Jimmy Kimmel Reminds Me of My Uncle

I was watching Jimmy Kimmel’s show and was rolling with laughter watching the pranks he plays on Aunt Chippy. Though I feel sad for Aunty Chippy, I can’t stop laughing. Jimmy plays a lot of pranks on the people close to him and challenges the audience to try some pranks too. Jimmy reminds me of my childhood, particularly my uncle. He was also someone who enjoyed playing pranks on people around him. It was always amusing to his audience and distasteful to his victims. Just like Aunt Chippy, his victims protested but none of them took it to heart.

I was about seven years old when we once had an earthquake in my city. It was just a mild tremor and no damage was done to person or property. We just felt a jolt and some tremors. Uncle came home and asked us to co-operate with this prank he was going to play on my aunt. When he walked into the room, he told her that the earthquake caused the Charminar (a giant historic monument in the heart of Hyderabad) to move at least ten feet.

We all gasped. We were just helping uncle in his prank. My innocent aunt at first stared in disbelief and said, “Shut up! What nonsense are you saying?”. Then uncle added, “People are shocked and it is the talk of the town. They might put it up on the evening news today and it will surely make headlines in tomorrow’s papers. People are thronging to see the Charminar.” By this point she had started to fall for the prank and started asking questions lapping up all the fake news. That’s when everyone burst into laughter and she realized it was a prank.

On another occasion he convinced my then three-year-old cousin that he was not his mother’s baby but was actually adopted from a beggar on the street. The poor little boy fell for it; hook, line and sinker. He burst into tears and hid his face in his mother’s lap. Later, we told him that it was a joke.

There is no end to the stories about his pranks. Even to this day, whenever we talk about him we end up laughing until our bellies hurt. Today he is an old man with a frail body frame that is slightly bent over. He lost a lot of his hair and wears glasses and even today he always makes us laugh with his antics. I can say with confidence that his pranks brought all my cousins closer together and bond with each other because of the wonderful and funny memories we share. 

Make Fear a Positive Driving Force

In all the heroic tales from our childhood a great king, warrior or knight is depicted as someone fearless. Since he is fearless, he is deduced to be brave and courageous. We are always taught to be fearless to become great. It is true to some extent as fear cripples us and makes us behave foolishly. We tend to lose all common sense and rationale in the face of fear. But, it is not true always. Fear can be a positive driver that will push us toward success.

While it is true that we all want to achieve greatness in our life, we do not have to be fearless to be exceptional. Lacking fear can make us reckless and take needless risks. I believe greatness requires Courage. Courage means to face our fears and overcome them. So, we should all aim to use our fears and overcome them to reach greater heights in success.

Fear represents all the things that we want to avoid in life. So, where fear makes us want to run away, it could also make us want to fight to avoid being in that situation. The best example could be; the fear of detention makes students behave in class; injections made me eat beans and peas when I was young; failure pushes us to work harder; disease and death encourage us to medical inventions and discoveries.

So when we teach children about virtue, stop making them believe in the need to be fearless. Instead, teach them to face their fears and fight it. There are many ways to overcome our fears. We can face it with logic, reasoning, training, discipline, hard work etc. All the qualities that I have listed here are needed to be a successful person. Confronting our fears and making it our motivator will pave the path to greatness.

After reading this blog post, you might think that I have trivialized the crippling effect that fear creates. The intention was to point out that we can use this fear as a motivator, rather than seeing it as a crippling factor. Facing our fear will show us what we are made of.

Don’t Let Self-Pity Become A Hurdle To Your Growth

There is a well-known and universally accepted saying, “Failures are the stepping stones to success.” As the saying goes, we should treat every setback as a learning opportunity. We must try not to repeat our mistakes, anticipate hurdles at every step and plan measures to overcome them. This is what we are taught in every business school, every seminar on achieving success etc. Many of us live by these rules too. But, after every failure and before the next attempt to succeed, there is a phase of self-pity. All of us encounter this phase. Wise people and pragmatic leaders ignore this sentiment; they push it aside and rise above it. The rest of us falter at this step. We hang onto self-pity though we succeed in our next attempt. This is what separates the leaders from the regular people.

To understand how to rise above self-pity, we have to understand how it works. Self-pity means to pity one’s troubles and life situations. Every time we encounter any difficulty, it is natural for us to feel bad for ourselves. We usually curse our fate as to why all bad things happen to us. But eventually, we all realize where we went wrong in our attempts and rectify our mistakes. We try again by executing a better plan etc. Eventually, we let go of the failure and get busy with our next moves. The problem starts when we do not let go of the past and keep recalling all our ordeals at every step of the way. We forget to enjoy the present and get stuck in the past. Despite recovering all losses from the failure, we refuse to let the memories and the pain fade away. This is when the situation becomes dangerous. It does not matter how successful we get or how comfortable our life becomes, we continue to complain about all the pain and humiliation over and over again. Slowly but surely, we get stuck in a vortex of negativity which starts to influence our quality of life and performance.

Initially, the feeling might seem natural and harmless. However, the more you indulge in it the sadder you get. All the old hurdles will appear higher than they were; the chains will feel stronger than they were. We might defend self-pity as nostalgia or simply remembering where we came from. That is not true in all cases.

Another danger of self-pity is the diminishing worth of struggles. Where our struggles were praised initially, upon constant reminding, people get bored with the same story. They start undermining the worth and start ridiculing the efforts. We run the risk of mocking our story. Self-pity soon becomes tiresome for those around us. The constant reminder becomes a shadow on all future attempts to succeed.

The best defence against falling into the trap of self-pity is to avoid it at all costs. We must accept all challenges as a natural outcome of the process, rather than as a conspiracy of fate. It is essential to accept the fact that everyone faces similar situations at some point in their life and that our troubles are not extraordinary.

Motivation Determines Our Quality Of Life

We are all aware of the importance of motivation in achieving success. Every story of triumph over hardships is backed by a strong motivating force. We all agree that the right amount of motivation can push any person towards greatness. It can make us do, both good and bad deeds. The emotion that drives motivation determines the outcome, be for good or bad.

We have established the fact that a strong motivation can make us do, both positive achievements and negative atrocities. What got me thinking is, what if there is no motivation at all? Is there are a possibility of living without motivation? What would be the quality of life if we lacked motivation?

Even during the most depressing of days, I would still wake up and think to my self, what does today hold for me? Is it going to be the same old or worse? I was motivated to get out of bed to see what the day holds. Though I did not like what was happening, my curiosity to see the end of it, motivated me forward. Though I hated my job, the salary motivated me to go to work. Same way, hunger motivated me to eat, cool breeze motivated me to get out of my room, the greenery motivated me to take walks.

I see many people from different walks of life, who say that they have lost all will to live. Experiencing a loss can make us question the purpose of living. Failure to achieve a goal can make us resentful. We only need to rethink and calibrate the direction and goals of our lives. We can always draw inspiration from others. Many sportspersons, life coaches, successful people, scientists etc lead exemplary lives that give inspiration and motivation to fight back. Exercise, supportive friends and peers, therapy, positive environment etc will help you adjust your compass to point correctly towards success.

We may not be able to go around motivating everyone, but we can keep our motivation alive. Be thankful for all the little things and celebrate them. This will keep us fighting to get better. This way, we can hopefully inspire the people around us and indirectly give them motivation.

Maintaining Our Cool In A Volatile Situation

Two people were having a very loud argument in the park. We could understand that they were two friends who were disagreeing on the meaning of an action. One guy felt that it was an innocent mistake that was misconstrued. The other guy saw something more sinister behind the act. Soon, the argument came to blows. Initially, it was just two people fighting. All the others were trying to mitigate the situation or just standing and watching the fight. But now, the silent bystanders also joined the fight and the mitigators started to take sides. This whole matter was getting too noisy. Luckily, someone in the crowd shouted that the cops were coming and immediately, most of them scattered. The few that remained were waiting for the two friends to decide whose house to crash at.

I observed this incident and noticed something interesting. The whole fracas started with a simple difference of viewpoints between friends. Many people tried to subdue the matter peacefully, but they soon got dragged into the fight too. The bystanders just came to watch the fun and have a few laughs. But soon, they started to add their views and fanned the flames. The few sane people in that group tried to maintain peace but got pushed around. Sadly in this confusion, everyone had a momentary lapse of wisdom. It took a simple scare to break the crowd and remove all the unnecessary distractions to resolve the matter.

Here, I have given a very simple example of all conflicts. They start with a small disagreement and the people around, though well-intentioned, inadvertently become part of the problem. It is easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment and make snap judgments. It requires a controlled mind to rise above the chaos and bring order.

Since this incident, I tried to recollect all the arguments that I’ve witnessed. I wanted to understand if I could maintain my calm in conflict. I discerned that I had failed on several occasions and the best I’ve managed to do, is keep my mouth shut in cases of arguments. That was helpful to a certain extent, but that’s not a solution. Have you had better luck than me? Were you able to diffuse a volatile situation or managed to keep your presence of mind in a fight? Share your thoughts with me.

Gardening Part 2: Tips to Help

In my earlier post, I wrote about gardening as a hobby and how relaxing it is. I have since received a few suggestions and requests to write another post on helpful tips. I have gathered a few tricks from my readers, friends and family. These will help you get better results and grow healthier plants.

The first thing to remember with gardening and care for plants is that they are just like every other living being. Plants need nutrition, healthy soil, sufficient air and sunlight. If any of these are missing or in deficiency, the plants will not flourish. Now that we have established the basics, here are a few tricks to help you grow plants better.

  • Specific plants have specific routines for care. Cacti should not be watered daily. Succulents grow fatter with water but can survive without daily watering. Flowering plants like roses, jasmine, lilies need daily watering. Hibiscus requires lesser water than other flowering plants. Get complete information about watering routines before planting them.
  • Plants need nutrients like calcium, potassium, nitrogen, and other minerals and vitamins too. Once a fortnight or week, make sure to give them nutrition. I use this trick because I am lazy, but hope it helps you too. I crush a multivitamin and multi-mineral capsule into a bottle full of water and spray it into the soil generously every week.
  • Vegetable and fruit peel, eggshells etc. are a natural source of nutrition. Take dried up skin and peels and cut them up into tiny pieces. Sprinkle them in the soil before watering the plants. This will ensure that the plant flowers regularly and stays fresh and green.
  • I use natural pesticides as often as possible. Neem oil, turmeric decoction, green tea powder, soap nuts water etc. help to keep out many of the common pests that affect the plants.
  • Protect your plants from slugs and snails. They eat up the leaves and destroy all your hard work. Slugs and snails prefer moist places and gardens are an ideal environment for them. Conduct regular checks around your pots, planters and underneath wood planks. Discard them if you see any slugs or snails. You have traps lure them and kill; you can try it if you don’t mind killing them.
  • Once in a while, loosen the soil to aerate it. This is important for the healthy growth of plants.
  • Regularly remove unwanted grass and weeds from your garden. Weeds take up all the water and nutrition and leave very little for your plants.
  • Dead insects and birds can be buried in the garden; they disintegrate into the soil and make it richer.
  • Collect all dried leaves and dead plants in your garden in a container and cover it with soil. It enriches the soil over time.

I have gathered all these tips from other readers and followers. If you have any other useful ideas, please feel free to share. This list is not a comprehensive list of all ideas, it is just a list of ideas that I have used and found to be helpful.

Discipline Is Not Just An Old-World Concept

Discipline, hard work, and loyalty are all terms we hear about when we speak to someone from the armed forces, sportspersons or in speeches from old people. Today’s generation does not understand or recognize the value of such concepts.

It is a sad truth that I have realised only recently. During a farewell speech from an old colleague, he spoke of the value of these concepts. He told the new joiners that this was the only secret to success. But, the sad thing was that most of the crowd was rolling their eyes and mumbling under their breath. They all saw his advice as just another lecture from an ‘old guy’. They proudly spoke about smart work as against hard work. Bending rules to achieve success against discipline and abiding by the rules.

I do not intend to complain about a specific office. The grouse is about the general attitude that denigrates ideals. It has become a ‘cool’ attitude that is celebrated around the world. I sincerely hope that my readers agree with my philosophy that values like discipline, hard work, loyalty do not belong to history lessons and old-world stories.