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!”

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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!

The tough part of Change!

What is the toughest part of change usually? That change is out of our comfort zone, that it is new, that it needs time, that it needs acceptance! Perhaps all these and many more – but the most important part is that sometimes we spend a lot of time trying to change others more than focusing on ourselves. That makes it really tough as we cannot change anyone. The only person whom we can change is ourself. However, we can always influence a change in others.

You wanting the other person to change is not a bad thing. But change can truly happen only when there is a deep desire from within the person. When we enforce a change on people whom we love, even with the best interest in mind, it can backfire and move people away from us.

Sometimes we have certain conditions on the change of the other person. Say, if we place a condition for our happiness based on whether someone else changes or not, that’s the start of trouble; mainly for 2 reasons – one, it is not in our control. Two – it may happen or it may not happen. So, if we spend a lot of our energies trying to change someone else, we should be well aware of the above conditions and be prepared accordingly. Just because someone is our husband, wife, son, daughter, friend, parent etc. doesn’t mean that they have to listen to us and change – even if it is in their best interest.

Can change come with choices? Can change come with flexibility? Can change come with respecting what the other person wants for themselves too? Yes – then we are talking about a win-win. A change not because you want it, but because it will enable the other person.

One fundamental question to ask ourselves before we try changing others is – “what is it that I need to have within me to accept this person the way he/she is?” “What should I have in me, so I can accept their behavior?” And when you strengthen that aspect in yourself to accept people the way they are, and love people for who they are, your ability to influence others will be greater – because you are in harmony with yourself and others. No amount of force can get you what a little bit of love can. 🙂

We can’t force a bud to bloom. I know that regular walks can do a lot of good to my parents. Yet, I don’t need to keep telling them that in every conversation – then I am almost bugging them and refusing to see anything else apart from that one thing. I am so fixated on this one aspect that if I hear a no for this, I am pretty much zoned out to listen to anything else that they might have to say. So, think about it – if that one change is making you lose focus on everything else that the person is or does and if we are insisting on looking at just that one aspect of change – it can be frustrating – not just for us but for the other too. The more we persist, the more they resist. If you want someone to keep you posted on all that they do and wherever they go all the time, it may not happen. But if you can let go of wanting others to change and just be an example of what you wish to see in them, they will eventually be influenced by you.

At times, relationships are strained not because they don’t love each other but because one of them is constantly focusing on that one thing that they don’t like in the other and expects them to change. It prevents them from seeing all the other good qualities they have. Life seems like a constant struggle trying to tell someone to change, change, and change! But what we don’t realize is – people automatically change, if we stop telling them and love them anyway.  I can always tell someone, “It would be wonderful if you woke up a little early.” But if they don’t wake up early, that doesn’t mean I have to be grumpy and spoil their and my entire morning – that causes the strain.

There’s this popular old English movie called Pretty Woman, where Richard Gere with a gentle smile tells Julia Roberts,” When you’re not fidgeting, you look very beautiful and very tall”. I loved the way he said it – a positive influence and a gentle way of stating something in a way that the other person gets immediately. He did not ask her to stop fidgeting or that she doesn’t look good when she fidgets. He only said that she looks good when she isn’t fidgeting. What a way to influence I thought! People may not readily change their views or habits for our sake or even for their own sake. But that shouldn’t determine how we are towards them. We can always communicate what’s important about doing something a particular way or being in a particular way. But that point of difference needn’t be the only thing to focus maximum energy on most of the times. Can we mutually co-exist with different points of view? And again, all this is for self. If you have someone in your life who expects you to change, and your heart is not in it, rather than expecting them to change their views first, see what is it that you can develop in you that will help you deal with them in a respectful and loving way.

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.

Meet the greatest traveller

Meet the greatest traveller of all times – travels ticketless – but never gets questioned – receives worldwide acceptance with no effort. This traveller can build or break empires, relationships, people, you name it! Even strangers embrace this great traveller with no reservations whatsoever. Old, new, male, female, young or elderly all alike – they love him! Wow!! How cool!

Would you like to be like that? Do you want to know who is it and how can someone be so popular and widely accepted without having to offer any credentials – Meet the one, the only – RUMOUR!

Rumour became powerful after the downfall of Trust. Trust failed in relationships, in people, in situations. Rumour took advantage of the failing Trust and took charge. People started believing in Rumour more than they ever believed in themselves, their loved ones, their friends or in their own faith. Trust’s loss is Rumour’s gain. Rumour first walked, then ran, then flew like a wind and engulfed like a forest fire.

What were the qualities of Rumour that created such a wide acceptance in a short span? Well, Rumour knew how to be compelling and convincing without any facts. Strange isn’t it? But true! It had that unique skill. And what’s even more strange is people who question with reason and logic too, started accepting readily when it came to Rumour! They were charmed by this new imposter who promised great stories that could save the world. They needed no reality or evidence. They were willing to sacrifice long standing relationships in return for some interesting, baseless and unfounded stories by Rumour. Rumour cashed in on these naive humans! Characters were assassinated without much ado! No one thought for a second as it felt very ordinary to assassinate a co-human morally. They did not know that it was the biggest sin in itself and would come back and bite them soon. And soon enough, it did! People were devastated. Beautiful relationships built by Trust were ruined. Great empires crumbled. All in no time! People were not willing to give the good old Trust a chance. They did not want to invest time in seeking to understand the truth. They instead found it convenient to believe in Rumour.

Trust sought help from Facts. Facts tried to intervene and help the friend in need. However, Fact was punished and painted with distorted perceptions. People only saw what they wanted to see. They put 2 and 2 together and made it 4 or 5, depending on their need to match Rumour. People questioned each other’s love and genuineness. They encouraged Rumour by listening to it, engaging with it and spending their time in helping it travel far and wide. Rumour felt most powerful. It was on a massive rampage crushing all beautiful things that came in the way. Nothing seemed to have the power to stop Rumour.

Just then, Pause came in – only for a few minutes. But it created a great impact. Everyone looked around what they were doing, realized where they were headed and shook their heads in dismay. Pause was so powerful, it helped them realize how they went out of their life and gave up beautiful people and relationships – all for the sake of this imposter called Rumour. They realized Rumour was a tyrant – Rumour had no reason or logic. Rumour lacked authenticity. All that Rumour had was an attractive outward appearance. But that too began to fade. Its ugliness was exposed. They were able to see the damage this traveller had created with all the travelling. Rumour had to be stopped from travelling any further. People realized it could be dangerous to their species. People realized that Trust was more important and helpful than Rumour ever was. They realized their mistake and apologized to Trust. Trust – being their trusted friend, readily forgave. Trust helped lock Rumour in a far-far away land. And Pause was guarding the gate so no one could accidentally unlock it.

Trust helped people realize that there’s more to a person than what meets the eye – and what we need to have is patience and willingness to understand them. Rumour had hurt so many people and relations that it was now paying for its sins. Rumour had parents but they were too timid to own it. Rumour found itself all alone and eventually died. With it, went all the negative energies and bad thoughts.

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.