Sreenath Sreenivasan

Thriving Mindfully

Tag: Man’s search for meaning (page 1 of 5)

An Antidote to Depression- The Habit Loop

Depression.
A state of mind that we all face at some point in our life. And sadly, it is something we dread accepting, and confronting the way it is.

I am not talking about clinical depression here. I speak about a general discontent and disillusionment towards life, that makes one feel inactive and despondent.

This feeling plagues us all at some point in our lives. While we cannot do away with it altogether, can we design a scheme that helps us swim out of the pool of passivity?

Today, I would like to suggest a method that has helped me overcome despondency and realign my focus in life.

It is a four step process called ‘The Habit Loop’.
The steps are as follows :

1) Acceptance

A couple of days ago, as I was sharing my somber state of mind with a friend, she told me something that changed my perspective towards the issues I was facing.
She told me that it is but human to feel the way I was feeling at some point in life. One cannot be motivated and enthusiastic all the time. In fact, would it even be desirable!

That insight gave me the courage to accept my state of mind as it was.
It is normal to feel despondent from time to time. It is best to avoid to whirlpool of ‘why me?’ and stay clear of self pity.

2) Resolution

The most important question you must answer in a despondent state of mind is :

Do I want to come out of this phase?

Only when you have made a deliberate decision that you want to come out of this phase can you move forward from where you stand.

The resolution to change things, a decision that comes from deep within, is paramount.

3) Confrontation

Now that you have accepted your state of mind and decided to bring about a change, what should be the next step?

In my experience, the most obvious symptom of depression is when one stops to confront himself.

There is a tendency to :

A) disrupt all systems one adhered to that brought a sense of structure to life

B) cave to desires of decadence, marked particularly by over-indulgence in consuming data, food, sex

C) not confront yourself, look into the mirror, or create art

We do all of this while being fully aware that it doesn’t serve us best.

The easiest way to come out of this state is by confronting yourself.

Here’s a few ways that might help one do that:

1) Take a sheet of paper and write down what you have been doing and why.

2) If writing is not your thing, make a voice note, speak what exactly what you’ve been up to and why

3) The most effective one, is to make a video, speak into the camera about your current state of mind and what you’ve been doing while you were stuck in the rut

This is the step that will truly test your resolution, whether you want to really get out a depressed state of mind or not.
But as soon you start doing this, you will realize that you have enough self respect to not bullshit yourself to no end. Within a few minutes, you will address matters that have been responsible for your despondency and find ways to come out of it.
It is self diagnosis, and it works better than anything else I’ve come across.

4) Repetition

Of course, you will need to repeat the whole process over and over and build your resilience.

With enough practice, you will be able to
face the vicissitudes of life with equanimity.

It might take a while to crawl out of a somber state, but the more you repeat the four step habit loop, the easier it will become along the way.

I hope my suggestion helps you in times of trouble.

Feel free to share your experiences, reflections and feedback in the comments below.

If you feel this article will help someone is need, please feel free to share it with them.

Good luck on the bumpy roller coaster ride of life!

The relevance of a drifter

Swelling with, a vanity vain
There burnt, a proud little flame
High from its heat, haughty, unmasked,
To the blowing wind, it jeered and asked

‘Hey, you wayward wind’ it slew
‘You aimless drifter without a clue’
‘On a fruitless search of lands new’
‘I wonder, how relevant are you?’

Solemn, silent, saintly, the breeze
Flew past quietly, with graceful ease
It left behind an answer, much to the flame’s ire
The breeze whispered, and the flame was a raging fire…

How deep is your love?

Can one
ever live
A Life,
Deeply

If he
hasn’t learned
To Love,
Deeply enough?

 

 

When Faiths Unite

Situated side by side
Sharing a wall
There stand
Two shrines

In the morning
The temple prays
In the shadow of the mosque

In the evening
The mosque prays
In the shadow of the temple

At night
Both shrines, they hum
And watch each other’s back
For they share,
The same spine

The temple’s bell
A muezzin’s call
How elegantly
Do faiths entwine

We wear different caps
But should we ever fight
For what’s yours
And what’s mine?

So shall we stand
In each other’s shadow
When tomorrow,
The sun shines?

Caps aside,
Can sing a few lines?
In a rhythm divine
Of this elegant design?

 


 

The Sky is Blue and Love is Blind

All day, Every day,
Ever since time,
The sky has been saying
That it is not the color blue
Yet,
Have your eyes ever listened?
Can they?

And one fine day,
Ever since our fight,
You have been saying,
‘I do not love you anymore’
Yet, would my eyes ever listen?
Would they?

That’s the blindness man is blessed with,

The sky is not blue,
The love has gone sour,
Yet,
All we would see is Blue
And I would see is Love…

Riddled in riddles of reality
Removed from rationalisation

How do I explain this blindness?

If the sky is blue to you,
Why is my love such a surprise?

Perhaps, you will only know,
When you look into your eyes,
Through my eyes.

 


Photo : By Na Inho via Unsplash

A Conversation with God

Like every morning, I went to the temple,
To make my wishes

Dear God, I said, grant me health and all of life’s riches.

And finally after all these years, gently he spoke,
Slowly he opened his eyes, as his pious spirit awoke.

Overjoyed, in anticipation, for his sermon I awaited,
Lovingly he looked at me, as I sat with a breath bated.

 

Don’t deify me, He said, don’t glorify me to No end,
Just treat me as a humble and caring, everlasting friend.

Open your ears, listen to your prayers, and find that subtle sign,
Devote yourself and fulfil the purpose, of you life divine.

So, don’t pray and scoot away, don’t pass the baton to me,
I am only as powerful as you allow yourself to be.

Next time, don’t bring me a prayer, just bring me good news,
Of all the difference you made, of every responsibility you choose.

And I realised –

My prayers were only a direction to myself, for what I should do
I stepped out of the temple with an understanding new,

The next time I visit God, I will come with my report card,
That’s when I will treat my divinity in its highest regard.


 

Picture : Jason Cooper via Unsplash

 

Juggling Joy and Sorrow

A candle needs, air to burn,
But along comes the breeze
For the sake of light, it puts up a fight,
Never looking for ease.

In wishing for Joy and running from sorrow,
Man makes up a mess.
For there to be light, shouldn’t there exist,
A blinding darkness?

As you run, into life’s arena,
Let Joy and Sorrow be either stride,
With a balance such, it isn’t a challenge much,
To perfect laughter shall your instincts guide.

Not in running away, but in running into
The battlefield shall you thrive,
For only in moments of battle, does a soldier feel,
Truly Alive.

Trust the stars, and  frown not,
When life calls for a fight.
For would the sun ever set,
If there wasn’t beauty in the night?

Cultivate a farmer’s trust, and sow your deeds in the soil,
And fate shall blossom, from the beads of sweat,
Of all your toil.

Find equanimity in Joy, and courage in sorrow,
Let crystal clear be your sight.

Find the fuel, deep in you heart,
And with resolution, set it alight.

Set out in this journey, enthused,
With all you might,

And then, life shall enter your heart,
With all of its light.

 

Continue reading

A Poem for all Mothers

Conception winds
A mother’s clock
To care for life.

The Proust Questionnaire

Today, I would like to share an interesting questionnaire with you. It is called the ‘Proust Questionnaire’ named after the French writer, Marcel Proust.

Proust believed that foremost, a person must develop a thorough understanding of his own self. Only then would he be able to understand others.

He developed a list of questions that he felt would help people to reflect upon their own present beliefs and understand their true self. 

While some questions might require a few moments of reflection, most others are best answered spontaneously.

Today, I would like to share my answers to the Questionnaire with you. I hope by the end of it, you also  challenge yourself to answer the Proust Questionnaire.

My Answers to the Proust Questionnaire:

 

Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A: Having the wisdom to realize how perfect each moment is.
Q: What is your greatest fear?

A: Living an unfulfilled life devoid of meaning.
Q: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

A: The tendency to procrastinate and not take initiative.
Q: What is the trait you most deplore in others?

A: Indifference

Q: Which living person do you most admire?

A: My Grandmother

Q: What is your greatest extravagance?

A: Flying in Airplanes.
Q: What is your current state of mind?

A: An excitement that comes with the gradual unfolding of a heart that’s ready to give and receive as dictated by the Universe.

Q: What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

A: Idealism
Q: On what occasion do you lie?

A: When I am not ready to share my state of mind.
Q: What do you most dislike about your appearance?

A: I have a frown on my forehead at all times. It is involuntary and unintentional. I wish I could change that.

Q: Which living person do you most despise?

A: —

Q: What is the quality you most like in a man?

A: The quality of taking responsibility.
Q: What is the quality you most like in a woman?

A: Compassion

Q: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

A: Theek hai na yaar (It is okay my friend) usually to pacify a friend who is struggling with a narrow perspective in that moment.
Q: What or who is the greatest love of your life?

A: The gift of life itself.
Q: When and where were you happiest?

A: At all points in my life when I embodied the spirit of a child.

Q: Which talent would you most like to have?

A: The talent of singing.
Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

A: I would like to have a better sense of humor.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

A: To have always listened to my heart.

Q: If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A: A Dolphin.
Q: Where would you most like to live?

A: Amid the chirrup of birds, in nature, in a community my friends and I build with our own hands.

Q: What is your most treasured possession?

A: My body.

Q: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

A: When a person ignores his ability to help. (Himself or someone else in need)

Q: What is your favorite occupation?

A: Tidying things up.

 

Q: What is your most marked characteristic?

A: Honesty
Q: What do you most value in your friends?

A: They care for my growth just as much as their own.
Q: Who are your favourite writers?

A: Kahlil Gibran, Gregory David Roberts, George Orwell

Q: Who is your hero of fiction?

A: Swami (From Malgudi Days)

Q: Which historical figure do you most identify with?

A: M. K. Gandhi

Q: Who are your heroes in real life?

A: Anyone who does what truly matters to them when nobody is watching.

Q: What are your favourite names?

A: Maya, Sreenivasan

Q: What is it that you most dislike?

A: Loss of Freedom
Q: What is your greatest regret?

A: Not apologizing at the right time.
Q: How would you like to die?

A: While working, as I am engaged in doing something I care about.

Q: What is your motto?

A: Be the change you wish to see in the world.

 

 

Hope you find time to answer these questions for yourself. It is a great self reflection activity that doesn’t take much of your time.

Good luck with finding your answers 🙂

 

 

 

A tale about a Mango tree

In the village of Karmapur, there stood a young mango tree in a small farm. In the ten years of its life, the mango tree had never flowered and borne fruit. It was deemed an an infertile tree by the villagers. Nobody paid attention to it after a point, and it grew forlorn at the edge of a farm.

The farm belonged to a young farmer named Ramakant. He was facing a difficult time in his life. Repeated crop failures and famines had forced him to borrow from moneylenders at a huge interest. In hope that monsoon arrived on time, he sowed his crop and waited patiently. This was his last chance to get himself out of the debt trap.

The monsoon was delayed by two weeks already. Every passing day robbed him of a little hope. One evening, as he was strolling on his farm, he looked at the parched earth on his land. He looked to the sky but there wasn’t a single cloud in sight. The mango tree on his farm stood at a corner witnessing all of this.
A dejected Ramakant went to his house and got a rope. He climbed onto a branch of the mango tree and tied one end of the rope to it. He made a noose out of the other end and slid it around his neck. Tears were streaming down his eyes. He thought he had no other choice.
He had decided to end his life.

He jumped down from the branch he was sitting on, hoping to hang himself to death. But as soon as the rope got tense, the branch of the mango tree snapped. Ramakant fell down on the grown, injured his ankle and lost consciousness.

Soon, the villagers found Ramakant and rushed him to the hospital. He was unconscious for the whole night. The next morning, he woke up to the sound of deafening thunder and rain. Even though he found himself with a plastered foot in a hospital bed, he was happy to be alive.
The rain gave him hope.

After two weeks, he was able to walk on his feet again. He strutted slowly to his farm. To his delight, all the seeds he had planted had germinated after the rain. His little farm was bursting with a hundred shades of green.
He walked a bit further and stood under the Mango tree from where he had jumped.

What he saw took him by surprise. At the place of the broken branch where he had fallen from, ten new branches had shot out with great vigor. Tender leaves had appeared in place of the wound. The tree displayed the spirit of fighting to the very end.

Ramakant bowed down to the tree in gratitude. He had learned a profound lesson. As a mark of respect, he started to water the mango tree everyday.

Owing to a good monsoon spell that season, Ramakant’s farm got a bountiful harvest. He was able to start repaying his debts little by little.

In spring time, he got another wonderful surprise at his farm. The mango tree that was thought to be diseased and infertile by the whole village, bloomed with flowers for the first time ever in its life !

Ramakant was delighted to watch his mango tree flower. That summer, when he harvested the first mangoes from his tree, he was taken over by a deep, satisfying happiness.

Thank you my mango tree’ he said sitting on a branch.

The mango tree swayed with the summer breeze. It only sacrificed one branch to save Ramakant’s life. But that was enough to trigger a favourable turn of events.

For the rest of its life the mango tree gave plenty of shade and bore thousands of mangoes every summer. Ramakant watered it everyday and enjoyed its reassuring presence.

 

 

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