always playing hard to get. 156

No one has the power to upset you unless you give it to them. 157

It is not always easy to differentiate the cause from the result. 158

You would forget that it was about having fun. Remind yourself frequently. 159

Our ideas, promotions, commitments, financial planning, relationships all are there to make life better. So if something goes down, don’t despair: its presence was to keep you good, but its absence doesn’t mean hell. You will get everything as long as you can breathe peacefully. 160

Things always work out if you just hold on a little longer. But they may come to you in a different form from how you recognize them.161

Intuition is the collective consciousness of the life we have lived so far. Don’t ignore it. 162

Any good service or product or writing or art starts with being about you but then it is all about the people. 163

To forgive someone might seem unfair to you, but when you forgive, you soak in peace — thus getting your fair share. 164

There is always an option. 165

Art breathes inside each one of us. 166

Smile for you feel how you act. 167

Don’t just respect someone for their age, respect wisdom and kindness, and all such noble dispositions. 168

 

Learning and Unlearning

There is art in science and science in art. Once you connect the two, you have found infinity. 169

To create, first understand the rules, and then break them. 170

At some point, you start limiting yourself — Maybe when your mother first tells you that you can’t go out alone or when the neighbor comments that his son could do better than you or when the teacher scolds you for trying to understand the basics rather than repeating her answer or when you see an advertisement for a fairness cream that suggests you get fairer to have a better life. But the truth is inside the box of reason. Open it. 171

infinity and beyond colorful abstract art.jpg

Noise.

The background noise sounds louder when you are having a hard time. 172

 

Goals and Determination.

You can do anything that you set your mind upon. 173

Without goals, you are as directionless as a sunflower is at night. 174

If you are ready to receive what comes along the way, you start moving in the direction of your goal little by little. 175

Give what it takes. And then some more. 176

 

Things of Real Consequence.

Don’t be scared to lose yourself, for you might be on the path of discovering yourself. 177

Think deep, not wide.178

Most of the things have a simpler solution than you think. 179

Society is judgemental police. 180

Don’t let anyone else write your story. 181

Everything has an expiry date. 182

Sometimes you do your best work when you are tired —You would only make the effort to write that sentence if it is too good to let go. 183

Soak inspiration from the universe. 184

Words are wings. When not wings, they are swords. Choose your flights and battles wisely. 185

Your brain would expand into the time you give it to do something. Too less, and it hurries up. More, it stretches out. 186

When you feel angry or dejected, eat. Eventually, it is all about some curry and rice. 187

 

 

Walk on dewy mountain trails fringed by pines trees often.  The joy is unbridled. 188

 

 

If you let go of boundaries set by others, you can tune into infinite wavelengths of freedom and choice. But be careful to not tune into noise again. 189

You need much less than you think you do. 190

Climbing stairs is always better than taking an elevator. Move your body as much as you reflex your brain so that you can climb that mountain when you want to. 191

Eventually, everything gets done. So instead of worrying, pause and breath frequently. Or kick a punching bag. Or restart your laptop to first get rid of those annoying notifications. Fix the basics. 192

The best way to live is to act as if no one is watching you. 193

There is time. There is strength. And then there is love. 

If you see a longer piece of work taking time in spite of your best efforts, stand in front of a mirror. 194

When you think you have given it all, the universe will ask for more, and you will find yourself giving it more. 195

Sometimes you get into something so deep that you forget that you are inside. Let love find you at those times. 196

 

love painting let love find you Szinyei_Merse_Szerelmespár_1870.jpgPál Szinyei Merse / Public domain

 

Footnotes:

1-Benjamin Franklin made a record of his everyday routine and checked if he worked on his vices.

2-Daniel Gilbert says in his book Stumbling on Happiness— Feelings don’t just matter, they are what mattering means. Are war and peace more important for any reason other than the feelings they produce?

3. We don’t remember out past as well as we think. You will find enough proof of this in Daniel Gilbert’s monumental book Stumbling on Happiness.

4. If I could suggest one book to anyone, it would be The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

5. I don’t think I can put better than this: There are no separate systems. The world is a continuum. Where to draw a boundary around a system depends on the purpose of the discussion― Donella H. Meadows

 

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Life Lessons I Have Learned So Far - Find Yours | Inspire yourself | Real Life Learnings | Life Quotes | Emotional Intelligence | How To Be Happy | how to feel better | Emotions | Human Behavior | Understanding Yourself | Self care | Self Growth | Healthy Psychology | Personal Development | Personal Goals | Life Inspiration | Life Coaching Tools | Life Philosophy | Life Hacks | Relationships | Social Life | Career Tips | Passion #lifeinspiration #lifelessons #personalgrowth #selfhelp #positivity

 

Life Lessons I Have Learned So Far - Find Yours | Inspire yourself | Real Life Learnings | Life Quotes | Emotional Intelligence | How To Be Happy | how to feel better | Emotions | Human Behavior | Understanding Yourself | Self care | Self Growth | Healthy Psychology | Personal Development | Personal Goals | Life Inspiration | Life Coaching Tools | Life Philosophy | Life Hacks | Relationships | Social Life | Career Tips | Passion #lifeinspiration #lifelessons #personalgrowth #selfhelp #positivity

Which of these life learnings did you relate to the most? Let me know in the comments.

 

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From Coding to Writing – How I Quit My Job, Shelved My IIT CS Degree, and Started Writing

I hadn’t thought about doing something that I loved until I was 22 and on my first software engineering job in Bengaluru, the Silicon Valley of India.

I remember the taxi ride from the Bengaluru airport to the apartment my would-be roommate and old friend had rented in a residential complex. As the taxi cruised through the traffic, I looked out of the rain-soaked windows and wondered if the city would backdrop my life the way I had dreamed about it — like a deep blue sky sprawling vast for the young iris to spread her wings.

I was thrilled about my first job. I had imagined myself scuttling away on high heels in a crisp black trouser and a maroon shirt from one meeting to another in glass-faceted skyscrapers. I would always be solving important engineering problems putting a dent in the world. 

As a Computer Science graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT), I couldn’t expect anything less — we are told we are the cream of the growing world-superpower India1. At the time I joined IIT, the institute selected 4000 applicants out of 348k — that is a 1.1 percent selection rate.

My excitement for work was coupled with the oncoming financial independence, cosmopolitan lifestyle, and social freedom. I hail from a small town, and though I had been studying away from my parents in Kota, Delhi, and Mumbai for the past seven years, I depended on them financially. (In India, youngsters don’t pick up part-time work to pay their way through college). But now, like the rest of the fresh Indian graduates, I could live independently for the first time. 

But I was too young for a happy ever after. Within a year, I got bored with my job.

Read More

Work Is Not Supposed to Suck– Find What You Love (Part 1)

Work Should Not Suck, How to Find and Pursue What You Love, and What If One Doesn’t Have Passion

Why Do We Think Work Sucks

 

Why do we always say that work sucks — because we are trained to think that work should be boring.

Adults separate the idea of fun and work early on for us. Since childhood, we are told that we should play all we want for we would have to work one day. We see elders going to their jobs, but they don’t seem to have fun — they say that work is something they have to do even if they don’t enjoy it.

No one even mentions having a good time as part of a profession, and we start believing that work is a dull thing grown-ups do to earn money: the more the better.

And we witness enough close examples following this idea.

My father opened his shop every day of the week except Tuesdays. He never complained about his business, but whether he enjoyed it was never his concern. He only cared that he had enough money to raise his family.

Our teachers, relatives, elder siblings all seemed to pursue a career to earn at their maximum potential.

Fun was never discussed in the context of work and even frowned upon. In his book Le Petite Prince, the French philosopher Antoine de Saint-Exupéry raises thought-provoking questions about adults keeping their things of consequence disjoint from fun.

You want to work or all you want to do is have fun? Someone would say when we created a game out of a mathematics problem.

From our younger years to adulthood, we grow up concreting the idea that something we enjoy can’t become our career.

But this belief is as real as the ghosts that swoosh in if we break the cookie jar. Let me tell you why.

Read More

Highs and Lows of 2019 – A Year of Travel Blogging, Wandering in the Himalayas, and Personal Well-Being

2019 was a roller coaster ride. 

Waking up in my rooftop room that serves as my intermittent writing studio in Bengaluru, incorporating travel blogging with On My Canvas by writing throughout the year about my past and recent travels, connecting with other bloggers and travel writers, slow traveling in the Himalayas for four(4) months of summer while focusing on health and personal well-being and working remotely, writing thirty(30) long and super-researched articles in thirty(30) days in August, traveling in Karnataka on short and long trips, collaborating with both national and international travel organizations for the first time, getting my work and writing acknowledged over other media platforms, and then making my way to Myanmar via flight (after my plans to cross into Myanmar through Northeast got canceled because of the protests) and spending three weeks there — I never felt that the year was slow even though I slowed down quite a few time. 

Oh, On My Canvas also won three travel blogging awards within my first year of sincere travel blogging.

Let me tell you my favorite and not-so-favorite moments from this hap hazardous list of actions and achievements. Later I will also summarize the things that I feel I couldn’t do justice to and wish to focus on in 2020.

Read More