Cheers To The Joy Of Living…As We Were Meant To!

I am overwhelmed with the amount of positive reinforcement I have got for my blog “I’m Motivated…Therefore I’m”. I’m truly truly grateful for all the kind words that all of you have said, or rather written. It just inspires me to write more 🙂 secret to happiness

A lot of times I am asked this question – “how do you stay happy, cheerful and joyous all the time?” My counter question to such people – “is there any other way to be?”

However that question got me thinking about why is it that most people feel down in the dumps or sad or low or less energetic or unenthusiastic about life? To me, life is beautiful – an everyday adventure that gives me an adrenalin rush, makes me happy and helps me spread smiles 🙂

Part of my role as a coach and mentor to budding entrepreneurs allows me to ask them pertinent, yet, relevant questions. And I get all kinds of answers to those questions…seldom answers based on feelings…mostly thoughts. Life to me is a healthy combination of both. One question I get asked invariably in those sessions is, “what are some of the things you do that allowed you to change in life?” My response, “some things I have changed, some others I have transformed.”

Here is my 4×4 matrix that allows me to lead my life the way I want to lead it…full of happiness, cheer and joy!

4x4 Matrix

4×4 Matrix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite all good intentions, I did not make a huge transition till about a year and half ago. Months and years of self talk did not help – only practice did. Real change happens from the inside, not outside…that leads to transformation. My travel around the country and the world has helped me realise in a world where the only constant is me, it becomes spectacularly obvious where—internally—I struggle or thrive. And that is how I arrived at the above matrix.

1. What do I want?

How any of us really really have answers for this one? We are so caught up in the humdrum of life and everyday situations, that we forget what we want out of life. I have very often paused and asked myself this question and I have found my answering changing every now and then. Initially, this used to upset me as I thought I was fickle minded. Eventually, I had to tell myself, wanting different things at different stages in life is absolutely ok. How can I constantly want the same thing day in and day out? And obviously, once I get what I want, it is natural to want something else!

2. Belief.

The universal laws operate based on belief. Yet, we mere mortals think we know best all the time. How many times haven’t we started with faith and waited…only to stop believing because something didn’t happen when we wanted it to!!!  We must believe that what we want is possible; that it can happen and we can do it. I remember for a very long time I had stopped believing that I will find my soul mate back in my life. Till I continued to remain in that state, he did not come back into my life. The day I changed my thoughts, reinforced feelings of happiness as I visualised him back in my life…the situation changed. I met him again and life has never been the same. So, keep the belief on!!!

3. Intentions.

Our intentions determine that we don’t waver so easily from our path. Life is full of distractions – both internal and external. How we deal with these, will determine how steadily we move towards fulfilling our goals. I begin each morning with one clear intention: concentration, generosity, gratitude, peace, joy, energy, clarity, balance, or whatever it is that I want for that day. Throughout the day, I keep reminding myself of this intention. The more I remember my intention, the more effortless living it becomes.

4. Live life purposefully

This is very closely associated with the first point of what do I want? All of us have a purpose…a purpose beyond the obvious lives we lead. Discovering that purpose itself is a wonderful journey…you meet so many beautiful people as part of that journey. All our actions must become sacred rituals that yield intentional results. Which means, we must focus on that purpose. Our means of achieving that purpose can change as we grow older and mature. Mine did…and I know it will in future also. However, the basic value system of that purpose remains the same – to help as many people as I can in their endeavours, in whatever manner I can. Writing this blog is one such manner.   move

5. Be positive.

Huh??? “Everybody is saying this me…how can I implement this?” I will share how I do this all the time. Two years ago I discovered a wonderful book called The Magic, which taught me to be grateful for every small and big thing in my life. I put my heart and soul into the 28 day practice of being grateful for everything in my life. One of the toughest practices in those 28 days was the practice of gratitude even when I heard negativity all around me. For example, the sound of an ambulance automatically brings negative thoughts, which allows the mind to wander in that space. But, The Magic taught me to be grateful that it wasn’t me or my near & dear ones in the ambulance. Boy! Was that tough!!! Yet, I learnt to look at things positively and to be grateful for everything, everyone and every situation in my life. 🙂

6. Be selfish.

Do we pay compliments to others? Do we tell others that they are wonderful people and that we love them? My question to all of you out there – how many times have you said I love you to yourself???

Go ahead, be selfish…if you don’t love yourself enough, how on earth will you love others around you? I am selfish enough to chose to be happy everyday, healthy and wealthy everyday…nobody can give that to me. I have to gift it to myself. I do one thing everyday that is absolutely selfish…could be listening to my kind of music, taking a long soothing bath, a massage, curl up in my favourite chair & read something I enjoy….something that makes ME feel good! I call it self therapy 😉

7. Be Aware.

Life is all about living in the now…too much in the past, you are history, too much in the future, you are lost. Being aware of who you are and most important, why are you doing what you are doing is critical. I have learnt that the whys of life are more important than the hows of life. If your why is clear, the how will automatically happen. The universe creates a path for your why. Live…and live in the present most of the time. Use the past as life’s lessons and learn. Visualize the future you want. Act in the present – that’s my mantra to move ahead.

8. Be habituated.

For things to change, we have to do certain things everyday… regularly enough that it starts becoming a habit or a pattern. Choose something that you really want and do it Every Single Day. Today I’m habituated to a lot of good things – reading is one such habit. Writing also is another one. I make it a point to write something everyday…either my blog, a poem, a few thoughts & feelings. It is only habits that bring transformation. I’m researching for a book that I want to write. It took me a while to build in the discipline to research everyday for an hour and half and compile the information…otherwise I know the book will remain a pipe dream.

9. Breathe.

Funny right? Most of you must be wondering why is she talking about something that we do sub consciously. Exactly! We breathe because we are used to it…it just happens. But, now, take a deep breath and become conscious of your breath. Let go slowly…feel the exhilaration. Get out into the open, watch the sun rise in the morning and breath in the early morning fresh air. You will feel lighter and in heaven. Meditate and concentrate on your breathing…play around with your pace of breathing and then settle into a rhythm. You will find a different you!!!

10. Feel.

I know most people will say “oh no!!! not that again!!!” We are a world of people who are afraid to feel. Everyday we have more and more tools to feel less and less. The moment we experience intense feelings, we hide behind these tools – television, internet, food, alcohol, drugs, small meaningless talk. We are never taught to deal with uncomfortable emotions – loneliness, boredom, fear, hope. We all build our own coping mechanisms that may or may not be good. Seldom do we express what we feel….we just cope. I know my man is going to roll his eyes and say,”there she goes again”. My only earnest request to all of you – do not numb yourself to feelings. Feel and feel more…it’s all you in any case.

11. Eat.

We all have our own version of soul food. Food cures a lot of things emotionally for us. And no, I do not refer to binge eating here. I am talking about simple pleasures like biting into a juicy crunchy apple, sipping a chamomile flavoured tea & breathing in the delicate aroma, digging into a healthy crisp salad or a cheesy macaroni. When I eat, it’s not just my tongue. My nose, my eyes and most of all, my heart savours every delightful morsel. Feel what you eat!!!

12. Move.

Walk. Run. Jump. Dance. Climb. The key here is to keep movement on. Our body is filled with multiple energy channels. When we don’t move, we block those channels. As long we we keep up steady moves, energy is flowing through out our body. Nature did not create this body to be desk bound all through the day and couch bound in the evenings. Moving our bodies is physically detoxifying. So, go ahead and stretch and make some noise while you are at it! You will feel liberated.

13. Set boundaries.

We have to determine what we want to receive and what is unacceptable to us. And then communicate this to others. This will naturally set boundaries for all. Everyone will then know what is to be expected. We should not expect others to behave in accordance with our wants or desires. This also shows the other person that you are sure about what you want. They may not like it, but, believe me, they will respect you for expressing it in the long run.

14. Don’t take things personally.

A very tough call. It becomes a tough call because we do not understand that nothing in life is personal. It is only our reaction to a certain situation or person that triggers a reaction or response, as the case maybe. What someone says or does that strikes an emotional chord with us is always a reflection of our own insecurities, values, and perceptions.Knowing that nothing is personal, releases the burden of what other people think and how they behave. We have to look within and ask ourselves what our thoughts and our behaviour say about us.

15. Spend time alone.

There is a clutter in our minds, an incessant noise that drowns everything else that we ought to listen to. The only way you will listen to your inner voice is when you stop the external voice. The external voice can be stopped when you spend time alone. My alone time fuels and energizes me when I return to the social world. Years ago, I used to wonder what will I do if I’m left alone…I did not enjoy my company even for a short duration. Then I met a wonderful lady called Dr Prema Panduranga, who in her discourse asked all of us one question – if you cannot spend even a few minutes in your own company, how should others spend hours with you?

Take a long walk by yourself… no music. Go out to dinner and sit at a table alone. Enjoy your meal and drink. Sit by yourself in nature and just stare at what surrounds you. Notice what you feel in your body. Notice where your thoughts go. Realize that you are not only capable of manoeuvring the world with your own strength, you are cable of manoeuvring your thoughts and your feelings. Find complete freedom to be you when you are alone.

16. Let go.

The most difficult and yet, the most transformative act is letting go. Letting go is akin to cleaning your cupboard and throwing out the unwanted stuff. If I don’t clean my cupboard periodically, how will I make place for the things I buy? It’s the same with emotional letting go. If I don’t let go of my old experiences, how will I have new ones? Let go of everything that is not making us better individuals…and it includes this matrix too. If this doesn’t work for you, create your own matrix and share it with us!!!

Live joyously 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Why & How Of Life…

“At the center of your being

Self discovery

Self discovery

you have the answer;

you know who you are

and you know what you want.”
― Lao Tzu

My question when I read this quote was, “Do I? Do I really know who I am?” Then I realised that it is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question ‘who am I’ except the voice inside herself.

Life's path

Life’s path

This journey of self discovery is one of the most interesting and profound journey one can ever take. I took my first step…and I continue on that journey every day of my life.

It’s a wild ride. But, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: our perspectives about our selves and this life shift tremendously and open the doors for some miraculous opportunities, love, and peace.
I’ve learned some of these lessons the hard way, but once I learned them, life became a lot clearer and the road to wherever I’m going is becoming more and more effortless and enjoyable. There are still times that arise which aren’t so picturesque, however, right now, I’m just better equipped to ride that rocky wave and can remind myself to settle into what I know.

Finding bliss

Finding bliss

The key here being aware of “what I know”. This awareness comes in layers, doses and never at once.  It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives. I can assure all of you out there, that initially, the pain was because I was so conditioned to discovering my weaknesses, warts and wasted life. The more I focused on those aspects, the more suffering I inflicted on myself…without even realizing it.
Till such a time, when I was told by my dear friend,  Suzy, who helped me create an emotional platform for myself, wherein the first step was to start loving me for myself. What a relief it was to finally peel the first layer and I took the first step of accepting myself, warts and all, and love myself as I am. In that process, I kind of died inside in order to rise from my own ashes and believe in myself and love myself to become a new person.
Identify My Calling

Identify My Calling

Suzy, my “Wise Woman” told me, “Prepare yourself to take a journey. One that will help you remember who you are beneath all the clutter of everyday life.””The clutter of every day life?” though I had heard the term before, it  somehow made sense to me , once I took a moment and thought about how my life had being going recently. Then the gloom set in! The gloom because as I examined my life, it seemed more like a merry go round without any stops, where I could get off and just catch my breath. There were so many things I had filled into my life…and that day I was forced to think of the purpose of doing so many things at one time. Was I happy?”That is what you get when you think gloomy thoughts,” Suzy’s voice penetrated the gloom like the flare of a torch gleaming through a fog.  Passion

“When you think gloomy thoughts, you are calling for gloomy weather that will further dampen your thoughts and change the environment around you. Make it a habit, and it will eventually change who you are.”

“How can my thoughts change who I am?” I asked. That sounded impossible.

Love life“It is simple really. Your thoughts determine what you believe is possible for you and train your expectations so that you see what you are trained or expecting to see. Think about red cars and that is all you notice on the drive to work. Focus on how much you hate your job, or how boring school is … and that is what your brain will present to you .. the evidence to back up your beliefs. And if you do that long enough, you change your world view and limit what is possible for you to achieve.”

“Okay,” I said, not quite sure that I could argue with that, but not sure I totally believed it either.

“The point is not to swallow what I say. Question it, test it out in your own life, bounce it off of your life experience and see if what I say rings true for your life.” That did surprise me as I realised that while we grow up, we are conditioned to accepting & absorbing a lot of  ideas and superficial reasoning mixed in. When we are young, we are taught to listen and not talk back. And so we develop the habit of thinking that everyone knows more than we do — which is true when we are very young and lack life experience.  No regrets

Ideally, after this, I was to have progressed from child to adult, from caterpillar to butterfly…go through my own chrysalis. Did that happen? I thought I did…:). Here are some of the things that I should have done while my metamorphosis was taking place:

1. Instead of just listening & following, I should have led and questioned.

2. I had to think for myself and make my own decisions.

3. I had to break my shell and the limitations set by others on my life.

4. I had to start discovering myself and what I was to do with my life.  Define your life

Often this is a vision quest — and what you discover about who you are resets the expectations of those around you regarding what life tasks and life path you are meant to follow. Clearly, not all of the above happened effectively in my life. Yes, I could make decisions, which allowed me to break my shell every once in a while. However, I could not battle the collective limitations that were set on me by others around me. It was frustrating to say, the least.

Dreams come trueSo, after understanding all this, I had to think about the following for myself:

Did I really want to discover who I was?

Was it too late for me?

Would knowing who I was to become, change me?       Dreams

Did I want that change?

Was I willing to risk what I had for something better?

Would these answers leave me worse off?

Would I be able to live the life of my dreams?

My vision quest led me to ten basic building blocks that support my life today. I am happy to share that with everyone around me. These I have shown as pictographic representations across my writing.

Finally, the bottom line is, even if you see ’em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are. The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.

As for me…life begins anew everyday !!!


Understanding My Calling….

The past couple of weeks I have met a lot of youngsters…in the 17 to 22 year age bracket. It was as part of youth entrepreneurship workshop that I met them. Some were clear about what they wanted to do in life, a sort of road map, but came to the workshop to see if the network of people could help them further.

While talking to this enthusiastic lot, a thought that struck me over & over again was, I hope the dreams & clarity these youngsters have continues in their lives and they don’t let go. On the other hand, there were a lot many of them, who were seeking…seeking answers because they did not know what to do.

That leads me to write today about how do I understand my calling in life. How do I look for that elusive something…these are somethings that have personally helped me.

1. Deal with the present

A lot of us keep thinking only about the future…”what should I do when I am doing my graduation, post graduation or what kind of a job should I get or which company do I work for or what sort of business do I start?” While it is good to have a big picture first, think about what you will do today, to get to the big picture. Remember, people become fat one bite at a time, and we become adults one hour at a time, so what we do today matters.

2. Look, browse & shop around

Unless you try on the outfit, you’ll never know if it fits. Do the same with vocations, avocations, hobbies and skills. You’ll need to sample every flavor to know your true favorite taste. However, you need to be smart about this also…keep in mind your pocket and budget.

3. Go for odd opportunities

Look around people who have achieved what they want to achieve…whether it is a recognized person or an unsung hero…they have all done something different. Why be one among the herd when you can lead the pack… 🙂

4. Burn your plans

Life doesn’t go according to the blue print we create. Nobody’s life has ever…so why should yours? So don’t worry if you get off track. The track was imaginary anyway. It’s perfectly alright to get on to another track.

5. Do not follow someone else’s dreams

Everyone will have expectations of us. What is my expectation of myself…is a question I need to answer constantly. You can’t please everyone, but if you do what YOU think you should, at least you’ll be able to sleep at night.

6. Blend your talent

All of us have a variety of talents, only if we allow ourselves to discover them. Mostly, we end up working on only one skill…and become a super specialist. Nothing wrong there…the only thing I can say is a person who has developed a variety of skills is far more interesting than the other! 🙂

7. Seek out people you actually like

It’s fun to work with people you like. Creating something different with a bunch of like minded people can be amazingly productive and satisfying…not to mention the fun part! I work my business with friends & family and we have a great time not only earning…also the relationships!

8. It’s ok to change your mind

Most of us decide on a career when we are in the age group of 18 to 20. We learn a lot things as time goes by…about the world & about ourselves. So, if you discover something different and want to work on it…please do so. It can bring more satisfaction & happiness. I changed tracks after 18 years of human resource related work. Today I have something more important in my life…time to spend with my family & friends because of this change. And am definitely not complaining about the money 🙂 🙂

9. Read, read, read…

Roam a library or a book shop frequently. Books have always been my best friends. You never know which book, author, or topic will speak to you from the shelves. You might just find what you didn’t even know you were looking for.

10. Spend time before you spend money

Invest in reading and talking and finding out before you put down a ton of money on a degree or a certification or a relocation. You might find that you don’t have to write a check to compose your future.

11. Your purpose & your job may be different

If you are working to support your family, they are your real bosses. If you are working to further a goal or idea, don’t let your paycheck (however plump it is) become an obstacle to it. Prioritize what you want in life, but, do not lose focus of the end objective.

12. Be genuinely uncool

Stick with what you love, even if others sneer at it. This is also referred to as integrity. We all tend to do things because our peers consider it cool…is that really what I want? What I want maybe be considered uncool, but if I am genuinely uncool, people will respect over a period of time.

The dozen pointers are things I have done myself in my life…so it’s easy to write about these. However, a couple of other lessons I have learnt in life…very few people are the very best in the world at anything. What helps me is when I do my best and push myself a wee bit more. Unhealthy competition with others leads to anxiety, collaboration leads to assets.

Today, everything I do in life is based on one question…”What I’m doing now, will it contribute to my epitaph or only my resume?”

Success…Mantra Or Recipe

I am writing after a while…all this while my mind has been pondering about the word “success”. Yesterday I spent time with a self made millionaire, who was asked by someone “What is the mantra for your success?”. The same question has been asked by thousands & thousands of people world over to a Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Azim Premji, Mukesh Ambani, Akio Morita, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Michael Jackson, Shakira, George Clooney, Amitabh Bachchan and others.

When I talk about success so passionately, a lot of my friends have told me that success means different things to different people. Sure I agree…my understanding is irrespective of what success means to you and in whatever field you achieve it, the recipe to achieve that success will be the same. Wouldn’t it?

That brings me back to the question…do successful people really have a recipe or a mantra that brings the success? Yes!!!  Yes, they do have a mantra or recipe. For me achieving success is like cooking a superb dish. The end result may be a simple dish, but the ingredients need to be in the right proportion. So what are the ingredients I am talking about? Let’s get to the kitchen of life…

To your pan of Passion, using the ladle of Positive Attitude, add the following ingredients. Mind you the ingredients are very BASIC 🙂

Belief – In order for you to achieve anything in your life – you have to first believe. You need to believe in yourself that you can achieve it. You must have faith in your goals and your path to that success. Once your mind is convinced that you can do it, nothing is impossible. Belief is the ‘mind and heart’ & ‘think and feel’ part of the recipe.

Action – Nothing moves until you do something. You belief alone is not enough…you need to act on that belief. However, if my passion is high, then my belief will move me to act. When you act upon what you believe, there is focus. And there is energy. That energy propels you to greater heights.

Skills – My passion, belief and action will come to nothing if I do not upgrade my skills required for my work. Skills are those tools that will help me move closer inch by inch, foot by foot everyday towards my goal post. In a fiercely competitive world, if I don’t increase my knowledge and hone my skills, what am I attracting? Not success for sure!

IntegrityIntegrity of thought & deed. Integrity to yourself and others working with you. Without this there is no credibility I can build for myself. Integrity will also tell that there are no short cuts to success. I have to find my path and walk on on it. Sometimes it will be smooth, mostly it is uphill. It is during those uphill walks, that my integrity will enable & empower me.

Consistency – The little waterfall did not change the shape of the rock because of it’s force, but by its consistent contact with the rock. Look at any successful person around you. What has worked for them is the consistency of action in their field. It could be a carpenter carving a beautiful chair or a musician creating music or playing an instrument. Relentless pursuit is what brings us closer to success.

Once this BASIC recipe starts simmering in your pan of Passion, then you need to add the right seasoning of Determination, Discipline & Dedication. Mix it up in a way that suits your life’s purpose and then you automatically have a purposeful life!!!

Here’s wishing you all a delicious day ahead 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Be The One Who Builds The Temple…

To every triumph, some failure leads

For every accomplishment, agony heeds

The must of desire masters through design

Just a vision that every ambition needs

Truly powerful ambition, in an individual, carries others along with him. Ambition comes from a unique perspective on life. In some, it is limited in horizon. While some others can have a large-hearted, all-inclusive ambition. What is your type?
About a 1000 years ago, a sage was drawn to a construction site. He watched from the edge of a clearing in the forest as the workmen bent over their individual tasks.
Finally his curiosity drove him to one workman at the edge of the site, whom he asked “What are you doing, my good man?” The workman looked up briefly and went back to his work “I’m working” he said curtly.
Not satisfied with the answer, the sage approached a second workman to ask him the same question. “You can see I’m breaking stones” he replied.
The sage was made of stern stuff and he wasn’t leaving without an answer, so he walked over to a third workman with the question. “I’m building a temple” replied this workman smilingly.
The incident opened the sage’s eyes, because all three of them were breaking boulders into smaller stones, but in their minds they were not doing the same jobs.
The third workman was working for a cause much larger than himself and it showed in his approach to work.
You can just do a day’s work, or build a career, a team, an organization, or a nation
An individual’s overpowering ambition can be the glue that holds together and powers forward a team, an army or a country.
This has been proven time and again by various leaders from history. Alexander The Great, and Gandhi are just two names from the past.
Working as an entrepreneur, I have always found that my ambition fuels my vision. If I am not self motivated to achieve my milestones, smaller goals leading to my bigger dreams, how on earth will I achieve my vision? Isn’t that the stuff visions are supposed to be made of? I have also seen certain others who quit their jobs and start working on their own…but just fade away with the sunset soon. After some introspection & talking to some fellow entrepreneurs, I realized that if your internal motivation needs external strokes regularly, then it’s no longer internal motivation.
Of course, we are all human and do need some powerful external inspiration to move ahead at times. It could be either a situation or a person who can inspire us. What has worked for some of us is “collective ambition”. This has helped us achieve what we want in life…not everything…we are still work in progress :). What is “collective ambition”? It’s a special ingredient that allows us to have“…a story that depicts our purpose, vision and plans on how to achieve our dreams.”
Seven ingredients of collective ambition:
1. Purpose: our raison d’etre, our why.
2. Vision: what we want to achieve in a given time frame.
3. Targets and milestones: the metrics used to assess the extent to which the team has progressed toward its vision.
4. Strategic and operational priorities: The actions we will take and not take in pursuit of our vision.
5. Brand promise: The commitments we make to our new partners in terms of empowering them to achieve their dreams.
6. Core values: Our guiding principles that dictate what we stand for in good and bad times.
7. Leader behaviors: How we build our leaders & how they will act, day-by-day and in the long term, to implement vision and strategy as they strive to fulfill their brand promise and live up to their values.
These seven ingredients need to be interwoven to create the ambition machinery. This machinery also needs what we call as the “glue” & “grease”. Glue creates the collective sense in our team, and the ‘grease’ enables it to function efficiently! Unlike everywhere, we focus on a business that builds people and not use people to build the business…sounds esoteric? We can always have a discussion on that…
Till then…expand your ambition and your horizon.
Grow the small pictures that others see, so your big picture gets progressively even bigger. You can choose your perspective and your role in life.
Be the one who builds the temple.