Posts tagged self help

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.

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.

Read More

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. 

Read More

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.

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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

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

peeple dancing freely.jpg

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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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

What Are Habits – Your Answer to Willpower

We all hope to become a better version of ourselves. I want to be a better writer. My partner wants to be a good coder. My friend wishes to be a good mother. You dream of winning a swimming championship. Someone fancy playing the piano as Lady Gaga plays.

One way to achieve these set goals that I mentioned above is to possess the willpower to get up and do the thing, every day. Another way is to form a habit (I will explain what are habits as the article progresses) which you practice regularly to move towards your goal. I should develop a habit of writing daily. My partner can become an efficient coder by developing a habit of focusing on the quality of his code every time he codes. My friend has to create a habit of not losing patience when her child annoys her. You get my point.

But you might ask the difference between having the willpower to do these things regularly and forming a habit to practice them as a routine? Both ways need you to work.

To make this distinction clear, we will understand habits in detail.

Read More

Hold on Even After Your Hands Bleed – For That Is The Only Way to Succeed

You would encounter sharp rocks jutting out of every mountain you wish to climb. Let me show you through my perseverant journey as a budding writer, that why do you have to keep going on even if your hands bleed. Never give up. Fight for your dreams. That is the only way to succeed. 

You start. You are exhilarated. You shriek at the top of your voice from the roof of your confidence. You laugh from your stomach. You give long motivational speeches to your friend about how they need to start living. You wake up singing a tune about the morning sunshine. You look forward to Mondays because life has taken a route that you could only dream about.

People say you are inspiring. They applaud you. Your friends like and share everything you post. They read everything you write. Some of them even help you correct the grammar. You are glad as being corrected by friends is better than being ridiculed by your other readers.

You don’t worry about the money, yet, as the savings save you. Your family is appalled by your decision. But they don’t say anything this time. The last time they did, their words dug a deep valley between you two.

Your Mac is your new Nietzsche. All your philosophy seems to pour out of it.

Read More

My Chilean Host Mother Took Her Broken Heart and Said to Life Vamos (Let’s Go).

We were in September, and the sun had been hiding away for many days from Chiloé, a southern island of petite Chile. Rain thudded the brick-tiled roof unabashedly. I shivered after a shower on a cold evening in Castro. To avoid getting scolded by my host mother for not drying my hair well, I walked down to warm my head near the kitchen fire.

My host mother, who was already sitting at the round, wooden dining and sipping mate from her cup, called me to join her while patting the thick sofa cushion on her left. Perched on her right, the British volunteer, who was also teaching English to Chilean students with English Open Doors, rolled his eyes as he saw me accepting her invitation and approaching them. Respecting our usual friendly banter and rekindling the Indo-British feud, I threw some bad words in his direction. 

Then as the three of us huddled at the dining and sipped tea in the cozy kitchen of our uninsulated home, my host mother told us that her brother had just come home to request some wine, and then she warned us not to trust him as he was an alcoholic. 

Though I had seen her brother visit us every day, eat bread and cheese at the dining, drink wine, of which she kept a big bottle in her kitchen especially for him, I never realized that he was an alcoholic. Maybe I was focusing on cracking the heavy Spanish that darted to and fro between the siblings.

But his alcoholism was not the devastating part of the story. 

Read More

Relearning The Most Important Principles of Life–  With The Little Prince of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a French writer and aviator and a unique philosopher. He served as a pilot in the French army, flew for commercial airline companies, and also in his leisure. He wrote in the air.

On one of his flights from Paris to Saigon in 1935, his plane crashed in Sahara, and he was stranded in the desert with his navigator. They were far away from habitation and only had a few fruits and a day’s supply of liquids.

Dehydrated in the arid Sahara, Antoine began to see mirages and hallucinated vividly. On the fourth day in the desert, a Bedouin found them and saved their lives with a native dehydration treatment.

Inspired by his experiences in the Sahara, Antoine published a children’s fable for adults called Le Petit Prince or the Little Prince in 1943. This book is not only one of the most favorite children’s books, but also one of the most popular philosophy books. It is the third most printed book after Bible and Gone With the Wind.

Read More

Let Your Life Flow Freely – She Knows Her Course Better than You Do.

Let life happen to you — Rainer Maria Rilke told a Young poet, Franz Xaver Kappus when he expressed his doubts about his poetry to Rainer in a letter.

 

Out of all the golden words that Rainer said, this advice struck me the most when I read the twelve-letter correspondence between him and Franz. Those letters are a brilliant read. But calling them a read would be undermining them.

The art that those twelve letters hold in their hearts thrives with life and hope and advice. That art is like that thunder which roars at night. That art is like lightning which dances across the grey sky. That art is like that twilight which doesn’t know any bounds.

Read More

How to Achieve Your Goals – 12 Principles I Have Stuck to Since I Was 15–Years–Old

I was a science and a mathematics girl. Having seen my interest and capability in the sciences, my brother decided that I should compete to get into the IITs, the MIT of India, and become an engineer.

As I hail from a small town, which doesn’t offer many educational opportunities, my father took me to Kota, a city in the desert of Rajasthan, admitted me in one of the private institutions of the coaching-hub of India, and left me in that unknown town; I was fifteen years old and hadn’t stayed away from my parents for more than a few days.

At my first attempt at the entrance examination, I failed. At the second attempt, for which I dropped a year, I ranked seventy-eight (78) amongst half-a-million students.

It didn’t happen by chance. I was young. Though now it seems weird to think that I understood the importance of goals back then, I knew I had to achieve my goal. And it didn’t seem that hard at that time; I just had to crack the concepts, practice, and give exams.

Read More

How I Have Changed Over One–Year of Sincere Writing and Blogging – This Is Just the Beginning.

I think a lot more.

I read a lot more. I scroll blogs for hours. I highlight words while I read. I note them down. I try to go through them again.

I write a lot more. I ask myself why shall I not write on a Sunday. The world goes on. So I go on describing it.

I broke up with redundant words. I perfect the Whatsapp messages and the emails I send. My scrutinizing eyes don’t even spare the responses of my friends.

When I wake up, I think about writing instead of thinking about going to the toilet. I am burdened by guilt the day I don’t write. The day I write well, I feel liberated.

Read More