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.

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?

after rain 13

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.

Do Small Things in a Great Way

Martin Luther King Jr once said, ” if I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way”. This inspirational quote literally means that great things need not always be a convoluted plot or an elaborate task. Doing everyday small deeds of kindness could also amount up to greatness.
There are many examples of highly celebrated philanthropists. However, today I will speak of a lesser known lady, whose greatness even moved King Edward VII of Great Britain.

Dokka Seethamma was born in the mid-1800s and lived her life during the British colonial rule. She was born into an ordinary family in Andhra Pradesh but married a rich farmer. Her greatness lies in the simple life she leads while doing great service to the poor and the lonely. She is known for her extreme generosity at serving food to everyone. She made it her life goal to feed any and every traveller, poor and homeless person that she encountered. Any time if the day or night, if anyone asked for food, she was ready to serve. She and her husband Dokka Joganna spent their life’s earning to ‘annadanam’ for the needy and the poor. Her name and fame spread far as ‘Apara Annapurna’. The title is representative of her role as someone who feeds the hungry.

Annadanam program at Tirupathi Temple

When King Edward VII heard about this great lady, he sent her an invite to come for his birthday celebrations. When the chief secretary of Madras presidency went to invite her, she politely declines. She said that her goal was only to feed the hungry and not the gather fame or publicity. The king was moved by her ideas and placed an honorary seat with her photograph at his table.

Srimati Dokka Seethamma, with a simple deed of feeding the hungry, has achieved the greatness that few can dream of. She has proved to us that however small a deed may appear, when we do it wholeheartedly with good intentions, only greatness results from it.

The Lessons I Learnt from an Unpleasant Friendship

She was not really “my” friend, she was introduced to me as my husband’s friend’s wife. That’s how I met her for the first time. Since then this friendship became a test for my patience. Patience that could not last beyond five years and one day I had to put an end to this ordeal. Today looking back at those days I wonder if there is anything that I should have done differently?

unplesant friends

Right from the very start I felt she was boastful about almost everything she did. She talked greatly of herself, her kids, her life and carrier etc. In her view, she is never wrong and she is always the best. Every decision she took, be it great or small, she had the desperate need to explain to people what a great thing she did. The icing on the cake was how she insisted others should follow suit. If by any chance she felt that someone else is doing better than her, she would spread lies about them or put them down publicly, say hurtful things and embarrass them.

Jealousy

This level of overconfidence, overbearing attitude, intense enviousness, pompousness was too much to swallow. It gets dark and unpleasant when she looked upon others as lower in intellect and class than herself and was never shy of showering her arrogance.  She once said, “There is no one and nothing in this world that money can’t buy”. People should not be treated so cheaply I thought.

Most of the time I listen to whatever she had to say about other people and about me and responded only with a smile. Sometimes I tried explaining to her but she never tried to understand. I noticed a total lack of empathy for my feelings, needs and wishes. I did a lot of soul searching and self-assessment due to the fear that I might be misunderstanding this person. In the end it was irritation and a feeling of hurt that got me because she treated my friendship like use and throw. I redoubled my efforts to get along with her by filling my mind with positivity but the hurtful things she said already caused a lot of damage. Probably I shouldn’t have put up with all this, I should have told her right at the beginning that she is stepping on my toes.

The only people who were still her friends were those who could put up with her awful treatment and those people who were obviously in a much better position than her. Today I feel much better that I no longer have to put up with her. But it does make me wonder what could be done and how to deal with people like this.

This a list of points that came to my mind:

I am the BEST and I LOVE myself

  • Be self-reliant and expect no help or favors from them because these people will talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
  • Be prepared to shower praises on them. I know! We have to lock up our inner voice for a while. Praises, I notice, always send them to the seventh heaven.
  • Never fall for the falsehood they spread about others. Always assess people with your own fair judgement. You might be surprised that they are not as villainous as they were portrayed.
  • Keep conversations with them short and simple. Get out while you still can.
  • Never fall into the trap of show off. They love to gloat and we will definitely lose all our self-respect in a gloating contest with them.
  • Most importantly don’t lose sight of your goals and work diligently to achieve it irrespective of what anyone says.

These are the lessons I learnt from my experience. If you meet any one like this (I hope and pray that you don’t), I hope my suggestions will be of help to you. And if you have any more points to add to or correct in my list, please feel free to comment. I like to hear from all of you. All the best and wish you all a wonderful day.

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.