Lessons on Stoic Way From Grandpa’s Diary!


s far back as I can remember, I have this memory of my Grandpa sitting down on a quaint chair with a fountain pen in hand and a diary on a brown mahogany table. Every afternoon.

A  lamp would lit up just his table in an otherwise dark room. While Granny would be ready to take an afternoon power nap, with curtains drawn or doors closed, Grandpa would be doing his afternoon writing.

Grandpa would write in the diary every day without fail.

I would usually be laying down with Granny playing a word finder game with her on her Hindi newspaper. I would be overjoyed in that simple game until I fell asleep.

I can’t imagine anything more comforting than the vivid memories of those times.

If you think you know your grandparents well enough, then you’re lucky because as far as my Grandpa was concerned, he always guarded his emotions like those were the jewel Kohinoor.

And not only back then when he was alive, even his diaries which he wrote every single day and I unquestionably inherited, are apparently sans any of his feelings.

Now, I have all the Grandpa’s diaries (yay! my treasure!), but to be  honest it’s a little disappointing because I have lost my last hope of knowing what went through Grandpa’s heart on a day to day basis. Well almost..

The Leo I am, I haven’t given up though. Every now and then, when life grapples me with a challenge, when most people would look for solace or answers in Bhagwat Geeta or other religious texts, I seek my answers in Grandpa’s diaries.

Call it divine intervention or luck, I get taken to a page from Grandpa’s diary, which has just the answer I needed at the time.

For example, I recently felt that despite my devotion and sincerity in keeping the collective best interest in mind for a project, the partner’s would interfere and directly or indirectly nitpick me for past decisions for no fault of mine. All this showing me that there was something else in their mind.

This letter from Grandpa’s diary has a clear answer for what he would do in such a situation. 

Sure, that would have been a tough decision for Grandpa. But not making a decision is sometimes the worst decision you will ever make.

The slow daily pain is worse than the pain of moving on. This is beautifully expressed in this quote from Sri Aurobindo:

Progress: To be ready, every minute, to give up all one is and all one has in order to advance on the way.

I realize that it’s not that Grandpa didn’t have any feelings or was unaware of them, it’s just that he chose to act a stoic.

Stoics don’t consider emotions as a good guide for behavior. Therefore, Grandpa trained his mind to not fan any emotional flames. He practiced this daily until it became second nature for him.

He, like all stoics, would treat emotions like the weather. Just like during a hard rain, you may need to grab an umbrella and drive slower, but you still need to get to work.

The same goes for emotional storms. Grandpa believed that we can still act well despite feeling a “bad emotion.”

Well, that’s about me and my Grandpa, how about you.. How do you handle your emotions every day?

Do you get all carried away and turn red and blue or do you act like stoics and get the emotions pass you without causing any harm.

Find this out so that next time when emotions come to wrap you, you are able to deal with it a different way – the stoic way!

All the best.

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Secret Sauce To Success


Howdy, Friends.

A study was conducted in 2010 by Green Peak Partners and Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. 

The objective of this study was to determine the 1 top trait that made successful CEOs successful. This study examined 72 executives at public and private companies with revenues from $50 million to $5 billion.

The outcome of this study revealed that self-awareness was the most significant trait associated with leadership success. In fact, the higher level of self-awareness, the higher level of leadership success.

And why just CEOs, becoming self-aware could make every one of us successful.

Now the question is how can you become more self aware? You can do so by developing the habit of daily journaling and reflecting. 

It was like any other day on the 13th of March. I was sitting in front my laptop, when I suddenly heard a loud thud. What followed was the scream of my mother, and wife and me and my children running out to the door. Dad had had a fall, and to make it worse, he was just lying down there, looking disoriented, and speechless.

It seemed like time had come to a standstill. I felt ashamed of conveniently ignoring Dad’s complains since weeks about “feeling weak”.

I didn’t even have the time to think and we somehow managed to pick him up, rushed him to the hospital, and a long and difficult road to his diagnosis and treatment began.

One night, in the hospital as I was trying to get some rest, I recalled that my next Toastmasters project is “Focus on the Positive“. It was extremely ironical because by now I was full of negativity – What is going to happen next?, Is this it, Is he ever going to recover.

All the fears, anxieties and worries were bringing me down. But the project’s objectives were to write down my thoughts on a journal for at least two weeks – including me feelings, both positive and negative, record my successes and efforts and be grateful for three things every single day.

It is said that when the going gets tough the tough get going. I decided to take this Toastmasters’ project as a challenge.

The diagnostic tests were quite a pain moth mentally and physically, and what came out was what swept the ground from beneath our feet.

The doctors advised a therapy which is more famous for it’s horrendous side effects than it’s positive main effects.

I continued my journey of writing my journal – small wins, efforts, plans, gratitude and feelings.

One day I wrote down that although the therapy was tough, but the fact that three different doctors had given a consistent advice, was something to be grateful to God for.

This Wednesday was finally the day to get started with the first session of therapy for Dad. Despite staying positive till now, I did feel weak in my knees – were we doing the right thing? Is his body going to be able to take this therapy?

I looked at the pages of my journal that I had been writing for last 14 days and realized that most of those in the know – the doctors, and the ones who had gone through something similar, were giving us hope and confidence.

It dawned on me that we were following the right steps, and as someone has said, if you follow all the right steps, there is no way you will get a wrong result. My gratitude notes reminded me how blessed I was with so many people on our side genuinely helping us through this difficult time.

All that gave me courage to go ahead as we had planned. We went to the hospital, got him the treatment, and kept the focus right.

It’s been four days since Dad’s first therapy session. None of our worst fears have come true so far. Fingers crossed. We’re able to hang in there and look forward to better days ahead for him.

Negativity can come in anytime uninvited, but it is still important for us to focus on the positive. After all, what we focus on grows.

Tara Leigh Cobble has expressed that beautifully in this poem:

Two natures beat within my breast. The one is foul, the one is blessed. The one I love, the one I hate. The one I feed will dominate.” ― Tara Leigh Cobble

Friends, when life seems tough, when uncertainty looms large, when it looks like the end of the road, I urge you to use this secret sauce and write down your anxiety inducing thoughts and stay focused on the positive.

PS: This speech / script was used to deliver my Focus On The Positive Elective project from Toastmasters – Engaging Humor path.