Archives

Feel the freedom of life!

Why would you worry about being shattered, if you can rebuild yourself

Why would you worry about people’s judgment, if you can be kind to yourself

Why would you worry about recognition, if you realize how good you are

Why would you worry about losing someone, if you know to trust yourself

Why would you worry about something going wrong, if you believe you can make it right

Why would you worry about failing, if you are willing to learn from your failures

Why would you worry about future, if you are confident of your present

Why would you worry about falling, if you have the courage to rise every time

Why would you worry about growing old, if you are content with yourself

Why would you worry about dying, if you are living every moment

Why should fear hold you down, if you can touch the skies with faith!

Keep the faith! Trust yourself! Reach for the skies!

image

To special people who make us feel special

2012 – I went home for my birthday. Daddy was very excited. He always was about any of our birthdays – be it my mother’s, sister’s or mine. It meant a lot to him. He’d do anything and everything to ensure we had a great birthday. I remember when I was a kid I used to invite friends for my birthday almost a year in advance, dream of what kind of cake would I get, how many chocolates to buy etc. Clothes were the best part – Daddy used to get me the most exquisite dresses from the best of places. I remember one of my birthdays he got me a beautiful golden brown frock that I absolutely cherished for years. Every time I wore it, even strangers would stop to compliment me. I had my first Puma shoes when I was 3 years old. I had matching pink shoes for a pink frock. The best part was I never had to ask at all. Daddy used to get us the best of stuff during all his travels. I used to be so excited when I knew Daddy was coming home and used to literally wait for him at the doorstep so I could tell all my stories and also excited about what would come out of his suitcase. He always had something for us. Something awesome!

Anyways, back to my birthdays. It used to be like the most special festival for him. I had a guitar cake, Mickey Mouse cake, turtle cake, house cake and what not. So when I grew up, and started studying and working, being away from home, I used to always head home for my birthday. Because I love to see the delight in Daddy’s eyes trying to do everything to make me feel super special. I wouldn’t miss that for anything in the world. My Mom would make specials, he’d go shopping and get my favorite food, invite people over or take me out somewhere, buy me the best of clothes – ah! What a special time! Why would I ever miss that? So, until 2012, I was with Dad and Mom for all my birthdays. 2013, I couldn’t go home because I had to go for a training. 2014, I decided to not make a big deal of my birthday so I had a very lonely and quiet birthday in Bangalore. And then life struck a different chord. Suddenly Daddy fell ill and by end of 2014, he moved on. 2015, on my birthday, I felt bad – I was looking at the old pictures of my last birthday with him in 2012. If only I knew that I wouldn’t have any more such chances to see the delight in my Dad’s eyes, I would have perhaps rushed home for my birthday on 2014 too and spent it with the person I love the most and the person who loves me the most.

Likewise, his birthdays were the biggest festival for me too. No matter where I was and what was happening, I always went home for Daddy’s birthday. Nothing in the world was more important. I’d wait for this festival all year round – planning and dreaming of how to make it special. I remember I stayed up all night blowing 50 balloons for his 50th birthday. On another one, I gave him a surprise by coming home from Mumbai, early in the morning, even before he woke up. When I wished him, he thought it was my sister and turned around. Imagine his surprise when he saw me standing there. He jumped out of his bed and was super thrilled. The entire day, whoever called to wish him, he kept telling them, “Narmada came all the way from Mumbai to give me a surprise at 5.30am.” And each time he said that, I loved the delight in his voice. There was only one birthday that I missed of his in my life and I sent him a very special something that day. As soon as he received it, he sent me a message saying, “You are mad, in a sweet way :).” I had a big smile on my face when I read that. I saved the message.

Today I know Daddy is around me somewhere. While the body is gone, the soul lives on forever. But I miss seeing the twinkle in Daddy’s eyes when he wished me. I miss his charming voice – and the wonderful, elaborate, heartfelt words he used to say to wish me the best of everything in life on that day and always. I miss the excitement he used to generate to do so many things on my birthday. I miss his excellent choice in selecting the best of dresses for me (he never bought me 1; he always bought me multiple dresses for any occasion). I miss the warmth and positivity that he exuded. I miss the way he made me feel like I am his little princess – not just on my birthdays but every day! He always used to say festival is anytime when we are together. And he ensured we stayed together amidst all the transfers. It was only at a much later stage in life when I had to go elsewhere to study and to work. But I used to go home every other weekend. We couldn’t stay without seeing each other for too long. When I went back to my place of stay and called Dad to say I reached, the first thing he used to ask was, “Nana when are you coming again?” And we both would start planning my next trip. 🙂 He believed that people may forget what we say, but they never forget how we made them feel. He always made me feel loved with his kind and gentle presence. Never a foul word or a bad temper. Pleasantness personified. I was always fascinated by him and I wish to be like him.

For some strange reason, last year November 16th, I began drawing a Disney princess and wanted to write on it, ‘Daddy’s little princess’. I just started coloring it, when I got a call from Mom that he had a fall and was badly injured. I was in tears and rushed to the airport and reached the hospital. The wind-down started and in 45 days, he left his body. Life is full of strange signs and signals. I thought I’ll write about how I miss my Dad on my next birthday in 2016. But then I thought what about others who may be having their birthdays between now and my next birthday? What if my message goes out a tad too late for someone else? What if you have someone very special in your life and you have a special day coming up, and you are wondering what to do? What if this story could play a role in influencing that decision? Because we always choose to learn from each other’s experiences, we can make better decisions before life calls ‘the end’ on either.

Below is a picture of those brightly lit up eyes and that million dollar smile of my handsome Dad on my birthday. Priceless isn’t it?!!

Dad n Me

Complimenting is an art!

We have all received compliments at some point of time or the other. Some we remember, some we don’t. And then there are those few that we cherish – the ones that bring a smile on our face anytime we think of them. It could’ve been years back, but every time we think of them, the same feeling of happiness comes by again. What is it that makes a compliment tick and stick for so long? Here are a few things that made the difference:

1) How they feel depends on how you say – Firstly, like everything else, complimenting too is an art. And art means expression. Consider half the job done, when you say it with expressions and communicate your energy and enthusiasm behind the compliment. It is such that it lifts the emotional state of the receiver in an instant. Passionately communicate rather than merely stating. Compliment is an expression of praise or admiration not a generic talk.

2) Make it an identity – Anything positive can be made to an identity level statement. For example, you are a terrific orator (instead of, ‘you speak well’); you are a great singer (instead of, ‘you sing well’). This will help them get associated with a positive word for themselves and repeat their excellence in other contexts too.

3) Remember & recall – It is important that you are explicitly quoting what you liked the most. That way, you are giving evidence that you were fully there and focused; and by stating specifics, you are also helping the person understand what the best part about what they did was and help the other person bring their unconscious excellence to their consciousness. Hence repeating this behaviour will be easy for them in the future.

4) Don’t stop just yet – Stating one sentence is easy. But, if you really liked something and truly want to appreciate, be generous with words. If their actions blew you away, the least we can do is sweeping them off their feet with our words, isn’t it? This is one place where we wouldn’t leave a person wanting for more. Let’s just give it to them since they deserve it.

5) ‘Buts’ can be parked – Following up a compliment with a ‘but’ is as good as negating. It is said that whatever precedes ‘but’ is bullshit. Think about it – “I like you…but…” And you don’t even want to hear the rest of it because you know the first part is not absolute. A compliment is strong enough to stand alone. It doesn’t need the support of advises or suggestions. Let’s park them for a later date if required.

6) Stick to the present rather than the past– Sometimes, when we like something about a person in the present, we tend to compare it with the behaviour of theirs from the past which we didn’t appreciate as much. This can backfire at times. Also, rather than spending more time talking about a past that wasn’t appreciated, we might as well focus on the present that we appreciate. The golden rule is ‘stay put with the desired behaviour’.

7)  You could be better, but that is for later – It isn’t about you, so fully focus on the other. Even if you have done something similar, or if you were the one who is responsible for their excellence right now, that is not most important right now. Be magnanimous and selfless in appreciation of the other. A simple sentence like, “See, I told you” or “I did something very similar” can reduce the effect of a compliment. You can’t appreciate and advice someone at the same time!

8) Compliments don’t need cousins for comparison – Rather than telling someone that they were better than another, appreciate them for who they truly are. That way we are truly celebrating excellence without putting down another. When we compare we may forget to see their uniqueness.

9) Don’t miss the moment – As much as the compliment, the timing is also important. Say it as soon as you experience their excellence. Say someone won an award and if you wish them after 3 months, even when you had the chance to wish them the same day …!!!

10) And then stop – Anything in excess loses its credibility. Saying the same thing in different variations isn’t effective. In fact, it makes people think that there’s no depth or content in the compliment. So, it’s good to know when to stop just as well.

As much as it is a joy to receive a compliment, there is just as much in giving a compliment and lighting up someone’s day too. Intent is always right behind a compliment. Getting it right hence, becomes easy. There could be more things to make a good compliment a cherished experience. Feel free to share. And, have a wonderful day ahead!

My ‘GRAND’father

A very charismatic and learned man – always dressed in impeccable white – just like his character! His aura was such that anyone who saw him stood up in respect automatically. The man I am talking about – Ramaswamy – My adorable, admirable grandfather.

I can talk about the various roles he played from society’s perspective – like he retired as a Deputy Collector and was the most learned man in his entire district, etc. However, I’d rather talk about the man that he was above and beyond all the roles he played and the unforgettable impact he had in my life.I wonder if my life would have been as rich as it is without his invaluable presence!

He used to come visit us 5 times a year for sure (if not more) – those were my sister’s birthday, mother’s birthday, father’s birthday, my birthday and my parents’ wedding anniversary. He never missed coming. And every time he came, he’d give these crisp currency notes as a gift – we’d look forward to that – not because it is money but more because we never get to see such new notes without a single fold. I used to save my money inside a book and keep it away for a rainy day (something that I don’t do very well now 🙂 ). Even after he retired, he continued giving us money – I never found any difference in him post retirement – he still used to shave, dress up in those freshly pressed, crisp white clothes, hair neatly combed, the same zest for life, the same schedule, the same helping nature, moderate on food – nothing changed. I never knew retirement meant something because he made it feel like a man is just as useful and wonderful and fantastic regardless of whether he is in service or retires – it depends on how he continues to lead his life – with dignity and respect. He continued to be the head of the family – guiding people on important decisions like marriage, kids, education and work life.

I, for one, was the luckiest of them all – every time he came home, his evenings were exclusively meant for great conversations with me as a 7 year old. I used to ask him for stories from his younger days – pre-independence era – how was life back then – and boy o boy! What great stories I heard. I grew up listening to his stories – and I was so inspired that I told him I’d write his autobiography! My grandfather laughed and corrected me explaining – it would be a biography since I’d be writing it. It would be an autobiography only if the person himself/herself wrote it 🙂 . He was brilliant in English Literature too. Shakespeare and Milton used to come alive – I learnt Shakespearean lines much before kids of my age could. He quoted verbatim from Macbeth, Hamlet, Paradise Lost etc. He helped my mother with studies when she was preparing for her Masters in English Literature with 2 little brats in the house.

Though I was quite an introvert as a kid – there were 2 people, who I recall having great conversations with – one was my mother’s father who I have just described, and the other was my father!

A lot of values, respect for language, respect for people, helping people in need are things that I have learnt watching my grandfather.

Wait! Before I end – I just have to talk about a recent fantastic interaction with another elderly gentleman Mr. Chidambaram who came for my training program with his grandson. He came to me and said, “My grandson, who is in 10th grade wanted to attend this training and we stay very far – so I came along with him.” I thought, how sweet of him to take all the trouble, start early in the morning, change two city buses and reach the venue even before I did! What a commitment! What amazed me even more was – although he came to accompany his grandson, he participated in the training program with the same amount of curiosity and enthusiasm as a child would – like a clean slate. It was a humbling experience for me to say the least, to watch him learn and contribute in such brilliant ways. I salute the spirit! It’s inspiring to see such models of excellence. Following their footsteps, I am looking forward to growing up graciously and aging wisely. What else could I have, but respect for yester year’s youngsters and today’s shining stars!

We are who we are because of the inspiring generations before us, who live for us. It is now our turn to take care of them just as much as they take care of us with their unconditional and undying love.

Speak your Actions; Behave your Words!

Actions speak louder than words – which means what you do is more significant than what you say. However, what if what you say is not consistent with what you do? What if what you are saying is the exact opposite of what you do? You could be doing all the right things, but how often have you seen that your words have gotten you into trouble although you had extremely well-meaning actions/intentions?

In line with this is the other saying – Pen is mightier than the sword – One of the interpretations of this is that words can hurt more than stabbing with a sword. Let’s explore how.

Apparently, there’s a certain tribe in Solomon Islands, where if they want to kill a tree all they do is curse it for 30 days and the tree somehow dies on its own with all the negative energy. On the other hand, there is a beautiful practice in an African tribe where if someone does something harmful, they take the person to the center of the village and tell him all the good things he has done in the past. This helps the person remember the truth of his inner goodness which he had been temporarily disconnected. Click here to read more.

It has been found that even water responds to words. Imagine if 70-80% of our body is comprised of water and if we are using a lot of negative words and anger, that much part of our body gets affected by it.

Why waste all the vocabulary we know in communicating things that don’t add any value and also negate the value of our actions? The only control for a verbal diarrhea is within self – Being aware – Pausing for a split second before speaking. Putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes and thinking how we would feel if they were to use the kind of words we are planning to use. If we say something inappropriate, let’s be quick to apologize and learn. If we repeat the same mistakes, we may not expect to be forgiven always.

If you can align your actions to your intent, why not go one step further and align your words too. Actions anyways take more effort than words. Then why not put in a little more to watch the words and align them accordingly? It will surely go a long way in enhancing the quality of your relationship too. Rather than saying and expecting forgiveness, if we don’t mean something, then let’s not say it.  Why hurt a person with words while trying to save them through our actions? We all use our five senses – so telling someone, “Don’t hear what I am saying, but only see what I am doing”, may be irrational. On the other hand, it’s just so wonderful when caring actions are followed by respectful words.

Winning without Arguing!

What do you do when you are faced with an idea that is opposing to yours? You want to do something while the person wants you to do something else. What happens next? The battle begins. An argument starts.

What we may lose sight while arguing is the actual issue at hand. Our focus moves from the issue to the person with whom we are arguing. We try to win over the person rather than talk about the situation.

Source:Commons.wikimedia.org

Let’s say – I want to go for a party and my father doesn’t agree. What happens next is the drama triangle: I play the role of a victim and say, “You never let me do what I want. You are always telling me what I should do.”

Now this is a tempting invitation for my father to get into the role of a persecutor. “You never listen to me. You are always arguing. You don’t know what is good. Is that party more important than me?”

If you see now, the issue is out of proportions. It looks like someone is deliberately trying to restrict me or that I am intentionally being rude. That is far from reality.

Instead, imagine this – when we had a difference of opinion – if I stick to the issue at hand and address only that – “Dad, I really want to go for the party. I know you are concerned about my safety, and here’s what I am doing to ensure that I am safe. Let me know what else I can do to make you feel comfortable. I understand that this may not be very important but I have really been looking forward to it and it would mean the world if you agreed.” Asking the right questions and addressing the point of disconnect is what is usually most beneficial.

This kind of discussion keeps the drama out and steers us away from an argument. Eventually, whether the person agrees or not is a different thing. At least you are approaching it from a clean space. The likelihood of someone agreeing to you is greater when you explain yourself in rapport than when you go down to a personal battle of words. It also usually invites the other person to explain their rationale just as neutrally. Then it isn’t about winning or losing, it’s just about whether or not to go about something in a certain way – while acknowledging the other’s opinion. It isn’t necessary for someone to lose for us to win. It’s just wonderful to win and have others along with us in it.

Give Graciously, Live Joyfully!

We all give. We are constantly in a state of giving love, care, money, time, efforts, dreams and so much more. Giving goes hand in hand with living no matter who we are or what capacity we are living in. And there’s a joy in it. But if everyone is giving, how is it that some of our giving is celebrated while the others aren’t? How is it that some of our giving is joyful while the others aren’t?

Going deeper, while ‘giving’ is a part of our DNA, ‘joyful giving’ may not be as much a part of us sometimes. And that is something that really makes a difference. When I say giving, I am also referring to ‘giving in’. You must be quite familiar with this.

For example: You really want to do something but a significant other in your life is opposed to your idea. If you give-in here, ‘how you give-in’ makes a huge difference. Do you give-in with joy, that what you did makes someone you love happy? Or would you go around with a pumpkin face?

On the other hand, if it is really important for you, are you willing to pay the price? If you are, then take the efforts to explain what’s important about it and go ahead. If it is important enough, fight for it. Else, let it go freely. Holding on to something with half a heart and willing to let it go with another half only adds to the list of ‘un-accomplishments’ or complications.

Choosing to be unhappy because you gave up your dream (OR) choosing to be unhappy because you went ahead with your dream, but someone else is not so happy – is a lose-lose situation. You are then, essentially making a choice to be unhappy either ways. Can you instead, choose to be happy? If you choose to be happy – you can do either and still be happy.

Whatever you do, do it fully and freely. This will enable you to experience the joy of giving or receiving. Halfhearted giving or halfhearted receiving isn’t going to keep you happy or do much good anyway.

You always know why you are doing what you are doing. If you don’t, then stop and ask yourself that question. In that answer rests the key to many other choices and decisions that you may have to make.

If you are letting go of something you wanted, you must be letting it go for a reason. Are you consciously aware of that? Could be because someone’s feelings are more important to you than what you want; could be that you are not ready to do what it takes to get what you want; could be that the price you have to pay is not worth what you wanted or it could be anything else. When you lose sight of the reason, resentment may set in. And that can make a joyful feeling resentful or sad.

If you have decided to donate money for a noble cause, you might as well give it happily. If that’s difficult, don’t bother giving at all. What’s the point of giving and feeling miserable about it or making others feel bad about the fact that you gave? End of the day, people can only influence you. YOU can decide what to do and choose whether to be influenced or not. So holding others accountable for our actions is a strategy to feel unhappy. To experience the true joy of giving, give joyfully and respectfully.