Can we block unwanted thoughts??

Your mind is like a hummingbird that is constantly wandering from topic to topic, looking for a thought or feeling to latch on to. This sometimes leads to the discovery of some hidden talent that brings happiness, and sometimes it leads you into a spiral of unwelcome thoughts and undesired emotions. Many a time these unwanted thoughts are difficult to get rid of. They leave a lasting impression on you and alter your attitude and personality. Not all undesired thoughts are detrimental; in fact, some of these thoughts can trigger a change for the good. But, what happens when you encounter negative thoughts?

Time and again, one hears about how your mind just ran away with a thought and you end up feeling depressed and lonely. As the old proverb goes ‘an idle mind is the devil’s workshop’ and having a chaotic mind makes it a very busy workshop for the devil. To stop this flow of thought, many of us take up different activities. Some take up hobbies like gardening, cooking, craft work etc, while others take to penning down thoughts in blogs, journals, stories etc.

These are the more constructive ways to deal with an idle mind. There are other, more harmful, habits like drinking, drug abuse, smoking etc that trap you while you are in such a vulnerable state of mind. It is easy to get into these habits, but very difficult to get out of them. You get stuck in this quagmire with no means of escape. The downward spiral that they lead into might have deadly penalties.

So, how does one break away for this chain of events?
How can you stop your mind from wandering into these unsolicited thoughts?

I strongly feel that our mind is strong enough to stop these very thoughts that it triggers. I find that our own fight or flight instincts can be used to escape this quagmire. Everytime our mind starts wandering into this dangerous territory, our conscience always warns us. Our conscience dispels all doubts and negativity. I have experienced phases where i questioned my decisions and doubted my abilities. The only way I was able to get out of this dark place was by listening to that positive voice.

Sometimes, that positive voice is not necessarily our conscience. It can be the voice of your friend, a teacher, a parent etc. It could even be the free advice given by a random stranger. The only way to make sure that you heed it is by having a strong belief in yourself and faith in your actions.

Having a strong belief system is critical to everyone. It can be your belief in god, in a certain value like equality or justice or in your own wisdom. You can draw your beliefs from anything, but it is important to stay true and stand strong to these beliefs.

Self Awareness is the key to better life

Self Awareness quite literally means to be aware of one’s true self. It means to be aware of the true worth, one’s strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of the honest truth about oneself that we mostly hide. It sounds like a very philosophical and spiritual matter that sages and dreamers speak of. However, it is an essential and practical requirement that everyone needs to know.

Let me start with a simple example to explain the relevance. Many times, we perceive our self-image to be one thing, though in reality, our true self is very different from our own perception. Our perception of self might suggest that we are honest, straight-talking individuals or that we can give as good as we get etc. However, when the time comes to actually display these qualities, many of us are unable to. We are held back by fear or personal gain or sometimes apathy. We might give reasons for backing down, but the truth remains that we do not display any of these attributes. I do not want to speak of just negative instances. Sometimes, we might consider our self as weak or timid, yet when faced with the situation, we display great bravery and courage.

This may well be the truth about half of all people. So, how does self-awareness help us in such a situation? When I am fully aware of my abilities and my limitations, then I can be prepared better. When I am not brave enough to stand alone, I will first seek out those who are brave enough and take their support. When I need to be heard, I will speak through those who have a competent voice. We can build strong teams and work together to overcome each other’s weaknesses and capitalize on the strengths.

This might seem very whimsical and simplistic at first glance. It, however, requires great strength of mind and will power to be really honest about our limitations and weaknesses. Once we have found our weaknesses, it is crucial to align our self with the right people. We have to set aside our ego, look at the bigger picture, shed any inhibition we have etc. We all experience this on a smaller scale at different stages in life, be it the workplace, family or friends and college life.

Most of the time, self-awareness takes place unintentionally, or it goes unnoticed. We must change this and start focusing on our self more. Seek out situations to find more about our self and take to mind the lessons we learn. This will lay a strong foundation for a better and more peaceful future.

Your Life is Your Journey

Since childhood, we are programmed to listen to the elders in the family. This is a good thing because the voice of experience is wiser than the curiosity of young minds. I benefited a lot from following their advice and will forever be indebted to all the grown- ups in my life for guiding me onto the right path. However, looking back at all the years, all those friends and acquaintances and all the experiences, I realized that many of us simply existed and at least fifty percent of our life was lived by someone else.

“When you grow up you can do whatever you want.”, is a standard dialogue that resonated in every house. And “Good children don’t argue they do whatever they are told to do!”, is another tag line that was attached to every sermon. We religiously followed every instruction to the dot. For some people, this eventually becomes a habit. Even after they are fully grown adults, they can’t think on their own. Every decision needs to be discussed. If by any chance, they have to think on their own, fear grips them and self-doubt and nervousness makes the decision making process pure hell. I’ll say good for them, if that is the way they prefer to live.  

If you notice, you will find people who give free advices and lecture others to do everything their way and people who follow these advices. What happens to those who want to do what they think is best for themselves? These people like to think on their own, not afraid to make mistakes and don’t feel ashamed to learn from experience. Don’t get me wrong, they do take advices from time to time whenever they feel the need to so but they don’t depend entirely on others to make every decision for them.

When one enforces their opinions on to others, or forces their decision on others, they are living the other person’s life. They snatched the other person’s right to choose what to do. Now this other person has to live with the consequences of those decision. if the results are good, then they get addicted to the support and if the results are bad they will forever blame the adviser and never take responsibility for those consequences. Isn’t it?

 I admire those free independent spirited persons who like to live their life their way. A friend of mine, let’s call her A, advised another friend, B, to begin her day listening to devotional music and it will dispel all her troubles. B replied that she does not believe in spirituality. Since that day A made it her life’s sole task to get B involved in spirituality even though B constantly scraps out A’s attempts. I wondered why she won’t give up. It’s her life, her wish.

In another incident, an elderly lady walked up to a younger lady and asked “Where is your son? Why didn’t you bring him to the party?”. To this the younger lady replied that he has school work to do and has decided to stay back at home. The older lady gave the young lady a long lecture on parenting and importance of socializing and that she should have forced him to come to the party. I couldn’t help but laugh.

If you are one of those people whose life has been controlled by dominating persons around you, and if you really want to take matters into your hands then you have my full encouragement. It’s never too late to go ahead and live it up. Don’t let them tell you that you are too old to watch cartoons. Oh! No one told that to you? Well, I was. I told them they are right and continued watching. Here is a list of things I heard the control freaks say to others:

  • Your children are into their teens now, stop wearing jeans and shirts. You have to wear sarees so that you look like their mother. Next time you come to the party make sure you are wearing a saree or else…
  • Girls cannot do a certain profession e.g. mechanical engineering, computer hardware engineering, orthopedics etc. These professions are better suited for men. Girls can’t manage it.
  • Tell me when you going out shopping, I will come along with you. You will not be able to choose the right products. You will waste all your money.
  • What is your child doing? Why don’t you send him for football training or swimming classes? (even though the child is not interested or is attending some other classes)
  • If the child is doing some school work, they say “Why is he/she sitting with books all the time? Ask them to come out and socialize or go out and play.” And if they are playing, they say” Ask him/her to stop playing and focus on studies after exams he can play.”

The list goes on endlessly. The more we allow others to make choices for us the more we lose control over our life and we become puppets in their hands. There is a danger that all decisions made are not to your advantage. This is like you sit down to play a game of chess and your opponent is playing his game and your game too. Obviously he would make your moves to his advantage. Right?

God has given us this one life and it has to be lived by us, not others. Each one has their own life to live. One can’t go about …I will live my life and I will live your life too. We learn from our mistakes, when we fall we learn to get up and the next time a similar situation arises we make a smarter move. Some times what goes for the goose does not necessarily go well for the gander. In effect your life is your journey, enjoy every moment of it and live it to the last second.

Our inherent urge to control

I recently read an old blog about our need to control people and situations around us. It was an article by a psychologist Dr Perry in his blog Makeitultra Psychology. It was a well written blog about everyone’s natural urge to have control over people around them and where this urge stems from. This article forced me to rethink my own behaviour and my attitude to the various situations and reaction to the consequences.

Not shockingly, even I had a habit to trying to control situations. I, however, masked this tendency to control under the guise of affection, care and guidance. When I observed the behaviour of others in my family and society, I see that it is a common thread. When you are an Indian, it is taken for granted that our parents have complete control on our life till we marry. Post marriage, the control shifts into the hands of our spouse. I am not speaking from a woman’s perspective, these control issues affect both men and women equally.

We often mask this tendency to control under the guise of affection. A mother has complete control over what her child eats, does and wears till a certain age. Once the child reaches the age to question this control and they start rebelling, then there will be frictions in the relationship. Some mother’s even resort to emotional blackmail to gain back any modicum of control in her child’s life. Most Indians and even Asians in general can relate to this situation.

I am not exempting fathers or siblings from this pattern of behaviour. While a father likes to have complete control on our educational choices, the jobs we take up, the investments we make etc, siblings exercise control on our social life, who we associate with etc. This is not a conscious effort on their part to control us. It is more out of our society’s standard that dictates this behaviour pattern. Anyone who stays from this pattern is labeled as an irresponsible parent or sibling. The society takes it upon itself to correct the situation till any and all semblance of freedom is removed.

The situation might seem dire and oppressive, but when it is so widespread and prevalent, no one questions it. There is a small wave of change coming about among the educated group s in major cities, but this change is small and far between. The youngsters are starting to fight back this oppressive attitude. Even some parents are seeing the flaw in the system and they have tried to give a free hand to their children wherever possible. Film and art fraternity have contributed majorly to highlight this issue with comedy, satire and even dramatic plays and movies on this subject.

The more that people speak on the issue and discuss it openly, the more will the change spread. It is essential to realize our mistake before it get out of hand. However, we should also be aware and alert toward the negative aspects of complete lack of control. With the rising crime rate, extremism, and the social media influence, there is always a need to control and monitor the children of the society. Strike the right balance and exercise control on yourself before one can try to control others.

Everyone needs a BFF in their life

BFF – best friend forever is a common term we hear nowadays. It is that friend who stays with us forever, who always stands by us in the time of need. One who gives us support and advises us when needed. One might say that all friends are like that, the point of friendship is for a person to stand by us and guide us through troubled times. There are many sayings, proverbs, anecdotes of great friendships that withstood time and age. Friendship is the single most valuable relation that we have and it is the foundation of most of the other relations like love, parent-child relation, siblings, teacher-student relation etc.

As with every blog of mine, there is a big BUT. So here goes….But, is it easy to find a friend like that? We make many friends in our lifetime, but most of them drift apart over time. There might not be a lack of affection between friends, but people just grow apart with changing time and life situations. We are inseparable from our friends in school or college, but after job, marriage, kids etc., we find it difficult to find common topics to talk with the same person. We still keep in touch, but are not as close as before. This is the most often used response to on this topic. There is nothing wrong in this response either. When we are in different situations or stages in life our mind frame varies accordingly. A person who was once impulsive and spontaneous might turn contemplative and back again based on their experiences. Each person goes through life at a different pace so for every friend to keep pace with the other is near impossible. For a friendship to keep up with all these variations and stand strong is a tough task. Having such friendship would seem like a crutch to help us. We are very dependent on it and life comes to a standstill without it.

For most of us it would seem like such friendship is a dream. It is like a mirage on a hot summer afternoon. However, I have an answer here as well. We can be our own best friend. We can be that one person who will not leave our side at any time or stage in life. Does that sound pathetic to you?? Maybe, but don’t discount the idea yet. If you are an extrovert, an outgoing and social person, it is easy to meet new people and make friends and lasting friendships. However, for an introvert, or a reversed person, or a socially awkward person, meeting people and making friends is a difficult task. Some people find it easy to make friends, but hard to build a personal connect with them. In such cases, some of us are just too prickly or sarcastic for friendship to withstand. If you are from any of these groups of people, life may seem devoid of true friendship.

Each of us has two opposing voices in our head telling us different perspectives to every situation. Listening to oneself and retrospection will help you find that true friend that you always needed. On a lighter note, you can be that one friend who can never ditch you, no matter how much you try. Speak to yourself, be honest about your true intentions, because, let’s face it who is your mind going to tell? It can’t snitch on you to anyone. You will get the best solutions that suit your personality and your requirement. Like in any friendship, you have to be honest with yourself and speak to yourself everyday about the events and emotions without the fear of bias or prejudice. I know that the thought I have put here today is a debatable topic. It is not a true solution or someone even say a healthy solution. I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

Being selfish is not all bad

We are always taught to be selfless and put others before self. This is one lesson that transcends religion, nationality, time and age. If you are a mother, it is always the child before self. For a father the family comes first. It is a universally accepted norm, but does it always ring true? Can you always deliver the results when you put others before self?

I have recently viewed a short video of Jubril Agoro, where he talks about how we need to be take time out for our self before we can help others. Here is the video, watch it and tell me if it is true.

I have felt the same way for quite some time, but I was ashamed to think like that. I felt that one cannot give peace to others when they have none in their mind. One cannot give joy to others when they feel none in their heart. It is essential to keep our stock of peace and joy filled to the brim, so that we can share and dispense some to others. Though my mind agreed with this idea, my heart always felt that being selfish was wrong and blamed me of being a bad person. I felt that I have no right to enjoy peace when my friends or family  were in distress. It felt like a betrayal of loyalty and friendship.

It took me a long time to realize that, though I would smile and laugh for their sake, my laughter was hollow and the smile lacked the joy. This applies to everyone. We all push our self to the limit and beyond thinking of others. We however, fail to notice that our loved ones can see right through the facade.

When I say that we need to be selfish, it only means that we are not being disloyal when we enjoy our day. We need not push all joy and enjoyment away because others are unhappy. We need to take a mandatory 10 minutes of personal time every day to just laugh and breathe peacefully. As the video suggests, in a situation of emergency, first put on your oxygen mask before you help the person next to you. If not, you are of no help to that person or yourself.

I know, some of you might say, how does it help others if I take time out to relax? The answer is simple really. Only when you are relaxed and calm, will you be able to take the best decisions and understand the problems correctly. If we are as worked up as the person next to us, then we will only add to the chaos. To be that one sane voice that calms the crowd, one should be sane in their mind. Believe it or not, when we pretend to be happy, we are fooling no one but ourselves.

So, how do we go about relaxing in a chaotic situation?

  • One sure shot way is to remove yourself from the situation and have some alone time to breathe and reflect.
  • Take daily break for 30 minutes to watch a good comedy that makes you laugh.
  • Start your day by counting your blessings, however small they may be, rather than checking your to do list.
  • Pick up any small hobby or pastime that is close to your heart and allocate a fixed time for it, on a regular basis. The hobby could be drawing, coloring, crafts, walks, gardening etc.
  • Try to see the comedy in every situation. It might be a difficult task, but not impossible. It will make any situation bearable when you can laugh at it.

All these ideas are there to help you to help yourself. Because, only a happy smile can spread joy, a forced or false smile never helps.

Train your brain to kick bad habits

The title of this post, ‘train your brain to kick bad habits’, might sound like a medical thesis or a white paper on psychology. However, I got the inspiration for this from a comedy movie. I kid you not, there is an old Telugu comedy movie in which the protagonist wins the heart of his lady love by helping her family get over a few of their bad habits. It might sound whimsical and far fetched, but, the idea behind the plot is a simple trick to train your brain. Without further ado, I will give you a brief explanation of the story.

The father of the heroine has a bad habit of swearing and cursing for the smallest of reasons, this in turn is seen by his son as a carte blanche to misbehave and abuse everyone around him. Since the child’s behaviour stems from what he sees in his father, the hero first tackles the father. He sets about to cure the father short temper and habit of using swear words. Everytime he gets upset at anything and has the urge to start cursing, the hero advises the father to tell out all the inanimate objects in front of him. Instead of saying bad words, he would be listing harmless objects around him. This results in some good comedic situations, but the idea behind it works. Since the father is now consciously making an effort to watch what he says, he has subconsciously started moderating his speech and actions.

Watching his father change, the son also takes it up as a game. The hero challenges the child to play games and the loser has to learn any new lesson, moral, concept etc that the winner teaches. The child’s natural curiosity takes over and he begins to play and learn, thereby changes his aggressive and competitive spirit is channelled in the right way.

The movie might seem like a comedy and the problem may have been trivialised, but the fact remains that our brain is powerful enough to cure and change all our bad habits. With the will to change, we can make our brain bend the way we want. Like a machine, with all the right commands our brain will start churning out the best results every time.

Start with simple tasks like waking up at a set time daily. Before you sleep at night, tell your brain to wake up at a set time and repeat this command 5 times. When you practice this with a calm mind and make the effort to wake up when your brain reminds you, you will notice that without an alarm, your brain will wake you up. I have tried this and it did work for me.

In the same way, we can train our mind to stop many habits like picking things that do not belong to us, smoking, being lax in our work etc. It just takes a determined effort and anything is possible.

All that remains is for us to stop using excuses and start to make real efforts. I do not promise that the task is easy, yet the results are always worth the hard work we put in.

Political correctness

In the present day, more than diplomacy, political correctness is more important. Many of us do not bother much for diplomacy and prefer straight shooters. However, no one wants to compromise on political correctness. So what is this political correctness, what exactly does this entail? Is it really that important or necessary to be politically correct?

Before launching into this discussion, I would like to tell a little about myself. I am very lean, I wear spectacles and had buck teeth. As a result, I have often borne the brunt of the jokes of my friends and colleagues due to my appearance. I would not say that I was bullied badly, but I have faced some hurtful and insensitive comments, whether it be intentional or unintentional. My experience on the matter of bullying, prejudices, may be limited, though they give me an insight into that world and need for political correctness.

Being politically correct means to speak in a way that does not offend or hurt the sentiments or feelings of any community, race, sex or ethnic group etc. Being careful in our choice of words and usage of expressions so that one does not demean or belittle people of disability or different abilities. In a world of bullies and trollers, being politically correct and being considerate of the sentiments of all groups of people is a good thing and many consider it an essential attribute in communication. The intent of the concept is to make everyone feel welcome and included in our world and not to differentiate. People around the world have taken to this concept very seriously and practice it. However, is the good intention behind this concept really working, how far is it helping?

Political correctness is like a mask that one wears to hide true identity. The problem with haters is not so much with their words or actions but with their intentions. While practising politically correct rhetoric, one can still harbour hatred in their hearts. In fact, I feel, when a person is not allowed to speak their minds and when society starts policing the freedom of speech and expression, the hatred only grows.

Any dispute, disagreement or agreement can only be resolved when all parties speak openly and honestly. With a veil like this, one can never completely address the hatred, xenophobia, bigotry, intolerance in the society. Even if we set aside the matter of fighting all these battles and only consider the fact that most of us just want to navigate through life peacefully and calmly. Would it not be simpler if we knew each other’s standpoint on issues of race, abilities, ethnicity, etc? I can at least steer clear of those that do not match my viewpoint.

The concept of Political Correctness, in my opinion, only masks the ugliness that lies within. To truly rid the society of such ugliness, we require a change of heart, ideology and thought process, not a change of wording or change of rhetorics. We should all think honestly and deeply before we come to any conclusion and stick to our guns in this fight.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.

Music that inspires and motivates us

Music has long been a tool to entertain and relax. It can also be a way of expressing emotions and encouraging change. When good music is complemented with apt lyrics, it becomes a very powerful medium for inspiration and motivation. Many a time, a song can open your eyes to repressed emotions, unidentified issues that need to be addressed. It all seems farfetched to many, but ask any Pink Floyd fan and you can get a multitude of examples of how music changed them.

Staying with the example of Pink Floyd’s music, the song ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ opened up a can of worms of how the English education system oppressed free thinking and independent thought. It hit a raw nerve for me as a proponent of the old convent school system. At the same time ‘Learning to Fly’ uncovered my struggle to become my own person.

There was a time when composers like Mozart, Vivaldi, Handel, and Beethoven etc. composed complex concertos that told stories, evoked love and praised God. Music was a study of notes and instruments and all the fine arts and high society. There was nothing ugly about music in those days. Slowly the social differences were blurred and apart from classical music, jazz, folk, pop music came into prominence. Singers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis, and Elvis Presley became the crowd favourites.
Popular music from The Beatles, Abba, The Carpenters, and Boney M etc. wowed the masses. Simple tunes, simpler words and easily expressed emotions were the hallmark of this genre of music. It nonetheless invoked very strong craze and hysteria among music lovers.
There are also those dark songs that help to give words to all the angst, turmoil and disquiet in the mind. Songs like ‘Fade to Black’, ‘Unforgiven’, ‘Enter Sandman’ etc. from Metallica are some examples. One can also quote songs from Iron Maiden, Nirvana, or the more recent bands like Linkin Park, Imagine Dragons etc.

I may be an aficionado of rock music, but mainstream music and pop music has many gems too. However, today’s music scene is quite different. Hip hop music, dance and EDM music are more in flavour. That still does not take away the fundamental quality to inspire.

I watched a recent Netflix show on Rap and Hip Hop music and how it is being used as a way to mobilize youth toward change. It is used to fight against oppressive regimes and cultures. Be it in Spain, Russia, Thailand even China. Gone are the days when music concert were basically composers like Bach or Beethoven or Mozart playing to entertain gentlefolk. It’s not even the Woodstock era where music spread the message of peace and free spirit. Nowadays music has taken the role of revolutionaries and militias.

Through these entire roles and titles, one thing is constant with music. It evokes feelings, inspires greatness and motivates change. It can be anything we need at any point in our life.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.

Who gets my vote

Voting and elections are the hot topic in the country today. With the general elections just around the corner, every political party is campaigning, canvassing and, in some cases, begging for your votes. It is not just political parties that depend on our votes, reality show participants, news anchors, beauty pageants etc also depend on public voting. When votes are such an important part of our democracy, what is the psyche behind each vote.

I am not talking about the contestants of any show, political party, pageant, reality contest or the virtues of any candidate. I, simply aim to understand what triggers a voter to choose a particular participant. I have spoken to my friends, colleagues, co passengers, and gathered general opinion from neighbours and relatives. Mind you, I am not conducting a scientific survey or study, all this is just to satisfy my curiosity. Now that I have made my intentions clear, I will make my findings clear too. I have found some very weird and funny reasons, some smart and practical reasons and some absolutely ridiculous reasons too.

  • Some people have given usual answers like ‘that participant is from my community/ caste/ neighborhood/ ethnicity’, this reason is most unreasonable because it has no bearing on the contest at all.
  • There were also reasons like ‘his/her relative was a good person’, this again is a bad reason because you can’t call someone a good reason or actor or person just because they are related to good people.
  • Some people have given practical answers like, ‘this person is a lesser evil compared to others’. I understand that in some contests you don’t have any suitable or good participant, we just have to pick the best option.
  • Here is a foolish reason for supporting or voting for your candidate. ‘i like to support the underdog’. This is such a bad reason because, you are the underdog most of the time due to your lack of skill, preparation and qualification. How can that be a reason to make you win.
  • Some people also vote purely based on appearances or looks. ‘he looks so innocent/ kind/ cute’ etc.
  • Sometimes the participants create tragic backstory  to gather sympathy votes. I have seen hardcore enthusiasts and fans and followers fall for such plots. The participants mainly have the skill needed, but have a sad story and you can get through. Revenge is also another reason for people to vote for unqualified candidates. We try to play god and avenge the wrongs done by a candidate by voting for other unqualified candidates

In this way, people have given a wide range of good, bad and ugly reasons to bestow ones vote. The sad thing is that we can’t preach to the public about the importance of vote and their duty. When we are starved for good choices, we have to make do with bad ones.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.

Monthly saving is not that difficult to achieve

In today’s world, it’s all about making a fast buck and spending it just as fast. There may be tons of avenues to earn money, but the young generation is finding it more difficult to control expenses. Every young working member of this society complains that their income is never enough to set aside savings. Is saving really that difficult? Is it the living expenses that have gone up, or has the urge to spend gone up?

Here are my thoughts on some age-old techniques that our parents applied and are still very much relevant when it comes to saving. I will also add a few of my personal ideas that have worked for me when it comes to saving. Despite all the ideas and techniques, the will to control expenses and the wish to save money is the foremost requisite.

Here is my first technique to save money.

  • Set up a recurring deposit, so that on the first of every month the bank automatically transfers a portion of the salary to the RD for a year or more. This way, without your intervention you set aside a small amount that will accrue interest. You can set up the amount based on your salary.
  • Reduce the number of e-wallets that you use to one or maximum 2. The more you use these wallets, the more you end up spending. They offer you cash back schemes, which only make you spend more. Their cashback schemes are all a trap to make you spend, where you never planned to spend.
  • Here is a personal idea of mine. On the 7th of every month, sit down at your system and pay your bills personally. Do not set up auto payment instructions. The idea behind this is, when you sit and pay each bill, you will feel the pinch of seeing your bank balance reduce. It generally scares me enough to control expenses.
  • One can always use the traditional saving plans like an insurance plan, PF plan, pension plan, SIPs, Chit funds etc.
  • One technique that my mom employs is to maintain a book of accounts to keep track of all expenses. This comes in handy in case of unforeseen or unavoidable expenses. I use the Google sheets on my phone to keep track and I noticed that the expenses are not so unavoidable after all.
  • Everytime I receive a bonus, I use the complete bonus amount to buy a gold coin. The amount may be small, the coins may be of different denominations, but in your hour of need you can exchange the gold coins at any jeweller for cash and get the complete exchange rate as of that day.
  • This may not be the best idea, but it works for me. I use my procrastinating attitude to postpone shopping trips. I put away the chance to spend for as long as needed until one day, I don’t need that purchase. It works like a charm for me.

Remember, all these methods will work only if you have the will to make them work. Just make up your mind and it’s not so impossible to save some money however small our salary is. All the best in your efforts.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.

When is the right time to enjoy life

The other day on my way back from office, I was travelling by bus. As with most public transport, you encounter different people with differing perspectives. They are sometimes weird, funny and sometimes offensive. But, mostly they are entertainment for me. This particular conversation, however, rubbed me the wrong way. It got me thinking and feeling guilty and rebellious at the same time.

 The whole discussion started between an elderly couple, who were returning from a housewarming party. From what I gathered from their conversation, a newly married couple built an independent house with all comforts and luxuries in an affluent area of the city. The elderly couple felt it was a waste of money and an unnecessary expense at such an early stage in life. They were of the opinion that the young couple should have built a commercial complex thereby earning rents and thus saving money.

As their conversation progressed, they started to include the other passengers into the fray. The conversation soon veered into stories of personal struggle and hardships faced. Each person told about the struggles of their parents to give them a comfortable life and how, one should save as much as possible. The general consensus was that since our parents braved all hardships to give us a comfortable life, we owe it to them to struggle just as much for the next generation. Most of them felt that one should not waste money on lavish homes, vacations or other leisurely activities, unless you can make money out of them.

On the face of this reasoning, it seems quite logical that one should not overspend. However, the argument that building a beautiful home that you dreamed of, going on vacations, spending money on pampering yourself is an absolute waste of money, does not sit well with me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is never a good time to take a vacation or pamper yourself unless you take a stand for yourself. If you don’t live life now, then you won’t have the health or the faculties to enjoy life in your old age. One can never stress enough on the importance of relaxation and stress release in the fast paced world today.

As Indians we are always taught to save first and hopefully enjoy life after retirement. But, it doesn’t work that way in reality. Do we really owe it to our parents to save more and enjoy later? Tell me your thoughts on the comments section.
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