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Category: mind

Short and sweet

ForeverHappyNow blogs are always short. Sweet, I don’t know. Depends on the mood I suppose, of the writer, the reader, the environment, the circumstances, you name it.

And these mood swings are common to one and all, except the Guru perhaps. We each go through so many positive and negative emotions, always with ourselves in the center. What if this, what if that, am I capable, am I good, am I liked, am I strong, will I be successful, will I be rich etc etc?

Swami Vivekananda has something short and sweet to say:

All power is within you; you can do anything and everything. Believe in that, do not believe that you are weak; do not beleive that you are half-crazy lunatics. You can do anything and everything, without even the guidance of anyone. Stand up and express the divinity within you. 

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Superhero

We all know the Indian version of Superman, Spiderman and Batman, because he is none other than Hanuman.

But why is he a superhero, and worshipped with so much love and affection by countless devotees?

Not just because he is macho or immortal.

But because, as the Hanuman Chalisa says, he is the one who has complete alignment of man-karam-and-vachan, ie, thoughts, words and actions.

When he thinks of Lord Rama, his words and actions are completely in sync with his beloved Master.

If only I had this superpower. I can barely even write one blog post completely before my mind wanders off somewhere, my hand instinctively looks to check WhatsApp, and the mouth opens not to speak but to pop some junk food into it 🙈

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Tyson’s fears – part 2 of 2

An afraid Mike Tyson is so uncharacteristic of him, one would think.

Sadhguru breaks this down masterfully.

He says that human beings are uncanny because they don’t need any external stimulus to be afraid, or happy or sad or angry. All of that happens within us. External stimuli might exacerbate certain emotions, but these emotions can very well spring up (and last) on their own.

For instance, we may think of an impending client meeting, and worry about how our performance will be. We may also use a reference of a prior meeting with the client, and add to the worry. But in reality, today where we are, neither the meeting from the past is happening now, nor is the meeting to be held in the future happening now. So we are afraid of something that isn’t even real.

Seemingly simple concept, but applicable to each one, especially if knockout-king Tyson himself has unexplained fears!

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Tyson’s fears

In a very interesting podcast with Sadhguru, the interviewer was the legendary boxer Mike Tyson.

Tyson starts off by asking, “Hey Sadhguru, why do you think I’m here today in front of you?”

To which Sadhguru thinks for a moment and replies, “Because you are afraid of something.”

And Tyson says, “Wow, yes, indeed I am afraid. I’ve got all the success in life, and yet I am afraid of something and I do not even know what!”

Can you imagine that? The great Mike Tyson, that no one would dare enter the ring against, is afraid?!

What is this about? Concluded tomorrow.

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“Leave your work behind in office”

We’ve all heard this as advice at some point, or even felt it personally. When work gets to us, when stress and anxiety from the workplace increase, we wish the option would exist to keep our personal and office lives completely separate.

The brilliant folks over at Apple TV created a mind-boggling TV show called Severance with exactly this premise. What if you could truly leave your work behind… at work?!

A couple of considerations on how it would play out practically, as portrayed wonderfully in the show:

1. We would literally have no recollection of work outside it, and ditto for home. Once the clock strikes 6 pm and you’re out of office, you won’t know what happens in office at all. Is this good?

2. Maybe not. Because your work self only knows work, it’ll mean one never gets out of work at all. Each day begins with you walking into the office (but from where, you’d never know, because that is a separate life), and each day ends with you walking out, without knowing where to. As far as your life is concerned, work and home have truly been separated.

Of course the show is much more nuanced than just this. But it is a sure starting point for anyone who thinks that the splitting of work and life brings immediate benefit. It does not!

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Sleep hack

We all surely experience times where sleep doesn’t come that easily.

Or maybe we wake up randomly at 2 am or such, and then keep tossing and turning, struggling to fall asleep again.

The first port of call for most? The mobile phone of course. And once that light hits the eye, sleep is only going to get delayed even further (science backs this up!).

But there’s another way.

Know how we usually do not find much time to meditate? Well why not meditate at such times when sleep isn’t coming?

I find this incredibly useful. One only needs to focus on the breath, slowly and calmly. At that time of night, usually all surrounding noises have died down. Peace prevails, and sleep will soon too.

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Old is sold

Many people start feeling old the moment they hit 30. Some feel old even before. “Oh no, my twenties are almost over!” they sigh.

Given the stresses and lifestyles of today, it’s not just the twenties that are receding, but hairlines as well. All sorts of garbage are sold in the garb of success.

That’s why it’s a pleasure to see what limits are possible. And this is not about fake limits set up on Instagram, showing extraordinary bodies shot in conditioned light. Nope.

I was reading about Olympic Champion Eliud Kipchoge, who recently broke his own world record running a marathon in just 2 hours 1 minute and 9 seconds. Outstanding feat. But I also liked what the 37 year old had to say about his fitness, both physical and mental.

"My legs and my body still feel young. But most importantly, my mind also feels young."
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Angry turd

No one likes angry people. Except the angry ones themselves, who feel great, in the heat of the moment. And these angry people aren’t other people, but rather each one of us, and specifically me. Guilty as charged folks!

It’s not necessary that angry people only show their anger outwardly. Sometimes the rage can be simmering on the inside for a very long time. One day that volcano might erupt.

What’s the opposite of being angry? One would say it is being peaceful. Maybe, but while being angry is seen as being active and assertive, being peaceful is seen as being passive and suppressed.

That can’t be further than the truth. Being peaceful is a positive and active state of consciousness. True strength is when our inner peace is completely unruffled, no matter what the external stimulus is.

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Educated guess

When someone says they are educated, what is it that comes to mind?

School, college, university, 12th grade, board exams, coding, chemistry, MBA, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, IIT, IIM, doctor, lawyer, engineer, CAT, UPSC, JEE. These could be a few of the top ones.

All good.

This is indeed what education means today.

What about character building? What about spirituality? Self discipline? Values of love, truthfulness, goodness and nobility?

But is this all?

Today’s education is mostly about living off of others, one-upmanship – always gaining something at someone else’s expense, always wanting more. More and more. The wants never stop.

True education is in our scriptures. They teach us that we should live not for ourselves, but for others.

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Mandatory rituals

There’s a lot of people who will tell you when and how to do what. Like don’t pray facing this direction. Don’t prostrate in that direction. Don’t chant without taking bath. Don’t eat with that hand. And on and on.

Are these rituals or rules important? Yes, very much, but…

But, standalone, these rules are meaningless. As my Guru states very clearly in chapter 18 verse 3 of the Amazing Simple Gita, all these external rituals are only important to overlap a clean mind. If the mind is not clean and purified, then all these external rituals have no meaning.

Here is His outstanding example in the purport:

Again this purification is superficial, if the Knowledge of Reality is lacking. Each time the mind is purified, it is like dusting our veranda. The next day, the veranda has new dust. Only when the windows and doors are shut tight will new dust not accumulate. 
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One or the other

Having a traveling job is awesome. You get to see so many places, live in nice hotels, and enjoy diverse cuisines. Except, this is the outsider view. Ask anyone working like this, living half their lives on a flight or hotel and they would tell you how much they would rather be in a non-traveling job coming home to family each night. Ask anyone doing a desk job, and they’d be yearning to travel to various countries, always jet setting and globe trotting.

Working in a startup is really amazing. Freedom to choose your own work, style of work, location of work – you name it. But ask someone in a startup and they’d probably like the stability offered by a role in an established company. Ask someone in an established company though, and they’d be yearning for working at a startup.

Ask someone living in a city, and they’d hate it and want to “go live peacefully in the outdoors”. But ask the rural folk, and they’d love to be in the city to “earn more and live better”.

You can see where these comparisons are going. No place is perfect, except if our mind thinks it is.

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Don’t worry be happy!

This title is the crux of spirituality. Really.

All is well. And all will be well. Whether something is good or bad is decided by the mind. Our minds are very poor predictors of what is to come – and that is why we can never stay happy, even if we achieve exactly or more than what we want.

When we let every minor or major problem in our lives derail our happiness, we get more and more irritated, angry, frustrated, jealous, disappointed… which then leads to further worry.

Why do we worry? Because, my Guru says, we are living in the past or the future, not in the present moment. What is the fix? To simply accept things the way they are, to enjoy the moment, and to not worry about what was or will be. Easier said than done?

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More and more

The other day, I came across a book in a bookstore (yes those still exist!).

It was partially covered, and so I only saw half the title.

The words were “Ask For More”.

I thought to myself, “What a weird title!”, and then proceeded to pick up the book out of interest.

Turns out, the title was actually “Say Less, Ask More”. It was not ‘ask “for” more’. That was just my mind playing tricks on me. Not just tricks, but working in its usual ways of wanting more and more.

The book instead was on how to lead effectively. By listening more, saying less, and asking more questions so that learning improves. Nice isn’t it?

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Trasher

Here are three hard hitting lines I came across in a podcast.

“Would you let someone to come into your house and trash it?”

“No right?”

“Then why are we letting people come into our minds and trash it?”

The moment we feel weak or sad or angry simply because of what someone else told us, we have let them into our minds to trash it.

Is that what we want?

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Can we think of the Lord all the time?

A close friend couple (husband + wife) had taken a 1 year sabbatical. This was what they recounted to me.

They planned their sabbatical about 10 months in advance. And they were both working right till the start of the sabbatical.

Initially, they said, it felt so far off, and they would hardly think of it.

But towards the end, as time kept moving forward, and as the time-to-sabbatical reduced from months to just weeks and days and hours, they said that they kept thinking of the sabbatical ever increasingly, even during their office work, which they were anyway doing, and doing well.

We certainly seem to have the capacity to process multiple things at once in our minds. So can we think of the Lord a lot of the time, while also going about our other daily duties? We sure can!

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How to work?

My Guru repeatedly says that there is no such thing as a perfect type of work.

Even the best of things, done over and over, will only bring boredom and frustration.

Our scriptures also place no emphasis on the actual work we do, but rather only focus on the state of our minds, while we are engaged in that (any) work.

How to work then? My Guru repeats this verse from chapter 18 of the Gita:

mukta-saṅgo ‘nahaṁ-vādī dhṛity-utsāha-samanvitaḥ

It means that one must be free from attachment and ego, and be endowed with dhriti and utsaha, i.e. perseverance and enthusiasm. That is the simple (but not easy) secret sauce to success.

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Constructive focus

Was observing a construction worker recently.

He had just laid a ton of bricks. Putting one after the other, and cementing up an entire wall. Grunt work, if there was any.

His boss came up to him the next day and said the owners had asked for the wall to be shifted a little. This meant disassembling his entire work from the previous day, and putting the wall up again, brick by brick, a couple of meters away.

Anyone in his place would have been frustrated, and understandably so. Why couldn’t someone have told him the correct place to put the wall up in the first place?

But our man? Not at all fazed. He coolly nodded, and went about taking apart the current wall and setting up the new one. His entire focus was on the work itself (laying the bricks) and not at all on the result (whether the wall was here or there or on Mars). A good lesson for me as I go about my daily work.

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Mental case

Troubled by stress, anxiety and tension? You are not alone.

How to keep these at bay? By not worrying about what will happen. We know this.

The only thing that differentiates each one of us, and especially those who take a lot of tension versus those who don’t, is their state of mind once a problem has been revealed to them.

Maybe you found out that you need to make a presentation in front of a 1000-people audience, and you just detest the idea. But you need to do it, because that is your job.

The chilled out guy is not worried, because he knows he anyway has to present to that large group, so why worry? Besides, he has faced several tough situations before, and he’s still alive, and so he has faith in himself and/or at least in a higher power to help guide him.

Often it’s not the fear of actually presenting that is the cause of worry, but the fear of underperformance. That people will laugh. That I’d make a fool of myself, and be relegated to YouTube’s Greatest Fools’ Hall of Fame top list. The reality is that no one cares, because everyone is too busy worrying about themselves.

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Public Work

Met an old bloke today. Probably in his fifties.

He was happy – smiling and whistling to himself. Not that I met him in happy circumstances.

He was in his small claustrophobic office doing his work. We know his office well. It is also called the public restroom. No he wasn’t spending time there because of a bad stomach. It was just his daily job. 8 hours of business to be done once others were done with theirs.

He said he traveled 2 hours one way from house, in an overcrowded train, every single day. 4 hours spent in traveling, in sweat and crowd, all to get a pittance, after being locked 7 days a week 8 hours a day in a tiny smelly room!

How could he possibly be happy and smiling and whistling? The only possible answer to this question is that happiness is in the mind.

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The 5-4-3-2-1 technique you cannot miss!

We all get stressed sometimes. It’s natural. And then we read up on how to reduce this stress. And nice books will tell you that you should not worry about the future. That you should only live in the present.

This is absolutely perfect advice of course. But how to follow this?

Here’s a method I came across. It’s called the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. And it is really simple. If followed properly, it can quickly yank us right back into the present. How to do this?

5. Acknowledge 5 things you can see around you.

4. Acknowledge 4 things that you can touch around you.

3. Acknowledge 3 things that you can hear around you.

2. Acknowledge 2 things that you can smell around you.

1. Acknowledge 1 thing that you can taste around you.

That’s all there is to the 5-4-3-2-1 technique, but it works, and your mind should be less stressed already!

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