A Chance Encounter…

A chance encounter can do many things in our life…sometimes change the course of life completely for some of us. I am sure a lot of married folks will say, “I agree” to this one 🙂 🙂 🙂

Marriage is not the only thing I am referring to here. My friend recently went through a tough time: a personal crisis. She was scouring for signs of something positive, anything that would offer a ray of hope or light for her situation. She decided to go out for some tea when she encountered a woman, unknown to her, who began chatting about the trials and tribulations of her life.

The woman spoke of gratitude for those who had courage, and at the end of what was essentially a monologue the woman said to my friend: “Everybody goes through difficulties. Surround yourself with positive people and hang in there.” With that the woman got up and left. My friend had not shared a word of her difficulties, yet this chance encounter satisfied her need to receive something positive.

Coincidence?

Perhaps. But the intriguing feature of this story is that the chance encounter provided the necessary spark of encouragement and hope. 

In 1957, writer and cartoonist Allen Saunders offered the quote: “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” John Lennon later popularized the above sentiment in his song Beautiful Boy. We can all relate. We spend so much time working toward something, only to have the unexpected snare our attention and take us in a completely different direction. Of course this could be for better or worse. But is there a science underneath the positivity of chance encounters? We can test it out.

Who we become is greatly influenced by what happens beyond our control. And yet, as your own life has likely revealed, there is evidence that chance encounters can, and do, positively influence our lives. Perhaps it is time to build this into the formula for expecting, and experiencing more joy and more hope in our lives.

There is enough evidence around us to show that if you prepare yourself to make the most of chance encounters, good things are waiting to happen all around you. Other experts agree that with a few simple steps, you can significantly increase the chances of meeting your soul mate, finding the right business partner, or steering your life in a new direction. That might sound unlikely or even naive, but there’s real science to prove that while you can’t control the randomness of life, you can definitely create your own luck.

In psychological terms, lucky people tend to be more extroverted, a word whose Latin roots mean “turned outward.” Typically, they’re gregarious. They have the power to draw others toward them. They’re adept at maintaining friendships. And they cultivate what is described as a “strong network of luck” that helps promote opportunity in their lives.

Ultimately, the bigger your circle of acquaintances, the more opportunities you have. A typical person knows about 300 people on a first-name basis. So if you go to a party and meet someone new, he explains, you’re “only two handshakes away from 300 times 300 people; that’s 90,000 new possibilities for a new opportunity, just by saying hello.” By the same logic, if you meet 50 new people at a conference, you’re just a couple of introductions away from 4.5 million opportunities to change your life.

But handshakes aren’t the only way to increase the odds of a life-changing encounter. Statistics claim that 80 percent of the people who try to increase their serendipity are successful. It takes only a month, and most people report their luck increases by an average of 40 percent. A few keys to success:

Prepare your mind. Don’t leave chance encounters entirely to chance, says Colleen Seifert. Instead, try doing a little predictive encoding and get your mind ready for good things to happen. “Chance favors the prepared mind,” Seifert says, quoting Louis Pasteur. If you lay the groundwork, then when something happens by chance, your memory goes right to work and “you notice it for free.”

Give chance a chance. If you always pick apples in the same part of an orchard, Wiseman notes, you’ll eventually run out of fruit. The same applies to luck. Pursue an active life—get out there and do things—and you’ll increase the likelihood of good things happening. Go apple picking—or grocery shopping, for that matter—somewhere new. Eat your lunch on a different park bench. You never know who will be sitting next to you.

Relax. If you’re anxious, stressed, or preoccupied, Richard Wiseman believes, you probably won’t notice good things waiting to happen. You’ll walk right past money on the ground or miss an opportunity to speak with someone in a coffee shop. A laid-back attitude can lead to all sorts of possibilities, but you have to be ready to go with the flow.

Build your network of luck. Stay connected to the people you know, and try to meet new people. You can become more of a social magnet by paying attention to your body language. It may sound obvious, but make smiling a habit. “Remember that you are surrounded by opportunities,” Wiseman writes. “It is just a case of looking in the right places and seeing what is really there.” 

The challenge is for us to cultivate as much optimism as we can muster, and to do this in anticipation of the unforeseen. This is important because as Heraclitus said, “If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it…”

So…go out there…and have a positively unexpected day!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Simple Pleasures Of Life…

Today, I’m just going to post about some things in life that bring me joy and hopefully bring others joy as well. So it’s just a simple list of the “simple pleasures in life.” Sometimes, it’s important to sit back, relax, empty our cup and enjoy the everyday things that bring us pleasure. So, go ahead and enjoy… 🙂

  1. Sleeping In on a Rainy Day – As the rain beats lightly against the window, you nestle your head deeper into your pillow.  The sound is soothing and your bed feels like a sanctuary.  There is no place you would rather be.
  2. Finding Money You Didn’t Know You Had – You reach into your pocket and find a $20 bill from the last time you wore these jeans.  You aren’t rich, but you are richer than you were a second earlier.
  3. The First Sip of a Beverage When You’re Thirsty – You just finished mowing the lawn or taking a long jog.  The only thing on your mind is an ice-cold glass of water.  When you are really, really thirsty, that first sip of any liquid beverage is sheer bliss.
  4. Realizing You Have More Time to Sleep – Something abruptly awakens you and you think it’s time to get up.  Then you squint over at your alarm clock and realize you still have 2 more hours to sleep.  A warm euphoric feeling shoots though your body as you glide gracefully back to your dreams.
  5. A Familiar Smell – You just pulled into your parent’s driveway and opened the car door.  You haven’t been home in a long while.  You smell familiarity in the air, the scent of a large pine tree in the neighbor’s yard.  As you head through the front door, more familiar smells consume your senses.  Gosh, it feels good to be home…
  6. Fresh, Clean Bed Sheets – You yank at the corner of the bedspread to create just enough space to slide your body under the freshly cleaned sheets.  The sheets feel cool to the touch.  Everything seems so clean, like nobody has ever slept in this bed before.
  7. A Beautiful View – As the car veers around the side of the mountain you gaze out the passenger window.  It’s a clear, sunny day and you can see the entire valley below filled with wild flowers and bright green vegetation.  The scenery reminds you of something you once saw in National Geographic.  But here it is live, right before your eyes.
  8. Reminiscing About Old Times with Your Closest Friends – Pink Floyd once said “the memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of a man in his prime”.  There is no simple pleasure more satisfying than recounting the greatest moments of your life with your closest friends who lived these moments alongside you.
  9. Receiving an Unexpected Compliment – It’s been an average day.  Nothing really great has happened, but nothing terrible occurred either.  This monotonous day has put you in a dreary mood.  Unexpectedly, an person taps you on the shoulder, calls you “attractive or smart or handsome” and says your look is great.  The day just got a whole lot better.
  10. Having a Good Laugh – Laughter is the greatest cure of all.  Life is extraordinary in the moments when you are laughing so hard you can barely breathe.  These moments of deep laughter are divine in the sense that they cleanse your mood and set your mind on a positive track.
  11. The Feeling After a Healthy Workout – It’s a giddy feeling of self accomplishment; the one true activity that actually makes you feel better and look better simultaneously. When you walk out the front door of the gym you are on top of the world.
  12. Relaxing Outdoors on a Sunny Day – As you relax sprawled out in a lawn chair, the sun warms your skin and a light breeze keeps the temperature comfortable.  Birds are chirping merrily in the trees behind you.  You are at complete peace with the environment.
  13. Holding Hands with Someone You Love – Every time he grabs your hand you are overcome with an awareness of how much he means to you.  Holding hands is sensual and physically intimate, yet subtle.  There are few people you allow to hold your hand, so when it happens you can be sure that the moment is special.
  14. Playing in the Water – Water marvels people of all ages.  From jumping in puddles as a child, to doing cannon balls in the pool as an adolescent, to enjoying a cocktail in the Jacuzzi as an adult… water is enjoyable.
  15. Singing your Favorite Song – Humming my favorite song or even singing it out loud, along, with remembering some special moments associated with that song. It is bound to bring a big smile to your face, a funny feeling in your stomach pit… 🙂

I could just go on and on…however, will close with one of my all time favorites…curling up on my sofa with a mystery book to read, a cup of hot ginger lemon tea, snow flakes outside my window and my dog curled up at my feet… 🙂 🙂 :).

Would love to hear from all of you there what gives you pleasure…keep writing in!!!

Reading Stories Can Create Success Stories For You…

My parents were completely convinced that anyone with a reading habit was likely to succeed more in life.   So they encouraged the younger generation to read. They argued that whether you went on to be a lawyer, an architect, a business leader, a store owner, or a stay-at-home mom, having a grounding in good literature and a basic understanding of the sweep of human history and culture would provide the best foundation for any future learning – and for being able to interact well with other human beings. There was never a shortage of reading material at home…right from newspapers, magazines, comics, fiction and non fiction. Even though I was an economics major in college, I read pretty obsessively, mostly fiction and history, from a very early age and – in principle – I agreed with them.

However, one eternal battle at home was should one read more of fiction or non fiction. And what actually helps make you a better human being. I am sure all my readers have gone through this in their growing years. The thrill of reading a novel under the blanket with a torch :), or hiding a story book behind a text book…these are childhood capers most of us have indulged in. I could never resist a good novel when I could lay my hands on one.

My earliest recollection was reading the entire series of Famous Five from Enid Blyton and losing myself in the adventures of all the five lucky kids :). The first novel which had a huge impact on me, made me think & introspect, was Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. I read it when I was in high school & the impact was such that, I went & declared to my parents that I would join the New York Mafia soon 🙂 :). 

But…coming back to is fiction better or non fiction? Where should I focus when I read?

Just the other day I read a wonderful article in the HBR blog by Anne Kreamer, The Business Case for Reading Novels, talking about some fascinating research that supports my contention. She cites studies that show reading fiction actually increases people’s emotional intelligence: their accurate awareness of themselves and others, and their ability to create positive relationships with others based on managing their own reactions.

 

The research Anne cites resolves my chicken-and-egg quandary. It seems that reading fiction improves your sensitivity to and appreciation of complex human situations. It provides a richer ‘toolkit’ of understanding from which to pull when making decisions and building relationships.  And as our business or work lives get more complex, faster-paced, less hierarchical and more dependent upon our ability to build support with those around us – that kind of toolkit becomes ever more critical to our success.

So if you’re feeling self-indulgent as you sit out on your porch of a weekend with Game of Thrones or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Lady Chatterly’s Lover in hand – reassure yourself that you may be improving your chances of business success just as much or more than if you were reading the Financial Times or the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s wishing each one of you a fruitful day ahead!!!Image

Sowing Our Relationships!

There was once a group of learned Buddhist monks who spent all their time in scholastic debate. 

As part of their banter they would often wonder, half-joking, half-seriously, which one of them would attain enlightenment first. Whenever this topic came up, the only thing they could all agree on was that it would not be Stupid, the illiterate monk who was capable only of sweeping the monastery floor and whom nobody has any time for.

Of course, it was Stupid who got enlightened first. The jealous monks went to the Abbot. How come Stupid had attained enlightenment first? Had he been overhearing their intellectual conversations?

“Not at all,” replied the Abbot. “It’s just that while he was sweeping the corners of the monastery he made sure he was also sweeping the corners of his mind.”

See what happens when you start sweeping the corners of your mind and accept certain things. Read on. It was the coldest winter ever, and many animals died because of the cold. 
The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions even though they shared their heat with each other. 

After awhile, they decided to distance themselves one from the other to stop being wounded.As they did this, they began to die… alone and frozen. 
So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together.

This way they learned to live with the little wounds that were caused by the close relationship with their companion, but the most important part of it, was the heat that came from the others that enabled them to survive the coldest winter ever.

Relationships are like that in our life. Not every time in a relationship we will find the going smooth. There will be ups and downs…just like the porcupines felt earlier. However, when you look at what you are going to lose by staying away, then it is better to adjust to the few quills and build the relationship. 

Our relationships with people around us influence our lives. We are positive, highly energetic with similar people…on the other hand, we also get depressed when negative people touch our lives. I personally tend to run away from such negative people! 

Your relationship with people is a reflection of your emotional health, your emotional quotient. It tells you how well you can handle your emotions. It also reflects your love for the self. So if you think that people around do not love you, it means that you do not love yourself……………..

Today take a good look at your relationship with your mother. Is it 100% perfect? Do you find any faults in her? Does she find any fault in you? Since the mother – child relationship is meant to be unconditional, & we find faults there also…it is bound to happen in our other relationships.
As we grow older, evolve and mature…..accept ourselves a little more…. love ourselves a little more… This gets reflected in our relationships. As we grow comfortable with ourselves, we become comfortable with our relationships too.

So…go ahead and give your relationships time, love, affection and care. When we build those bonds we must remember the following:

1. Building a relationship is like sowing.

2. You reap what you sow.

3. You always reap at a later date.

4. You always reap multiple times.

So…go ahead and sow the seeds that you want to 🙂 🙂 🙂