Month: June 2010

The gain from pain

One cannot get through life without pain … What we can do is choose how to use the pain life presents to us.  Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.

Broadly speaking one will experience 3 types of pain. The physical pain is what we are most familiar with like breaking our bones or getting grazed when one falls. The emotional pain is one we experience when our emotions are put to test like in case of a broken relationship be it with parents, spouse, siblings or children. The psychological pain is one we may be subject to but not acutely conscious off as will be the case if we are the butt of jokes amongst classmates or if one is constantly being belittled or humiliated. Almost all of us would have suffered from one or more of such pain but in most cases we have overcome it and gone on to forget it too.

Yet when we are asked to look back and recollect some of the more painful memories it is the emotional and psychological pain that often comes immediately to mind. Painful experiences leave a deep and sordid aftermath which can be life altering whichever way one takes it. For those who are deeply scarred by the event will always walk in the shadow of that pain and will attribute all their failures and miseries to that pain. On the other hand those who are more resilient and positive will use that painful learning to fire up their spirit and conquer their fears and hurt brought about by the pain. Herein lies the test of the true spirit of life – will you conquer pain or will you let the pain imprison you? For every Helen Keller and Douglas Bader there are a thousand others who give in to their pain and commit suicide. Here is the extraordinary story of a man cheated by fate once but one of those bravehearts who never let fate rob him of his freedom of expression; click here to read on about M.P.Anil Kumar

While it might be pretty easy to pontificate about pain ( as I am doing right now) it is the person in the line of fire who has to experience the agony of the pain. One never knows but tomorrow it could be either mine or your turn to be part of that painful experience.  Death of a loved one is a pain that each of us would have experienced at some point. In all probability we would have soon taken the rational bypass  that death is a reality and consoled ourselves that we have to face the reality. However if the person who died is in the prime of youth or a child the inevitable question that haunts us is ‘Why?’.  More traumatic to deal with is the pain brought on by  a drastic physical change the like losing a limb or being a paraplegic, for these are life altering not just for the person but also for the family. Not far behind is the pain of seeing a loved one suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s, motor neuron disease etc. all of which have no cure as on date and yet slowly wastes the body away causing deep anguish to both the patient and to the family. Can we realistically handle such pain?

Yes one can minimize the impact of such pain through a mixture of pragmatism, counseling, prayer and positive thinking. Pragmatism will help one comprehend the reality with fortitude. Counseling will alleviate the  panic and help channelize ones energy into acceptance of the reality. Prayer is the one channel that will send a person tons of hope to cope. Positive thinking will provide the oxygen that nourishes body and mind, strengthen ones resolve and provide us a shield to guard against depression and a feeling of hopelessness.

Remember: Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.

Try this:

  1. As and when you can, try walking barefoot on a tar road or on cobble stone walkway for at least 5 – 10 minutes. What are your feelings? Do you give up even before you have walked a  100 meters? Do you get irritated saying ‘ Why am I doing such a stupid thing?’ To experience the pain brought about by fear you can visit a nearby zoo or snake park and try  (with permission of course) handle a non poisonous snake.
  2. Plan a visit to a local old age home/ a hospice / home for the mentally challenged and spend a day with the inmates. How do you think the staff of these places motivate themselves to work for those who are in pain and suffering?

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Happiness begins with me …

Happiness depends upon ourselves. Aristotle

Happiness is what most of us chase and then feel frustrated that it keeps eluding us most of the time. Truth be told ‘happiness is an inside thing’ and so it is pointless chasing it all over the place for it resides within you. Perhaps the key to finding happiness is ‘your attitude’. Everyone has a new day a new challenge a new problem and a new opportunity. Happiness is your belief that each of these can be grasped by you and turned into a happy experience.

Troubles and problems are actually questions in search of an answer and not exclamations of despair. When we can comprehend the question and look at it in the right perspective we can definitely seek the correct answer and like a jigsaw puzzle being solved put the pieces in place and enjoy the fruits of success. Many of us though, see things in a very myopic manner and consequentially are unable to see the big picture and obviously cannot figure out the right pieces to fit the puzzle. Imagine suddenly losing your job because of an abrupt layoff declared by the management. If one were to panic and blame yourself or the management or fate and keep brooding over it there will be only panic and fear. Most times we keep wondering and asking ‘Why me?’ In desperation you even question your abilities. On the contrary if one were to accept the reality and then focus on getting around the problem many a time you will come across numerous opportunities that you never visualized. ( See the try this section to read a wonderful story that illustrates this).

While happiness holds the key to the door of happiness, you need to seek happiness in order to know where the door is. Being positive and remaining optimistic alone will not bring us happiness. There is effort required too. We need not waste our energies chasing happiness in the pleasures and vices of the world for they are but a temporary refuge of the desperate. Instead if we go and seek happiness in whatever we do or whatever hand fate deals us we can easily identify the seeds of happiness which we can then plant within us. It is important to note that when we seek it implies that we know what we are looking for and that we can recognize it when we see it.  Many of us confuse happiness with instruments that can bring happiness like money, social status, power and the like. Real happiness is when we are able to identify our needs and satisfy them to our hearts content. Anything more that we crave is greed and greed is perhaps the biggest poison that kills happiness.

If we make a conscious effort to seek happiness and align our attitude with the reality of our lives we would have found both the door to happiness and the keys that open it. Within us lies an enormous treasure that multiplies as we share it. After all in sharing our happiness we double our own happiness quotient.

Remember: “The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be” Marcel Pagnol

Try this:

  1. Here is a wonderful story titled The Verger by Somerset Maugham  that is interesting, for its style,  its contents and the lessons for us . Click the link to read it.
  2. If you think you have all the troubles in the world have a look at this video. Maybe your troubles don’t seem so tough afterall.

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This piece is on Peace

Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of God no matter what the conflict.

Peace has numerous connotations from peace of mind to peace in a war zone but the underlying theme is the same – conflict. The reality that there exists a conflict is at the heart of any form of turbulence which ultimately cascades into disturbance, upheaval and chaos. Obviously under such circumstances the peace is the casualty and the occasional fragile calm that prevails sporadically is often pregnant with tension, suspicion and fear.

When viewed from the standpoint of conflict, we perhaps come to the inevitable conclusion that if we can only get rid of the conflict peace will return. Ironically though, many a time conflict can be suppressed by brute force, draconian measures and an iron hand but there will exist only a fragile peace that can disintegrate anytime. This begs the question when can we say peace exits? If we can remain calm even when there is violence, disharmony and mayhem around and trust in God that there will be a resolution to the problems that beseech us , that is when we actually experience peace. Pause for a moment and look at how your peace of mind has been disturbed when a close relative dies. We are distraught and our peace of mind is disturbed. Yet when we come to comes with the reality that  death is inevitable we can take solace in comfort of a divine presence that soothes our hearts and gives us fortitude.

Look at the numerous war zones the world over. The conflict be it in Palestine or in Kashmir or the ethnic troubles (that are particularly rampant in of some of the countries in the African continent) rage on, yet people from opposing ideologies continue to live there. It is possible that they live there perhaps due to economic compulsions, may be in the fond hope that they won’t give up their homeland but they all live in fear. Every day a new problem crops up and violence is the norm. Yet they place their trust in an infinite power called ‘God’ whose local nomenclature could vary from region to region, society to society and religion to religion. Despite the fear, there is eternal hope in the future, a tranquility in the heart and a readiness to submit to ‘God’s Will’ all of which taken together brings about ‘peace’ !

Whether seen from a philosophical point of view or from a rational point of view the reality is that conflicts exist. Similarly the reality is that peace is present in the midst of conflict for peace is a blessing from God not a mere antidote of conflict!

Remember: “Peace is the deliberate adjustment of my life to the will of God.”

Try this:

  1. The next time you are disturbed attempt to be aware of what caused the disturbance. While you must objectively seek out the external factors that triggered the disturbance pay close attention to your own response. Do you blame it on others? Do you shirk your responsibilities? Are you making a mountain out of a mole hill? Do you get flustered easily?  Do you believe in yourself to cope with the problem?
  2. The next time you have a serious disagreement do not get annoyed or behave boorishly. Make an attempt to see things from the point of view of the other person. Perhaps then you can respond more objectively and less emotionally and get others to appreciate your point of view.
  3. Read the very well known prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

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Sadness is inescapable but…

Sadness is almost never anything but a form of fatigue. André Gide

It is an inescapable part of life, yet sadness isn’t welcome and so people react to sadness in varied ways. While many people openly display their distraught image through tears and wailing, there are others who keep a stoic and glum face but most people suppress the tears welling up and grieve deeply within and carry their personal burden in their hearts.  Anything negative is a cause of sadness but the intensity varies with the magnitude of the impact of the negativity, on those whom it affects. From failures in exams to failures in relationship to suffering from illness and the death of close relatives and friends the list of woes that perpetrate sadness are innumerable and people react in varied ways to it.

If tears are common expression of sadness the more difficult reactions range from silence to withdrawal and anger to temporary irrationality but it is when is harder when people suffer from depression and resort to the ultimate act of suicide that sadness moves to a different plane. The more personal the grief the harder it is to overcome. A death of a parent or sibling or very close loved one perhaps ranks very high in the list of events with the heighted sadness quotient. If the event is sudden and the person involved relatively young and popular, this sadness quotient goes up dramatically. Most other causes for failure rank relatively lower though breaking down of marriage and estrangement of friends would affect a person in almost the similar way for it is death of a relationship!

If one were to closely analyze the concept of sadness one would make a profound discovery that while sadness is a very painful and difficult experience to go through, time is a great healer. Time dulls the pain and we reconcile to the reality. The experience of the sadness though, remains etched in our heart and at times when our emotions are not on even keel and the cares of the world tire us out and frustrate us, memories of those poignant moments keep recurring and we lapse into a resigned state of sadness and hopelessness. While our mind accepts the reality of the sad experience our heart pines to connect with that pain for it provides us a solace that life can’t get worse and that we can still overcome despite being mentally and physically fatigued.

The best antidote for sadness is a good cry followed by the physically comfort of a hug from loved ones and intimate friends. The weeping releases the pent up emotions and the hug reassures us of the support system that is readily available for all eventualities. Ultimately we need to play our part and put the past behind and recoup physically, mentally and emotionally and realize that life is a journey not a destination. We need to traverse it by ourselves – alone notwithstanding the upheavals that occasionally tinge our life with unexpected sadness.

Remember: “Smile, even if it’s a sad smile, because sadder than a sad smile is the sadness of not knowing how to smile.”

Try this:

  1. Click on the following link and read the expansion of the acronym SMILESee My Instant Life Energizer
  2. Look around and seek out people who rarely smile or those who walk around with a frown or a sad expression. People who are often too critical and who keep complaining all the time too are people who are more often than not sad. Attempt to talk to these people and without being too intrusive try to seek the source of their sadness and give them some encouraging words and practical suggestions. You may have to repeat this a couple of times before you actually notice a positive change in them. However the best part of the whole exercise is that you come back feeling a lot better and feeling nice about having made an attempt to brighten up someone’s life.

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A lifeline called humor

Were it not for my little jokes, I could not bear the burdens of this office. Abraham Lincoln

The challenge that life often puts before us is one of differentiating between the serious tasks and the joys of living. Most times we need to be focused on our goals and seriously pursue our specific assignments. This can be both stressful and also critical which makes the job on hand look even more daunting and challenging. However within the confines of the regimented work life we need to find our own space to unwind and distress. While communication with co workers and the various tea and lunch breaks do provide some much needed relief far too often the weight of the deadlines and the pressure of pending work overwhelm us.

Amidst the chaos of balancing deadlines and the quirks of daily living, we need to find our own space and diversions so as to soothe our nerves, relax our minds and rejuvenate ourselves to face the new onslaught of work. Laughter in any form is sure shot remedy that frees us of tensions, allows us the luxury of briefly forgetting our pressures and provides the balm for nerves. We need to find humor in the work environment, share a joke or two with colleagues and let our hair down with some practical tomfoolery and backslapping. The commonly practiced Friday casual dressing is an institutionalized method of helping one distress even though one is working.  The team building and bonding exercises and the corporate parties organized for team members are other such techniques that have evolved in order to help people cope with the daily grind.

However the real challenge is for each of us to find our own styles of relaxation so that we can chill out and reduce our work tensions. While some of us pursue hobbies others seek to find solace in contemplation and meditation.  However the people, who are most relaxed and yet fairly productive are those who can crack jokes, laugh at jokes cracked at their expense and people who can always see the lighter side of even the worst situation. Often they are the focal point of all enthusiastic activity for they transmit their energy to all around. They are natural motivators and cheerleaders who can lift drooping spirits and draw out the best from each one. They also have an infinite capacity to absorb bad news calmly and see the bright side of it. Anyone who can laugh at a good joke even if the joke is on him/ her is truly the most stress free person.

Remember: You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.”  Bill Cosby

Try this:

  1. Make an attempt to recount 3 of your favorite jokes to your friends and family. Ideal it should be clean and healthy humor that you can repeat to your family and kids. See the reactions of those who listen to your jokes. If they don’t laugh uproariously then you need to practice telling your jokes again.
  2. Think of some of the most horrible experiences you have had. The challenge for you is to think again and find out the humors side of those incidents. Eg. A friend and I met with a motor cycle accident and we were taken to hospital. The friend was withering with pain for he had hurt both hands. I was too shell shocked and hurt on one arm and leg and had a stiff neck. On reaching the hospital my friend was put on a stretcher while I was hobbling along. It was only after the duty doctor in the casualty had a good look at both he ordered my friend to stand up and go walking to the Operation Theater while he forcefully insisted that I lay down on the stretcher since he realized that I had a hairline fracture on the collar bone in addition to the one on my leg and hand and was more seriously injured than my friend.

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Those who act make mistakes…

The only man who makes no mistakes is the man who never does anything. Eleanor Roosevelt

Critics particularly move critics are a breed that thrives on running down movies in general and the skill sets of the artistes in particular and by default claim expertise by virtue of their armchair proclamations. Sadly none of them venture into actually making / acting/ directing movies for that is a sure shot way for them to shoot themselves in the foot. This pretty much illustrates the reality of those who are hands on and face the flak and those who do nothing but earn a living running down others. By the way, many a critic has to eat humble pie when their crystal ball gazing goes wrong and what they run down becomes a super hit and what they grudgingly admire is rejected by the audience; further proof that if you do your job you will make mistakes.

The only trouble with mistakes is that in critical areas they never offer a second chance. Take the case of a doctor conducting a major operation or a pilot landing a plane in inclement weather; they never have the luxury of letting down their guard let alone making a mistake. Perhaps on hindsight we too realize the numerous mistakes that dot our life, marring its beauty but perhaps not scarring it permanently. For most of us a cursory glance at our school report cards will highlight the mistakes that were the offshoot of youthful tomfoolery and immaturity.  Closer home, at the work place our daily work might be punctuated with big and small mistakes none of which would have happened if had not done anything.

Mistakes are a result of carelessness, ignorance, misunderstanding, misinformation or sheer bad luck. In very rare cases of course mistakes are deliberately committed to spite or get even with another or for not so honorable considerations. As is obvious, for a mistake to happen there must be some action. Action takes place only when someone does something either as part of his duty or because he/ she is directed to do it. Most mistakes can be rectified and corrective action initiated to minimize the impact of the mistake provided the mistakes are identified at the earliest. Unfortunately many of us are so wary of the consequences of mistakes like getting punished that we first attempt to cover up failing which we try to pass blame and even distance ourselves from that mistake. If people realized that coming clean when a mistake happens is the best bet for you protect your integrity whilst getting help in rectifying the mistake.

There is no one who can claim he did not make any mistake. As someone correctly pointed out even Jesus Christ had to just make 12 right decisions (when he chose his disciples) yet he got one wrong – Judas! We mortals are more susceptible ; so take heart and get along with the job on hand!

Remember: “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” Conrad Hilton

Try this:

  1. Try to recollect the worst mistake that you made. Can you identify the reasons for that mistake? What lessons did you learn from that mistake?
  2. Examine your own reactions to mistakes made by others. How will you deal with a situation where you notice that your boss has made a major mistake? Similarly how will you deal with a subordinate whose minor mistake has unfortunately snowballed into a major problem for you because your workings were based on his inputs?

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Being good everyday is…

It isn’t hard to be good from time to time … What’s tough is being good every day.  Willie Mays

Look back at your youth and when you reminiscence about the wonderful years of your school days, the most enduring images will be of the numerous times you got into trouble because of your misadventures and naughty pranks. This despite the entreaties of your loving parents, grandparents, teachers and well meaning friends and relatives who always advised you to be good, studious and avoid all mischief. Surprisingly whenever you were appreciated for the good deeds and behavior you felt very very nice but when you got away with your mischief you felt elated and wonder of wonders when you got caught and punished, rather than remorse most times you were plotting another dare devil forbidden adventure.

While a good person is what we all seek to be, for that is the acceptable norm of society, the person in you craves for excitement, adventure and possibly attention, all of which one gets in ample measure the moment one dares to bend the rules and skate on thin ice. Perhaps you can recollect the exasperated exclamations of your mother shout, screaming, raving and ranting at you, correcting you and fervently pleading with you to fall in line. It is not that one wishes to annoy others or behave irresponsibly, but being good for an extended period is neither a natural trait of an average human being nor is it the best honed amidst the chaotic and competitive pressures of the materialistic world.

Even today irrespective of our age, position in society or gender the two thinga that we often plead guilty to is telling lies and using profanity. Some may argue that not all of us tell lies but not revealing the truth when required is as good as telling a lie. One must also accept that we often carry ill will for those whom we dislike or despise; we are liberal with our gossip particularly about those whom we perceive with jaundiced eyes and behave insolent and defiant when things don’t go our way. Yes it is really tough to be good every day for it takes great effort to love unconditionally and accept all situations with a cool and calm temperament.

So does this mean that we have no hope from the clutches of evil? Repentance and forgiveness are two blessing that we are showered with. We have the freedom to use it liberally provided we are sincere and committed to using these blessings in the right spirit and right manner. To be good every day requires great forbearance; first to attempt to be good, secondly great honesty in admitting our folly and finally the courage to be repentant and large-hearted to forgive all those who have wronged us.

Remember: When you are strong enough to love yourself 100%, good and bad – you will be amazed at the opportunities that life presents you.”  Stacey Charter

Try this:

  1. Carefully observe your behavior for a couple of days. Note the areas where you know you have slipped and not been good. Even getting irritated, using a loud tone, expressing disgust all qualify to be unbecoming of you and hence tarnish your image of being good throughout the day.  DO you think you can be better?
  2. Make it a point to appreciate the good behavior of people you deal with particularly when they are harassed or victimized. Also appreciate those who go beyond the call of duty particularly those at the operational level who deliver more than what is expected of them. Eg.  A pizza delivery boy who is well groomed. polite and serves with a big smile.

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You may be slow but keep going

It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop. Confucius

There is an apocryphal story about a clock that had stopped working and was sent for repairs. No sooner the clock repairman took the clock in his hands he heard a feeble voice emitting from the clock saying I am fed up of going tick tock every moment and don’t want to live this life forever. Fortunately the repairman was a wise old man who had handled many diffident clocks so he gently whispered to the clock, “You don’t have tick tock all your life, simply take one tick and one tock at a time and keep going”. The much relieved clock immediately sprang to life and began to tick along.

Perhaps many of us can identify with this clock for there are times when the cares of the world burden us and almost crush us under its weight and we wish we could simply give it up all and go to sleep forever. That is when one needs to take a break, refresh and then continue our journey with renewed spirit and hope. The key to overcoming our frustrations, boredom and apparent haplessness lies in self motivation. There must be something exciting that spurs you on every moment. It is up to us to find that activity or thought or inspiration that fuels our desire to enjoy every moment.

It is equally important that we pace and space our life. If we rush through life we will achieve quite a bit but will never relish those achievements because we are by now compulsive workaholics. A fast paced life also brings with it problems mainly life style diseases not to mention turbulent relationships. On the other hand giving people space is critical to ensure each one can shine as an individual without being closely controlled and monitored.  Many a parent is guilty of wanting to plan the life of their children whereas the youngsters, particularly the teens rebel and prefer to follow their heart. Surprisingly many a delinquent youngster actually discover their potential and surprise everyone with their enthusiasm and success. The challenge here is to slow down our pace and let the younger people pick up momentum but this does not mean that we come to a grinding halt and let the youngsters run amock.

The occasional failures that every one encounters should be a stepping stone to reach out and pluck the choicest fruits from the top most branches of the tree of life. Yet we fear failure and so avoid taking on challenges thereby missing out on opportunities for growth. While setbacks will hurt us, we need to endure the pain and plod along with hope. We may pause to rest, recoup and refresh but we must never lose sight of our goals for that is what provides the impetus to keep moving. If the path ahead seems impossible for us to traverse, we need to change tracks or furrow a new path but we should never pitch our tent and give up our aspirations.

Retirement is a fearful taboo for an active person and send shivers down the spine of many a energetic  person.  If one actually plans the future well, retirement becomes a wonderful opportunity for people to realize their self actualization goals. One can keep busy without being overburdened, attain bliss without renouncing life and at the same time play a vital role in shaping the future of society in general and the immediate social environment in particular. It is when one simply hangs up his / her boots and mentally switches off that the mind becomes restless and the soul pines for understanding while the body progressively degenerates and the fear of death rattles our psyche.

Remember: “Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul.” Douglas MacArthur

Try this

  1. There is a very inspirational poem ‘Don’t Quit’ Click on  the links below to read it and be inspired by it.                                             -Video link of words and visuals.
  2. Write down 2 – 4 social problems that you are really concerned with. Eg. Menace of stray dogs or dowry deaths or garbage disposal in cities or the ecological imbalance or Wastage etc.  Write a letter to the editor of the local news paper and email it or post it. Can you write one letter a quarter / month on similar lines to begin with?

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The first step…

The distance doesn’t matter; only the first step is difficult. Madame Marquise du Deffand

Even as I write this post I am acutely aware of how relevant the above quote is, for when I started this blog on 1st Jan 2010 I had plenty of misgivings about my ability to sustain writing regularly. Yet today while writing my 173rd post at the rate of one post a day, I feel a sense of exhilaration, that I began despite my misgivings and that I have a decent readership and realized my own potential. The toughest part of a long journey is the first step for despite our best preparation we are assailed by self doubt and always left wondering if we are really well prepared to begin. Fear of failing is perhaps the biggest single reason for us not even attempting a task let alone beginning a challenging task.

There is always the unknown factor that will be spoilt sport to the best laid plans, but that should never be a deterrent to us aiming high and realizing our dreams. The trick to beginning lies in us being clear about our goals and our ability to break down the goal bound process into smaller manageable intermediary goals. A good example is how a marathon runner plans out his / her strategy. Unless one has a world class timing winning the marathon may not be the real goal but finishing the marathon will be the primary goal. Thereafter the entire marathon is divided into distances to be reached within the preplanned time frames. Depending on the ability and style of the runner the strategy is planned for each stage of the race and a suitable training schedule, diet plan and fitness schedule is designed. The toughest part is to motivate oneself to run daily without missing the training schedule.  The goal  of completing the  marathon is a great motivator and the prior planning provides the right dose of impetus as well as focus for each day’s practice schedule.

Many of us have grandiose ideas and noble intentions which rarely see the light of day. Part of the reason is that we never commit our ides and visions by writing it down. Even if one were to write it down what really sounds the death knell of all good intentions is lack of self discipline. Look at our school days when we all had to follow a time table. Our parents ensured that we left for school on time and out teachers managed the classes and disciplined us well. We did have a similar time table when in college but with little or no supervision we took liberties with the classes and perhaps did not fully realize our potential. To be self disciplined we must be passionate about our goal for then we can visualize us nearing it every day provided we stick to the regime scheduled. It also helps to find innovative self motivational techniques and reward one’s self on attaining the intermediary goals. Eg. For every 2 hours of study plan a break of half an hour of TV viewing or listening to music.

Finally it is important to realize that it is never too late to start. Neither your age nor your background matters if you are passionate about what you really want to achieve. Every great novel began with someone typing out the first word; the greatest chefs must have definitely begun by tasting their own inedible preparations and there must not be a doctor who began life without toying around with a corpse. Different shades of life but one which has a loud message for each of us: START NOW !

Remember: “The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.”  David Weinbaum

Try this:

  1. Make a START by clicking the following link
  2. Jot down some of your passions that you haven’t even attempted or indulged in. Now choose two of them and work out an action plan to ensure that you get going with attempting it before the year is out.

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Our part has to be played too..

God doesn’t make orange juice, God makes oranges. Jesse Jackson

One of our human failings is our penchant to pass on our responsibilities to others be it a sibling, a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend or as we do in most case pass on our work to God. Most times when in trouble we exclaim loudly Oh God! fervently praying and imploring God to intervene and set things right. Without exception almost all of us have indulged in this before, during and after our exams. Seeking divine interventions is perfectly acceptable but we doing our part and making all efforts is a prerequisite too.

Man of us have strong belief in the almighty but  we have an irrational belief that in a worst case scenario God will take care of our troubles if we earnestly implore him even if we have taken little or no efforts to mitigate the problem. It is important for us to realize that we are given the gift of life and with it so many talents and abilities which we are expected to utilize fully. Unfortunately what makes us human is our inherent abhorrence for hard work, our tendency to find short cuts and worst of all our tendency to cut corners and skate on thin ice just in order to make a farcical appearance of going through the motions.

Ironically it is man being blessed with intelligence that has made the human race more lazy, less patient and completely dependent on extraneous factors be it technology or human intervention to simplify his life. With every labor saving device we have made our life machine controlled, with the growing economic divide we have made a human class separation and with our unabashed  greed we have made life a rat race. Our life therefore is centered around results by fair or foul means, amassing wealth by legal or illegal means and subsisting with minimum effort and maximum relaxation. Obviously life then becomes challenging only for the have not’s and those who are fortunate to be educated, economically well off and street smart life is a breeze. Yet many a time money cannot solve all problems and that is when we are prepared to even bargain with the almighty and make promises of sharing our earthly wealth in return for divine blessings in earthly form be it winning a lottery or curing one from a debilitating disease.

For the human race it is important to realize that we are responsible for our actions and our inactions. We can only reasonably expect to relish the fruits of our efforts, toil and diligence. However we are also fortunate to be showered by the blessings of the almighty especially when he gives us an unexpected bounty, ignores our frequent ungratefulness and waywardness and never ever lets us down for even when we feel he hasn’t answered our prayers he has kept us in the palm of his hands and cupped us in protecting us from bigger pain and suffering.

Remember: If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you’, that would suffice. Meister Eckhart

Try this:

  1. Make a list of very special blessing you received even when you did not deserve it. Did you express your thanks to God for it?
  2. How do you respond when someone asks you for help? Assume that you see a stalled car and the driver is an elderly gentleman. Will you stop to help the old man? How will you help out?

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