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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!

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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

It’s their game! Let them play.

Teach only if someone wants to learn
Speak only if someone wants to listen
Give only if someone wants to receive
Advise only if someone is willing to seek

Anything can work only if there’s a want. Where there’s a want, there will always be a will and where there’s a will, there is always a way. Truth be told – anything has its value only when there’s a want we hold. A dream that doesn’t exist cannot come true. A want that doesn’t persist, may not be valued too. It doesn’t mean we have to hold back all the time. We can create a compelling want in people. People are the way they are because they haven’t experienced other ways of being. Once they experience or get a taste of a new way of being, a powerful self, a beautiful relationship, the human mind will never settle for anything less knowing that it is capable of something better. We can create the want, build that dream, set the example and be our compelling positive self that the world would want to learn from our excellence. We can listen to our experience, gain from our gifts and seek our perspectives.

Half the struggles in the world are because we want someone to learn something, do something or accept something even if they are not ready for it. We tag our success to somebody else’s willingness to receive what we want to give. There is a certain amount of ‘I’ness in our transactions.

  • We want our children to study well and become something. But do they want the same thing?
  • We want someone to apologize. But do they feel it?
  • We want someone to learn from our experience and change from our feedback. But do they see the need for it?

Not everything in life has to be enforced. We seem to be flooded with lots of options and yet have no choice at all. Each person makes the best choice available to them. We may think they are being stupid or difficult. But how do we know what criteria of theirs is getting fulfilled by being so? Sooner or later we all arrive at our respective destinations. Whether in our way or theirs, people reach where they want to reach. There’s learning in every route, in every step and every journey. Each person is unique and so is their journey. They may have a journey that is very different from ours but it is significant in its own way. In that difference lays their learning and ours.

We might want others to learn the way we teach or be the way we want. No harm in wanting something. But it is good to be aware that it will happen only if it is in line with their life’s story and what they want for themselves. Being aware of that will help us accept whichever way it goes.

Differences in point of views are not worthy of creating difference between two people. Different perspectives can
co-exist because they each are here for a specific reason and they each fulfill a purpose by their presence. Honest points of difference are learning opportunities. What is it that we can learn from an opposite point of view or an opposing force? This is a great question that helps us perceive differences healthily and enables us to accept, learn and grow.

We might be upset and pick a fight because someone is not listening to us despite of us repeatedly telling them. But did we stop and wonder – why should that person listen to us at all? Why should things be the way we want? Can we adjust instead? Our way perhaps is more effective but it may not be what the other person wants now. They may want something else. Perhaps because there’s a different learning they are seeking currently. We can’t dictate the rules of their game unless they are seeking our inputs. And even when they are seeking, it doesn’t guarantee an acceptance. They still have the choice.

“Those who wish to sing will find a song!”

The world is our classroom; Every human, our teacher !

Who do you learn from? Do you have criteria for someone to be your teacher? Do you have clauses that you will consider someone a teacher only if you feel they are more qualified than you in some way? I thought like that once upon a time. I thought the teacher has to be all perfect and really know what they are talking, should be humble, polite and all that. Only then would I consider them my teacher.

However, when I finally met my Guru, he dispelled all my myths. I realised that if we are nit picky about our teachers we’ll perhaps get to learn something. But we might not be able to see the value in the vast majority of people around us who definitely have something to offer. And if we are open to learning from anyone, the world is our classroom, every human, our teacher and our learning possibilities, limitless!

If we explore this thought a bit more, we realize that we unconsciously learn a lot more from trying or difficult experiences  than a formal teaching. Every time we come across a person being difficult, we learn how to navigate our way with them. We learn patience. Every time we come across a situation where there is no one to help, we begin to help ourselves. We learn being self reliant. Even if a teacher taught a concept wrong, if we seek to understand that better, we learn that concept in depth. When someone doesn’t teach well, we understand what not to do while teaching. When a business goes wrong we learn what to do and what not to do the next time. When someone doesn’t treat us right, we feel hurt and realize how important it is to treat people right. We learn to lead by example. The examples are a dime a dozen. We will find greater value in every person we meet when we drop our criteria to learn. To be a student then, there’s only one criterion – and that is ‘to be willing to learn’. If you can be a student, anyone can be your teacher!

On this teacher’s day, I thank my Guru for enabling me to see a teacher in every person and a learning opportunity in every situation.  I also thank all  the people in my life who have been teaching me something in their own, unique way. Thank you and happy teacher’s day!

The best of teachers and the not so great of experiences, both can be great teachers that we learn from. A teacher doesn’t need to know everything under the sun, for us to learn. Remember, a paper with our answers determines our degree at the end of a course more than all the lessons during the course.

Communicating Displeasure – when is it worth it

A cactus does not become a lily because I felt bad that it pricked me. A cactus is in this world for a purpose and it shall live its purpose. Likewise, a lily. It is for me to know the difference between the two and what to expect and how to use them accordingly. It doesn’t matter if it is a young one or an old one. Each has its nature and it will stay true to its nature regardless of how I feel about it.

Likewise, if someone hurts us, we might feel like reacting to them and communicating our displeasure. But, before we do so, it is good to think through – if we really want to.

Firstly, what is the purpose – is it for our satisfaction? Just to get it off our chest? If that is the case, then it may be better to talk to ourselves about it OR we could imagine that we have already communicated it to the other and stop at that. We don’t actually need to bother telling anyone in reality as this is a purpose only for the self.

 If not, is it because we share a great relationship and this was a one off case where we want to clarify? If yes, then we may go ahead – but sticking to the observed behaviours only without attaching any labels or interpretations is important. Keeping in mind that it is our perception helps us in giving them the benefit of doubt.

 In certain scenarios, we need not have to address the issue with the person at all if we can make a change in the environment. And that would create the desired difference. It is smart and easy to work on the environment wherever we can. For example, instead of telling children not to drink ice cold water, we can stop filling the water bottles in the fridge. If we know our kid spills food, before we advice him, it is good to check if we need to change the plate or if we should make a change in the immediate environment. As someone rightly said “Don’t fix people, fix the process”.

Then, think of the other person – have you had situations where you found them very reasonable and you think they might understand what you are saying? Or have you always experienced only the side of them which you did not like as much or felt they never understood you? If that is the case, then communicating displeasure will only make matters further worse than improve in any way. If they were mature enough, they might not have said or done half the things they did. If they have demonstrated this unhealthy pattern for a long time, we telling them might not really make much of a difference apart from giving them another opportunity to talk things that might hurt us further.

Consider if the person is really important. Do you really love them? And do you want them playing an active role in your life? If not, let go. The problem sometimes is we spend 80% of our time and energy trying to fix the 20% of the problem people in our lives. They don’t change and we don’t stop trying. This only leads to a lot more of friction, a lot less productivity and unnecessary frustration.

In such cases nothing better than ignoring. The more we pay attention to them, the more we are giving them the control to our life and happiness. The minute we put them on ignore mode, the quality of our life instantly improves, as if by magic! That’s the power of ignoring the unwanted rubbish in life.

 Sometimes, we may hear something unhealthy from people whom we love a lot too. In those times, it is not the person, but the words we can choose to ignore for that moment and move on. If you always let others tell you who you are, you might land up losing your sense of self as soon as they have a bad day. We may not be able to control what someone else does or says. But we certainly have the power to choose what we pay attention to and what we don’t.

Lastly and most importantly, check if this is a battle worth fighting currently. It is important to pick our battles wisely. Is this most important right now and are we in a state to handle whatever happens as a result? Sometimes, we can be cognizant of our life situation and be kind to our own selves and drop the battle right there even if someone else hasn’t been as thoughtful. For example, someone has been very unkind and harsh in a remark although they know that you have recently experienced a huge personal loss. In this case, reacting to their comment will only make us feel more agitated than peaceful. They have not been kind to us doesn’t mean we increase our troubles by focusing on them. Best if ignored again.

As the serenity prayer goes – Grant me the power to change things that I can, accept things that I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.

If we were to modify it – Grant me the power to forgive people who matter, ignore people who don’t and the maturity to know the difference & be accordingly.

Decision Making – Thoughtful and Fearless

Life’s a lot about making decisions. From what to wear, to where to live, to what to do, we are constantly deciding. At different times, in different situations, we have different factors that determine our decisions. While some decisions are based on logic and reason, some others are based on emotion and responsibility and the like. There are some decisions though, that are based on fear more than anything else. Fear of consequences. Decisions made in fear may not often appeal to the rest of our mind, body and heart because fear has no reason. Fear is a reason-less reason. And there’s a dialogue in a famous Hindi movie that goes something like this – ‘the one who is afraid, shall perish.’

A man once wanted to quit his job and try a business venture of his own. He thought through and spoke to his family. His family was scared about the risks involved. They asked him to stick to the job that gave him a guaranteed fat salary every month. Their fear rubbed on to him (fear sometimes is like a perfume – not exactly a good one albeit – it passes on from the person who has it to the others around too). He gave up his well thought through dream and continued with a job that he didn’t enjoy as much. Now, after years, he still owns his parents’ fear to such an extent that he wouldn’t try his venture even if he has a chance.

Another lady knew how to drive well. But she often heard discouraging comments from her family who mentioned that if something happens, it would be an expensive affair. This unsolicited borrowed fear has been sitting with her ever since and even if there’s an emergency; she prefers to walk, run or take someone’s help rather than get into the car and help herself.

Fear is self-limiting; not self-liberating. Then how can decisions made out of fear have a different effect? Talented people with great skills and wonderful thoughts prevent themselves from writing, with the fear of ‘what if people don’t like what I write’. Fantastic singers refuse to sing in front of others fearing, ‘what if I make a fool of myself’. An educated woman holds herself back from trying for a job after a long gap due to family reasons fearing, ‘what if I don’t have it in me anymore’. Well, these are just fears, not reality. The more we believe in our fears, the greater is the chance that we make them our reality. With every fear, probability theory says that there are 50% chances of things going in your favour too. Follow it up with hard work and confidence, and there you have it! You can convert the 50% to 90% and 100% even. All the ones who succeeded never focused on fear. It wasn’t that they didn’t have fear. It was just that they made a choice to focus on their strengths and confidence than fear.

What’s the worst that can happen if you don’t wear your lucky dress or your lucky ring on your big day? The real substance is within you and it has always been so. It never was in the materials outside of you. If you are doing everything right, and if you feel you are still not getting what you want, may be it is good to explore the beliefs that you hold for yourself. Are they supporting you? Or is there fear? For a person who is fearless, he/she takes everything in their stride and finds valuable learning in all that happens. They march forward with the new learning. They know that they will attain success.  They don’t talk about fear; they don’t live in the fear that their fears shouldn’t come true. Fears come true, only if you believe in them!  You have the potential to make them come true. Just like positive thoughts. So, if you are anyways going to imagine, why not imagine in your favour? When WTC towers collapsed, fear did not prevent the government from re-constructing them. And that’s why we have them again. If you are willing to rise after every fall, your decisions will always stand tall. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? If you have a brilliant thought or desire and a counter-productive fear, stick to the desire rather than drop with the fear.