Clean Up Your Act

I have realized that often times my logic and reasoning is influenced by my surroundings. If I am among optimistic and positive people, my outlook toward any problem or issue is positive. Similarly, when my company is a Debbie Downer, then I get dragged down too.

I have decided to take a grip on this matter and actively influence my thoughts with positivity. As a first step toward this, I need to clean up my act. I have to remove negative people and negative things from my life.

Hope to be successful. Wish me luck!

No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent – Eleanor Roosevelt

‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’. This is a very powerful quote from the former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. This quote conveys that unless we allow insults and words to affect us, they cannot harm us. The opinion of people will not matter to us unless we take them seriously. I do not intend to say that we are inviting the insults. I do not mean that we have to brush them off like dust either. I only mean that we should not believe them to be true.

To explain my point; let me take an example. We all know and agree with the fact that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. We believe in this fact so strongly, that if anyone tells us otherwise, we do not believe them. We will not accept any explanation to prove otherwise. We take it for granted that the speaker is either making a joke, trying to deceive us or is simply stupid. The person may even show us photographs or videos, but we will still disagree. That is how strong our faith is in the fact that the sun rises in the East.

We should have such a strong belief in our ability that no matter what anyone says, we know the truth. We know our true worth, and we will not let people state otherwise.

The same applies to praises and accolades too. When we know and believe in our ability, even flattery and false praise will not affect us. Isn’t that a kind of Zen-like state of mind.

There is an old proverb in India, which loosely translates as follows: A wise man is like a lotus leaf. He can stay in mud, slush and dirt all his life, yet stay unaffected by it. You can dunk the Lotus leaf in dirty water, have a frog sit on it all day long. Yet it comes out unaffected by the dirt. I know that such a strong mind is not easy to maintain. But, what is the fun in easily achievable goals? True enjoyment of success is after some struggle. So, let us work to make our mind and self-belief strong enough to withstand the world.

Do We Need A Tragedy to Come Closer

The past 2 weeks have been difficult for my family and I. There has been a slew of bad and sad news from relatives. Two deaths that were particularly difficult for us. Both of them were close family and deeply loved by all. The worst part of the whole matter apart from their death is that I never took time out to appreciate them.

As I have mentioned before, the deceased had a special place in my heart. They were both, in their way instrumental in bringing people together. While they were alive, I hardly spoke to them once in a while. I loved them, but I never took time out to chat and express my appreciation. This fact made me feel worse.

All our life, we spend time disagreeing with people, arguing with them, protesting about things, ignoring people on issues. All these issues may be a genuine difference of opinions, silly misunderstandings, personality clashes etc. They seem very important and critical at that time, but once we realize that the person is no longer with us, these differences ceased to matter. What was once an insurmountable barrier appears to be a stubborn mistake. I know that many of the readers will think that such is life.

My question is when we can be wise enough to recognize our foolishness now, why not see it when they were alive. When we can brush off an issue as inconsequential at this point, we could have done it a week before and spent time with that person. Our busy schedule doesn’t matter when we know that a person has passed away, then why was it so important when that person was alive.

I can only regret my misplaced priorities and hope to not repeat them. Please stop and take time to reevaluate all the small fights and disagreements you have with people. Don’t hang on to petty issues and miss out on all the time you can spend with friends and family.

Scary Encounter or Mind Trick

This incident occurred a few years back during my college break. It was a hot summer day and I decided to spend it reading my favourite book. I was reading The Lord of the Rings, and it was a particularly gripping chapter. Frodo and his friends had escaped from the Nazgul at Weathertop. If you read this book, then you are aware of the gripping story line and the nail biting narrative. Coming back to my story…

I had been reading the book continuously all day and well into the night. I started to feel uneasy; I sensed a presence watching me. My foot became numb along with my leg and this feeling spread up my body and reached my head. Fear and panic set into my mind. I frantically started to chant God’s name in my mind, hoping that it would help me. Nevertheless, the numbness in my body did not subside. The presence that was watching me was moving closer to me.

When I felt someone touch my shoulder, I panicked and jumped out of my bed. It was then that I noticed that I was asleep all the while. Though I woke up, I was still shaking with fear. I went out to my parent’s room and saw that everyone was asleep. Not wanting to disturb anyone, I splashed some water on my face and drank some juice from the refrigerator. This had settled my nerves a little. I decided to sit in the puja room (every Indian house has a special room for daily prayers) for the rest of the night. The next morning I spoke to my mom about the incident and she was spooked too. We decided to let it pass.

Soon our maid came to work and she looked haggard. She told us that, the previous night, a fight broke out in her neighbourhood. A person was caught doing black magic and everyone started to lynch him. She said that it was very scary as they found many weird items in this possession. I was still shaken from last night’s events, so my maid’s story added to my fear.

This story had spread throughout our neighbourhood like wildfire. It became fodder for gossip and fear mongering. Everyone was coming up with new stories every day. I found myself falling for these stories due to my own experience. There was a wave of paranoia among the illiterates and the educated alike.

A fortnight later, on a Sunday, I found an interesting article in the newspaper. It was about our brain; the conscious and subconscious mind. The author spoke about how our subconscious mind continues to work even in our sleep. It was still aware of the surroundings, it assimilates data and sound bites throughout the day and at night it gives us signals in the form of dreams, to alert us of our surroundings. It could be a bug or a mosquito buzzing around us, changes in air quality, change in temperature, thirst, and other bodily functions.

This article suddenly made more sense when I looked back at the events of that night. It was a hot summer night and I was locked up in my room reading a gripping novel. I was so engrossed in the book that, I did not take any break to drink water or get fresh air. At some point in the night, the fan stopped working too. In my sleep, I was unaware of all this. My mind had to do something drastic to jolt me awake and hence that dream. It was purely coincidental that the fight occurred near my maid’s house. This coupled with my dream, started a chain of stories and fake news to cultivate fear. I almost fell for this and believed in black magic.

The whole scary summer turned into a fun and eventful summer by the end of it all.

Think Before You Forgive a Person

‘To err is honest and to forgive is divine’. This has been constantly and consistently drilled into our subconscious. We have been taught to be forgiving people; Although it is a different thing that we do not always forgive.

The saying basically tells us that we all make mistakes, but only a great and wise soul can forgive. It encourages us to look beyond the mistake and see the true worth of a person. I agree with that part of this teaching. We need to look beyond the action and try to see the true reason for the error; however, it is truly difficult to forgive someone for any transgression. It can be a simple lie or forgetting something that is important to us or using our things without permission or disregarding our feelings with their actions etc. Most of the time, it is simple things like these that we tend to forgive.

The more serious actions like a betrayal of trust, showing a lack of integrity, blatant disrespect for boundaries and law etc. are some instances when forgiveness should not come by easily. This type of behaviour indicates a deeper flaw in character. When a person leaks out a secret, throw a friend under the bus to save his skin, tries to enforce their own will on others by any means possible etc. it indicates a deeper psychological problem. Forgiving such a person who lacks loyalty and integrity or a person who doesn’t respect boundaries and authority could imply that we find nothing wrong with such behaviour. It shows that we ourselves belong to the same character and personality type. By forgiving these people, we end up insulting our character.

A person should always think twice before forgiving anyone since we also need to ensure that the transgressor learns his or her lesson. In today’s world, we see many instances where bad behaviour and bad attitude is forgiven in the name of ‘Free Speech’ and ‘Freedom of Expression’. Repentance for one’s mistakes, errors or wrongdoings should be paramount. Only with repentance can we be sure that a similar situation does not arise.

Take time out to think back at instances when we faced such dilemmas. Think back if it was really helpful to forgive such people. Write back to me if you want to share any instances, I will gladly add them to this post.

Are You Living With a Depressed Person?

Every time we talk about any mental health issues, we only talk about the patients. We talk about their mental state, their emotions, their needs and we prioritize on them. However, it is very important to talk about the people supporting these patients as well.

Mental health issues in themselves are difficult to handle because of all the stigma associated with it. A patient is generally not willing to seek help because of the fear of ostracization and ridicule from society and peers. And this fear, ridicule and alienation are faced by the people taking care of them as well. In fact, I would say the caregivers face a bigger challenge than the patient themselves. They do not have the wounds to show, but they have to bear all the pain and stand strong for the patient and take added responsibility.

I have had the misfortune of witnessing the kind of responsibility faced by the family or friends of the patients. The most common statement they hear is, “You should have been more responsible when you know the situation”. It is almost like it is their biggest curse for being the caregiver. It does not matter how difficult the patient is being, the caregiver always ends up taking the blame. The worst part is that we do not have to verbally blame them or say anything. Their conscience will not let them rest for even the slightest of mistakes. That is generally an enormous strain for anyone. It could end up causing problems for them in the future too.

I do not have a solution or suggestion for this concern, as I am not a qualified professional to deal with mental health issues. I can, however, bring to light this concern and hope that those in the know can show us the way forward. Please leave comments and suggestions if you have any.

Are We Truly Independent

Independence is one of the most coveted aspects of our lives. For many of us, independence can be considered a perk that is bestowed upon the blessed few mortals. What is independence? Most people would say that it is the lack of control over our life, freedom to make decisions and choices. But, I feel that we all are missing the single most important aspect of independence. It is the lack of dependence on anything or for anything. You might ask me, what is the difference? And I will say, there is a lot of difference.

If independence were only a matter of freedom to make our decisions and to choose, then it becomes an external force that we have to fight. To remove the control of others is something that we fight outwardly and against others. However, when we talk about independence as a lack of any dependencies, then the fight becomes an internal struggle. Now, we have to fight ourselves to overcome these impediments, and that is not an easy fight to win.

When I speak of dependencies, it includes various types of them. It can be a financial dependency, emotional, substance abuse, physical dependency etc. One might have the deepest pockets and a steely grip on all aspects of their life. Yet, being a slave to approval from loved ones and general public opinions can cripple our mind. Something as simple as being dependent on coffee, to start the day, has a far-reaching effect that most don’t realize. A day without coffee can make you grumpy, slow and generally irritated. But we laugh off such dependencies. Some of us can’t function without constant reassurance and approval from friends and family. I may be a free spirit that is waiting to fly, but my dad/husband/obligations/debt is holding back the money I need.

It is time we all take a closer look at our life and analyse; are we really independent? Have we been living the life of a slave, a glorified slave, all this time?

Was Thanos Really An Evil Villain

By now everyone has watched The Avengers franchise and are aware of the supervillain Thanos. He was so disturbed by the greed, suffering, war and imbalance of resources across the universe that he sought to build the ultimate weapon to wipe out half the living beings in the universe. He carefully strategized and worked towards wiping out half the life on one planet after another. He built the infinity gauntlet that would randomly wipe out half the population of a planet and leave the rest to rebuild their world as they choose. Everyone was horrified by his plan and did not see it as a solution to the problem. But, is his plan really that bad?

I am not supporting his plan to wipe out life. I do not condone his actions to indiscriminately wipe out life or play God. However, when we observe all the tragic events over the course of history, isn’t that how nature works? When the planet was overrun by dinosaurs as the dominant species, we saw cataclysmic natural disasters that wiped out many of the predators and life started afresh. Man has witnessed the rise and fall of many tribes, kingdoms, empires even, that fall victim to nature’s balancing act. It does not matter whether the people were the humblest, most pious, benevolent, or the greediest, cruellest, most violent bunch. Everyone that goes up has to come down. Every empire that rose had to fall.

In fact, all the major religions in the world today predict a similar ending. Be it Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc they all state that when greed, evil, dishonesty, treachery etc. overrun humans, then God and nature will act swiftly to wipe out life to cleanse the world.

This is just a random musing of mine, but it made sense. Tell me your thoughts and views on how you see Thanos. Is he a villain or a teaser to how our world will end up?

Don’t We All Just Hate Free Advice

The title of my post must have made it amply clear that I hate free advice. The fact that most free advice is just common sense makes it even more irritating and frustrating. The whole thing makes one feel like they are too stupid to figure out a matter of simple logic.

Incidentally, the other day, I was sitting and complaining to my friend about a meddling neighbour of ours who cannot seem to mind his own business. Lo and behold, my friend’s neighbour comes up and starts dispensing free advice about being patient and tolerant. She tells me that there is no point in arguing with a stupid person and I almost blurted out, “I know aunty, that’s why I am not replying to you.” She literally gave a detailed reenactment of meddling neighbours and proved the reason for my rant.

I might sound like a rude and arrogant person right now but think about it. Most of the time, when a person is ranting, they are just letting out their emotions. We sit down with our friends to rant about the problems in our lives, we are not looking for solutions. We are just venting out emotions and frustration. At such a time, when someone gives unsolicited advice, it only fuels our anger more.

The next time you hear a person telling you their problems, just listen to them. Don’t try to give advice. Many of us are not clueless about how to handle our life. We are just looking for someone to listen, someplace where we can speak our mind out loud so that we can declutter our thoughts. I, luckily have my blog to declutter my mind. Every once in a while, I pen down all the things that I want to say out loud and post a ranting article.

The reason for any misunderstanding

A man once asked Swami Vivekananda about the reason behind all misunderstandings. His answer was, “We see people as we are, but not as they are.” I was amazed by this response as it made a lot of sense.

Swami Vivekananda

As the very word suggests, a misunderstanding occurs when we mistake the meaning or the intent of words or actions. In any situation, everyone involved enters with a certain perception or impression of what has occurred. A misunderstanding happens when we close our minds to all other perceptions that are different from our own ideas. When faced with a new concept, we tend to get defensive of our thoughts.

What Swami Vivekananda tried to tell us is that we should step away from our dogmas. If we want to clear misunderstandings, don’t just put yourself in their shoes, but look at it with their eyes too. Often times, we put our self in the other person’s shoes but still retain our stubborn ideas and judge harshly.

My idea behind this post is to give food for thought. I do not intend to pass judgement or tell you how to think. We are all capable of thinking on our own, but we might need a little guidance on picking the right path. I only hope to help you pick the right path.

Make informed decisions… Not emotional decisions

Most of the classic Indian movies are built around strong emotional values that are based on family, friendship, love etc. It is always the emotional decisions that win in the end. This is one of the fundamental differences that I see between Hollywood movies and Indian cinema. But, I am not here to discuss movie plots, rather I would like to highlight the futility of emotional decisions as against more informed decisions. As always, this post is also inspired by a random thought that I had while retrospecting on a few choices I made in the past. As is the purpose of all retrospection, I was thinking back on where the priorities changed and what moved my path to its current course.

I have always been a bit of an emotional person. I have known this about myself and always tried to make sure that it does not colour my judgement. I would like to say I was successful at doing it, but it would be a lie. I was, in fact, retrospecting to see how many of my decisions were taken emotionally. This made me realise something about myself. I saw that most of my strongest memories were an assortment of emotions that I experienced at that time rather than the exact details. For example, when I think back to my sister’s marriage, I don’t remember the menu or my favourite dish or what was said about the bride or the groom or the elaborate rituals that we followed that day. I only remember that the food served was a simple and traditional cuisine that everybody enjoyed. I loved the curry that I ate (though I do not remember what it was). etc. I enjoyed that day and I returned home dog-tired. Same was the case when I tried to recollect the day I got my job. It was a hot summer day, I remember I had a headache due to sunstroke. I remember taking my mum along because I was new to the place and I had no friends to help me. I don’t remember the questions asked by the interviewer or how many rounds there were. All I remember was just the hot sun, the headache, the long distance travelled and my joy after getting the job.

This realisation made me understand why I took emotional decisions. My mind mostly stored what I felt at different stages of my life and ignored all the finer details. So, every time I made a decision, I always made sure that I did not end feeling specific emotions. What I am trying to say is, I made all my decisions so that my loved ones or I did not have to face disappointment, hunger, anger, loss or failure. I always tried to protect myself and the people I care for, from harsh reality. I did not take a risk and always made safe decisions, lest I end up feeling tasting failure or disappointment.

I forgot the fact that failure and disappointment are, after all, stepping stones to success. We have to face them to learn the lessons that will shape a future that fits us best. Every time we make a decision, we have to weigh in the facts, the pros and cons, rather than limiting our self to a fixed course of action so that we do not face the unknown. As my grandmother says, only when we taste sour will sweet taste sweeter.

Rain Makes Everything Brighter

Hello everybody. How are all of you doing? It has been raining a lot all week here in Montego Bay. I love the rain because it cools down the temperature and nature looks bright and beautiful after the rain. This morning, I took a walk in the yard with my phone and started clicking. Can you see the blades of grass still holding on to the tiny droplets of rain?

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My curry leaf plant is in full bloom and there are so many bees buzzing all over it.after rain 12

These are some other plants I have at home.after rain 11after rain 10after rain 9after rain 8after rain 7

I love these pink bougainvillea. The only problem with it is the thorns. A bougainvillea thorn prick is very painful. It takes a long time to heal. I found out that these thorns are toxic. They cause itching, rash, and pain.after rain 6

This red hibiscus attracts a lot of hummingbirds. Unfortunately, I did not get one in this picture. Hummingbirds like red coloured flowers. Maybe one day, I will be able to get a picture of a hummingbird and I will definitely share with all of you.after rain 4after rain 5

The firecracker flower is a new plant in my garden. Since my childhood, I always liked these flowers. My grandmother used to make beautiful garlands with a combination of jasmine and orange firecracker flowers. These flowers bring back all those memories and I smile every time I look at them. One day, I saw this plant growing wild on the pavement and a paid worker was chopping all the wild growth. I understood that he would chop the plant anyway so I requested him to dig out the plant and give it to me. And that’s how I have it in my garden today.after rain 3

I love wildflowers. No one waters them; they grow on their own and provide the bees with nectar. They make my yard look beautiful. Sometimes the entire yard is filled with these beautiful, white, wild daisies. They attract a lot of butterflies and dragonflies. Sitting for even ten minutes in my yard and watching the bees, butterflies, and dragonflies refreshes my mind as it would if I did half an hour of meditation. That’s the power of nature.after rain 2after rain 1

Have a nice day.