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Category: attitude

Risky business

Many people look at risk from a financial perspective. If I make 100$ investment in a stock for example, then will my capital grow through time? Or would it get obliterated?

One could also look at risk from the perspective of losing something other than money, such as a job or a relationship. It’s always a worry for many employees. Should they open their mouths and speak up? Or is it too risky, potentially leading to a demotion or worse, a sacking?

While the risk of doing something, anything, is always large, there exists another very big risk. This is the risk of not doing anything at all. Optimists will gravitate towards doing something, while pessimists will prefer to watch from the sidelines.

Even in spirituality, risk exists. We are often saddled with the weight of the questions, “Am I good enough?” and “What will people think if I…?”

Coming out of this stage requires a lot of courage and self-compassion. The greatest risk is this: not letting go of what people think, and not standing up for how we feel, what we believe in and who we are.

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Good and Bad

Here are some outstanding lines from the Ashtavakra Gita:

He who has known that adversity and prosperity come through the effects of past actions is ever contented. 

Notice how it says both adversity and prosperity. Not only prosperity. It’s not only the good experiences and things we have which lead to contentment. Instead, it is the knowledge that both adversity and prosperity come from past karma – that’s what leads to true satisfaction. If something bad happens, it probably resulted from something much more than just what we did an hour ago. If something great happens, it too probably resulted from something more than just last hour’s effort. We must think not just about the outcome, but of the million billion incidents that had to all happen since we were born, in order to bring that specific event to fruition.

He who knows that happiness and misery, birth and death are also due to the effects of past actions becomes free from care and is not attached even though engaged in action.
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Somebody who’s a somebody

We all want to be noticed and recognized, even seen as someone who is really cool – intelligent, charismatic, principled, caring, dynamic, interested in other people… and maybe a few more things!

But how to be like this? Is there something that can be done? Yes there is, and it doesn’t even need you to open your mouth to utter a single word. How incredible is that!

In a book called 92 ways to talk to anyone, the author says the following:

Just ensure great upright posture, a heads-up look, a confident smile and a direct gaze. It's the ideal image for a somebody who's a somebody!
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Smells like team spirit – part 2 of 2

Leil Lowndes, author of the bestselling book “How to Talk to Anyone92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships” begins his book with the following:

You see, nobody gets to the top alone. Over the years, people who seem to "have it all" have captured the hearts and conquered the minds of hundreds of others who helped boost them, rung by rung, to the top of whatever corporate or social ladder they chose.

Scottie Pippen says emphatically when journalists question him back then, “My time will come.”

I don’t know if his time came or not, whether his pay was revised or not. But that is one damn good attitude to have.

And even if MJ was undoubtedly the best player the game has ever seen, he surely couldn’t have done it without his team (spirit).

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Awesome Inferiority

Watch any toddler for a while.

Apart from all the cuteness, what is most striking?

Their complete lack of ego.

They know that they do not know.

They also know that everyone else in the room knows more than them.

Their inferiority complex actually leads to their superiority in learning.

Why do we, as adults, then fear an inferiority complex?

Not that we need to feel inferior about everything. But it is probably a great tactic to enhance learning.

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Focus chokus

Focus is a great thing. But it can also be a greatly destructive thing. How? When we are focused only on the short run.

Feel like you want to sleep right now so as to get a full 8 hour shuteye before that important morning meeting? Sleep will probably evade you for the next hour, if not more.

Want to perform really well in your music audition today? All the nerves will probably get to you.

Desperate to find a life partner? The chances of making a mistake in the process just goes up materially.

Instant gratification is not good. Our scriptures talk of enjoying the journey. If everything is instant, then where is the journey? Before you can even wear your slippers, the ride is over! No wonder all this focus is choking us.

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The Gods who are weak

Almost everyday there is a point when I feel tired. Maybe mentally if not physically. But often physically too. Especially if it’s a Monday. Strength seems to always be coming back towards Fridays though. 😁

But weakness isn’t good. Here’s what Paramahamsa Yogananda has said once:

You are all gods, if you only knew it. Behind the wave of your consciousness is the sea of God's presence. You must look within. Don't concentrate on the little wave of the body with its weaknesses; look beneath. As you lift your consciousness from the body and its experiences, you will find that sphere of your consciousness filled with the great joy and bliss that lights the stars and gives power to the winds and storms. Awaken yourself from the gloom of ignorance.
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Upset? Upset!

A columnist in the newspaper recently deconstructed the upset wins of Japan and Saudi in the 2022 Soccer World Cup.

Of course, the upset was to the incumbents, not the winners.

He theorized that the upset victory came due to two reasons, and both are applicable to me in my daily life.

1. Preparation. Being the underdog helps, because they do not expect the game to be easy. Apparently the Saudi coach screamed at his team to get their act in order instead of just gawking at their idol Messi and waiting for selfies with him after losing the match. They had a solid gameplan, knew the exact formations to take against their formidable opponents, and then it was execution to the T.

2. Globalization. Most of the best European soccer leagues have players from all over the world, rather than just from Europe. It reminded me of Indian cricket IPL, where players come from all over the world. This results in spectacular exchange of best practices. The community builds and grows together. This is useful even from a 9-to-5 work perspective. If there’s a scope to learn from people across various regions and cultures, then why not? With the internet at our fingertips, learning is not a luxury, but a function of our own desire.

Upset? Or not so much?

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Cry me a river

Here’s a thought provoking para I read recently:

I also wasn’t used to being yelled at. My mother and father never raised their voices. If we did something wrong, they let us know about it, but they never screamed or shouted. I felt tears welling up and my face turning red and hot. I had to force myself not to cry. I said I understood, and we would do better in the future. As I found my way to the parking lot, I vowed to myself, This is never, ever going to happen to me again.

What is insane about this para is that it could happen to anyone. I’ve certainly felt like this before, and it almost feels shameful to think about.

But guess what? It is really common. This experience above? It’s taken from the autobiography of Blackstone’s founder Steve Schwarzman. This happened to him not when he was some just-studying lowly-intern who recently took up his first ever job. Nope. He’d already become very successful, and very rich, and had made an excellent name for himself. And still he had to face the ire of a client. Happens to the best.

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One person I met today, is a survivor. He’s a very accomplished person. And very rich too. Those who see him today, and don’t know him well, only know him by his wealth. Typical high-level understanding of other people.

This person had very modest beginnings. But persevered and worked hard and made it big.

Along the way, he lost his job and was left hunting for two years.

He was also a bystander in a bomb blast. Not the happy story that he “just escaped”, but he was hurt, quite badly. There were thousands of shards of glass that entered his body, which he says even today keeps reappearing from his body from time to time. When he was found at the explosion site, he had so many cuts and wounds and openings that doctors had to perform 5 hours of surgery and over a 100 stitches all without anaesthesia. Imagine the pain!

And yet this person is smiling today as though nothing happened. No cribbing that the universe conspired against him and what not. A lesson for me in how to handle tough times.

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Family first?

This is not a political post, but simply a humanitarian one.

The current President of India is Droupadi Murmu.

This statement can just end there of course. But someone who didn’t know better could assume that this lady got there easily.

But nope, couldn’t have been harder.

She is from one of India’s most backward and underdeveloped communities. She also lost her husband, both her sons (one to an accident), her mother and her brother, all in the span of a few years. Losses that would have destroyed any other normal person.

But this strong lady continues to work selflessly for her country. And with a smile.

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Nothing much in the title, except that these are 3 examples of Vibhutis (glorious manifestations of the Lord) that Krishna mentions in Chapter 10 of the Gita.

1. Kamadhenu. Moo-moo, wow a wish fulfilling cow! Wish I had one! I’d get everything I want. But no, that’s not the point at all. It’s not about getting everything from the cow, but rather whether we can be like the divine cow – give (grant wishes) to others without expecting anything in return.

2. Lord Rama, personified with his bow and arrow. No, not as a great warrior, which he surely was, but rather signifying alertness. Alert we need to be, if we do not want to fall off the spiritual path.

3. Prahalada, the foremost devotee. His own father didn’t like him, and tried to finish him off. And yet Prahalad’s faith towards Lord Narayana only grew stronger. What do we do in the face of adversity?

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There’s this guy I met the other day.

He was sitting at his desk – the front desk.

He seemed really bored, and was watching some video on his phone.

“How irresponsible”, I thought to myself. “Sitting at the front desk of an office and watching videos”.

I casually asked him how he was and what he was upto. He said he had been at the job for a year. He needed the money desperately to make ends meet. I enquired about his work timings. 8 am to 8 pm he said.

“5 days a week right?”

“No sir, I have to come on Saturdays and Sundays as well.”

Imagine that, no weekends off, no breaks, just an insane 7 day work week, and that too for a pittance. I couldn’t see him complaining though. He was doing what needed to be done, and with a smile. A good lesson for the serial-cribber in me.

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CWG – part 3

Blood, sweat and tears is often used loosely by white collared folks when they’ve achieved something after a lot of struggle. The sweat and the tears may well be true. But the blood part? Not so much.

Not that it has to be. Imagine getting a small cut on the finger or a hair pull on the scalp or a mouth ulcer. That pain is felt throughout the day.

But imagine having a dislocated shoulder, or intense cramps, or stitches on the knee. And then imagine going on to win a medal on the world stage. Quite exceptional isn’t it? All that and more happened this time in these games.

The question I asked myself is, should I find ways to complain, or solutions to problems?

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How to keep a positive attitude?

We know that “attitude is everything”. There’s even a book with exactly this title. People say you can change your life and your destiny if you change your attitude. But how to do this?

Shivani Didi of the Brahma Kumari group has some tips that she talks about in her videos:

  1. Read something spiritual or read positive books for 30 minutes within the first two hours of your day
  2. Do not read newspapers (or any negative information) at least till lunch time every day
  3. Do not watch any negative or sensational stuff on TV either in the morning or within two hours of bedtime
  4. Associate with those who have a positive attitude, and keep away from habitual grumblers
  5. Stop complaining, and instead appreciate all the positive things around you

So cool isn’t it? And not that tough to follow!

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Positive reinforcement

Imagine you just concluded something important. It’s now time for feedback. Self-feedback.

There are just two questions to ask.

The first is, “What did I do right?”

The second one would obviously be, “What did I do wrong?”

But no, there’s a better second question. Instead of focusing on what went wrong, we could ask “What should I do differently?”

The outcome of the two variations of the second question is the same. But the way it is phrased makes all the difference. The best part? Both question 1 and variation 2 of question 2 will be positive reinforces. Neither doom nor gloom!

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Kadanaaynu pannaadhey!

This was the example a very senior satsangi gave recently in a satsang. And it was very funny!

This is a Tamil phrase which means “don’t do your work as though you are paying back some loans/dues”.

It’s a common saying down South, and is often expressed by irate parents who see their kids going about their work or studies in a completely uninterested fashion.

This phrase was mentioned yesterday when the speaker was asked about how we should be going about our work.

“With full dhriti and utsaaha, or perseverance or excitement, no matter how boring the work.”

Doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look out for better opportunities, but whatever we are doing currently, that needs to be done with the best intentions and mindset, not as though we were forcefully and woefully repaying a debt (even if in reality, some EMIs are to be paid each month 😄).

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The real shark

On a recent episode of Shark Tank, a lady who was pitching spoke about how her father never believed she could/would ever be successful. The man wanted a son, but got her instead, and she broke down about how this would always scare her.

But she never gave up, always chasing her dreams, and that brought her to the sharky stage that day.

Robert, one of the sharks, who was already “out”, came back “in” at that point, and spoke of his own learnings. How he was always told throughout his childhood by everyone around him that he would never ever be successful.

Maybe this is quite a common experience. But what he said after that was key.

He said that after many years, he realized that the problem was not all those naysayers at all, but he himself. All his success came as soon as he yanked himself and his own negative thoughts that were standing in the path of his future.

Good lesson for any one of us that might have some negative thoughts from time to time!

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This is how you conquer fear

Fear is a struggle for most people. As one quote says, you don’t need to put a gun to a person’s head to make him afraid. You just need to ask him to go on stage to speak in public.

Of course, fear has more facets than just to do with public speaking. Even in day to day work, when faced with something unfamiliar, new, uncomfortable and uncertain, there is often a feeling of dread. The mouth dries up, the stomach ties up, and the brain fries up. This leads to anxiety, and eventual (or immediate) underperformance. What to do?

A common solution would be to “stay calm” or “try to calm yourself down” or “take a few deep breaths buddy”. This is good advice in general, except that when fear has already struck and when your adrenaline is pumping and heart rate is already high, trying to calm yourself down hardly works.

According to some research, we need to transform our mindset at the time into that of excitement. Trying to calm down a body engulfed by fear is like yanking the hand brake when the car is hurtling forward at 100 kmph. But excitement? “Yes I’m unsure of how this will work out but boy am I so excited to try out this new job!”

This is really just a shift in mindset, but do try it out the next time you face any sort of fear. Try telling your mind that you are so excited by this opportunity, and watch in amazement as the fear melts away, replaced by enthusiasm and eagerness!

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Greenest grass

On a recent rural trip, I couldn’t help but marvel at some homes on the way. Yes they were rudimentary, but also so peaceful. There were cattle grazing, elders lounging around in the sun, kids playing by a small brook, and lush pristine green as far as the eye could see.

The immediate thought that comes to city dwellers in such circumstances is, “What am I slogging for really every single day in the concrete jungle I’m living in? All the money in the world cannot buy such experiences in nature and simplicity. Wish I could live here instead.”

Mine was a day trip, and I had to head back to base in the evening. This meant I passed by the same rural homes, although this time after sundown.

It was pitch dark. A few earthen lamps lit the patios. But enough to warn of any wild animals, especially snakes in the grass, or other creatures lurking in the shadows? Not a chance. Men and women walking along the sides of the main roads could only be seen if lit by the high-beam flashlights of passing vehicles. God forbid if someone was driving with low or no lights. All the dazzling serenity and beauty of the place in the morning, was replaced by an eerie silence instead.

Surely these were the good old days, where waking up with sunrise and winding down by sunset were the order of the day. But can we follow this in our city lifestyles? Will that keep us happy, or is this just greener grass?

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