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Thriving Mindfully

Tag: Personal Growth (Page 1 of 9)

On cultivating a sense of wonder

‘Come out in the balcony mummy, right now!’

‘What’s the matter? I am in the middle of cooking lunch.’

‘Come out in the balcony, just for two minutes. You don’t want to miss this!’

The excitement in my voice was at its peak.

Eventually, she came and found me wearing a strange pair of goggles and staring at the sun.

‘Eclipse goggles? Is it a solar eclipse today, son?’

‘Yes! Here, have a look,’ I said and helped her wear the eclipse goggles.

For the next minute, I saw my mother smile for the longest duration I’ve ever seen in my life.

As she shared what she saw through those tinted glasses, I came to know she hadn’t ever seen a solar eclipse before.

It came as a surprise to me since she had devoted 35 years of her life in service to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

She shared how in her childhood, people in the village used to watch the eclipse’s reflection in a shallow puddle of cow dung, for eclipse goggles didn’t exist back then.

In that abiding minute, as I watched the sheer awe on my mother’s goggled face, I felt a sense of peace dawn in my heart.

I’ve often felt guilty about travelling far and wide on my bicycle trip, but never really taking my mother to any place for a tour. However, sometimes, you needn’t leave your home to travel.

Watching that eclipse transported us deep in a world full of wonder.

This incident left me thinking –

Exactly how far away does one find a sense of wonder?

How far does one need to go to find a silent rush take over their being?

Most likely, it is just one person away.

The distance between a sense of weariness and a whirlwind of wonder is in the breadth of our openness for a fresher perspective.
And considering the fragile state of the world within us, isn’t sharing those fleeting moments of fascination with the people around us, an act of compassion?

And, as a corollary, doesn’t opening your mind to perspectives of others offer an avenue to understand, and at some level, love the people in the world around you?

Have a friend who’s frustrated with the rising binaries of political narratives worldwide?

Share with her how a binary language helped us achieve a technological revolution.
If she’s still vexed and the discussion ends with her saying, nothing will ever change, perhaps bring her a goldfish named Nemo, or a cute bonsai to keep by her windowsill.
When she finds herself tending to those, despite proclaiming that nothing will ever change, she might find some answers in those quiet moments spent still caring.

What if you find a foreign element in your morning cup of tea? Take a deep breath, spare your maid the usual reprimand, and share with her how a little grain of impurity has its own place in the world. How a minuscule amount of cobalt helped your chai-cup gain that royal blue hue. The emerald chandelier on the roof owes its splendour to strains impurities of iron oxide. Perhaps with that joy of learning something new, the maid will be more careful with cookware and your chai might be tastier in the evening.

Want to feel truly alive? Remove your earphones, don a stethoscope, and hear the sound of your child’s heartbeat. Help her listen to her throbbing heart.

Isn’t that a picture-perfect moment?

And while you are helping people see the world differently, be generously open to the perspectives of people around you.

Maybe that story recited by a child, that’s teeming with imagination yet happens to never end, might help you be at peace with the idea of writing a story, even if you don’t have the end in mind.

Before you dismiss the devotion of a village lady as superstition, try circling a banyan tree thrice, sink in its grandeur, and see if you feel a sense of gratitude that’s worthy of worship.

The way we see anything is the way we see everything.

We often forget to realise the magic in our world, its breath-taking complexity, its delicate balance, its poetic perfection beyond our perception.

Once we begin to see the world around us with a shared sense of wonder, we begin to accept our own existence with a similar sense of awe.

Lend me your lenses and let me lend you mine.

For once we learn to do so, we will only be kinder to ourselves, each other, and the world around us. We will realise the value of the time and space we’ve been graciously leased out by dear life.

Keep your mind open to perspectives, and an eye out for the skies.

Maybe when you hold your head up high, with an eye for wonder, it will rain a thousand blazing meteors.


What’s your age?

Seated cosily on a couch, Pinthipa and I were still sinking in the feeling of finally getting to meet each other. We had spoken over the phone many times before when she was helping me with my Thai visa formalities. But this was our first meeting in person. Both of us sensed a deep affinity towards each other, like long lost childhood friends. We effortlessly picked up the conversation from the last time we had spoken over the phone. Her deeply comforting energy made me feel welcome and accepted. Grateful to have finally met, we interacted with a great warmth and sincere intent.

At a certain point in our conversation, she fumbled a bit and asked,
‘Can I ask you a personal question?’

‘Yes, surely,’ I said.

‘How old are you?’ she asked gingerly.

It seemed as if she felt that the question might have made me uncomfortable. But I did not feel that way at all. I reassured her with a beaming smile and happily disclosed my age. As a courtesy, she revealed her age readily as well. Soon, we were conversing again, with the same openness and enthusiasm as before.

But this moment of inquiry got me wondering about the concept of age.

Why does disclosing their age make one feel uncomfortable? And why is asking someone their age such a taboo?

When one is confronted with a question about their age, deep inside, it feels like a moment of reckoning. One starts to evaluate their worth and wonders if they are the best they could have been at the present age.

‘Have I done the best I could with the opportunity life bestowed upon me?’ one wonders.

We all have a certain notion about our age. There is a societal checklist, so to say, of things one must accomplish before a certain age. Then, there are personal achievements one visualises in their ideal self, goals that one feels they must fulfil by a particular time in their life.

But aren’t these societal and individual checklists the best-case scenarios? An abstract version of an ideal reality? If one judges their worth according to these parameters, they would surely try to hide their age, because the perfect scenario does not exist in real life.

But, what if we re-imagine the concept of age altogether?

We have a particular, non-negotiable biological age. It is a fact. But do we represent our biological age at every moment of existence?

Think about it.

We are youthful and alive in the company of friends, carefree and childlike when around kids, a curious student in the presence of our old teachers, avuncular mentors for young students, and always a little child for our parents. We are four years old at one moment, forty-four at another. Our psychological age, the one we assume as a situation arises, is a function of the context and the company, isn’t it?

One can truly feel comfortable about their age only when they are aware and accepting of how age morphs from moment to moment. If one’s mind is malleable enough to assume roles of a child and an uncle, a son and a father, a carefree baby and a responsible adult within the span of a day, as the context calls for, they have a healthy age, no matter what the numbers say. And for someone with a healthy age, it will be easy to make peace with the number of trips they’ve made around the sun.

So, when a grandfather makes faces with his granddaughter in front of a mirror, notwithstanding his biological age, he is a healthy human being. Maybe the best way forward is in seeking a healthy age and not youth. That might be the secret to true longevity.

Later that evening, Pinthipa and I were having dinner together at her place. I was feasting on Thai mangoes, and she was slurping on a noodle soup. As sloppy eating a mango can be, so can be eating a noodle soup, and needless to say, both of us were making a complete mess on the dining table. Half-apologetically, we looked at each other. My lips were slimy with the mango pulp, and she had dripped much of the soup on her apron. At that moment, we let out a carefree laugh, at how messy and childlike our manner of eating was. Notwithstanding our biological age, I guess both of us were kids at that moment.

‘You know Sreenath; I lied to you about my age. I am six years old,’ said Pinthipa with a wink.

‘And I am two!’ I shrieked, banging on the table like a child.

Laughter echoed in the home, as we celebrated a new friendship, beyond nationality and age, revelling in the realisation of how childlike we all are deep inside.


Excerpted from my upcoming book ‘Pedals and Perspectives
Designed and Illustrated by Marine Tellier

Arrival

On a lost hill in the Western Ghats
There grows a silent shrub
that even the bees
have deemed as vile weeds

But there comes a day in 12 years
When the lost mountain finds itself
And the silent shrub finds utterance
In its breathtaking bloom of blue buds

And history remembers it as Neelgiri
The Blue Mountain

On a gurgling ocean floor at depths marine
There sleeps a hermit oyster
That even the sunken ship
Has deemed as lifeless.

But there comes a day in years
When it’s done nursing that grain of assault
And as a diver pries open its ageing curl
It smiles shining a star-studded pearl

And the world remembers the oyster
For its lustrous autobiography

Should you find yourself in the atelier
Chiselling away with blunt tools and calloused hands
Remember it’s going to take a while
Years
Decades perhaps…

But as you find the art in you
Also find the heart in you
To forgive those who press to rush your symphony

Remember the golden meteor shower
On that moonless night
That dazzlingly informed you
Of the value of all those nights spent working

The world may call you lost
Do not let that din drown your song
Do not borrow their myopia
As they question your departures

For when you’ve nourished your calling
To its deserved destiny
The world will exalt you
The universe will absolve you

And like the beautiful bloom of blue flowers
Like the lunar charm of that priceless pearl
You won’t have to drum-up your arrival.

Raindrops

We are clouds.
Thick and grey,
brimming with rain,
brimming with potential.

We are aware, that a single droplet we contain
can send ripples of revitalization in a placid pond.
We have the energy to share.

We’ve done it before.
We know this.

Yet, we hover in the skies above.
We look eagerly for a pond to rain into.
But there’s none in sight.

Meanwhile, time elapses.
The wind, and life, not caring for our indecision drift us aimlessly.

We fail to realize that we have to rain down first to create the pond.

But, for once, we decide to act.
To precipitate.

The immutable law of the universe,
gravity, aids us on our journey.

We fear the contact of the Earth,
the impact on the crust, on the rocks,
But we have no choice.

And we rain down without inhibition.

Drops turn into rivulets, and lakes,
ponds, and streams.

Before we know, we become a river,
chiselling the rocks smooth on our advance,
The very rocks we once feared.

And from being a nebula of meek, diffident droplets
We culminate confidently into the might ocean.

We rest in deep satisfaction.

Soon, the sun shines on us.

We rise up as vapor, ready for another challenge,
another downpour,
across the Pacific.

So, I ask you my brooding cloud,
I ask you, my tiny droplet of promise,

‘When are you going to rain down?’

THE KEY TO THIS LOCKDOWN – A message from an artist

In this period of a lockdown, this is a simple message from one artist to another. Now, you might be thinking that this message might not concern you because you might not see yourself as an artist.

I can empathise with you for this ‘non-artist’ self-image that you’ve cultivated over the years. But I would like to make you believe otherwise.

We have become experts at reducing the magnificent scope of our creative energy to a badge or title that we believe represents our identity. The chances are that you refer to yourself as a coder, a teacher, a marketer, a manager, or the underserving frown inviting ‘housewife’.

And in doing so, in closing the door, on drawing a circle around yourself with this identity, you are reducing your capacity to grow and embrace the 3-dimensional sphere of possibilities you hold (or thought once held, likely when you were a child).

The prevailing time of a total lockdown—where you have 24 hours that seem to feel miraculously too long, when there’s no one breathing down your neck, pointing to a work deadline, when you have time on your hands— present a wonderful opportunity to re-evaluate who you are deep inside.

We usually associate all social prestige to our occupation, rightly so because that’s how we keep ourselves occupied during a typical workday. But today, when there’s an infinite duration of hours to pass, how would you keep yourself occupied?
And would the way you spend this time tell something about what you have turned into while toiling away in your work-life?

It is a revealing time; indeed, when no online streaming service is capable of satisfying your stream of consciousness. When, in these moments of quietude, the conscience knocks gently on your heart and asks,

‘What could you do to add beauty and meaning to this seemingly unforgiving hour?

With a strict curtailment of all ‘non-essential’ forms of work—when you find yourself sitting at home and realise how dispensable your occupation has become in the light of this tragic humanitarian crisis— you will wonder what counts as an essential form of work.

When you’re past all that period of resting, you’ll wish to be a part of the task force that is currently and rightly so, essential. The feeling of wanting to be meaningfully engaged is deeply human, after all.

As you think about the question, of what counts as essential, I invite you to peep into the bedroom of a writer, who writes still, late into the night. I welcome you to the studio of a painter, who still paints and brings a canvas to life. Come and watch the dancer who still sways to the beat of changing times, or the poet who, even in this dark hour of our lives, pens down songs of hope.

All of these people who we see as artists are still following a discipline they used to every day for years. They practice and perform as usual, in the pall of a looming threat, in these times of a complete lockdown.

This period of gloom has only seen the artist to have taken a more proactive step towards making art and sharing it with the world. Suddenly, the real importance of art is shining through in this dark hour of humanity.

Whom one would usually deem as a struggling singer-songwriter, is adding a priceless value to our time when they put out a grainy phone recorded video of a song that springs from the heart, as it always did. Why are people choosing to watch them instead of the mundane cute kitten videos that would usually relegate the artist to the bottom of the stream?

Perhaps we are learning to find the essence, of what’s true and beautiful and most importantly, human.


These times of a lockdown call for three things from us—

1) Validation to art, its value in our life, and the respect every artist, no matter where they are in their journey, deserves.

2) Gratitude to our brothers and sisters who are working hard to secure our future, and making sure that our lives still run smoothly.

And most significantly

3) Acceptance of the artist in you, who’s struggling to break out of the cocoon of conformity that’s loosening as you squiggle in discomfort to find the butterfly in you.
Your work may have been deemed non-essential at the moment, but your life is still every bit essential. Art can help exalt that life.

It is an opportunity to make something with your hands. Go don that apron and try to make an omelette, even if you haven’t set foot in the kitchen, ever. Dust off the layer of civilizational history that’s sitting on top of your old musical instrument. It has been longing to channel a song through you. Do not worry about how good the art you create would be or how functional or relevant it is. The value of art is in the process, not in the outcome.

You might forget the importance of art when things normalise, but if you emerge out of this lockdown with the acknowledgement that you are an artist at heart, art will blossom in the rain of that realisation.

I invite you to switch off the internet* for a few hours every day and apply yourself. Make art. It is therapy.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

P.S. *Really! Switch it off 🙂
         Consider sharing this if you found value in it 🙂

Finding an Equinox in Life on Solstice

December 21. The eve of the solstice. A local celestial event that bathes earth in different hues of light, with peculiar views of the sun, no matter where you are on the planet.

As the tilt of northern pole, reaches its furthest extremity with respect to the earth’s annual pilgrimage around the sun, the Northern hemisphere, curled up in the windy winter, witnesses the shortest day of the year. At the same time, the south pole, leans closest to the sun, as the southern hemisphere saunters in summery delight, witnessing the longest day of the year, just a few days before a Christmas celebrated sans the celebratory snowfall.

And the closer you are to the poles, the more fascinating the spectacle. Beyond the Arctic Circle, the sun wouldn’t hover even for a moment in the sky, drenching the area in darkness, while within the Antarctic Circle, the sun would efface the night, as it suspends in the sky all through the 24 hours that make a day.

The gentle tilt of the earth gives us so much to celebrate – the gift of seasons, the trade winds, a breath-taking biodiversity and of course, seemingly unearthly events of solstices.

While a solstice is a fascinating earthly phenomenon that marks the extremes of the duration of daylight, the human conception of a day, its length and the value derived from it is rarely synchronous to the event. There are cultural and psychological influences at play that dictate our relationship with the duration and depth of what we now understand as a day.

In the sweep of advancing technology, our species has successfully conquered darkness with illumination. Culturally, we’ve moved beyond the local solar day, thanks to household electrification. Being a flick of a switch away from illumination past sundown, our days have become longer for sure.

However, as far as we have come from being dictated by nature beyond us, we are still tethered to our own human nature. On a psychological level, each human perceives the length of a day differently. It’s an experience as personal as a dream that nobody else is privy to. A day spent in good company or spent being meaningfully engaged, breezes past elegantly. But a day spend without purpose slithers painfully, adding undesired friction in our stride.

Evidently, a ‘long day’ at work is a phrase that’s being used far too often in our cultural parlance, part due to the wear-out, part in lament of a day divested of depth. Gone are the times when daylight was celebrated as an incantation for living life outdoors in the field and the nights were a hymn that decreed us to rest peacefully.

Most of us have lost the privilege of retiring from work as the sun retreats beyond the horizon. Global connectivity and economic metrics can dictate us to work as the sun rises and sets in a more prosperous part of the world, time zones apart.

Our days have come far beyond the solar day. Incandescence has bled into our earthly night as we forget the value of the most natural de-markers of dusk from dawn.

And along with that, we’ve lost the romance for the spirited rise of the sun. We have a hard time recollecting the last instance when we watched the parting winter sun paint splendid hues in the sky, with a dazzling Venus in its tow. Perhaps the further away we are from such natural invitations for contemplation, the more unsettled we become deep inside.

We live in a funny era, where after unsettling elegantly designed natural equilibria, we run around like chickens to find balance in life!

The workdays are becoming longer, so are the commutes, and sleep is drifting further away from being a continuum of placid repose.

The best thing about a good night’s sleep, just like a good day’s work, is how you only remember the beginning and the end, while all the magic that happens in between is effortless as a flamboyant stroke on the canvas by a painter in flow.  A good day at work and a good night of sleep are precursors (and pre-requisites) of each other, in our daily cyclic dance. And more than duration, what matters most in either engagements, is depth.

Nowhere else is this profundity of engagement better exhibited during childhood days. The presence in each moment of wakefulness, in each moment at play is at its zenith. And the hours of sleep are as deep as they can be, in preparation for another day full of joy and zeal.

Perhaps what we need more than longevity in life, is the elegant passage of time, both in sleep and in wakefulness. And, as time passes elegantly, the notions of length of the day would matter little, for what would matter more is the completeness in our involvement in all states of our consciousness.

Then shall we find a balance, not a perennial solstice in our workdays where the days are always long, but an equinox, with profound presence throughout, both in sleep and in wakefulness, regardless of the position of the sun in the sky, regardless of the state of our consciousness.

Today is the shortest day of the year. Perhaps, for a change, it would be nice to give up control of the luminosity around us, and watch the sun paint a silhouette in the far horizon. If we choose to do so, the Venus shall burn brighter, in its retreat into the afterglow. While the length of the day today on 21 December, might be the shortest this year, the presence in the moment, as we pore the sky in wonder, shall be a worthy consolation.








On choosing your pleasures wisely

Nature has – as a provision for an evolutionary fillip- designed us to be a pleasure seeking species. It is our basic instinct to maximize pleasure and alleviate pain. From the joy in the warmth of an embrace, to the alluring magnetism of a baby’s smile, to the existentially satisfying act of procreation, nature has designed our experience of pleasure to meet its longing for itself, through our perennial pursuit for posterity.

Up until a few decades ago, our pleasures were few and far in between, and certainly, not accessible at will. To even get a bowl of french fries, one had to wait for the winter harvest. Think of the ubiquity of our starch laden indulgence in our tech-dictated age, where it is just a few taps away on the screen!

Technology has ushered in pleasures at a rate far beyond a human’s capacity to experience them. The brain, stimulated constantly by novel stimuli, seems to be in overdrive from the rush of dopamine and serotonin. The ease with which pleasures are available to us in today’s age also begs us to contemplate about where exactly pleasure morphs into peril, access into addiction. How many addictions have we sanitized to normalcy?

Have we, in seeking pleasure, forgotten to discern which pleasures are worth pursuing and which ones are best avoided?

Before we talk about discernment, let’s simplify the types of pleasures we go out to seek.

At the risk of sounding simplistic, I believe that broadly, there are two kinds of pleasures:

1. The Simple Pleasures
2. The Easy Pleasures

The simpler pleasures of life are, in most cases, accessible to one and all without discrimination. A simple pleasure of life is accessible in the following two ways.

A Simple Pleasure :

a. Accessible by a Deep Presence : Think of a calming wind caressing your skin, a field of sunflowers in full bloom, glancing your finger on a touch-me-not plant, or watching the luminous courtship dance of fireflies on a dark night. These are simple pleasures accessible to anyone who is mindfully present in the moment.

b. Accessible by a Deep Perseverance : Think of the time when you created something new, a demanding pursuit that was awarded with the simple pleasure of a smile that stems from deep within, on realizing the beauty of what you’ve created. It could be a pot, a play, a sketch, a symphony, a code or a caramel cookie. Manifesting anew gives joy abound.

However, we are confronted with another kind of pleasure in today’s day and age. The Easier Pleasure.

The Easier Pleasures are :

a. Accessible as Cheap-Thrills : (vices, addictions, passive digital entertainment, sexual self-gratification, pornography)

b. Accessible as Lifestyle Frills : (Consumption borne out of wants and not needs, individualism to the point of corruption of the longing for fraternity, the culture of seeking identity from objects)

How does one discern between the two types of pleasures?
There’s a straightforward test to know the difference between a simple pleasure and an easy pleasure. A simple pleasure is borne out of creation. It could be the pleasure one gets from creating something or in marveling in being able to experience what someone else/ nature has created.

An easier pleasure is borne out of consumption. Through most of human history, the easier pleasure was accessible only to a select few. But with worldwide access to the internet, the easier pleasures have become accessible to much of our generation.

What if I were to suggest that the quality of your life is a function of the choice you make when confronted with the promise of experiencing pleasure?

While you have been designed to be a pleasure seeking being, and the body doesn’t discern a detrimental pleasure from a favorable one (it fires up the same happy hormones in either case!), the responsibility of making a wise choice rests on your own mind.

The more lasting pleasures are the ones that have been earned through perseverance, or through a solemn presence in the unfolding moment – the simpler pleasures that one is more likely to reminisce about around a warm fire-place on a winter evening.

Creating something is perhaps the most demanding pleasure of them all that calls for a devotion that is absolute. But it is a much more character building than the pleasure that comes from the effortlessly accessible act of crude consumption.

The prospect of a meaningful life rests on how well you are able to navigate the pleasure paradigm. While the easier, short-term pleasures are easy to access, they seldom qualify as prized nostalgia, nor do they chisel your character to reveal a more glorious manifestation of your self.

Steering our pleasure-seeking self in the direction that asks for presence and perseverance is the prudent choice.

And when in a dilemma in choosing between the promise of two pleasures, ask yourself which one of the two is an easier pleasure and which one is the simpler pleasure. Once you can discern that, set sail to the winds of the latter.

For wisdom lay in choosing your pleasures wisely.

On finding purpose in life

Imagine a stone age ancestor staring at a luminous galactic spiral in the vistas of the night sky. At some moment, while still years away from development of language, a higher consciousness was awakened in his being, as he asked himself a question that has befuddled the minds of every descendant ever since.

‘What am I here for?’
‘Does life really have any purpose?’

Simple as the question seems, even after all these years, humankind is yet to find a definitive answer to it.

We have unraveled many mysteries of the distant galaxies that our hominid ancestors were fascinated by. But even to this day, as we stare through a telescope at the rings of Saturn, or at a nebulous galaxy cluster lights years away, the same question resurfaces, as if the spectacle of the grandeur of the cosmos serves as a precursor to this elementary existential inquiry.

At this very moment, while a majority of humans that are alive are trying to find the answers to the meaning of existence in their own ways, there is a section of the demographic that exists so deeply in the present that the thought of finding a reason for existence does not ever occur.

Kids have never asked this question!

But the moment they begin to ask this question, they are beyond the cusp of childhood. Most of us reading this are past that phase. And in moments of solitude, especially when confronted with a thing of beauty, or the melancholy that accompanies the realization of our finitude, do we dwell on our existential relevance.

‘Why am I here?’

In the grand scheme of things, most of us do not have an answer to that question.
But should that be a reason to not seek?

Perhaps a change in perspective can come to the rescue.

While in the grand design of the universe, baffled by the perspective of the telescope, as you find yourself to be clueless about the reason for your existence, shift your gaze , re-focus and look at the world through the lens of your eyes, at the immediate world that surrounds you.

Shift your focus from the timelessness of the cosmos to this very fraction of the continuum of time.

In that moment, ask yourself the same question.

‘Why am I here?’

More often than not, you will find a convincing answer. Each living moment, you have a reason to do something. A motivation drives you to be alive and be involved in the world around you.

You could be at home, waiting for a loved one, or chasing your cat around the room to feed her, or wondering about your next work of art. You could be crying because you’ve not come to terms with a loss, or smiling because you heard from a long lost friend, you could be humming your favorite tune, be deeply engrossed in the work that you love best or snuggled up on your couch doing absolutely nothing.

In each of these instances, at the heart of the moment, you find a reason to exist.

Look around and ask yourself,
What am I here for?

Perhaps to be of help, to share your labor, to make someone’s day, to serve with devotion, or to take care of someone you love, perhaps your own self?

Once you reconcile with the unfathomable vastness and the vastness of the unfathomable, and focus on what brings meaning to the present moment, what role you must play in the little world around you, your heart will be reassured with an abiding sense of purpose.

Perhaps true meaning dwells in these little crevices of time, where you must do every little thing you do, with a lot of love.

But don’t shy away from the telescope just yet. For in that moment, as the lenses gather starlight, you are there to be fascinated, just like the stone age ancestor, transfixed by the cyclopean canvas of the cosmos.

Entropy as a guide to making better choices in Life

Life is full of situations where we must make a choice. And it is the choices that determine the future course of our journey.

Each choice can affect the entropy of the existing situation in two ways. It can either

A) Conserve order
B) Disrupt order

Consider the example of a traffic signal. One can either follow the rules as prescribed , conserve order and ensure the smooth functioning of a system that is designed to be efficient and safe as long as the rules are adhered to.
Or, one can act in self interest, try to cut corners and disrupt the system. In this case though, breaking the order comes at the cost of the overall safety and efficiency of the system. The selfish behavior of breaking order comes at the cost of ease and well being of everyone else. Perhaps it is in the best interest of everyone to conserve order in this case.

But it is not imperative to conserve order at all times. Ossified ideologies, broken systems, dated models of education are meant to be disrupted. The disruption is a form of non- conformity that ushers in innovation.
Preserving order in such a case is detrimental to the progress of every stakeholder. If each of us remains selfish and chooses conformity over creativity, a dated system prevails at the cost of the possibility of a better future.
But if one is driven by the cause of a greater good and chooses to disrupt the order, a revolution whose time has come may find momentum.

Perhaps it makes better sense to take decisions based on whether your choices and actions are directed to bring a greater good in the community.
The decision that ensures the well-being of all is the best choice, whether it dictates to preserve order or to disrupt it.

Wisdom lay in recognizing when you are supposed to conserve order and when to create chaos, and acting or not acting, in the greater interest.

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!

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