Happily Ignorant

‘That one,’ he said. ‘The house of the former politician,’ the auto-driver told me.

‘Hmm…,’ I said uninterestingly.

‘Don’t you know!’ without stopping, ‘He is the one who caught for that case…’ he told me.

‘Oh, I didn’t know…’ I continued with my non-enthusiasm.

Now annoyed, he replied, ‘Don’t you ever watch news at all, sir!’

I said ‘No’.

Not sure whether he heard me.

It was a silent drive from there after.

Oh! I then I realised. I really don’t watch news or TV or trolls. I really am ignorant of the ‘important’ things. I am guessing you understood what I meant by ‘important’ here.

I felt proud. I rejoiced. I am chosing not to live the populist life. The joy is in the little things. With so much noise in the world around, it becomes an inevitable venture to protect our sanity, our self and our happiness. In the name of being participative, we only add more stupidity and arrogance. I have a chrome app that shuts my Facebook after 10 mins. I don’t use WhatsApp. I don’t have a cable connection at home. I am reducing. Reducing my distractions.

I recommend ignorance. I recommend deep silence, than shallow noise (inspired by Cal Newport’s Deep Work).

Let us take the moment to focus our lives on what is important to us.

Let us make this life a memorable one – not for the books of history, but for the memories of our loved ones.

Heaven. A Night With the Most Beautiful Girl in the World

‘Heaven. It was.’ I told my friend. He knew it.

My work keeps me busy – at office and at home. My family doesn’t take that nicely. The uneventful travel plans add to their misery. So most of the time, my daughter doesn’t get to sleep with us. She usually sleeps in the ‘thottil’ with her grandmother on the side.

That day, it was different. The grandmother has gone back to the native. We didn’t have an option. We had to accommodate our little girl to sleep with us. And making an 1-year old sleep with the adults in not an ordinary feat. Just ask my wife who lost her sleep.

It was bit different for me.

The cuddles, the little noises, the naughtiness, the kisses.

It was HEAVEN. My little girl sleeping with me.

It’s incredible! So unforgettable.

Joy in Small Little Things

The greatest gifts in life come in small packages.

  • Late night fight with the loved ones
  • A leisurely walk
  • A tea in the late evening
  • Listening to that old song
  • A hearty meal
  • An afternoon nap
  • Unexpected phone call
  • A surprise party with friends

Let us rejoice in the little things and lose our temptation for everything big!

Let us let go off ambition and carve for meaning!

Take this very moment to think of those little things – those little moments of joy.

Remember that this is Heaven. For the Kingdom of God is right here, right now!

 

Bad Things: How You Benefit From It?

In the great Indian epic, Ramayana, a story about the great King Dasaratha, the father of the Lord Rama. One day, the young king Dasaratha was on his hunting trip. He heard a sound in the bush near the river. Assuming it was an animal that came to drink water he launched his arrow. Suddenly he heard a human voice cyring. Accidentally, he had hit the son of a brahmin who came to fetch water and he died. Knowing the death of the son, the brahmin runs to the spot. He cries and curses the King that he too will suffer the separation of his son just as he is suffering now. For the rude act of cursing him, the ruler of the land , King Dasaratha could’ve had the brahmin punished. Instead he thanked him. For quite long, king had no child. He felt grateful for the brahmin’s curse, because at least to fulfill his curse he will have a son. Even in the moments of curse, he found the blessing.

We all know the sorrow and suffering that King Dasaratha went through during the 14 years of Vanavasa that Ram was exiled to. But the king was felt indeed blessed to have the Lord himself to born as his son and to be part of the great Indian Epic.

Curse turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

On the other end of the work, in the Rome and Greece, the birthplace of modern Western Civilization, the Stoics had a similar way of dealing with failures. The Stoics had an exercise called Turning the Obstacle Upside Down. Marcus Aurelius, then great Emperor of Rome calls it as to act with ‘a reverse clause’.

Examples:

  1. Someone doesn’t appreciate the help that you gave them – then consider that it is a moment for you to learn patience and not expecting appreciation for goodness you do.
  2. If any one of your valuable things gets stolen – what you are being taught to learn to independent of that item
  3. Pringles’ initial intention was to make tennis balls. But on the day that the rubber was supposed to show up, a big truckload of potatoes arrived. But Pringles was a laid-back company. They said “Fuck it. Cut ‘em up.” – Pringles is a famous potato chip company
  4. Other day to my new apartment and I made a wrong turn, at first I was annoyed, then I realized that this was just an opportunity for me to learn a new route home.

People have different words to describe this phenomenon:

It resonates with what Sir Winston Churchill says

“Success is nothing but moving from one failure to another without losing enthusiasm.”

So is this rewritten eloquently in ‘The Bhagvat Gita’ in the definition of a ‘seer’:

“They live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them, who have renounced every selfish desire and sense craving tormenting the heart. Neither agitated by grief nor hankering after pleasure, they live free from lust and fear and anger. Established in meditation, they are truly wise. Fettered no more by selfish attachments, they are neither elated by good fortune nor depressed by bad. Such are the seers…”

We cannot help but to get on with life. So when we lose one blessing, another is often present.

Obstacle do shape our attitude. Our lives.

Everyone must have seen it in their life. The fact that within a bad event, lays the seed for something better. A few are able to see this, but not many arrive at this understanding.

  • I found that I could be grateful for just about anything, even the bad stuff.
  • Sick with a cold? I could be grateful for my health when I’m not sick.
  • Lost a business? I could be grateful for the opportunity to start over.
  • Someone is rude to me? I could be grateful that they were showing me a good example of who I don’t want to be.

Tasks/ Events/ things – are neither good or bad. Thinking makes it so.

Exercise: Finding the blessing in disguise

Try this exercise.

Take a piece of paper and pen or pencil. Draw a line right in the middle of the paper, dividing the page into two equal columns. Name the left column as bad event, and the write column as ‘blessing in disguise’. List down the number of bad events that happened in your life in the left column. Correspondingly, write the consequent good side effect that happened because of that bad event. Don’t restrict yourself. It could be as small as ‘not waking up early today’ (may be because of that you avoided the usually over-crowded traffic) to as big as ‘a heart break-up or failing a major job interview or missing a major clientele’ etc (may be because of that you found though a small, but set of loyal customer).

So, what are the best failures that happened to me and turned a blessing in disguise?
  • Failure of love
  • Failure of job
  • Failure of salary/ career

Just know that failure is not opposite to success, but an essential ingredient in the process of succeeding.

So, indeed, it is a good thought exercise to consider thoughts as opportunities for growth. I am not suggesting go look for a problem, but when it presents itself consider that as an opportunity rather than impediment to action.

Do you remember any time when such things turn around – when the problem that happened in life, indeed, became an opportunity? How did you benefit from it?

There is saying that it (the bad event) was blessing in disguise.

So, in the words of the great Sufi poet, Rumi:

“True understanding is to see the events of life in this way: ‘You are here for my benefit, though rumor paints you otherwise.’ And everything is turned to one’s advantage when he greets a situation like this: You are the very thing I was looking for. Truly whatever arises in life is the right material to bring about your growth and the growth of those around you. This, in a word, is art — and this art called ‘life’ is a practice suitable to both men and gods. Everything contains some special purpose and a hidden blessing.”

Everything is a blessing indeed.

11 Lessons from Publishing 100 posts by 2016

I’m not good. That good at all.

I hated it. I hated every minute of it.

Writing. Writing a post. Publish 100 posts by the end of 2016.

No one asked me. No one challenged me to do it. It was a personal, an artificial commitment. A promise I felt worth keeping. Here are 11 lessons I learnt in the process.

  1. First, the most obvious one. I was appreciated. At least I felt appreciated. ‘That’s some serious hardworking!’ a friend said; ‘I like your consistency,’ another one told me.
  2. I got to exercise my writing skills. Not sure whether my writing improved – but I do ‘feel’ I’m a better writer than say 6 months before.
  3. My fear of writing – publishing – putting my work before an audience has quite not left, but I’m coping up. I did harbour a fear to come up with a topic and write about it. There still is resistance to create – but slowly it is giving away to create and do more. But it is slowly reducing or brought under control.
  4. The muscle memory for writing, typing, creating – has sort of strengthened. And the discipline to create and ship started working.
  5. I feel accomplished. Of all the goals I set for year 2016, I am proud about publishing 100 posts. It does give me a confidence boost – which I badly need.
  6. It created an opportunity for me to expand myself – to read more, to research more. To write, I need to read and am reading a lot more.
  7. I learnt about goal-setting, breaking it into sub-goals, as monthly, weekly targets and tenacity to work upon it. Not that these were difficult concepts to practice, but I got the chance to practice for a personal project fo mine. And it indeed feels gratifying.
  8. Technically, I learnt, though quite not mastered on use of WordPress and website management.
  9. It lead to other side projects like GetRevue Newsletter, online course exploration and other web development projects.
  10. I feel happy to inspire others – through my writing, with my act of writing and through my consistency.
  11. It was an exercise in creativity and focus and perseverance. Some have games, puzzles. I got my blog.

To paraphrase Mohammed Ali to my own context, ‘I hated every minute of writing.’ But I refused to quit. Not that I’m a champion now. But I’m trying.

So what is that one thing you hate, but you need to do it and read to suffer for.

Make this the year to practice it. All the best!

Four Alternatives to a ‘To-do list’

  1. No list. This could be a blunt alternative but be mindful that most of the people in this world get by using no list at all. You decide in the moment what needs to be done and get down to doing it.
  2. I did list: Also known as I done list or Anti to-do list (a term coined by Marc Andreesen). Now popularized by the ‘iDoneThis’ web application. The idea is ‘recording’ what one did rather than listing items what needs to be done – which is usually the premise of a ‘to-do list’.
  3. Doing by Entry. It is similar to having a no-list, but the key difference is noting down what one is going to do and then doing it. This simply gives a sense of direction to what one is intending to to and focus on the said item on the list, avoiding diversions.
  4. ‘No-list’ list. An invention by Mark Forster. This is a more complicated method than ‘doing by entry’. Though a contradiction in term – the general idea is to have a shorter list.