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Health and Fitness Personal Growth Relationships Science Social

26 Lessons Life Taught Me After I Turn 26

I often wonder, why do people celebrate their birthday?

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against it. The celebration is great and we must do that to make someone feel special.

But what is the purpose?

Maybe to remind someone how special he/she is or to let someone know that his/her birth has made some difference to this world or maybe something else. Perhaps there is no single answer.

What do you think about this? Why a birthday celebration is meaningful to you?

You can also say ‘I don’t celebrate my birthday, my friends celebrate to get a party from me’. That’s also a fair enough answer.

I do also have my own perspective on this. A birthday celebration works like a reminder to me. It reminds how little time is left in my life and fills me with a sense of urgency.

As I become 26 years old today, I look back at my life to extract some lessons life has taught me in my good times and in my bad times. I remember one of Seneca’s quote where he said-

“It is not that we have a short time to live,

but that we waste a lot of it”

You might think, who am I to write about life lessons?

Honestly, I thought about the same a lot. Why should I write about what I learned after living for 25 years?

Everybody goes through different phases in life, everybody has a different story. We all learn numerous lessons as we go through life. In fact, this article is not just written for the reader but also for myself. It’s a template for me to know what I have felt after turning 26.

Ok enough of my rubbish, here are 26 lessons listed below that I felt are worth your time-

1. Personalities are not permanent

What type of person are you? Do you believe you are a born introvert or extrovert?

If you think you are a certain type of person from childhood and will remain like that, then you are wrong. There is nothing like a fixed personality. People change and so is their personality.

I was one of those shy, socially awkward, and geek type of guy in my childhood. Even at my teenage, I was the same. I had to listen a lot from my own family about how pathetic my social skills were.

But today I believe, I am not the same guy anymore. I have improved, my interests have grown. In fact, today I enjoy whether it is to give presentations in front of a packed audience or to talk with strangers.

So if you are thinking you can’t change then you are wrong. Of course, it will take time but eventually, you will.

2. Your beliefs shape you

Ever wondered why do you think in a certain way? Why do you behave in a certain way?

It’s because of your beliefs. What we believe is what we think and what we think is what we do. You follow a certain religion because you believe in that. People have superstitions because they believe in that.

Most often you are not even aware of what do you believe. It’s given to you by your parents, surroundings, and society. But surely you can change your beliefs. So if you know beliefs are so powerful, then believe in abundance, growth, and affluence. It will bring good to you.

3. Don’t compromise too much with yourself

There come some times in life when we feel like compromising with ourselves. Like when we try to please others, when someone criticizes us, when we go through some hurdles we try to over compromise with our original self.

Don’t be that guy. Yes, sometimes a little bit compromise is beneficial, like when you want a fulfilling relationship or when you move to a new place, but don’t do that by sacrificing your self-esteem.

I have been to different places for my education. What I experienced is, sometimes you feel lonely because there could be no one to share your story, finding a trustworthy friend could be challenging.

In such situations, you could sacrifice some of your principles, your values in order to make friends. They might not accept you the way you are. In such situations don’t lose yourself. Be the person who you are. You will find someone loyal, trustworthy sooner or later.

Don’t lose your integrity ever.

4. Passion is overrated

Follow your passion. How many people have advised you this line?

I am sure many. Have you thought what actually passion is?

It’s easy right. Things that makes us joyful and we have a natural inclination towards it are our passion. But is it pre-defined or people develop it?

Until you try something, how will you know you are good at it or not. And if you don’t know whether you are good at something or not, how will you find your passion.

There are many instances in people’s lives where they found it difficult to learn some skill, but with desire, focus, and deliberate practice they mastered it and it became their passion.

Do you think running was Usain Bolt’s passion from childhood? or writing was a passion for J.K Rowling from the beginning?

In the beginning, they just liked it. But even they had to work for years/decades to hone their crafts. Passion is not something people relate to natural calling. I don’t believe in that. Rather it’s more of a self-discovery process.

I never thought until 2018 that I could write blog articles someday. But today I feel like it is one of my passions. I want to write till I am alive. So my suggestion is to try more number of things, learn as many skills as you can.

In the process, you will learn about your likes and dislikes. Then work on things you liked to get better at them. Trust me, someday you won’t even realize and people will tell you ‘you are so lucky, you found your passion’.

5. Value skills, not degrees

When I was in school, I thought getting a college degree would be a great achievement. The highest degree in my family was a Bachelor’s degree. I thought getting a Master’s degree would be a proud moment for me.

Then I got a Master’s degree, but there was no excitement. Later, I have enrolled in a doctoral program but trust me even today I don’t have any extra excitement about the so called highest academic degree Ph.D. But the feeling that I am learning many skills and that wouldn’t be possible had I not enrolled in the Ph.D program makes me feel good.

I often think, why I thought degrees would make me happy?

Perhaps, this is what everybody taught me. Everybody asked questions like

‘Which degree you are pursuing?’ but nobody asked ‘What skills are you learning?’

Perhaps, I thought degrees would give a job. I was wrong. It’s not degrees won’t give you a good job but the problem is it doesn’t guarantee you the skills. Most importantly you will feel bad if someone tells you ‘you have the degree, but don’t have proper skills.

So I urge you to not give much importance to degrees. Hone your skills otherwise, some robots will take your job in the future. In today’s era, having a degree doesn’t guarantee a job but having a skill is.

A few days back I saw somewhere Elon Musk said- ‘In my company, I don’t care if you are a high school graduate or not, if you have skills welcome to my company’. You might think your place is still degree oriented but it won’t be for long.

6. Have an earning hobby

Do you remember during the examination time, most of us used to carry more than one pen in the examination hall.

Why did we carry multiple pens?

Because having a backup option is good. We wanted to be on the safer side. I wonder why we don’t follow the same strategy in life also?

Why do we forget to keep a small back up option in our career?

In today’s time, I think it’s a good idea to have a hobby which has the potential to earn in the future. Do your job sincerely, but keep a hobby which you like and can generate some income in the future.

This way, you will feel safe and perform better in your current job. Remember those friends whose fathers had a big shop or businesses. They were relaxed because they know they had a backup option.

You can do the same for yourself. Even if you are satisfied with your current job, still having an extra monetizable skill is beneficial. At least, you can earn some more money. Just imagine how many people will lose their jobs because of this pandemic. They can save themselves by having some extra skills. No one knows what will happen tomorrow.

7. Read books on diverse subjects

What would be the single line answer of the question

How to become the smartest person in the room?

The answer is- just read more books than everybody else.

Everybody knows the benefits of reading books. So I am not talking anything about that. But I would like to give you a suggestion from my personal experience

Don’t just read books on the same subjects, read about diverse subjects. This will make you more creative and astute. Read books on science, economics, health, history, personal growth, fiction novels, finance, relationships, spiriuality, etc. Just read multiple genre books.

8. Writing is powerful

You must have heard the line ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’.

There is a reason for that line. Writing brings out the soul inside you, which you never knew existed. There are numerous scientific studies which showed how writing leaves a profound positive effect on your life. Now you might say ‘but I don’t like writing’.

C’mon, you have already written so much in your examinations. and you don’t have to become a writer. All you need is to write down your feelings, thoughts on paper, or on the computer. You can just even write bullet points or make mind maps. Whatever you like but I promise, you won’t regret the decision to start writing. But this time for yourself not to pass any examination.

9. Choose your role models wisely

Who is /are your role model? Who inspires you?

The answers to these questions have a deep effect on your life. When you choose someone your role model, your life will be affected by your role model consciously or subconsciously in a positive or negative way.

When you choose someone as your role model, he/she become your benchmark, which means that you have instructed your subconscious mind that you can’t become more than your benchmark.

You must have heard the story of Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile under four minute. Before him, everyone, including sport researchers thought it is impossible to run a mile under 4 minutes. Had Roger Bannister made some runner his role model, he wouldn’t be able to achieve what everyone thought unachievable.

You try to imitate your role model’s actions even when you are not aware of that. Take inspiration from someone’s life and their legacy but try not to set a benchmark. And even if you want to have role models, choose them wisely.

10. Label your negative emotions

Managing our negative emotions well is key to a successful life. Researchers call it ‘Emotional Intelligence(EQ)’. Your success doesn’t just depend on IQ but also on EQ.

Everyone has to go through the ups and downs of life. I am myself a worrier, an overthinker. Sometimes I worry too much and I feel it’s normal. But thinking about controlling it doesn’t produce anything good.

So what should you do when you are angry, worried, anxious, or sad?

Research have shown that putting a label on your emotions helps you a lot to manage your negative emotions. What does it mean?

It means giving your negative emotions a verbal or written expression. You can write down about your emotion in a paper. Ask yourself-

Why are you feeling worried or sad? What can happen? What can you do to prevent this?

Writing down answers of these or even just talking to someone or to yourself loudly about your emotions helps a lot tone down your emotion.

What basically it does is, it transfers the negative thought from your emotional brain (amygdala) to the rational brain (frontal lobe), so you get a chance to think more logically and hence will be able to better handle with the situation.

Now you know people who often talk to themselves loudly are not crazy. By the way, I am one of them.

11. Relationships are key to a happy life

If any day you have to choose one thing among money, power, fame, and stable relationships. Choose the last one, it’s not me but the longest research done on happiness by Harvard Psychologists are saying. See the video below-

I hope there would not come any day when you have to choose. I wish you will get everything including money, fame, power, and good relationships. Humans are social animals. So if your relationships are not in place, nothing can make you truly happy.

12. Rise but don’t fall in love

When we talk about relationships, the most challenging relationship is perhaps the relation with your spouse or your girlfriend/boyfriend. I think the reason is obvious, you cannot choose your parents, your relatives but you can choose your better half.

When you choose something on your own, you expect much more from that relationship. And that’s where we make blunders many times and make our life miserable. The romantic movies, novels taught us that there is some soulmate waiting for me. Love is effortless.

Whereas, in reality it is not the case. Yeah, of course, love is a feeling at the beginning but after some time it becomes a choice. Like everything love also comes in a package, there are goods and bads.

You have to choose whether you want to handle the mood swings of your partner (which are not always pleasant, I am telling), whether you are ready to cheer the other person even when you are not feeling well, whether you want to face some uncomfortable conversations with your partner. At times, you might feel like giving up. In those moments it’s up to you to choose whether you want to still love that person or he/she doesn’t deserve so much of your time and energy.

Your romantic relationship is just a part of your life, not your whole life. Don’t lose your self-esteem in order to impress your partner. Rise but don’t fall in love as I wrote in one of my previous articles.

But yeah, when two people have love and respect for each other, perhaps, ultimately everything falls into place. As there is a saying in Hindi- ‘Aag ka dariya hai, aur doobke jana hai (It’s a river of fire and we have to sink to go through it).’

13. Your health is your actual asset

Our health is probably the most underrated thing in this world. We only realize it’s value when we lose it. And many of you are perhaps thinking ‘I understand man, health is important’.

Instead of knowing its importance, we don’t do much to keep it fit. A few years back health was not on my priority list, I didn’t know what an active body means. But after I started to inspect my food intake, running, and exercise I realized what it feels like to live with more energy.

People dream about driving a Mercedes, BMW, Ferrari, Rolls Royce but forget about the most beautiful machine they possess. Your body is the most beautiful and powerful machine. The choice is yours whether you want to run it like a 2nd hand car or like a premium car.

14. Learn about finance

This is the most neglected area by most of the people. Everybody thinks he/she knows about finance, whereas in reality don’t. Most people think ‘what is there, just earn more money, spend less, and save as much as possible, that’s all finance is’.

It’s only in recent times, I have realized that I need to learn a lot about finance and it’s a fascinating world. The problem is no one talks about this. Schools don’t provide financial education, parents don’t make children financially aware. In fact, parent’s are themselves unaware of this and it’s not their fault.

Finance is not a specialized subject. Everybody has to deal with money in their life. So it ‘s a must learning subject. Learn at least basics like-

How does the economy work? How do banks work? What is compound interest? How to invest money? What is wealth creation?

I promise you, these learnings will pay off you in the future.

15. Your salary alone won’t make you rich

Do you want to become rich?

Yes, the meaning of rich is different for different people. But here I am talking about monetary wealth.

For me, you are rich when you don’t have to work for money. When you can pay your bills even if you don’t work. It’s called financial freedom.

Are you thinking it is impossible?

Yeah, it is rare to happen in your 20s or 30s, but it is certainly possible in your 40s or 50s. You just need to plan your financial life well.

I am from a background where people think only a high paying job or a million dollar business can make you rich. But I can assure you it is not just that. Paying EMI for your home, car, gadgets, and what not with your high salary year after year doesn’t prove you are rich.

A person with a six figure salary can become bankrupt or live under debt whole life and a person with much less salary can achieve financial freedom.

Study the rich people everywhere in this world, you will find things common in them. All of them have multiple sources of income. They know how to grow wealth. If they can, you can learn too.

Ultimately being rich is not about showing off your luxury lifestyle but to reach a point where you don’t have to worry about money anymore. So keep in mind, your salary alone won’t make you rich but how you utilize your salary will.

16. Travel whenever you get chance

Who doesn’t love to travel. It’s amazing to see new places, new cultures right.

Till I was 20 years old, I haven’t gone outside my district, let alone state. Later I got the chance to travel to different places. When I experienced how it feels to travel, I realized why everyone talks so much about traveling.

But I felt the more you travel like a tourist, the less you will get out of your travel. Rather, try to talk with people there, know their culture, don’t have any prejudices about any place. Travel with an open mind. Your perspective about the world will change.

And yeah, travel solo sometimes.

17. Be a doer

I am a procrastinator. So this is the most important lesson for me.

Imagine a situation where you have brought all the fresh vegetables and fruits from the market. You know it’s good for your body. But what’s the point if you don’t eat them.

The same thing happens with your mind. We read books, blogs, watch videos, take seminars but what’s the point if we don’t act on them. You must become action-oriented rather than just collecting knowledge.

This is something I still tell myself time and again-

‘You can become something by acting on something not just by thinking about it’

18. Learn to live alone

Don’t get me wrong, I am not telling you to isolate yourself. Just learn to enjoy solitude.

Don’t rely on anybody. Become the captain of your ship. Many times nobody would want to travel on your ship. So learn to live with yourself.

The person who enjoys his/her own company can be in peace with himself/herself. Accept the fact that you have come alone in this world and will die alone. The better you understand this, the more peaceful you will become.

19. Television is really an idiot box

You must have heard the old saying ‘TV is an idiot box’. Well, I never really thought about this. I used to love watching TV. There were days when I used to watch TV for 5-6 hours daily.

But then I have come to know about the ill-effects of watching TV and how it actually makes us an idiot. I am not saying to remove your TV from your home but at least be aware of how much of your time you spend watching TV.

Numerous studies have shown that TV viewing is detrimental for the development of intellectual abilities, especially during infancy.

20. Don’t become a slave of social media

Today’s generation is not interested in TV right, social media is the new culture. It’s a great platform. I mean who thought 20 years back that we could be in touch with someone from other corners of the world. Social media have made it possible.

But unfortunately today the world talks about how social media is making us miserable. How it is decreasing our attention span. Don’t let that happen to you.

The problem is social media can become an addiction just like alcohol or drug. You might be even unaware of the fact that you are addicted. So keep track of your time while using social media.

You can utilize social media for creation rather than just for consumption. Limit your time and create more if you love social media. Remember data is the new currency, it is more valuable than money. Be aware of whom you are giving your data.

Use social media with a purpose, but don’t become a slave of it.

21. Spirituality is not about religion

We often think being spiritual is not my cup of tea. You don’t have to become a yogi or do meditation on Himalaya to include spirituality in your life. Spirituality is just like a lifestyle.

Am I spiritual?

I don’t know, maybe not yet. I don’t even have much idea about the word ‘spiritual’. But I believe there is something special about being spiritual, which elevates you.

Maybe it’s about believing in a superior force than you, or letting things go sometimes can make you more content. I perhaps don’t know much about it right now. But I do know that you don’t have to be from any particular background to lead a spiritual lifestyle.

As we go through life and become mature, we get to know more about it. But first of all, you need to believe in it.

22. Learn to enjoy small things in life

I always thought, my achievements would make me happy. But that never happened. Today when I try to remember my school days or college years, all I remember is the moments I had with my friends, the celebrations, the laughs, trips, etc.

I don’t remember my achievements. Even if I remember some of them, those achievements are ok but that does not bring any extra smile on my face. But moments with friends, people do. I am sure same is the case with you.

Therefore, don’t forget to enjoy your present in order to make your future. Don’t wait for big achievements, enjoy the small things in life.

Whatever you are trying to achieve, nothing much you will remember ten years down the line, but you will surely remember some moments you had with your friends.

23. The world gives more to givers

You may have heard a lot from people that the more you help others, the more god will return to you.

But today it’s being proven by even scientific studies. Adam Grant, a psychologist in the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has shown in his studies that you will increase your chances of becoming more successful by helping other people. You can read his book ‘Give and Take’.

Help others not with a selfish motive, but to be at peace with yourself. We all know it right, whenever we help someone needy, we feel great. It is basic human nature to help needy people.

24. Science is just an instrument

This is what I personally feel. It has nothing to do with your belief.

When someone says, my religion is best. We call him/her immature or intolerant. Similarly, when someone says, science is everything, I see no difference between both the person.

Science is great. I am also involved with this. The invention of Science and scientific thinking is the biggest invention in human history. But I think it is just like an instrument.

It is quantitative. You can’t measure your feelings, you cannot make moral judgments using science. Science is like a beautiful instrument that you can use to create something worthwhile. Some people use the word ‘science’ just like religion as if it can give answers to everything.

Critical thinking is much more important rather than citing a research paper for everything.

25. Be a lifelong learner

How attractive this word ‘lifelong learner’ is right. But these are not just attractive words but a must have skill for survival, for growth in today’s era.

In our father’s or grandfather’s era, they just needed to learn any one skill in their early age and that was enough to live the rest of their lives with comfort.

But today, circumstances are different. Every 5 years some jobs are becoming obsolete and new kinds of jobs are arising. It means what you learned in your college may become irrelevant today.

In such a situation, the only way to ensure a comfortable life is to keep on learning new skills. Once you adopt this mindset, learning skills will become fun for you.

26. Explore yourself and the world

What is the most important thing I learned?

You can listen to many great people, you can read as many books or articles as you can, you can watch as many inspiring videos as you can but your answers you have to find yourself.

No one else can give you your answers. There is no single answer for everyone. You are unique among 7.7 billion other people on this earth. Your answers will also be unique.

How would you find them?

Explore yourself. Check what you like what you don’t. Try diverse things, talk with people from various backgrounds, travel to different places (not just the usual places), put effort to learn various skills.

Keep exploring yourself and the world around you, one day you will find your answers.

I know it’s been a long post. If you have read it, thank you for bearing with me. I hope you gain some good insights from it. I Would love to hear from you.

Have a great life. Until next time.

Joy

Source of images: Google images

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Health and Fitness Personal Growth Relationships Social

How to Live A Worthwhile Year

Another year is going to end. In fact, this time a decade has come to its end.

And like every time, most people at this point of time are busy retrospecting their life. How was their 2019, what went wrong, what went good, what new experiences this year brought to them? Whether this year is a good one or not so good one.

This is the time when most people are busy making their new year resolutions.

But how one decides whether the year passed is a good or not so good one?

Well, different people have different ways to measure their passed year as well as their progress. For some people growth of their professional career matters most while reviewing their year. For some, growth of their relationship or health matters most. It depends on the individual.

From my experience, what I have observed over the years is that people look at their passing years (or their overall life) in chunks, not as a whole.

For people in their 20s, maybe career matters most, for people in the 30s maybe relationships, in 40s health becomes very important suddenly (as it starts deteriorating), and in their 50s and after that people talk about spiritual growth.

This is how society teaches us to see our lives, in chunks. This is exactly like a person has been blindfolded and asked to identify an elephant. Obviously. that person will identify the elephant as its tail, trunk, tooths, legs, or by its skin.

Until you open your eyes and get the opportunity to see the elephant, you would not know that the trunk, legs, tail, skin all belong to the same elephant. They are not separate but part of the same elephant. Your situation would be exactly like the image below

Similar is the situation with our lives. Imagine our life as the elephant and your career, relationship, health as different parts, just like different parts of the elephant.

You can have a better perspective of life when you see it as a whole, not as chunks.

In the beginning, I said most people try to make resolutions for the new year. Sounds cool right but believe it or not, only 8% or less than that fulfill their resolutions.

And everyone has their own reasons why they couldn’t make it. And it’s human nature. We want to feel good about ourselves, we want to motivate ourselves. So as the year ends, we try to motivate ourselves by making new resolutions.

Psychology professor Peter Hermann call this ‘false hope syndrome’, which he said

“Their resolution is significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with their internal view of themselves”

And this is a vicious cycle for a lot of people. Before every year beginning they thought they will do this and that, and the year passes by without fulfilling most of those. And then again repeat the whole process. As if, whole life is just pass unconsciously.

‘Ok enough, what about you? How do you review your year or your life?’ you must be thinking.

What I am going to share with you is my personal opinion and way of looking (And love this concept so much that one day I would like to write an entire book in this). You may not find it reasonable or suitable. In that case, you keep looking for your way what suits you.

As I said earlier, My way of looking the past years is not in chunks but as a whole.

I correlate it with the string theory of physics. String theory says there are 10 different dimensions of our universe. But because we live in a three-dimensional world, we have very limited ideas about our universe. (in fact, it talks about the possibility of the multiverse).

If somehow we can access other dimensions of the universe, we can uncover a lot of mysteries of the universe. You can read more about this here.

Likewise, our life also consists of different dimensions. When we can see and measure all those, we are in a better position to live a blissful life.

Mainly, I see life divided into five different dimensions.

1. Physical dimension

This implies the significance of your health, about your physical fitness. We all are aware of it and heard a hundred times from various sources. But believe me, you probably haven’t experienced that feeling, when you are so lightweight and high in energy the whole day. If you have experienced then you know what I am talking about.

And it requires immense commitment from you. You have to watch out what are feeding to your body, your workout regimes, and many other things.

Carol Alt said-

Carol Alt quote on food

2. Emotional dimension

This is where you take of your emotional health. How aware are you about it? Are you getting better at relationships?

In today’s world understanding human psychology is the biggest asset. Brian Tracy said

“Your network is your net worth”

It’s the people who lift us and make us successful in the long run. Are you taking care of your relationships?

In today’s era, people look for the love of their life and once they find them, they complain ‘But the magic is just lost, there is no spark left between us’. Often we try to feel others cup without even filling our own empty cup.

Are you falling in that trap? Remember ‘being in love’ and ‘falling in love’ is not the same.

Quote on Love

3. Financial dimension

No need to introduce this. Perhaps, all our life we stress most about this one. And of course, it matters a lot. With a steady financial condition, we have more freedom about the way we want to spend our time. We can travel more, experience more and buy some of those fancy stuff (although they never make us content).

Most importantly, proper financial knowledge is of utmost importance. Everybody taught us about the importance of money but rarely anyone talks about how to earn money and then spend it wisely.

Voltaire, a French philosopher once said

4. Intellectual dimension

How do we define intellect?

You must have some perception. Cambridge English dictionary described it as ‘the ability to think and understand in an intelligent way.’

Intellect is the ability to learn and understand things. It is your craving for knowledge.

And you know what is most interesting, intellect is not something fixed people born with. You can increase your intellect and become more intellectual.

Intelligence and growth are almost synonyms. If you are not growing that means your intelligence is fixed.

How do you increase your intellect?

Have a yearning for growth, read great books, talk with intelligent people of different backgrounds, watch videos of people you adore or respect. Most importantly, don’t stop growing. keep evolving.

Quote on intelligence

5. Spiritual dimension

A lot of people often say youth is the time to enjoy, to set your life, not to become spiritual. I know when you heard the word spiritual, you imagine a monk meditating in the Himalayas.

But that’s not all. Spirituality is not just leaving everything aside and becoming a monk (although you can do that). Just becoming more mindful at every moment is one step towards spirituality. A mindful person is also a spiritual person.

Humans are the only creature who has this option to become self-aware about themselves. Between a stimulus and its response, only humans have the capability to pause and become self-aware. The more self-aware you become about yourself, about your existence, the more spiritual you will be.

Quote on self awareness

Dimension 1 talks about your body, 2 and 4 about nourishing your mind, 5 about your soul, and 3 talks about enjoying your life by having a solid financial knowledge.

How do I review my year?

I look into each of the aforementioned dimensions. How did I treat my body this year, is it getting better, am I feeling more energetic?

Likewise, I reflect on my relationships, the kind of people I met this year, new connections I made, the kind of book I read and what new things I learned from those.

If I feel I have improved in all these dimensions this year, then my year has passed well, if not then it’s not a good year for me.

I am in a better frame of mind when I treat my life like this. It’s just like the above examples, when you open your blindfold you can see the whole elephant or when you have access to different dimensions, you get to know more about the universe.

And frankly, if you are very serious about making 2020 a productive year, then stress less upon making new resolutions and more on developing better habits.

Habits will take you where you want to go. Resolutions are like the trophy we want to win, and habits are like the skillsets required to win the match and get the trophy.

Focus on your habits, you will surely win the trophy.

If you want to read something more on habits, how to break the bad ones and make good ones then I recommend you to read the following two books which I found very useful

A very happy and prosperous new year.

May all your new year resolutions come true.

See you in the next year.

Joy

Categories
Health and Fitness Personal Growth Relationships Science Social

The Science of Loneliness and How to Win over it.

A few days back I was talking with one of my college friends over the phone. We were asking about each other’s life and how everything is going. He said ‘Everything is good but I am feeling lonely here most of the times’.

At first, I didn’t take it seriously. In fact, I told him ‘you are surrounded by so many people, your family, your new friends, and many others, how can you feel lonely. On the contrary, I should feel lonely because I don’t have my family, people whom I used to adore once are not with me.

His voice became numb. He said ‘I don’t know. After we left college, everything changed. As if I have entered into a new planet to live. I no longer had deeper conversations with anyone, I rarely laugh wholeheartedly like before. These days I feel empty from inside’.

My mood changed from a light conversation to a serious one. Anyway, I told him things will be better with time.

Honestly, I was shocked a little bit. I knew him in college. He was not one of those socially awkward or a bashful guy. He used to shout, laugh a lot, and enjoy conversations with others. How come such a guy can say ‘I feel empty from inside’. What changes in just 4-5 years.

People have asked me multiple times ‘don’t you feel lonely living far away from home?’

Their question is really valid. I know that feeling when you leave your village or hometown and come to a new city for whatever reason. I had been in multiple places (away from home) for study, so I had that feeling multiple times.

When you move to a new city, there are strangers everywhere you look around. There is no one to sit next to you and hear your story. Loneliness comes naturally in those times.

But it’s very normal on such occasions to feel a little lonely. With time everything becomes normal, we make new friends, we explore new places, food, people. Life becomes interesting again. This is a type of loneliness occurs due to external reasons and it’s very temporary (unless you don’t want to make friends or explore anything).

Loneliness is part of our biology, just like hunger. Hunger makes you feel attention to your physical needs, you need to eat to quench hunger. Similarly, loneliness makes you pay attention to your social needs.

And this is due to our evolution, in the earlier times when our ancestors were in jungles, our social needs were a great indicator of how likely we were to survive. Natural selection rewarded us for collaboration, for forming connections with each other.

Had we not formed connections with each other, we wouldn’t be alive today. Being together meant survival. This is precisely one of the reasons why humans are unique. We can form groups of large numbers. We can make meaningful connections with each other.

And today we are in the most connected time of history. People from different corners of the world can be friends today.

But alas, the data shows something else. More than 300 million people are suffering from depression all over the world, and most of the time depression arises from a feeling of loneliness. India is the leader of the list. Yes, India is the most depressed country in the world with every 1 among 6 people is depressed. Surprisingly people in the age group of 18-34 are most depressed.

The irony is-

“We are living in the most connected time of history

Yet, an unprecedented number of us feel lonely”

Wait, a few minutes back I said loneliness is the part of our biology and now I am saying loneliness has led to depression for a huge number of people.

Isn’t this sounds contradicting?

No, the type of loneliness I talked above appears due to external reasons like no one is there to sit near you during lunch or no one is there to play with you. This happens when you move to a new place as I said.

With time such loneliness disappears as we start making new friends, making connections with others.

But what about those occasions when you are surrounded by a huge number of people, your friends and yet you feel the ache of emptiness. This loneliness is the invention of the modern human race. And it is due to our internal dissatisfaction or our inability to be at ease with ourselves.

Psychologists define such loneliness as-

‘the psychological consequences of having a gap between the support and social interaction you’d like and what you are getting actually.’

Moreover, loneliness is a state of mind (just like happiness). If you are feeling lonely, you are lonely.

The most stereotype about loneliness is that ‘people who feel lonely don’t know how to talk to people or how to behave with others’. But you know this is not true. Scientific studies have also proved this. (Link to the study).

In fact, social skills make no difference when it comes to social connections. Studies have found that lonely people have superior social skills (Read here about it).

So it’s not like if your friend is more famous, beautiful, or have better social skills, she/he will not feel lonely.

The scary thing is, loneliness which arises due to our internal mismanagement is very lethal. It’s like smoking a packet of cigarettes every day, Surely, way more harmful than what you thought. I don’t want to talk in detail about that. You can just see the video below to get some idea-

If you read about the evolution of humankind from living in jungles to the agricultural revolution to the industrial revolution then finally to the digital revolution, it becomes clear why more and more people suffer from loneliness now-a-days.

Our biology is designed in such a way that it wants connection. That’s how our brain grew and became more and more fine-tuned to recognize what others thought and felt, and to form more sustainable social bonds.

Earlier human used to live together in groups, they used to take care of each other. There used to be joint families. Communities that existed before began to dissolve especially after the industrial revolution.

Today people leave their home in search of job, education, business, etc. So the number of connections with people we make today is far less today. Remember, not making strong social bonds is against our biology and in that way, we are more prone to fall in the trap of loneliness.

You might be thinking-

How can I save myself from loneliness?

Being in different places at different points of my life, I can tell you from my personal experience what has helped me to stay away from the vicious cycle of loneliness.

1. Accept your feeling

If you don’t know the problem, you can’t cure it. Yes, I felt lonely everytime I visited a new place. Everybody feels lonely at some point in their life. It’s a universal human experience. Accepting the feeling of loneliness will open the doors to cure it.

2. Write it down

I know it sounds silly but I told this before also (in my previous articles). You don’t have to be a fancy writer to write something. Whatever you feel lonely, just take a pen and paper and write about your feelings. Why you are feeling lonely? What are your views on it? What can you do to remove this?

You will be amazed by the kind of clarity you will achieve after doing this. Yes, not always it will cure your loneliness completely but for sure it will make you feel better.

3. Become self-aware

Maybe you are focusing too much on negative things or getting affected by your negative colleague. You can examine what your focus your attention on, and check if you are selectively focusing on negative things.

Do you make negative judgments about people even without meeting them ever?

Do you assume others don’t want you around?

If your outlook towards the world, towards your life, is negative, you are more prone to loneliness. Introspection is a great way to prevent loneliness.

4. Become interested in people

This was my problem in my teenage years. I used to think ‘I will only talk when somebody will show interest in me‘ until I read Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to win friends and influence people‘ book. Become interested in people is one of the greatest pieces of advice I ever got.

If you like someone, just go and ask him interesting questions about himself. I promise you will be amazed by the number of meaningful connections you will make.

5. Prioritize quality over quantity

I am sure you must have seen people who instead of having many friends, feel lonely most of the time. Yes, we should make connections with people but not necessarily with everyone. You won’t like many people and many people won’t like you. That’s normal.

I always believed, having 2 good friends is better rather than having 10 average friends.

You must make meaningful connections with people who will be beside you at the time of adversity. Otherwise, what’s the point of having friends. Make less but make better connections.

6. Have an explorer mindset

If you are curious about life, I bet you will rarely feel lonely. Actually you won’t have time to feel lonely. Just imagine, do you think Leonardo da Vinci or Benjamin Franklin felt depressed anytime? There is hardly any chance.

They were so curious, so busy doing different things that their minds always wonder about new ideas, new possibilities.

When you have an explorer mindset, you will find something interesting in nothing. Now, every time you go to a new place, you become curious about people, food, weather, the culture there.

7. Transform loneliness into solitude

This is the most important part of this entire article. You cannot always avoid loneliness (even if follow everything written above). Sometimes it is inevitable.

What happens when your loved one dies?

You will be in grief. Naturally, you want to isolate yourself from everyone.

What will you do in such a situation?

Remember, being alone and being lonely are two completely different things.

” Just like you can be sad even in the presence of crowd around you,

you can be blissfull even in the absence of crowd around you “

why do we like someone?

Because of various reasons. Maybe that person makes me laugh, he/she is cute, knowledgeable, has good social skills, etc.

In other way, I like someone due to blah, blah reasons. I feel good because of his something. We are dependent on someone else for feeling good. We try to extract something out of that person for feeling happy. We behave like beggars who always want something out of that person.

Naturally, when that person one day leaves or behave another way, our good feeling also vanishes. Because our good feeling was linked with some behavior of that person. Then we feel lonely, as if, someone has destroyed our world.

The day you realize that we are responsible for every emotion we are going through, be it joy, misery, ecstasy, or loneliness, you stop depending on others.

It’s not like we then no longer need connections with people. We will make connections with people but now we become a giver instead of a beggar. People want to make connection with you because now you are the source of joy.

Remember nobody wants to be with a miserable person, everyone wants joyful people in their life. Only when your own cup is full, you can share that with others. When you are ecstatic, you can share that with others.

“Become joy, don’t seek joy”

Jim Carrey once said-

Jim Carrey quote on loneliness

If you want to make your life meaningful, you must enjoy your own company. The great scientist, Nikola Tesla also said the same thing-

Nikola Tesla joyexcel

See loneliness is not that bad if you only know how to transform it into solitude. Loneliness is like giving full freedom to yourself. You can do whatever you want to do. Either you will become more creative or you will be scared, watching no one is around you. The only thing to think about is-

Do you know how to use that freedom for your good cause?

I am finishing this article with this quote-

joyexcel solitude quote

Have a meaningful week. Until next time.

Joy

Source:

  1. The Atlantic.com
  2. The Lonely Blog
  3. Vandrevala Foundation
  4. Cigna U.S. Loneliness index
  5. The Science of Loneliness
Categories
Biography Personal Growth Social

The Wondrous Journey of a Tree Mother

Centuries ago Aristotle said-

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all

This is so true, especially in this generation. Most of us rate an educated person by the kind of IQ he/she has, by his/her cognitive skills, by the kind of degrees that person posses. Centuries before wise people like Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca told us about what we call education and whom we can call an educated person.

Unfortunately, we as a generation have forgotten all those and education to us means only the feeding of information to our mind.

The basic qualities of a human being such as empathy, compassion, self esteem, social awareness are no longer necessary to call someone a truly educated person. No doubt that’s why we are becoming less human day by day.

Still, in the chaos of modern-day life and the race to become more educated by having more number of degrees, there are some people who time after time teaches us the true meaning of education.

Saalumarada Thimmakka is one such name among them. I am sure most of you probably have never heard this name before. If you are a very socially active person you might have seen the picture below-

Saalumarada thimmakka blessing Indian President

It’s one of the rare pictures where in an award ceremony, a 108 year old lady blessing the Indian President. In 2019, this remarkable lady got the Padmashree award from Indian President ( fourth highest civilian award in India).

You must be wondering who is this old lady and what she has done?

Saalumarada thimmakka (Aalada Marada Timakka) born in Gubbi in Tumakuru district, Karnataka in 1910. Being from a poor background and due to lack of opportunity, she could never attend school or have any kind of formal education. At the age of just 10, she began working as a coolie.

Some years later she got married to Bekal Chikkayya, a farmer from nearby Ramanagar district, who too hailed from a modest background. Most of their life, the couple spent in poverty. They remained childless even after 25 years of their marriage and for the same reason they had to face criticism from their relatives and neighbors.

The couple was ostracised by her relatives and neighbors for not being able to bear children. To cope up with the emptiness in their life, they decided to plant trees and raise them as their own kid. In the first year, they collected 10 banyan tree saplings and planted them along a four-kilometer stretch of highway between Hulikal and Kudur in Karnataka. Next year they planted more number of trees. Numbers increased years after year. In one of her interview with Aljazeera, she said-

One day we thought why not plant trees and tend to them like we would our children

Soon they find solace in planting and nurturing trees. They treated those trees as their own children, they used to water them, protect them from cattle by fencing around them with thorny bushes. At times, she carried 30 to 40 pots of water a day from nearby ponds and wells to water the saplings.

She and her husband plant saplings in the monsoon session so that there could be adequate water for their growth. Thus, a four kilometer highway, which was devoid of any trees, become green and beautiful due to sheer effort of the couple.

Banyan trees planted by the couple on the highway

Her husband died in 1991 but that didn’t stop Thimmakka’s love of planting and nurturing trees. She continued her passion with the same grit and courage.

In all these years she has planted more than 8000 trees out of which 385 are banyan trees. Just unbelievable! isn’t it?

Saalumarada means ‘rows of trees’ in Kannada language. Saalumarada name was given by people to respect her remarkable work towards planting the trees and saving the environment, and the obstacles the couple faced during the process. Her planted trees are taken care by the Karnataka government now-a-days.

She has done much more work than just planting trees. She is still actively involved in the state and national environmental protection campaign. \

Saalumarada Thimakka has been an active campaigner in circulating the message of afforestation. She believes every human being on this planet should plant trees and it is evident when she said-

“How we planted and took care of the trees, everyone from children to the elderly should plant and grow trees. It will be beneficial for all of us”

Saalumarada Thimmaka has been a role model for environmentalist all over the world. In 2016, BBC  included her in their list of top 100 influential and inspiring women. She has won numerous awards in her life for her work including 2019 Padmashree, National Citizens award (1995), Godfrey Philips Bravery award (2006) and many more.

A U.S. environmental organization based in Los Angeles and Oakland, California called Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education is named after her. She has set up a trust for building up a hospital in her village.

Does her life has changed now?

No, all these recognitions and rewards from all over the world haven’t changed her. She is struggling financially and living with mere pension of only Rs. 500 (7 USD). Only thing is now some people knew her and appreciate her work.

Saalumarada Thimmaka had to go through a lot of hardship to achieve whatever she has done for the environment and humanity. According to a study, the total worth of all the trees she has planted and grown in terms of currency is approximate Rs. 17500000 (more than 1.5 million).  Despite this, she has dedicated all the trees to the state and has never expected anything in return.

Her work never changed her financial condition. Never did she flaunted about her work. Still, she is unknown to a majority of people. However, all these never deterred her spirit from helping mankind.

Today Saalumarada Thimmakka at the age of 107 lives with her foster son Umesh. Undoubtedly, she is an inspiration for every human being on this planet.

What mesmerized me most about this incredible woman is her determination towards her work. Instead of the fact that people do not appreciate her work always or she is not going to earn money and live a luxurious life, she is relentlessly doing her job. She is still struggling financially, her work deserves much more attention than what she has got. But all these matter nothing to her. It reminds me of one of the famous quotes-

Destruction has noise but creation is silent

Saalumarada Thimmakka’s work is a perfect example of this. The true way to honor such a tree mother is to continue her fight. If only we plant as many trees as possible and help to save the environment and humanity, that would the best tribute to her.

Saalumarada Thimmakka

Saalumarada Thimmakka also teaches us the true way to become an educated person as I said at the beginning of this article. What’s the point of feeding information in our mind, if it’s not able to contribute for the betterment of the world.

If a woman without any formal education can do so much for the world, imagine what we, with years of education can do for the world.

It’s high time we understand the true meaning of education

Have a meaningful week. Until next time.

Joy

Source:

  1. Saalumarada Thimmekka- The Green Crusador
  2. Mycarmesi.com
  3. Techfacts
  4. The News Minute
Categories
Relationships Social

What it’s like to live in extreme poverty

You must have seen those posts on social media which claim to teach you how to become a millionaire.

There are hundreds of books which have titles such as ‘The quick ladder to become a Millionaire’, ‘The Millionaire Fastlane’, ‘How to become wealthy’, etc.

Of course, those books or posts on social media excites us, kicks our dopamine and we strive to become that moneyed person.

Nothing wrong with that. We all should strive to earn more money to make a comfortable living. If you want to contribute to the world for a good cause, having money helps to achieve that.

But there is an opposite scenario also present in our world. There are people who can’t even afford even two meals in a day properly. Yes, you might have not heard about them (especially if you are a from a wealthy country or you are too busy in your small world) but they do exist in our world. And their number is not small, among 7 billion people on earth almost 734 million (1 in every 10 people) people still live under extreme poverty.

You might think, what I have to do with all these? Why should I care?

The most important reason is that we are humans. We have compassion, empathy, love within us. We can feel the pain of other humans to some extent. So it should our morality to help needy people to uplift.

Again, if inequality continuously rises in the world, sooner or later we will see more violence, crime, and barbarity. This planet is home for all of us. If we have to make it more beautiful and sustainable for living we must show compassion to each other.

It’s not only that poor person whom poverty hurts. Poverty hurts the whole world. Poverty means wasted lives—lives of people who could have grown to their full potential. Imagine how many great scientists, doctors, writers, engineers who could have contributed for the well being of the world are we losing just because of poverty. An article I read in this regard might be informative for you.

When we are saying ‘extreme poverty’, whom are we talking about? Is there any way to define them?

World Bank says anyone with earning of less than 2 dollars per day fall under the category of ‘extreme poverty’.

2 dollar(143 INR) per day! It sounds unreal, isn’t it? I mean in many parts of the world you won’t even get a coke with 2 dollars. And almost 734 million people on earth earn less than 2 dollars per day.

How people live with earning of 2 dollars per day?

I know you are thinking about this. It’s even unimaginable for most of us think about their life. Having fancy clothes to wear, nutritious food to eat and a home for shelter, we can’t imagine how it is to struggle everyday for mere survival.

And just like you, I can’t express their story here properly. It would be better if you can hear their story from them. Thanks to Bill Gates and team who have recorded the stories of these people. I am attaching here few of them. Please, here their story.

I don’t know what you are feeling after watching these. But when I saw this, first thing I thought was writing about them.

We all talk about financial freedom and becoming millionaires. Most of us are not even happy with our financial situation. But just for a moment imagine if you have to live with 2 dollars per day. It’s scary right.

We must be thankful to our family, country, and to this world for providing us the food, shelter, and clothes. We must aim to make our life more comfortable, enriched life but at the same time we should also be grateful for wherever we are today. You are reading this article, that itself is a luxury for many people. You have access to the internet. Only 3.2 billion people in the world have internet access.

So, express some gratitude to the world and then aim to improve your life.

What we can do help such people?

First and foremost don’t exclude them. They as much human as we all are. Thus giving them a special category itself is an insult.

Remember when you help a person to get out of ‘extreme poverty’, you are not only helping that single person but contributing in making the earth more beautiful.

I have huge respect for Bill Gates who is trying to make aware people of such paramount topics which are never highlighted in the mainstream media. You can check out his website.

And people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and many others have donated a huge amount of money for eradicating ‘extreme poverty’. But that’s not enough. Few people cannot solve this problem.

Individual country, society, people have to become responsible. China is great example of this. In the 1980s more than 80 million people in China lived under ‘extreme poverty’ but today there are less than 2 million people people live under ‘extreme poverty’. It’s remarkable.

How did China achieve this?

The government became responsible. They build the required infrastructure all over the country so that people can have ease to move from one place to other, so that people can do business more easily, so that people from other parts of the world invest in China. India is also not far behind China in this

However, the situation in Sub Saharan Africa is still worse. At one side the population is continuously booming but the number of people living in ‘extreme poverty’ are not decreasing to that extent. Probably a lot of African countries need to learn from China. Anyway, things are not as easy for Africa as we might think. But if people from all over the world show some concern over global poverty and lend a helping hand, the world can be free of ‘extreme poverty’.

I am no one to advise you what should you do or how should you react to all these. My aim of writing this article is not to suggest anything. All I want is to become aware of this. The mainstream media is never going to show such news on television, as it will not kick our dopamine or excite us.

But this is a reality in our world that more than 734 million people live on an earning of less than 2 dollars per day. Every one in ten people in the world lives under ‘extreme poverty’. How can we call our world beautiful when such a large number of people do not have access to basic necessities.

Next time if you meet such a person, don’t hate him/her. See it as an opportunity to make a contribution to the world, to make the world more beautiful.

Have an amazing week. Until next time

Joy

Source:

  1. Bill Gates Blog
  2. Why should we care about the poor