Sunday, July 29, 2012

Appreciation


When you stop complimenting what is beautiful, you stop thinking what is beautiful” (from RD).  

I feel that this art of appreciating others will die a natural death unless we as individuals do something about it. When I think of appreciation I don’t mean a simple selection of the “Like” button in FB. I personally feel many a times we do this even without comprehending what the person is trying to convey in her/his post or picture. It seems more like a socially desirable behavior on part of the FB community to like others as you would want them to like you. Bitter but true. 

When you appreciate someone or something it means that you have eyes to see, nose to smell, ears to hear, body to touch and most importantly mouth to speak and hands to write those lines. All our senses are being put to a beautiful and substantial use. The point I am trying to drive home is that appreciation as a mode of communication and motivation is steadily disappearing. How many times have we made an effort to pick up a paper and write down our pleasure and admiration for something that has touched our hearts and stirred our souls and sent it to the beneficiary? It applies to all us as friends, siblings, husband, wife, child, parents etc. 

Most of the autobiographies or biographies of great events in history, men and women who have shaped the destiny of countries are replete with exchange of letters of positive perception, admiration, putting up individual perspectives on the issues of the time etc. They truly mirror the thought process of the person and give us sneak peek into the psyche of the writer or the times that the writer is reminiscing about. 

The process of letter writing (not email) I guess has already died and long forgotten. So with it, the art of complimenting. Either we are living in too skeptical times or are weary of acknowledging the good work. A paradigm shift is required for sure to make this change. Recently on death of a superstar, the news channels were abounding with the piece of information that millions of girls used to send him letters written in blood. The frenzy I am sure beyond the comprehension of the millennium generation. Those were the times that we lived in. People did not have to look at their calendars to see friends or make time for that little something. 

The hand written notes are becoming one of those rare articles which in a few years time would become extinct. Compliments are not just about “hey this is awesome”, “OMG its so cool” etc. but going beyond. We are so lavish with our criticism but very prudent with our admiring remarks. This is human, I know. We can change, that’s also human. So always try and slip in a thank you note to your friend or a simple thank you to your household help or a rickshawwalla or a “I appreciated when you……” to someone whose gesture or deeds have moved you genuinely. I am sure it would make a humongous difference to the recipient. Its like a chain reaction - making happy everything that it touches. It would provide you also happiness I am sure. Small notes tucked here and there go a long way in building relationships and strengthening the emotional bond. Every time you pick up these small bits of paper you live those moments again. It’s like owing a piece of somebody for life. No hard disk crashes or changing of handsets etc. can take that away from you. Try it. Acha lagega !!

Ma

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Survival Guide for Parents


I am not sure whether parenting was as difficult 20, 50 or maybe even 100 years ago but am certain modern-day parenting has assumed distinctive proportions and status in minds of most people. Parenting from being an art has slowly transformed into being a science. “Every action has an equal (mostly magnified) and opposite reaction”. It is one of those things which can be appreciated and understood only by those who have either lived through or are living. Once a parent, always a parent, I say. Technology I guess has a major if not the pivotal role in bringing about this revolution. Children find it much easier to communicate with the devices rather than indulge in the age old human-to-human contact (read interacting with parents). Not a day goes by when I am not reminded by my daughter “how she is a product of 6 billion years of successful evolution” and I should treat her like one. How about acting like one, my darling by-product?

Couple of months back I had the privilege of attending a workshop with my daughter where in one of the sessions we were asked to listen to the anguish of this generation “Z” (generation Y will feel outdated in sometime I can bet). One child shared, “how can you understand what is the fun of computer games or apps on our mobiles / iTouch/iPads when you have not encountered these things during your growing up years”. A very valid observation and an equally solid argument, I must admit. Well afterwards we were taken through more sessions where the point – “we can’t be perfect parents, so we should stop expecting perfect kids” – was illustrated. Clear situation of customer delight gone wrong from both ends.

After the workshop I had my eureka moment. Realization dawned that we can either be successful or unsuccessful parents but never good or bad or perfect or imperfect. All parents are good because it’s always the well being which is at the heart of all our actions (that’s what we like to believe, don’t we). I had read in Reader’s Digest a couple of decade’s back – “All mothers give birth to great men, it’s not their fault if life disappoints them later” – it has stuck with me since then. Such quotes take off a lot of pressure off my shoulders and conscience. 

This realization and several other pearls of wisdom which I have had the opportunity of collecting in my quest to be a successful parent has resulted in my coming up with multitude of competencies for achieving the equivalent status. However, covering all would really prove to be a sort of laundry list that we would not want to go through. So I have narrowed them down to just 5 core competencies which we would require lifelong. These need to be practiced and observed in terms of behaviors’. Believe me we will not be able to survive more than these anyways in real life situations. I am not getting into the technical competency mapping but just going with my gut and limited practical experience so far. If life blows me later I don’t know.  

We get ample opportunities to internalize and utilize these, once our angels discover feet, hands and most importantly “mind of their own”. For the seasoned ones I don't need to pass on. Sharing from experience my dear Watson.

Ambiguity Tolerance:

This is the ability of the parents to work with incomplete, inconsistent and/or conflicting data (these are our children for god sake) in order to achieve the desired results. No one has understood them and no one will ever be able to tame them. We know what we have produced so then we cannot go on blaming the product. Right. So in order to deal with  this self created situation, we need to develop ambiguity tolerance. Pray for the best but be prepared for the worst. Your child would abhor all healthy foods at home by employing every possible trick up her/his sleeves to avoid having them. But lo you go visiting some friends over dinner and the way your child swoops down on the same dishes will make you want to hide under the “invisibility cloak”. Now I understand why Harry Potter's parents must have got it in the first place. Adding injury to insult is the statement, in front of all those people “mom why don’t you make these dishes at home”. Ambiguity is directly proportional to growing up. One goes up, the other goes up much faster.

Consequential Thinking

This competency is the ability of the parents to visualize a series of next steps for any particular decision involving the child. For example the parents have to think through (logic and obvious will definitely not work here) the effect of saying no to T.V viewing after coming back from school. Therefore we adopt a course of action which we think is doable, best possible and not too difficult to follow. However, all these precautions and preparedness need not necessarily bear the anticipated results. It could pull you into a new space, where your ambiguity tolerance will play a major role in handling the pressure. No amount of goodwill gained in the past will work here. This too shall pass.

Creative Solution Mindset

This is the ability to come up with unheard, unexpected and innovative solutions which will satisfy your child/children without making a dent in your peaceful existence or otherwise stable mental state. We as parents are expected to come up with bizarre and completely out-of-box solutions at all times of the day and of course night to deal with diverse posers thrown by the children. They believe in variety and higher the shock value for us, the more satisfied they are. For example at 9 in the night your child says “I have a science project on cell structure to submit tomorrow”. Great. If you are one of those who have not seen science books ever since your tenth board, then having this competency will help you tide this unforseen situation.  All the best.

Children Environment Sensitivity

The competency requires parents to work in a dynamic, constantly changing environment created by kids with understanding and sensitivity. You might have obediently followed all the diktats of your parents and understood their point of view, most of the time. However with this generation you are expected to display the same emotional stability and sensitivity. You can’t pressurize them unnecessarily. They have so much to handle – T.V, computer games, sleeping, eating and last and the least of the worries’, study. Come on guys, be sensitive. These kids need to visit spas and not us.

Stretch Ability

This is the ability of the parents to continually work beyond standard expectations of parental performance. Your tolerance threshold needs to be considerably high to sustain such stretch outs. This is one competency which comes to play in sailing successfully, without any major accidents (yours, not your kids), through each day. For example during the summer vacations the constant pressure of “I am getting bored” should not take you to the break point. It needs to be tackled with lot of patience and slowing down.

Take a deep breath and get going parents. Remember it’s a 28/7 job.

I forgot to tell you. My daughter turned 12 last week.

Ma


P.S share if more competencies have been identified  by you. 



Friday, July 20, 2012

To Be or Not To Be


I am often reminded of my childhood days when I used to visit my grandparents. My maternal grandfather was a doctor, social worker, writer and most importantly a good human being. He had a story for every night and all the lessons we needed to take. I remember when we used to go to his place he would tell me so many things. He knew “Bhagwad Gita” by heart. He was a doctor by profession but never stopped himself from indulging in hobbies that he loved. He loved music, art, social work etc. He always believed in giving back to society. There is no age to fulfill your hobbies. You can learn playing guitar when you are in your 30’s, go for trekking to unknown places when you are in your 40’s etc. Never ever stop yourself just because you are of certain age. Just remember there are no age limits for learning and for stopping to have fun. Until and unless you bring this balance in your life, work and play, you will never be a happy person. Always keep something’s just for yourself. Do them because you are happy doing it. You will see how much difference it brings to your life and mind. 

You know the most important thing that I learnt from both my maternal and paternal grandfathers was “to be myself”. Both never changed for anybody. They had principles by which they lived and those were never compromised for anyone. They were humility personified. 

My maternal grandfather did his studies and became doctor against his fathers’ wishes. He would take tuitions, do part-time jobs to finance his studies and fulfill his dreams. He went to England and studied medicine and then came back to India to practice in his village. He started his career with his stethoscope. 

My paternal grandfather had a very tough time growing up. He had to walk barefoot for 10 kos to reach his school. He never gave up studies because he knew that without education you stand no chance to lead a life that you want for yourself. He was a very honest Government officer and a much disciplined person. All his life he would get up at 5 am in the morning and take bath and then carry on his daily activities and retire by 8:30-9:00 pm. My father has shared with us so many times that our grandfather would fly down in his chartered plane [yes he had an official plane of his own for making trips all over Bihar] to Patna. From there he would come on his official vehicle to our Muzaffarpur house and leave the vehicle there. He would then board the “bailgadie ”[bullock cart] from his home to go to our village. He was never ashamed of his roots. His humble roots were what gave strength to him. All the values he learnt, he practiced them. I had the opportunity to spend lot of time with both of them and learn so many things. Some of things did not make sense then. My father and mother have always practiced what they were taught by their parents and never felt shy of abiding by them even in adverse times. Now I realize the importance and value of these principles. Having principles does not make you prudish. It only provides you with that “invisible line” which must not be crossed even when you face undesirable situations or people.

Always remember there are no short cuts to success. Every story has its own journey which has to be travelled to be able to comprehend its importance and beauty. You can learn from others but your story my darling has to be scripted, directed and acted by you. 

So don’t change yourself ever for pleasing anybody else. If there is to be a change, it should be because you want it for yourself. Change is the only constant in life. If we have to survive we have to change. Change however doesn’t mean giving up on who you are or what you believe in. Never ever give up on what you stand for. Always make your rules and stick by them.

Ma

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Roots



What are we if not for our roots? What we are and what we will be is all defined by how strong or weak our roots are. If we need to understand ourselves, it is very important to understand our roots. One is able to appreciate more of what one has got if we understand where we come from.

If you want to stand strong to brave all storms that might hit your life, you need to have strong roots. That is why when any structure is being built; the maximum time is spent on constructing the foundation. They are never visible to the external world but that is what bears the weight of the building. Beautiful exterior can never be a match for a strong foundation.  So focus on the basics and the fundamentals. Rest all will be built effortlessly. Concentrate on building excellence, success will follow.

For growing ups, values learnt at home and education at school form the foundation on which many a dreams can be built. Even if the dreams are fragile, they will withstand the test of time and survive and who knows will be true someday. To build this strong foundation requires self motivation. If you feel from within you will be able to do anything and everything. External pressures only work for a while. The fire within is what keeps one going on and on and on. So keep these fires burning.

Ma

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Crossroads


I am proud of the things that you do and concerned for those that you don’t. It’s about making choices. Keeping silent and not making one is also a choice! 

Always remember that for fulfilling your dreams there are only two paths that you can take – the easy path or the right path.  Easy path will give you instant gratification. You will always be ahead of time because you would have taken all possible short cuts. You will please everyone on the way because you would have spoken what they would have wanted to hear and not necessarily what was right. You would feel a lot lighter because you would have dropped your conscience and integrity on the way and not picked up anything new. There would be no obstacles on the path because it is an easy path.

However, if you take the right path you will have new possibilities & dimensions that you might not have thought of before you embarked on your journey.  You will find obstacles which will have to be overcome and in the process you would learn new things.  You would have made some friends and lost many because you would have said the right things and not necessarily the pleasing things. Not many doors would have opened instantly; you would have to try new ideas to make them open. You would have taken more time to achieve your dreams than what you might have anticipated before starting on the right path because you would have lost your way on many occasions or would have made new paths where none existed, for others to follow, in order to reach your destination. You would feel a lot heavier when you finally fulfill your dream because you would have added so many new experiences to your repertoire; you would have learnt so many new things about yourself; you would have a much more responsible outlook towards yourself and people who believe in you; you would know who are friends and who pretend to be friends and most importantly you would have learnt that the path that you choose teaches you much more about life and yourself than anything else.

So the path we take defines who we are, what we choose to be and what we will finally become. Doing the right thing is not always easy but doing the easy thing may not always be the right thing. Challenging yourself, I believe is the most difficult thing in life. When you challenge others you don’t know what you are against but when you are standing versus yourself, you know exactly what you are fighting against. This realization makes it more difficult because your mind will always be one step ahead and push you to take the easy way out. So always face your worst fear with eyes wide open and mind within your control. You will realize that mind may or may not be a good master but it is an excellent servant.  Learn to stand for who you choose to be rather than what you were born as.   

Ma

Monday, July 09, 2012

Success as we feel


If I were to ask the meaning of success there would be as many explanations as people. It means different things to different people. It is money, fame and power for some whereas peace, tranquility, satisfaction with life for others. There is no one definition which truly captures the essence of this term. We need to find our own definitions and then live by it. It is very important to do this early in life. 

In the book Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll. In one of the chapters there is this conversation: “Which road should I take?” asked Alice on arriving at a fork in the road she was travelling on. “Where do you want to go?” replied the Cheshire Cat. “I do not care where” said Alice. “Then it does not matter, which road you take” said the Cheshire cat, slowly vanishing till only its smile remained. 

It’s the same for most of us. You will always find yourself on crossroads where you will have to take one road to reach your destination. Which road you take will depend on where you want to reach. 

I want you to understand that success cannot be defined by others or achieved as a standard. Success is a feeling and not a goal. You set your own benchmark and continuously raise this bar for your own satisfaction. Successful people don’t do different things, they do things differently. In bringing you up the only thought that has been the driving force is to make you an individual with an identity of your own. Listen to everyone but do your own thing. Make your own mistakes. Learn from both success and failures. Don’t dwell on why some things happened to you only. Just experience it for what they were and learn from them because it’s our experiences which make us what we are. Never ever compare yourself with others because you don’t know what their journey has been to attain their visible success.

Ma

Never be afraid of


Never be afraid of saying no when you know "this is not what I want to do";
Never be afraid of saying yes when you are sure of what you are getting into;
Never be afraid of walking alone when you know you are on the right path and not many have the courage to join you;
Never be afraid of standing alone for what you believe in, for not everyone can stand for themselves, or others;
Never be afraid of giving your hand to someone who needs your support even if they don’t ask or deserve it;
Never be afraid of saying “yes I did it” when you know what you did was right;
Never be afraid of saying “I was wrong” when you know that you did go wrong this time;
Never be afraid of saying thank you to something which would seem like your right and only natural that people are doing it for you;
Never be afraid of saying sorry when you feel that from your heart;
Never be afraid to say “I love you” to all you truly love;
Never be afraid to fall in love just because there could be a heart break in the end;
Never be afraid to lose even if you know that at the onset itself;
Never keep yourself from playing just because there is a 50% chance of losing;
Never be afraid to shed a tear for something that touches your heart or has hurt you;
Never be afraid of being alone for you always have your company;
Never be afraid of being the first one to try something new;
Never be afraid of falling but don’t forget to get up and start running again for if you don’t get up then you have truly fallen;
Never be afraid of going wrong because there is always a first time;
Never, never, never give up;
Be the miracle

Always be happy!

Ma

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Growing Up


Growing up has never been an easy job and would require constant personal reflection on your part as to how you want to grow up. People younger than you will not make sense to you and ones who are older will want you to “grow up”. Still there is a certain magic about growing up. 

You must always remember that you are not the only one who is passing through this age. There have been numerous people before you and millions who will follow you. There is a difference between turning a particular age and being that age. After birth the only way to live is to grow up. Everyone has their own journey and experiences. No two growing up experiences or outcomes have been the same ever. The best thing about growing up is that you get to script your own future in the way that you want it to be.  You are what you choose to be. With growing up comes responsibilities’ and I am sure you must be feeling the same. I still get butterflies in my stomach when I think of what the future holds for me and I am responsible for what I do with my life as that affects others as well.

In good times, things are favorable (no matter what you do) because whatever you do, things will turn out to be agreeable and just fine. However it is the unforeseen and capricious times that require special attention and preparation. Here I am reminded of a quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, one that seems appropriate during times that lie ahead of your growing up years: “what lies behind you and what lies in front of you are tiny matters in comparison to what lies inside you”. The power to change does not lie with someone else. It is within you. Your will to do better and impressive things with your life requires effort from you. Jack Welch (ex Global CEO of GE) had written a book “Change your destiny or someone else will”. Napoleon Bonaparte did not have line of fate. He made one on his palm. There are innumerable examples of how very ordinary people have done extra-ordinary things. The key to success is consistent, smart and hard-work. 

There are no free lunches in this world. Nothing happens by chance. Everything about you has a plan and a purpose. Nothing comes out of nothing. Something comes out of everything. As far as I have understood growing up, I know deep inside each one of you will grow up to be a very responsible woman/man one day. You have the capability and you have to work at exploiting it to your advantage. Remember we live only once. Time and tide wait for none. So seize this moment, for now is what you have. 

Build a life for yourself where you have garnered enough strength to do the things that you want to do and most importantly make difference to others. If you have power then your word can be heard by many and your thoughts and actions can be put to better use. 

I don't know of any other life. Do you?

Ma



Saturday, July 07, 2012

Know-Why


A person who knows HOW will always have a job. The  person who knows WHY will always be the boss (not said by me). Why do mama and papa always say that you need to put in more and go that extra mile for gaining knowledge? You assume knowledge is only in the context of studies. You think getting good marks and being better than most in your class is what is necessary. Right? Now let me give you a fresh perspective on knowledge.

Just step back and visualize that you are looking at someone who is say just about your age, has the same likes and dislikes as you and is as smart as you. Now you become the parent of this vivacious, smart kid and think how you can help this kid to become a happy and responsible adult. This kid has to grow up and make a place for herself in this big, big world. She will not always have the protection of her parents or elders.  So she will need to learn how to manage herself. She will have to live on her own so that she can pay her bills and lead a life which she desires. She will need to work to grow as an individual and have an identity of her own. Now the question is how to do this: one way is she lives off on her parents’ assets which unfortunately will end one day; another way is she can learn and create mental wealth of her own which will never leave her, cannot be stolen by anyone and will always be there even if the material things in life perish. So tell me, as a parent, which path you would want this kid to take for being in charge of her life. Reflect on this. We as parents are faced with the same dilemma for our children.

Knowledge is important so you can better your understanding of the world and how things work. Knowledge is what prepares you for life. When you study History you get to know the triumphs and failures of people who have lived on this earth before you and me. You learn from them to make your life today better. When you learn Mathematics you are preparing yourself so that no one can cheat you. Most importantly you can learn to count your blessings and good things in life. When you study Geography you see how beautiful this planet is and plan what all would you want to add to your “bucket list” for visiting and experiencing in this life time. Language is the means which will help you express your love and anger; share your dreams; lead and comfort others and most importantly thank everyone around and god for all your blessings. Science helps you know how everything around you works – machines; chemicals & your own body. Knowledge is a very powerful tool indeed.

You prepare for your life by going to school, by reading, by being guided by elders, socializing with your classmates, coping with your environment. You will have a thought process of your own. Create your own standings in life. We live in an ever changing world. If we don’t learn how will we survive? How will you create a niche for yourself? Learning is required because to achieve anything in life you need to know where to start, what to do and how it is going to affect you and the people around you. Knowledge is not restricted to books only. Games are also a form of knowledge. It teaches you the most important lesson of life: teamwork. No one can exist in isolation. In order to do anything in life you will need to work with people. Its very important to learn how to manage people. Be the leader.  

Knowledge can also be gained by reading and observing others. You look at all the great people from past and present and learn from them. You gain the knowledge that every one has a chance in life. Life itself is a series of opportunities which you either grab or let it pass. You learn that there should never ever be fear of failure. Fear teaches you only one thing – running away. So if you drop this word from the dictionary of your life, you will be a winner all the way. When there is no fear everything becomes an opportunity to be achieved.

Ma

Friday, July 06, 2012

One Day


It’s a new day but how is it different from what it was yesterday or tomorrow? May be not. It’s only change in date and nothing else. But I am amazed at the power of any new day. It’s the same day…same 24 hours….same morning and night…yet for every person the value it holds is so different. The same day means achievement for some; despair for others; new beginning for some and ending of an era for some. …it is happiness and togetherness for many and separation and hurt for others. The beauty of each day however is the hope that it brings. It turns the tides for all of us. It gives all of us the power to make it different from what it was yesterday. But I wonder how many of us realize this power to change within themselves. This supremacy that has been bestowed on us by nature to shape our today is something that needs to be realized by us. There are so many living things on this earth but we humans are the only ones who can exercise this power. I was reading in an article yesterday that there is only 1% difference between the DNA of chimpanzees and humans. We can build life for ourselves they can’t. How many of us realize that this power to change is not something that we can do only for ourselves but can make a huge difference in the lives of others…people around us.  

I want you to understand the importance of this day. Everything in life can be turned back except the clock. There is no “control z” in our lives. We cannot undo what we have done. All of us realize the importance of the day but sometimes it’s too late or there is little that you can do about things that have happened. However if you utilize this today believe me you will never have to worry about it tomorrow. All of us have this within us to turn an absolutely ordinary day into an extra-ordinary one. All of have the same 24 hours but we use it in unique ways.  Some use it for making profits; some use it to survive; some just live it but there are also people who spent this one day in making a difference to one’s life or more importantly lives of others. 

I keep telling you beta that you need to make something of your life. This is important because if you want to do something for anyone else, you need to be strong yourself. Only people who have strength can support others. You have read about creepers and you know they cannot grow without support. There are trees like banyan, mango, peepal etc. Both of them are plants but while one needs support of others for its survival; the others provide the base for other plants; birds; animals etc to survive. 

Believe me Aayushi it’s within us that we become creepers or banyan. This one day that you have today is what will help you in creating the life that you want to make for yourself.

Whenever we don’t want to do something today, it’s very easy to say I will do it tomorrow. But you know what Aayushi there is nothing called tomorrow. Are you surprised? I don’t think so you should be. Just think whenever we talk of tomorrow what are we talking about because there is a today but what is tomorrow. The moment today comes tomorrow is gone. You can depend on today but not on tomorrow because it never comes. So seize this day and make the most of. You will never have any regrets in life because you lived today and made the most out of it. The beauty of working today is that you will never have to worry about tomorrow because you will not wait for tomorrow to finish what you started today. 

Always remember that the price of anything that you want to do is in the amount of life you exchange for it. Don’t short sell your life.

Ma