Here’s What You Do!

P

apa, if all our family members get COVID, then what would happen?”, asks my seven year old daughter, Sohana.

She’s such clear with her questions and so expressive that I miss a beat when a question like that comes.

However, Dinky and I have made one rule, and that is that we have to stay calm no matter what. Calm is infectious (..more than the virus!) and that’s all we need at the moment.

Otherwise, we’ll lose it all even without giving it a fight.

The delay in my response has already given the little mind enough ideas, and I can see the BIG tears rolling down her face turned smaller than usual because of the anxieties.

So, I tell her very matter of factly, “Nohana, we have to keep our immune system intact.”

Now, she’s listening. She wants to know more, the sudden stopping of her tears tell me.”

It’s strange I can tell that, even while she’s mostly covered in her face with the mask, which too appears too big for her small face.

“Doctor Mamu was telling me earlier today that even if a virus attacks our body, our body soon starts fighting with it. If our immune system is good, not only would it kill the germs, but it would also make our body stronger next time. That’s how nature works.”

“Nohana, what can you do to keep your immunity high?”, I asked.

“By thinking good thoughts, eating good food and staying hydrated”, she said confirming she knows it all.

She smiled. After all. She adjusts her mask, which is flimsy dealing with the cold, the tears, the cough.. too much for it to handle, apparently.

The date today was 27th Sept, and today was the first day, since 7th Sept, when I actually went out to the balcony with her. Of course, still fully geared with my mask, and a bottle of sanitiser which has suddenly become such a constant in my life.

That’s all we can do, guys. Sohana know it and so do we all. We may not be able to protect us from the virus, despite our best efforts. I thought I was cautious, my family was cautious ,,but it did happen. 

The good news still is that we still have a lot in our control – and it starts with what our intake is: mental intake as well as physical. That’s what would keep us strong to fight it, in case it comes. Here’s my daily checklist for your reference. This is, of course, in addition to the medicines which you may be prescribed:

  1. Vitamins:
    1. Vitamins C
    2. Multivitamin
    3. Zencovit (Zinc)
  2. Food:
    1. > 1.5 L Water
    2.  Fruits including banana, apple, anaar, 
    3. Nutritious Food
    4. Coconut Water
    5. Hot ginger water
  3. Reading and Listening list:
    1. John Maxwell’s “Make Today Count”
    2. Easy Translation of Bhagwat Geeta
    3. Humour they say creates positive hormones. I was reading a book called FML (Viewer discretion advised: 18+ 🙂 ) which I find quite funny actually.
    4. The survive and thrive podcast by John Meese. (Yeah, I want to thrive not just survive..) 

Now, is there any of the above that is not “still” in your control? With a little support from your family or caretaker you can manage it all easily. Do it for your kids too. 

Focus on what you can control. Click To Tweet

Post this emotional furore, Sohaan and I did some more usual talk, the more 7 year old types. “Papa, how many days before I can hug you?” .. “OK.., and Mama?”..

It was such a comfort to have her speak out cheerfully like that. 

I can’t explain what it means to me now to have a “normal talk”, “a dinner together”, “standing beside each other”… after having lon..ged for it for so long.  

We had our one:to:one time may be after a month. I don’t know how much comforting was it for her, but I certainly felt blessed. 

Tanav, my 11 year old son, chose to stay inside. In his room. I later figured that he was talking to his mom while I was with Soha. He needed the one:to:one time too. He has his own emotions and so much more to deal with.

It seems like they’ve grown up much faster in the last 3 weeks than they have in years. They’re on their own, and even taking care of each other. They’ve, once again, surprised us with what they can do and achieve.  

Of course, children, like we all, have their emotions, all we need to do is to support each other so we open up to our emotions and find good ways to deal with them. 

Bottled up emotions are harmful. Help your children find ways to deal with them instead. Click To Tweet

How would you answer Sohana or your child if they asked, “Papa, if all our family members get COVID, then what would happen?” 

 

 

Hands down winner of the day.. “kids”

A pretty emotionally draining day today. Test for Deepti came positive too. As human beings, we hope against hope that things go better than we expect.
But we have to face it. They say, “you have to name it, to tame it

Now we have a name to it, we’re at it to tame it.
At home,  surprisingly so, if anyone has put up  the most courageous and calm stand, it is the kids. And, what can be more relaxing for us than that?
There’s so much to learn from the sweethearts – they are almost taking it like an adventure game. That is such a pleasant attitude towards a situation like we find ourselves in today.

It’s much better than sobbing, panicking or blaming the situation. None of that would help.

And all of us, adults in the house are most guilty of just that.
Someone has rightly said, “Adults are nothing more than deteriorated children” .

It’s good to be a child and look for adventure in crisis, and find your way forward while having of course still following the rules of the game. It makes the journey easy and less emotionally draining with some of that fun.

Even my sweetheart nieces, are expressing their love by staying connected and bringing us all smiles through our common website blog http://howiseverything.in.
It helps remaining in touch and keeping us is very positive mood. It’s important to keep our mind in a reward state of mind which all these kids are teaching me.

I love you all to the moon and back.

You are showing us the way.

[5-Bullet Tuesday] Hold Fast To Your Dreams

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

What I’m reading –

I am reading Against the Wind the recently released memoir of her life by Mrs Rajni Kumar.

Mrs Kumar, now 96, is the lady who’s been an inspiration for me for many many years. She started the Springdales school, a school with enviable reputation, which has now expanded to a total of four branches including one in Dubai!

Ah, great it is to believe the dream,

As we stand in youth by the starry stream.

But a greater thing is to fight life through,

And say at the end, the dream is true!

(Mrs Kumar ends her book with this quote by American poet Edwin Markham.)

Well, I was not a Springdalian myself but my fascination for the school was such that I’d sometimes even lie telling acquaintances that I was from Springdales instead of my own school which was the adjacent Salwan School. Not that I had anything against my own school, but then I used to spend a lot of time playing with Springdalians and had a natural affinity towards everything Springdalian!

I guess I never really outgrew my fascination (or was it obsession?) and when time came for me to get married, I would dream of getting married to a Springdalian.

That elusive dream of mine, after all, did become a reality and today I’m married to a Springdalian (who I love for many more reasons than just that!) and both my children study at Springdales! Thanks to the point based selection system in Delhi for School admissions, which gives due consideration to the School alumni.

That’s a bit of my own memoir there and in case you didn’t know, here’s the difference between a memoir and an autobiography:

By the way, did you notice, Mrs Kumar’s quote fits so well in my own journey too!

What Movie I watched —

Imagine if you unexpectedly find a bag full of crores of rupees one fine day. What would it do to your principles and values that you have been carrying over the years? 

No one’s watching. Would you pick the bag or leave it and carry on with your life as before? 

If you choose to pick it, what would it do to you, and your relationships with your family?

Chappar Phaad Ke“, is the movie that is a tell tale of all that, with realistic performances by Vinay Pathak and others. Although it is a bit slow, but it’s pretty thrilling and keeps you hooked till the end. All in all, a good, one time, family watch. 

Every time after she’s heard a story or watched a movie, I ask my six year old daughter, Sohana, what the moral of the story was. And, no matter what the story, her answer is always the same, “लालच बुरी बला है” (Greed is bad!).

This time, however, she was right!

Memories I’m Making –

It was John Maxwell who brainwashed me (well, in a good way, of course!) into believing that I can create great memories with my loved ones.   

This Diwali, we as a family agreed to get one family picture clicked that we’ll

forever be proud of. In a world where smartphones click a gazillion pictures a day, we decided to get just one that spoke volumes of our chemistry. 

Everyone put their best foot forward and a day which would have, otherwise, filled itself watching videos of Sis and Bro, exchanging Whatsapp messages, or playing Brawl Stars mindlessly, found itself a purpose. We all nicely dressed and posed well for this picture. 

A picture that will indeed make memories come fresh timelessly. 

If there is one thing I have to tell you, it would be – Don’t wait for memories to happen, get up to create them yourself. 

Because, you and only you can! Read this article to find out how. 

Happy Diwali! 

Quote I’m pondering—

Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

– Langston Hughes

What I ‘m impressed with–

Festivity is in the air. What if crackers are banned in Delhi, creativity is set ablaze all around. Have you seen chocolates in the shape of rockets, anaars, chakkari and sutli bombs? You name it. 

Risking coining a new term here, cracko-lates. Now would that make me famous?

 


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My Longing To Belonging


Roses are red, violets are blue

A face like you, belongs in the zoo.

But don’t you worry, I’ll be there with you.

Not in a cage, but laughing at you.


Do you know how you looked when you were a baby?

You probably don’t remember yourself, but I’m sure your elders have told you.

It was the 29th July 1990. It was a glorious day, just like today.

My Grandma and I were sitting in our veradah watching the slight drizzle outside. We often sat here and I used to excitedly listen to her stories of the times gone by.

But that particular day Grandma sitting on the white cane chair said something that changed my life for ever.

“I remember the day when you were born. I was in the kitchen making tea when the phone rang. It was a call from the hospital and the news of you arriving.”, she said.

I smiled and gestured for her to continue.

“Yeah, it was raining so heavily I was wondering if I should go by the car or take a boat to the hospital.”

“I reached the hospital, and before I saw your face, as our rich family traditions have it, I gave your mother an envelope full of money. Her work was done. And why not, after four granddaughters, I had a grandson.!

Then, I asked the nurse to hand you to me. I held you in my arms for the first time and then I looked at you.

I still remember, you looked like a perfect ugly duckling!!!”

And she laughed like there was no tomorrow. In fact there wasn’t. For me. Because it might have been her weird sense of humor but that moment was one when I felt as if I didn’t belong to my own family. 

But then, I consoled myself: After all, it doesn’t matter what people think you look like. What matters is what you think you look like!

Well.., every day from that day onward, I would look at myself in the mirror and all I saw was an ugly duckling!

That’s how I became an ugly duckling wholeheartedly. Now, my dear fellow beautiful ducklings, do you know what this ugly duckling wanted?

All this ugly duckling ever wanted was to belong. 

And thus started my longing for belonging. I wanted to belong. To anyone. To anything.

In school, I did well. With great difficulty, I managed to make friends. We were three of us – Rahul, Mohit and Nitin.

Do you want to know the kind of bond we shared? Yes?

Rahul used to hate me. Nitin hated Rahul. I hated both of them!

The entire school life.

A little price to pay for belonging.

In college, I did even better. You see, the girls with the beauty and the brawn didn’t think I even existed. But I still made many girlfriends. Do you want to know how?

Well, I would fall head over heels for anyone who would care to smile at me.

After all, I wanted to belong. To anyone.

A little price to pay for belonging.

But none of those relationships ever lasted. Because all those girls were completely useless. After all, how could anyone with any grey matter ever fall in love with an ugly duckling?

Even here, haven’t you noticed me trying to please you? I pleased people all the way to become the President of the Toastmasters Club of West Delhi.

A little price to pay for belonging.

There is nothing wrong with trying to belong. Don’t we all want to be a part of something greater than ourselves?

But we often try to fit in to belong rather than, stand out to belong.

There is just one thing I have learnt from a lifetime of quack quacks.

Click To Tweet

Not by trying to be like them, but by being your authentic self.

Yes, It’s a little scary standing out here, but the view is breathtaking.

Well, I’m still trying to belong. Do you think I belong to you, the Toastmasters?

Yes? 

Okay, then I guess the ugly duckling was right.

I met it in the mirror this morning, it said:


Yes, roses are red Yes, violets are blue

Be you be true

Whether in the zoo Or in Honolulu

They have nothing else to do,

Those who laugh at you!


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[5-Bullet Tuesday] Where Do You Belong?

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

What I’m reading –

I am reading “Braving the Wilderness” by Brené Brown.

The author talks about how we all have an innate desire to belong.

From the time we gain consciousness, we are constantly seeking comfort in being a part of something – a cool gang of friends, a social club, family and so on.  

While there is nothing wrong with that but often times we end up going to any extent to be considered a part of a group! We even sacrifice who we truly are, for the want of fitting in.

The choice we always have is one between fitting in and standing out. Yes, the price is high, as the author quotes, but the reward is great – Freedom!

(Brené quotes Maya Angelou, her inspiration.)

 

Concept I’m excited to implement –

Ever wondered why your brother never gets it despite your endless efforts to explain an idea that’s in his best interest?

Selling is all about solving a customer’s problem. And it’s the same whether you’re selling products or ideas.     

But we have to be careful about who we are offering the solution to. People are at different level of awareness and if you want to sell a product or an idea to someone, it’s key to know what level they’re at.

Ray Edwards from Platform University has developed a framework he calls the OPEN Buyer Awareness Scale, that can come in handy to understand what level the person you’re selling you is at:

  • Oblivious– People at this level have no idea the problem exists and are completely uninterested in the solution.
  • Pondering–At this level, people are aware of the problem but not worried although they may think about solving it.
  • Engaged–This is the level where people are fully aware of the problem and actively seeking a solution for it.
  • Need–This is where people are desperate for an immediate solution. They may go to the extent of trying a dozen solutions at once.

Best use of your time is selling to people who are Engaged and the ones in Need will find you as well.

Otherwise, you might be wasting your time.

 

Challenge I’m undertaking –

Seemingly simple but in reality it is pretty tough. But once again, the rewards are great. I call it the Writober challenge. I will write 750 words every day for the entire month of October.

The tool, and this is my favourite, I will use to nudge me into doing this is called 750words.com. I do have a paid membership ($5 a month) but if you’re wanting to explore, they offer a one month free membership.

No credit card required.

All you need is an email address. Worth giving it a try if you’re on a journey to become a writer.

 

Quote I’m pondering —

“If you wish to improve, be content to appear clueless or stupid in extraneous matters.”— Epictetus

Now that’s something I can do!

 

What am I looking forward to –

Laughter is the best medicine. Well, we’ve all heard that quote. But what are we doing about making some giggles happen. Well, it doesn’t just happen on its own.

You have to create it, make room for it, or at the very least seek for it.

Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contests happens every year this time and are one place you can go and experience it, for free. Well, almost.

It’s happening at our Club this Sunday, 20th October. Come and be our guest! Wanna know more? Check this out.

                                   


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[5-Bullet Tuesday] Why Do People Smoke?

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

What I’m watching —

It’s the season of festivity and I’m no different when it comes to making the most of it.

Last Friday, my family and my sister’s went to see the Ramleela at Punjabi Bagh Club. This was a condensed version of Ramleela which is called Sampoorna Ramleela and completes in just four hours. 

Everyone loved it from the youngest to the oldest among us, their age difference being over 70 years. It was an amazing fusion of the latest technology and the customary style. The costumes and the music added to the overall aura of fun and excitement. 

 There is a takeaway for diverse set of people as each verse and poem includes a significant life lesson. 

 What puzzle I’ve solved–

As we were standing eating Chaat (famous Indian roadside snack) at the famous Chaatwala at Connaught Place, Sohana, my six year old daughter asked me a simple question:

Everyone knows smoking is injurious to health, it even causes cancer, but still people decide to smoke. Why’s that, Papa?

Why do people decide to smoke when it’s not good for their own self?

She was looking at the man at the Panwadi (betel seller) next to the Chaatwala smoking a cigarette.

Good question, I said.

She continued to look at me. The look on her face told me she was looking for an answer better than that.

So, I added, Yes, they shouldn’t!

But why do they decide to smoke? She reiterated.

I couldn’t think anything better, and said, Perhaps because they’re fools.

She said, He doesn’t look like one though Papa!

I looked at this smoker who I noticed was a well built man with decent looks.

Ok, pass!, I said, giving her a hand a clap, as if she had asked me a new riddle she had learnt at school to which I didn’t know the answer.

She was not impressed. And to be honest, neither was I!

Okay, I said and walked straight to this guy, and asked, Sir, my daughter and I’m doing a little survey. Would you like to participate?

He was a bit puzzled but gave me a nod.

I repeated Sohana’s question, Why did you decide to smoke when it’s not good for your own self?

He was initially surprised, then took another puff and whispered in my ear, To be honest, I started smoking because my Dad told me not to!

I smiled and told that to Sohana. She also laughed. But perhaps there was some truth in his statement.

We are mostly given instructions about life – Do this, Don’t do that. That’s it.

But has anyone ever taught you how to make decisions in your life? How to decide what to and what not to do?

Think of your own life: Haven’t you made decisions to prove something to someone or even to your own self?

Why?

Because you don’t know any better. You still make decisions, without having any process around it. And then, we complain that things are not going right for us -bad grades, career crisis, divorces and so on. 

Well, the root cause is the lack of an understanding of decision making process.

With that puzzle solved, you may want to know how to fill this gap, isn’t it? For that, read the next section.

Youtube video I’m in love with—

This video tells a short hilarious story to make a point. I will let you watch it and won’t play a spoiler but this will surely teach you a thing or two about how to improve your decision making skills, quickly.

Watch it when you have 6 minutes: 46 seconds to spare. It will be worth it.

New iPhone feature I discovered–

We went to this new restaurant last evening at East Patel Nagar, Delhi. It’s called Pinjore. It had such an amazing decor, good food, and fantastic service.

Everything that you can think of was simply great. They serve non vegetarian food and don’t serve alcohol.

We were nine of us and the bill was Rs. 3690.82 including taxes. That comes to around Rs 400 per person.

Not bad at all for the great time we had there!

So, when we were about to be done, the Bollywood songs that were playing changed to a Punjabi number. The mood was already set and the Punjabi music was the kinds that would make you want to get up and shake a leg.

Anyway, I wanted to know the Singer and Song so I could play that later in my car. However, I couldn’t catch the lyrics and asked my 11 year old son, Tanav, to ask the waiter or the restaurant staff.

In return, Tanav asked me for my phone. Then, he long pressed the round button on my iPhone to invoke Siri.

Siri appeared like the genie in a bottle.

Siri: What can I help you with?

Tanav, “Which song is this?”

Siri, “Listening…”

And then the magic happened, with the following screen appearing..

I tried this with several others songs, and have to admit that it has an impeccable accuracy.

I asked Tanav if this feature was available on Android as well. He humbly nodded.

Definition I’m pondering

Someone told me his definition of Hell:

Hell is your last day in this world, when the person you have become meets the person you could have become!                                            


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[5-Bullet Tuesday] Are Things Better Than You Think?

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

Quote I’m pondering —

 “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.

When I went to school, teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’.

Teacher told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told her she didn’t understand life!”

― John Lennon

John Lennon got it right very early in his life. We want happiness above everything else we want in life – that luxury car, a dream bungalow, family trip to Hawai’i, or even an appreciation note.

Yet, the irony is that I have to write a broadcast to remind myself and you about that!

What I’ve understood about Happiness–

Jonathan Fields, in the Good Life Project, says that in order to make a happy fulfilled day, we need three buckets to be filled.

These three buckets are that of – Connection, Contribution and Vitality.  

However, these three buckets have little holes at the bottom, which means the buckets have to be filled every single day. And a near empty bucket drags the levels of other buckets down with it.

If you’re not too sure if today turned out to be a fulfilling day, then take some actions to fill these three buckets tomorrow.

For me, I will connect over tea with a colleague (Connection), deliver that presentation in a world class way (Contribution), and spend half an hour in nature (Vitality)

What I’m reading—

Before we get to that, let’s play a bit of Kaun Banega Crorepati (well without the crores, of course):

Take this short quiz to test your knowledge about the world today. Use a paper and pen down your answers:

  1. How many people in the world have access to electricity?
    • A. 20 percent
    • B. 50 percent
    • C. 80 percent
  2. How many of the world’s 1-year-old children today have been vaccinated against some disease?
    • A. 20 percent
    • B. 50 percent
    • C. 80 percent
  3. In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has:
    • A. Doubled
    • B. Halved
    • C. Stayed the same

Well, the book I’m reading is called Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosling.

 These questions above are from this book.

Correct answers (to be read upside down): ᗺ.Ɛ Ͻ.ᄅ Ͻ.Ɩ

If you were somewhat wrong or even if you were mostly wrong, don’t fret! Most well read people including top professionals from various industries get this wrong.

The author makes his point that the world is indeed much better place than we think. Interesting read with many well researched facts.

So, just in case you were thinking that everything is worsening by the day – climate change, world population, terrorism et al., let me tell you that things are better than you think.

And it will be even better, if you smile.

New Term I’ve Learnt—

You have surely heard about absenteeism, but that’s not as big a problem in today’s anxious world. The real problem in today’s world is presenteeism.

Presenteeism is when you show up at work (or even college) for the sake of it, just so that your boss, teacher or colleagues notice it.

It is the practice of being present at one’s place of work especially as a manifestation of insecurity about one’s job.

When you step out for work tomorrow, ask yourself the two key things you will achieve. And then work towards those, without worrying about whether anyone is noticing you or not.

That will reduce your integrity gap and keeps the anxiety levels in control.

What I’m watching—

I rented the movie “Wonder” from YouTube to watch it again this weekend. It was such a delight to watch it with the entire family. Everyone loved it from beginning till end.

It is based on the book by the same title and tells the story of 10 year old Auggie who was born with a rare medical facial deformity.  He has been home-schooled but as he approaches fifth grade, his parents decide to enrol him to school for the first time.

There are many lessons about relationships and happiness in the movie. And the biggest precept for me was …

                                           


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[5-Bullet Tuesday] Are You Living With Strangers?

 

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

Podcast I’m listening to –

For most of us, the only benchmark we have for family life and relationships is nothing more than our family. After all, we hardly spend any time at anyone else’s place.

So, whether it was good, bad or ugly, we can’t even tell with nothing to compare it against. When we grow up, we generally use the same bar to bring up our children and deal with family members.

That’s how life was for me in my growing up years. Like most parents, my parents were doing what they could do given the circumstances.

However, I often had this question, “Is there a better way..?

My question was answered as I moved to stay at a relative’s place briefly when I relocated for work. There way was so different. Children would hug and kiss the elders in the morning; everyone would get together in the evening and talk about their successes of the day.

They encouraged each-other. There was no use of criticism and sarcasm. 

It felt nice. It felt like family.

Thankfully, these days there is enough opportunity to learn from others.

My favourite parenting podcast is one from Catchy and Todd, and it’s called Zen Parenting Radio. I listen on iPhone but I’m sure they’re on Android and you could listen directly from their site too.

They are young parents of three daughters and cover varied topicscandidly.

Well’ one doesn’t have to stay at someone’s place any more to know it there is an alternative way. Just tune in and it’s a free entry into the expert’s house.

Things I know to be true –

Well, that, “Things I know to be true”, is the title of a play I watched recently that completely changed my perspective about family and relationships. This play is about Price Family of four grown-up siblings and their parents all of who grew up together.

As life turns out, they all realize that even though this family was physically close, they hardly knew each other!

One of their sons confesses that he is transgender, which makes the parents feel devastated. They just can’t come to terms with this reality.

Similarly, certain secrets about the other siblings and the parents come as a shock for the rest of the family. It appears as if they didn’t even know their folks who they always said they loved so much.

The mother passes away in a car crash. She didn’t get a chance to reconcile the differences which had arisen due to the many turn of events.

There are quite a few lessons to learn from this very musical, very hilarious and very poignant play.

I watched it on Digital Theatre+. Well, yeah, not all good things in the life are free, so I have taken subscription.

Here’s a trailer for you.

 What I’m watching–

I recently saw the video of Otto Frank, the famous Anne Frank’s father.

One of the things he says in this video quite touched me. He says that, “Anne and I were very close and used to talk about everything under the sun. However, when I read her diaries, I discovered a very different Anne than the one I knew as my daughter. I didn’t ever know this side of her which was so serious and had such deep thoughts and feelings.

Otto Frank claims in the same video that most people don’t really know their children.

Question for us is: How well do we know our kids?

What I’m doing—

While I’m fine if my kids keep a few secrets from me, but I don’t really want to be like Anne’s dad.

One of the things I have been doing for years, that’s worked for me, is what I call family interviews. I have it on my calendar to do these interviews monthly.

Doing these interviews helps me discover something new from my children. And it makes memories. Above all, it is fun! You may want to give it a try.

Here’s one interview I did with my son, Tanav who is now eleven. At the time of this interview, he was four years old. (See it when you have 2 mins: 44 secs.)

Quote I’m pondering —

“I believe no man was ever scolded out of his sins.”— William Cowper

That’s for spouses and parents who think that scolding and shouting is the way out of the everyday problems. It may be the easiest, but certainly the least effective way to bring about lasting change.

If, for example, you scolded your spouse for drinking or smoking excessively, what you’re teaching them is to continue to do it while just being cautious not to let you know.

One must connect emotionally to bring about sustainable behaviour change and develop stronger relationships.

            


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[5-Bullet Tuesday] Is “Work” Taking Your Life Away?

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

What’s I’m pondering: 

According to Fast Company, Barack Obama, when he was the President, always wore the same thing – a blue or black suit. This was part of his secret to getting so much done.

He wanted to leave his mind saved from Decision Fatigue, which happens when you use your mind for trivial decisions such as what to eat, wear, buy… This let him focus effectively when the time came for more important decisions to be made.

Some of you may find this idea extreme, but the point is that we must do something to pare down decisions as decision making during the day add up and cause us fatigue.

So, whether or not our offices are oval, we need to find ways to reduce getting fatigued making unnecessary decisions during the day.

As Obama says:

“You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”

Read here for more of Obama’s productivity secrets.

What I figured–

“My boss is unnecessarily complaining about my work. It’s painful!”

“My boss asks me to do the things exactly as he wants. Why can’t he understand that I’m not him?”

“I am sitting idle since last 2 weeks since I have joined the team. I feel so unwanted!”

These are some real life dialogues from my interaction with people just last week. Most people in the corporate world are unhappy with their work life. And since work life is a large part of your overall life, they’re unhappy in their life in general too!

Lot of them don’t even realise that something is going seriously wrong with them, until they have developed serious anxiety issues, stress or even depression.

So, here is a system to know your Happiness Score, based on the 5 keys to being joyful at work (French: joie de travailler).

Rate yourself on a scale of one to five on each of the following happiness keys :

  1. Freedom– If your boss wants you to do something “exactly like he wants!“, it doesn’t look like a place where you are getting enough creative freedom. Moreover, you don’t know what’s in his mind. The only way I can create something exactly like someone else wants is when I am him, which is usually not the case!

Reviews and feedback is alright, and is required for improving the deliverable further, but there is a thin line of difference between constructive feedback and forcing someone to become someone they are not! This thin line is quite significant to determine your happiness score.

  1. Connectedness–Being connected to people in the team and outside too openly is important to your being.

If your boss or team culture discourages talking to people from other teams, there is a problem.

You should be able to talk to everyone without any fear, openly. You should be able to bring up the ‘elephants in the room’, without mincing words.

Are you able to discuss matters of significance with your team? Connectedness is a human need and plays a key role in our happiness levels.

  1. Interesting Work– “Just do it because I say so!“,says your boss.  Well, that’s not what makes the work meaningful.

I want to know the reason why we’re doing it, what value I am adding to whom in the process. The bigger picture of the impact my work creates to a larger cause to the society, community or industry is what determines whether the work will be interesting to me or not.

  1. Being of use– “I am on the team for two weeks without anyone asking me to do anything!“. This is commonplace at work, and it creates havoc in the minds of people who are sitting idle.

We humans enjoy being useful. We may not believe it but it is true. If you’re sitting doing nothing, it’s not at all a good news. It is a serious cause for concern. Take some action if that’s the case or even quit such a job. Believe me, you’d be better off.

  1. Well Balanced Life– “I come back so late that I don’t see my children during weekdays!” Well, is that worth it? I don’t think so.

Listening to some light music, yoga or exercise, morning prayer with family, reading something different, attending to family functions and conferences, pursuing hobbies, spending time with family, making memories.. those things ought to be part of our life too.

Well, now that you have rated yourself on 1-5 on each of the above parameters, add up your individual scores and determine your Overall Happiness Score. If your score is between:

  • 5 – 12: Situation is alarming and you need to take some steps today. It could be as drastic as moving out of the project, organisation or even that career.
  • 13-18: It’s concerning but you can possible do something to increase the score. Look at the areas where you are really low and see what can be done to address those areas.
  • 19-25: Congratulations! You’re doing well. Your life is under control. All you have to do is manage your scores.

If you’re wondering, “What about Money? Fame? Parties? .. Don’t they bring happiness?”

Well, most of these would bring instant but temporary happiness, which often leads to long term distress. Of course we need money to sustain ourselves, but beyond a certain point, money won’t add to one’s happiness. For lasting joy, one must focus on things beyond these material things.

What I’m watching—

It was Thursday and a rather stressful day at work, but I dared to shoo away the stress and watch this comedy play on the way back home.

Bawarchi Diaries” at Akshara Theater.

It was of course a tough call to attend because the office pressures always have a tendency to dominate our lives and keep us away from things we know will relax us and bring our focus back.

I’m so glad I attended. In fact, I figured that if you’re just heads down into work, you are losing out on the varied perspectives which off-track experiences like watching a play can bring.

Particularly, this one was an out and out comedy, about a cooking maid, Rajkumari, who goes to different apartments and encounters some quirky residents in each one of them. From a modern day father-son duo obsessed  with Mahabharat, to a man who speaks only in songs and advertisements, each apartment has crazy residents who drive Rajkumari mad.

If you missed it, don’t sulk. It’s happening again on 28th Sept (Saturday) at Akshara Theater. Tickets are available at venue. (Akshara Theater Phone: 011 2336 1075). Live it up!

(Lucky to have clicked the poster with one of the artists from the same play, Harshit Pahwa)

Quote I’m pondering —

In the classroom, the teacher had asked the little 5 year old John Lennon, “What do you want to be when you grow up?

His reply, “Happy!

Teacher said, “You didn’t understand my question, John.”

to which John said, “You don’t understand life, Teacher!”

What I’m re-reading–

Sometimes we feel so consumed with work and end up missing the little pleasures of life. Reading my own article from a couple years back was a pleasant reminder of that.

The question to ask ourselves is: Are we paying attention and looking for opportunities to change a simple, run of the mill kind of day into one that becomes a lifetime memory?

 Look for windows of opportunities that could change a usual day into a lifetime memory. If you look carefully, you will find them.                                                                                                                                                                                         


If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.