Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A Successful Journey Needs A Destination !

To establish the right context, it makes sense to start with few important questions :
  • Is it important to know where you are headed, be it about any journey we undertake?
  • Is it crucial to begin the day with clarity about the tasks to be accomplished that day?
  • Is it important to live our life with a clearly defined set of expectations?
For sure, the answer will be a resounding "YES" though we do not always comply with it. A simple case in point is the way we live our life, more as a ritual rather than a mission; also those times when we mindlessly go through life's chores without any thinking about why we are doing them ?

And if asked why we are doing them, the immediate reaction is- "So what ?, how does it matter how i traverse the path as long as i am going somewhere?"

Little do we realise that this "somewhere" itself is the biggest problem. Quoting Lewis Carroll - "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there". This illustrates that "somewhere" may not turn out to be our "desired land". If all we want from ourselves is to be in a state of "motion" then it will only lead to "commotion". 

Why is Destination important ?

The most important reason that we need a destination is because our dreams is at stake. Every journey in our life is an unfulfilled dream till we reach where we desire to. Imagine the plight of those who embark on an expedition to Himalayas or Antartica or any other place without identifying where they need to stop ! 

At a personal level, think about the times when we step out of our home, we know exactly where we need to head. Likewise, every other journey that we embark upon needs a finish point too. Every Start needs a Stop and unless destination is identified it's only going to result in an abrupt stop. We can't expect ourselves to be "moving" without any movement, forward, backward or sideways. 

Don't we all yearn for few important things in life ? Don't we all yearn for a life well-lived ? Don't we all engage in a quest for success and happiness in life ? Then why not define what we seek and make the road easier to travel for ourselves!  

Summing up the need for identifying Destination - It gives direction and meaning to our lives. It also makes us more efficient and productive.

How to identify/ define Destination in Life ? 

If Destination is so critical for out life then it becomes imperative to identify it. Few ways we could do so is
  • Imbibe the habit of putting a closure to every task that we undertake 
  • Give the destination the shape of a well-defined goal
  • Link the established goals with relevant areas of our life
  • Visualize the dream state we want to achieve to enable us establish the appropriate destination
  • Be clear about the distinction between an intermediate goal and the main goal
  • Don't get overwhelmed with the journey itself as it needs to end at some point       

So, the choice is ours - whether we want to live an incomplete life laden with unfulfilled dreams and desires or we want a meaningful life laden with accomplishments and happiness!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

"Thanks to Thankfulness" - The shortest path to GRATITUDE

Technology has permeated every aspect of our life, promising to make us better, effective and more productive; the gaps have also been bridged in terms of seeking/ accessing information/ knowledge and everything is available at our fingertips now. Still the biggest irony that exists is that the parallel online world created to bring together and connect people across geographies, continents, countries, etc. has been created on a bedrock of loose human values. 

A case in point is – can we recollect easily the last time we appreciated something around us or in others? 

Isn't is hard to do so as there aren't be too many such occasions.  

The interconnectedness of people that promised camaraderie and togetherness has in fact created a more self-centered society where personal success and achievement rules the roost. We are seeing an erosion of fundamental human values and Gratitude is one of those key values that is diminishing. The “Thanks” or “Thank You” are hard to come and if they come, they are just so robotic.

Let’s dig deep and examine why gratitude is eroding and what could we do to cultivate it

What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is the basic quality of appreciation or being grateful.

Why is Gratitude important?
  • Gratitude builds holistic health and personality by positively impacting our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspect.
  • It shapes the growth of society as connecting together is a key tenet of a flourishing society
  • It complements the interconnected nature of the virtual world that we live in. Our parallel online world needs real values to build lasting relationships.
  • The new smartphone generation needs to imbibe basis human values like gratitude to build a holistic personality.
  • Gratitude acts as feeder to many more essential human values like kindness.

How to cultivate Gratitude?

The simplest way to cultivate gratitude is to make a transition from “Thanks to Thankfulness”. Practising the following would help us achieve the same 

  • SATISFICING which means finding delight in what’s given to us. This builds in the quality of being grateful for what we have. This further triggers our orientation towards the much needed concepts of decluttering, minimalism and essentialism. Maintaining a “gratitude journal” is an easy way to do so. The journal entries act as a reminder to us that by default there are plenty of things that we need to be grateful for in our life such as the beautiful body, the nature, the family, the friends, the sunshine, and so on.
  • MINDFULNESS which builds awareness of the present moments and makes us appreciate the beauty that lies in each moment. This generates feeling of gratitude and makes us grateful for each moment.
  • EMPATHY which is the foundation of human relatedness. Empathy propel us to connect with others at a deeper level and establish an emotional connect. It’s this deeper connection that builds in us feelings of gratitude.
  • CONNECT MORE – One of the major downside of technology is that the opportunities to meet face-to-face are very few. This lack of physical connection inhibits our basic human tendency to relate to others. Establishing more face to face connections will kindle the feelings of gratitude.
  • A LITLLE EXTRA – Once we imbibe the basic feeling of empathy and start connecting more (at a physical level), offering a little bit extra through our intent and action will develop more gratitude.      
For all the readers looking for more scientific explanation about the benefits of gratitude, here's the link to a wonderful article

So, what are you grateful for today ?

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Discover Your Operating Zone ?

Remember playing a juggler? The times when “busyness” becomes second nature to us and we assume we can manage multiple things together. This “fool’s paradise” is very short-lived and brings us the realization that “Work More- Achieve More” mantra is misleading and applying it only results in “Worked Many – Achieved None”. The ramification of this “juggling act” that we perform at times, impacts our overall productivity and our efficiency takes a hit.

During these times of utter distraction, achieving “flow” i.e. , state of being fully immersed in the task,  does seem quite daunting. The mere realization that “we are most productive when we work in our most resourceful state” could help us establish the context based on the right premise and makes this task achievable. The first step towards achieving this improbable but not impossible task of “flow” is to understand our “Operating Zone”. 

The "Creative Zone" is the most resourceful state and should be the "desired state" for anyone wanting to be more productive in life.  This zone puts us in a "flow" mode and we tend to generate lots of ideas and innovation.

The "Neutral Zone" is the transitionary stage where the realisation to move out of the status quo happens and mental preparation for the Creative zone happens.

The "Comfort Zone" is where no "need" occurs other than to be where we are.

 So, to move ahead and build forward momentum, it's essential to identify our "operating zone" and then take appropriate action for our growth. 

Monday, 28 August 2017

RAS - The Genie Inside Us !

Is there a way to turn all our dreams into reality?

Possibly yes, but only when we
  • get hold of a magic wand and "ABRACADABRA" our way to success
  • call to our service Aladdin's Genie

The possibility of us finding a magic wand or Alladin’s lamp is next to impossible but lo, there exist a genie inside each one of us which when invoked has the power to transform all our dreams into reality and put us on path to goal accomplishment.        

This genie is very much an integral part of our physical self, our identity and is known as RAS (Reticular Activating System). Remember the coincidences that appear in our life and leave us in wonderment when what we seek appears all around us (whether it’s a new car we have been longing for or  a new holiday destination we have been exploring or anything else that is being sought by us). For a moment, it appears as if some supernatural power is at play but in real all that’s happening around us is a manifestation of the genie called RAS. Rather than rubbing of the lamp, this genie (RAS) just needs to be fed with our goals, things we intend to achieve in life.

RAS (Reticular Activating System) is a network of neurons located in the brain stem. It connects with other parts of the brain and to the spinal cord. In addition to being responsible for sleep, wakefulness and breathing, RAS is also responsible for many other functions like eating, elimination of boy waste and bringing things to our attention. Every moment, our brain is  bombarded with million of bits of information but only few thousand gets processed by it and what should get processed is determined by RAS.   

RAS  acts as a point of confluence where all our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, value and external influences meet. Based on what is fed by us in our conscious mind (in the form of goals), RAS filters the incoming sensory inputs (except smell which goes directly into brain’s emotional area) and sends to the subconscious mind only the information that aligns with our goals and focus. This is how coincidences occur with us as our subconscious start seeking in the environment what we have established as intent in our conscious mind.

So, to invoke the genie inside us so that it fulfills all our dreams, all we need to do is to establish goals effectively by writing them down. It’s only when the genie(RAS) sees the real intent in our goals that it starts weaving it’s magic in our life ! 

Monday, 14 August 2017

BUSYNESS - The Utopian Paradox

The Utopian Paradise of Productivity and Efficiency that we dream of in 21st Century is infact a Paradox built on the pretext of “Busyness”. The phenomenon of Busyness emanates from our desire and quest for “more”, at times even more than what we can manage or handle. The self-imposed demand to be the best and be “ahead of the pack” is further compounded by the plethora of information, knowledge and digital technologies that surround us.

We, the super species of 21st Century are smitten with the concept of “more” and bitten by the bug of “busyness”. We love to be always “busy” and wants lots on our plate, most of the times more than we can possibly manage or handle. Productivity and Efficiency provide the foundation for this Utopian world we dream about but if “multi-tasking” becomes the order of the day and being into “too many” becomes the success indicator, a status of achievement then there’s still a long way to go for us.

Being in the midst of information overload, clutter, unfinished tasks  gives us a false feeling of having achieved something but in reality there’s hardly any accomplishment. In the “shroud of pretence” that we create , productivity and efficiency gets overshadowed by our deep ingrained habit of pretence or showing off. This sets in a false belief of accomplishment where nothing much exist. All this is a sure shot way to leave us anxious, depressed and restless and that is detrimental to our overall wellbeing.

“Busyness” may seem overwhelming but few small steps could definitely help us move out from this trap and create the Utopia. Some of the steps are mentioned below:
  • Replace multi-tasking with single-tasking and focus on “one thing at a time”. This would enable us to put all our energy and undivided attention on the task at hand which will give us better results. 
  • Understand limitations of our brain, in terms of how much information it can process. This would help us understand our “stretch limits”.  
  • Limit our “digital engagement”
  • Create regular “mindful periods” in daily routine to reflect on our tasks and priorities

It’s time we realize that busyness is not helping us get  better at anything in our life. The action is plenty but accomplishment is nil or little. So, let’s evaluate whether we are affected by the “busyness” bug and do whatever it takes to become more productive in life!

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Are You Living A "Subset of Life"?

If accomplishing Money, Fame and Power defines our success in life then why is it so that many of us still feel a certain hollowness/ vacuum inside us; a hollowness that prods us to reflect on self and
then ask many probing questions such as

" Is my life turning into a blob?"

"Why am i not satisfied with my life?"

"Why do i feel a body-mind-soul disconnect?"

"Why do i still desire more of what i already have (money, power)"?

"Why does internal happiness still elude me?"

"What is missing in my life?"

We may think we are treading a path and moving towards a destination but it's actually a directionless pursuit leading to a land of obsession and desire. All this self brooding converge towards a serious food for thought which is

"Am I living a subset of life?"

"Why don't all my accomplishments in life (money, fame and power) provide me with real joy, peace or satisfaction and merely add up (cumulatively) to only become a subset of my life?"

The answer is revealing and requires a discerning insight into our approach towards life. The fact is
that we are focusing on high-end subsistence, thereby diluting the actual aim of our existence which is to live with purpose. That purpose gets clear to us the moment we check the ripple effect that our individual life generates. If the ripple effect is missing, the purpose is missing and it's only a self-centered life we are living by catering to our own needs.

The real joy and satisfaction in our life appears when the ripple effect generated by our actions positively impacts others and bring joy in their lives too. The moment the realization dawns on us that there is a life beyond our "personal self", that is when we start giving a purpose and meaning to our life and our existence. The transition from "ME" to "WE" is when the transformation occurs in us.

We don't really need a long checklist to identify whether we are living a "subset of life". The following pointers would act as a good reference
  • Do we have a bigger Purpose identified for our life beyond the high-end subsistence?
  • Whether all our actions and goals align with out purpose and mission
  • At night, when we retire for the day, do we sleep with satisfaction with a feeling that we spent our day well and contributed our best for a larger cause than just fulfilling our own desires and needs
  • At dawn, when we wake up, do we feel a surge of energy and excitement to live the day     
Let's make our existence count and move beyond mere subsistence. Let's create a Super Life by bringing Purpose and Mission in our existence !

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The 4 Cardinal "Cs" of Life !

A successful life is built upon layers of goals achieved by us. If we aim to accomplish all our goals in life then we need to ensure forward momentum in life. Every step we take should be progressive, thereby ensuring our growth. Challenges and Opportunities would never cease to crop up in our journey to success so we need to be well prepared to confront these challenges, address them appropriately and take advantage of these opportunities. One of the simple, easy and effective way to sustain our forward momentum in and progress in life is to harness the power of 4 Cs. The 4 Cs are simple elements which when adopted and mastered would not only put us in better control of our life but also propel us towards achieving greater heights in life. All that stands between us and success is a better understanding of these 4 Cs and their application in our lives. 

Let's explore these 4 essential building blocks of better life

The 4 Cs are - Choice, Change, Consequences and Correction. They are well connected and act as feeder to each other. Their convergence point is a point of guaranteed unlimited success. Let's understand what each of the 4 C stand for: 
  • Choice - When opportunity strikes, it's time to decide and choose. The power of choice is always within our control and our choice decides whether we move closer to our goal or away from it. What we choose is what we become.
  • Change - The process of change is always uncomfortable initially but the mere resolve to be ready for change/ transformation is the deciding factor. Our willingness or unwillingness to change (after weighing all pros and cons) determines whether stay put in our comfort zone and be a mediocre achiever or we move into our creative zone and live our best possible life
  • Consequences - Every choice that we make in our life has a flip side to it. Being wary of the unfavorable conditions and having a plan to deal with them put us in better control of those situations and our life.
  • Correction - Every step/ action towards our goal may highlight certain gaps that need to be plugged in to continue our forward movement. Our ability to gain insight into what holds us back and then doing the needful to mend it is what ensures our steady progress towards success.  
In a nutshell, the 4Cs mantra is 

"Choose to Change, anticipate the Consequences, be prepared to do the necessary Correction and then Carry on Creating an awesome life"