Perseverance

I found this quote the other day. I felt that it was telling me to rethink an earlier post I had made regarding quitting. Quitters Are Not Losers.

Reading this quote, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”, by Calvin Coolidge makes me rethink my strategy.

It is Time I Make My Own Decisions

How many of us can honestly say that all the decisions we make in our life are our own? Not me. I have been asked this question and I realized that most of the decisions that I make are not my own. I merely do what the situation demands or what I am obligated to do. Are you in a similar conundrum?

All the women would be thinking, such is the life of a woman. As children, our parents make decisions for us. As teenagers, our friends and boyfriends hold the strings. After marriage, our husband dictates our life and later our children do it. But, here is a shocker, men don’t fare much better either. It is either parent, peer pressure, society, a boss, familial pressure that dictates most of the decisions we make. Basically, everyone is being managed and manipulated into making decisions that we don’t agree with them.

A most common example to this point is the college course that one chooses. Most would think that the course would depend on our strengths or on our dream jobs. However, many of us end up taking up a course that is considered to be a popular choice or one that our parents wanted to take up. We end up with the responsibility of fulfilling their dream at the cost of ours.

The clothes we wear are often prescribed by friends and society. Whether we like them or not, we end up following some fashion trends, just so we can fit in. The office we work and our post is mostly determined by peer pressure. How many times have we heard the words, “Your cousin has already got promoted to a manager, how come you are still a…..?”, “We are planning to apply for XYZ interview, why aren’t you applying too?.

Recently, I met my cousin, who went over budget to buy an apartment in a particular locality. Even though the whole place is stuck in litigation due to environmental issues, they bought it. When I asked them why they did not check all this before booking their apartment, their answer astounded me. Apparently, many of their co-workers had purchased property there. They convinced my cousin to go ahead despite the court case. Their logic was when so many people have bought land there, the court will rule in favour of the majority. I found their justification warped, but my cousin could not escape the constant stress from her co-workers.

These are just a few simple examples that I have quoted here. Many of us make more risky and damaging decisions because of family obligations or societal demands. The latest trends of TikTok challenges, Facebook challenges are a case to this point. We have seen many teenagers and children buckle under the pressure of friends groups and take up drinking, drugs etc. So how does one avoid this? How can you become immune to this pressure?

I have observed that self-aware people, confident people, focused people are immune to this pressure to a large extent. When you are aware of your inabilities, more than abilities, you can make an informed decision for yourself. You will not fall prey to emotional blackmail when you are confident in your decisions and abilities. One more way to avoid peer pressure is when you are focused on your goals. Your determination to achieve goals will keep you from being distracted and helps you stick to your course of action. A supporting and understanding family will also go a long way in avoiding these stresses and wrong decisions. At the end of the day, everyone will have to find a way out of this by themselves. There isn’t a straightforward solution that works for all, we need to find the right mix to treat each problem differently.

Beware Of The Impact Of Kindness

An act of kindness is universally respected as a good deed. Every religion teaches us to be kind and helpful. We praise generosity and we elevate compassionate people to a God-like status. Then, why did I warn you to be wary of the result of kindness?
Let me tell you a story to explain the statement.

There once was a village of wealthy and prosperous people. All the people of this village were blessed with good health, wealth and abundance. The villagers were grateful for their fortune, they shared it freely with those who were less fortunate. Once a sickly poor mendicant came to their village asking for charity. Everybody donated freely to help the poor man. Soon, with all their kindness, the beggar’s health improved. He was able to save enough money to stop begging. He took up a job in the village. Seeing his development, more beggars started to visit this village. The kind citizens continued to help everyone who came. But some of the villagers observed the sudden increase of beggars, they stopped being so generous. Soon, the rest of the families too started to make the same observation and stopped giving alms as freely as before.

The new beggars did not like this change. They started to demand charity, instead of requesting it. If anyone refused to help, they would get agitated at them. As the situation worsened, more and more families stopped helping. This made the beggars riotous.

Observing all these changes, the village elders and the chief called for a meeting. They wanted to settle this conflict, so they sat down to discuss the concerns. Through this discussion, the chief realized that the whole ruckus was a result of their own kindness.

The villagers were kind to everyone who asked for help, they never checked if the person deserved help or not. They blindly served everyone who asked. Their unquestioning attitude and kindness attracted all the freeloaders and lazy people around. The village became a haven for lazy and good for nothing people. Their begging was no longer a request for help, it became a demand for money. Later, it became the responsibility of the villagers to feed this bunch of beggars.

If you think that this is just another imaginary story, then think again. Transpose this story onto your life and analyse. Often, we try to be helpful to friends or family just because they are our friends or family. We go out of the way to help them, but our friends take the help for granted. God forbid, if we refuse to help them for any reason, they start to get agitated and emotionally blackmail us. They make statements like, ‘how can you be so cold-hearted?’ or ‘is our friendship not worth the trouble?’ They guilt-trip us into going beyond our limits to help them.

It is not just with our friends and family, we see this trend even with certain charitable and social organisations. They make us feel guilty for our well being and use this guilt to manipulate us into donating more than we can afford.

I will not persuade anyone against compassion. In fact, the world could use more kindness, but beware of whom you shower it upon. Not everyone who asks for help deserves it. Do not fall prey to false propaganda and manipulative lies. Stop and check the veracity of any problem before you start to help them.

Five Easy Things Anyone Can Do

We often use phrases like “that’s easy” or “that’s too hard for me”. Today I wanted to make a simple and funny list of things that I find easy or hard to do. However, I would like to point out that something is easy doesn’t mean that I do those things and hard to do doesn’t mean that I don’t try to engage in those activities. It’s just a fun list. 

  1. When you are late, make excuses. Blame the traffic: I confess I am guilty of this crime. There were times when I used traffic as an excuse for being late. The fact that it never worked is a different story.
  2. When you are angry, show your temper on inanimate things. Hmm! I would say that taking our anger out on objects is much less damaging than lashing out at people. Again, it’s a different story when I break my expensive phone or watch in anger.
  3. If the problem is your own, then it’s genuine but if someone else is going through it, then it can’t be all that bad. I have been a victim of this kind of treatment quite often. Although I have to say one thing, when we are in that situation, our mind doesn’t work. All the wisdom we impart to others does not make sense in our difficult times.
  4. When you complete a task successfully, turn around and tell everyone how organized, dedicated and determined you are. When things go wrong, it is always someone else at fault. This one is the funniest of all. I saw many people do this and I use it as a joke.
  5. When you have sufficient time to complete a task, postpone the job for later. When you don’t have enough time to do it, burn the midnight oil and toil until daybreak to complete it. Gosh! I am totally guilty of this one. There is a distinctive sense of accomplishment when we complete a task in the last minute

Now that you went through ‘the easy things’ list, you might want to look at my list of 5 hardest things to do. These are things that are hard for me. Some of you might not find it all that difficult.

  1. Stick to a new year’s resolution for long enough that it can yield any good results. It is so hard to do this, of late I haven’t been making any new year resolution.
  2. Stay disciplined with diet and exercise. I have a serious problem with this. For this reason, my waistline expands and contracts from one extreme to the other like a rubber-band. 
  3. Not get stressed out when being under pressure to meet a deadline or when given a task which is obviously beyond one’s capacity or control. This is 100% me. No matter how hard I try, I can’t keep myself away from stress.
  4. Keeping away from sweet treats and desserts for a long time. Sweets are my weakness.
  5.  Completing all the housework before going to bed. Ah! This last one is an eternal struggle for me. Every day I try but, I have something or the other spilling over into the next day. 

Tell me what do you think of my list or easy and hard things. Tell me what’s easy and what is hard for you. I would love to hear from you all. Have a great day all of you!

Make Adversity Your Best Friend

Whenever people find themselves in a sticky situation, the first thing that they generally experience is stress and the next is, to wish to get back to the status quo. Above all other emotions is the “Why me?” feeling and our brain starts looking for an easy escape. Adversity knocks on the door more frequently than good luck. This is a fact of life. If we can make adversity our friend, then every trouble has a tale to tell and every misfortune has prosperity hidden in it. Though it is not easy to untangle the web of misfortune, it is still worth the effort. The only exception is the sorrow of the death of a dear one.

Trials work like a litmus test and reveal our true well-wishers. During difficulties, we turn to our friends and family for help, while most of them try their best to help and stand by us, a few of them disappear from our sight. I like to call these people the fair-weather friends. Had it not been for the trials, we would never get the opportunity to identify them.

In times of difficulties, if we look within ourselves rather than blaming it on a jinx, we can surely come up with a solution. We just need to reexamine our skillset, bolster our determination and work on our problems. At times like this, we find out where we are lacking and thus, get a chance to improve our self accordingly. Adversity teaches us resilience. During the economic slowdown of the late 1990s, I lost my job. Instead of lamenting on it, I used this as an opportunity to improve my skills and when the market was ready to offer jobs, I was better prepared.

I have noticed that laziness and procrastination lead to unnecessary distress as a job done on time means, no worries. We can make bill payments as an example, any delay in payments lead to fines. Similarly, a lack of proper understanding of the task also creates hardships. We should never shy away from asking for assistance. Sometimes miscommunication is the cause of all our ordeals. We can try and solve this issue by explaining our intentions and requirements in a task. We can take language classes too if that is the problem. Give it whatever it takes to solve the problem because, in our quest to solve them, we end up improving ourselves. Every adversity scoops out the unrequired qualities within us and builds our character.

If we reminisce back to school days, while working out math problems for a given topic, some questions were very simple. If we practice only the simple questions and then we cannot handle even slightly complex problems on the same topic. We will be fretting and frowning about the sudden complexity. In the same way, twisted circumstances in life help in sharpening us. There would be no problems in life if, we learn our lessons at the first encounter itself, else we are bound to repeat our mistakes.

If we take a look at the people around us, we will find that some of them can manage their life really well. It seems as if God pre-programmed them before sending them into this world. They make you wonder, “Why can’t I manage things like them?”. Either they have excellent managerial skills or they have a great sense of style or they perennially have a smiling face. It is not that they are born that way but, they take every adversity and turn it into an advantage.

I can tell you from experience that following this advice is tougher than preaching it. The hardest part is to set aside the ego, drop all excuses and accept the truth. Believe in yourself that you can make a difference and welcome every adversity as a friend that has come to improve you. Like a jigsaw puzzle, put all the pieces together to get the complete picture. Twist and turn the problem till you shape it into a solution and pull each thread out patiently until the mess is untangled. All the best In your effort, if you succeed, you will be the best form of yourself.

Age Is Not Just a Number

They say, ‘ Age is just a number’, ‘You are as old as you think you are’. If you want to feel young, then you have to be young at heart. This is how people view age and the process of ageing. At first, I thought who am I to dispute this. I am not that old yet to debate the matter. I accepted it on its face value.

Now I beg to differ. Not that I have suddenly aged, thankfully not yet. However, I have been in the company of old people due to certain inescapable events. They may not complain about their condition all the time, but just to watch them struggle to perform everyday tasks is tragic. Their mind is keen, but the body is not able to keep up like it used to. We see some people have a tough time holding a cup of coffee without spilling it. Sometimes they have difficulty climbing steps as they keep missing a step in between. It gets even more complicated when the body is fine, but your mind starts to rebel. Hallucinations and delusions are an example of such situations. I am not talking about any specific mental or physical condition that causes these problems. Many such difficulties arise once your age advances.

The sad part of all this is, some of these conditions can be delayed, or even avoided if necessary precautions are taken at a young age. Often we take our body and health for granted and ignore exercises and healthy food. We might enjoy life now, but it all comes due, once we cross our 60s. For those unlucky few, it comes due earlier.

I have picked a touchy topic to discuss, but I intend to highlight the significance of taking care of health and fitness. When our body does not comply, our mind cannot do anything. Ageing is inevitable, but the only thing to ensure minimum pain is healthy food and plenty of exercises. Keep moving and working to keep fit.

This is one advice that I insist on giving. The earlier you get on the road to fitness, the better. Even if you are a late starter, I say it’s better late than never. Bring out your exercise gear and let’s get cracking on health.

Problems That Need a Name

A problem that does not exist, needs no solutions, isn’t it so? Unless we recognize the existence of a problem, we will not start thinking about ways to repair it. For this reason, the first step towards problem-solving is to recognize and define the problem. A problem can be anything that endangers your welfare or anything detrimental to your future well-being.

For over a year, I have been suffering from persistent headaches, that sometimes last days at a stretch. Initially, I thought it was sinusitis. Later, the blame was pushed on to stress and bad weather. Whatever the cause, the only solution I could see was painkillers. I had work to do and could not stop to rest. Even when I had the time to rest, I would hesitate to think, “How often will people around me put up with my excuse?”

As time passed, I was able to identify some common features of my problem and finally, the doctor diagnosed my trouble as migraine. Rather than disturbing me, the diagnosis gave me a sense of relief. Since the problem has been identified and named, I no longer feel disconcerted. I can research about the condition and take necessary precautions. I can try different options such as changing my diet, meditation and exercise instead of going straight for the painkillers. This incident got me thinking about the importance of “Identifying the problem”.

We don’t often take the time to introspect about the whys, whats and hows. We find it easier to point fingers at others, the circumstances or our fate. Our deficiencies become our neighbour’s fault or the devious plan of some evil imaginary force. Either, we build up bad vibes for the so-called ‘enemy’ or pray to the heavens for divine intervention. We fail to recognize the fact that unless we work on the problem, it will continue to thrive. That brings us back to our main point; unless we acknowledge the problem we will not work on it.

To acknowledge the problem, analyze every situation and assess your role in the crisis. Think about all the various possibilities like, “What if I had taken a different approach?”, “What if I had prepared for the exam?” or “What if I had alerted the appropriate person?” Is there anything that you could have done that would result in a better outcome? During this process, it is important to be truthful to yourself. This line of thought will lead you in the right direction.

Once the problem is identified, our mind will automatically start looking for solutions. My personal experience has been that I was able to improve myself along many planes. It also helped me become a better person and improve the quality of my life compared to two decades ago.
Tell me about your experience or if you have anything more to add to this topic. I would love to hear from you. Have a nice day!

To Change Or Not To Change

I have a bit of an enigma, to change or not to change. Everyone says change is the only constant in life. If we want to adapt to any change in our life, then we have to change ourself, else, we might become obsolete. We have to try to improve our self. In fact, it is strongly believed that those who stick to the old ways often get left behind. Acclimating to change is the only way forward.

Just when I’m convinced with this argument, my mind says, but we have to be strong and stay true to our convictions. We should not keep changing colours and end up losing our individuality in the crowd. We should adhere to our way of life. Change means to quit on our opinions and taking a cowardly way out.

How do we choose which is correct?

Be Mindful of Your Words While Expressing Yourself

Words are the most powerful tools that we use to express opinions, intentions, ideas, plans etc. Understandably, our words can make our life easy and smooth sailing or they can invite trouble and unwanted risks. Many times, though we speak the truth, if we are not careful of our tone or choice of words, our message is not conveyed correctly. This can potentially wreck a relationship, business deal or lifelong friendship.

When we let our anger, envy or pride colour our tone of speaking, we could end up conveying a very different message. There are few situations when our emotions are justified, however, they get communicated in a more sinister way because of the words we use. We often describe it as righteous anger and intend to point out the evil intentions behind an innocuous deed. However, our emotions and inner turmoil can distort our speech and make us appear jealous and resentful.

There are many examples of such mishaps in our daily life. I had recently encountered a conflict that was blown out of proportions because of this reason. It was a lesson I wanted to remember and hence, I have written this blog. I hope to bring this to the attention of my readers.

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.