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Category: motivation

HNY HHP – part 2 of 2

Today we look at Happiness and Health.

  1. Health. Physical and mental. Everyone is facing issues of one type or the other.
    1. Sense control or Dama is key. Right food yes, but not just what goes into the mouth but all other inputs as well for the eyes, ears etc. Moderation is critical. 6.16 6.17 of the Gita has Krishna speaking about moderation in everything. Mind you, He doesn’t talk about giving up everything, but about practising moderation. How can we practise this? Maybe have a “1-day off” ritual every month. On that one day alone, we give up something, like social media or TV or certain foods etc. This will only serve to strengthen our mental, emotional and spiritual muscles.
    2. Positive thinking – for mental health, which is a huge contributor to mental health. How? By cultivating positive noble qualities. These are enlisted in the Gita 16.3, called Daivi sampath, or Divine qualities. Examples are no anger, compassion, altruistic, non-critical, forgiving.
  2. Happiness. Where is it? Not outside, but inside each one of us. Spiritual happiness comes “in spite of” vyakti vastu paristhithi, not “because of”, and that is a key distinction.
    1. One practise point is to try and enjoy all work. How? By converting work to worship, and Krishna explains in Chp 18. Do all work with dhriti and utsaaha, perseverance and excitement.
    2. The ultimate spiritual truth, unlimited Ananda is within us, our own true nature. Sat chit Ananda. Like the UPS, it is an Uninterrupted Power Supply.

2023, nay every year henceforth, if we practise these, will be amazing.

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HNY HHP – part 1 of 2

It’s a little late now to be exchanging new year greetings, but bear with me. We had a super satsang session recently, where the speaker laid out a simple road map that anyone can (and everyone should!) follow.

What do we usually greet with? Happy New Year (HNY), and I wish you a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous (HHP) 2023! So the speaker took each of H, H and P, and gave us a quick but structured road map. We’ll cover P today, and look at the 2 Hs tomorrow.

1. Prosperity. Which is doing well, both materially and spiritually. 2 things to do for this.

One is to have focus (hence goals are important). And make them action oriented rather than linked to end results. Instead of saying my goal is to lose 5 kilos, say that my goal is to eat 1 bowl of cut fruits every day and spend 15 minutes exercising. Spiritual goals would include how much time to devote to spiritual practises, how much to devote in the service of others, and how much to donate to the needy. Being focused, as Krishna says in 2.41 of the Gita, vyayvasaayaatmika buddhi, is critical for achieving one’s goal.

Second is to ensure self-effort, with self-confidence. The famous Uddharetaatamnaatmaanam shloka from chapter 6 verse 5 is on point. Be optimistic, be fearless and ensure to have a spiritual diary / audit process to take stock.

Concluded tomorrow with the 2 Hs!

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FormulaOne FailureNone

Merc-AMG won 8 F1 races in a row. And then they lost.

Toto Wolff, the team Principal at Merc spoke about what it takes to build a “winning culture”.

Paradoxically, the winning culture comes from losing, or rather the learning from the losing.

The statement of his that I liked the most?

The days we lose, are the days our competitors will regret the most. Because those are the days that we learn. 

How will we look at failure the next time we face it?

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Happy new who?

An old article by Chinmaya Mission founder Swami Chinmayananda wishing everyone a new year, never gets old (pun intended!).

It’s not just the usual Happy New Year wish that we all practise at the turn of each year. Rather, he turns the question on its head, and asks if really anything is new.

Aren’t we still the same morose, dejected, anxious, desperate, demanding, greedy, selfish (I can add many more such words to describe my own mind!) people that we were just the eve of the new year? What changed then just as the clock struck twelve?

Swami C asks this very question. If one day to the next is exactly the same, then what are we celebrating? The quality of time is not moving or changing. It is us humans who have divided time into minutes and hours and days and years, and we keep track of it, and rejoice as it apparently whizzes past us.

But the true happy new year as Swami C concludes, is only when we change and transform ourselves, and become better, more evolved, spiritual beings. The moment that happens, it is indeed the dawn of a very happy new year!

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Two-way street

We always think that focus comes only when we are interested in something.

Like if you love to play video games or watch YouTube videos, then you no doubt have massive focus on these activities. No matter who is calling you or what needs to be done, it’s possible to not hear anything of the outside world.

So if we like something, we will focus automatically.

But is this helpful? Not really, because what if we don’t like something. How can we focus then?

In a book calling Finding Flow by psychologist and author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, he mentions the following eye-popping sentence:

If you are interested in something, you will focus on it, and if you focus your attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it. Many of the things we find interesting are not so by nature, but because we took the trouble of paying attention to them.

This means that focus-and-interest is not a one-way, but a two-way street!

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Golden touch

Enough successful people will tell us that life is a marathon, not a sprint. And yet most people live their lives as a series of successive sprints, often more tired starting the next one, than they were the prior.

Look back at your school days, and you’ll realize that many folks who stood top of their class have not made it as far as their potential would have probably suggested at the time. Why could that be?

Perhaps it’s the case of the “golden touch” as one author put it. If we start out successful, then the potentially misplaced confidence in our own abilities skyrockets. We think that we are solely responsible for our own success, and don’t believe that something like luck aka extraneous factors even exists.

Others are often too scared to even try. As my Guru often notes, success is nothing but repeated failure. However, failure that comes from not even trying is not what he’s talking about here. We (me in particular) need to be bold and venturesome. Not timid and close-minded. Failure of the courageous type is nothing more than a synonym for learning.

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Plus minus equal coincidence

Have been reading one interesting book by a Robert Greene called the Laws of Power. In that, he mentions that he trained a young protégé at one point – a Ryan Holiday – to also become an author. All good.

Then in the newspaper today, I saw an op-ed where someone quoted something written by – you guessed it – Ryan Holiday! Nice coincidence.

But that’s not the reason for this post. The newspaper article said Ryan had an interesting learning on “Plus, Minus, Equal”, that a martial arts trainer used.

To become great he says, each fighter needs to have someone better they can learn from, someone lesser who they can teach, and someone equal who they challenge themselves against. So a plus, a minus and an equal.

The unsaid conclusion of this amazing philosophy, is that one is constantly learning, as one is always a student. Even the best of Gurus, have their own Gurus. Humility is key.

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Output obsessed?

The world today is obsessed with outputs.

External manifestation is what takes the cake. Bulging biceps or hardboard abs? Wow, everyone wants that, but without going to the gym or eating clean.

Want to close a mega sales deal? Everyone does, but not by putting in the 100s of hours and 1000s of cold calls. Folks look for the one-call-wonder.

Young new joiners at companies want to quickly learn all the technical skills and show off their knowledge, and get promoted as quickly as possible. That’s a good thing, except that experience and (lack of) speed brings emotional and mental maturity – something that is woefully ignored.

But equally, the other side can be emphasized. Most employers don’t care about outputs. Only inputs. Number of hours and weekends worked and “facetime” is more important compared to actual work done.

So is the world more output focused? Or more input focused? Purely from a spiritual point of view, does either matter?

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Please Seat Down

That oh-so-famous interview question? “Tell me about yourself”

Came across a crisp video about how to answer this well, instead of starting with where one was born and what the temperature was on that fateful day!

It’s called the SEAT principle. The interviewee must make sure to cover:

S for skills one brings to the table

E for experiences or educational qualifications

A for the key achievements so far

T for the type of person you are and what gets you going

Pretty simple stuff, but so well formulated! Even outside of formal interviews, it’s always good to have this framework at the back of our minds. It can be used in pretty much any context where one has to introduce themselves. Who knows, that conversation could end up being the opportunity of a lifetime!

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Top Class

Top Class and Top of the Class, are two totally different things. We’ve each seen this. People who are top of the class in school and university, may be successful, but rarely are the truly top class and top-of-the-world successful.

Pete (his co-founder) and I thought of the people we wanted to run these new business areas as "10 out of 10s". We had both been judging talent long enough to know a 10 when we saw one. Eights just do the stuff you tell them. Nines are great at executing and developing good strategies. You can build a winning firm with 9s. But people who are 10s, sense problems, design solutions and take the business in new directions without being told to do so. Tens always make it rain.

Here’s what Steve Schwarzman of Blackstone says in his book:

Notice how he doesn’t even mention the 1s to 7s?

Are you an 8, 9 or 10? 😄

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Muscular frog

We must have all come across that book with a weird title. “Eat that frog”.

Want to eat a frog? No thank you. But that’s what the book says. There’s always stuff we don’t like to do, like eating frogs, and hence we should do those tasks first. This is more from a work perspective, so that by the time the day is even half done, we feel like we’ve accomplished something.

Of course there are those that love to eat frogs, literally, and so to those I wonder if this title even makes any sense.

But keeping them aside, one slightly dated but interesting example is of the actor Amir Khan in Dangal. He was playing two roles in the same movie, initially as a young muscular fighter, and then eventually a fat old man.

But what was his genius here? That he decided to eat the frog later, and requested his Director to shoot the ‘old man’ scene first, followed by the ‘young man’ scene. He knew that eating and becoming fat was easy, but losing it would be very hard. And if he had no reason to look fit, he would just lapse off. Clearly, eating the frog later is also not that bad, but it must be eaten!

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In a tearing hurry

Steve Schwarzman is Blackstone Group’s Chairman and Co-founder. The company is worth some 100 billion dollars plus.

But he didn’t start out on top. In one of his first jobs, he was asked to take a printout of a presentation that he had made. This was to be used by his boss for an important client pitch.

Enroute to the client’s office, his boss realized that Steve had made a mistake in his calculations, and a big one at that.

To remedy the situation, his boss told him he could still manage the show, if Steve could just tear out all the even pages and leave only the odd ones. Simple enough, and Steve was relieved that he wouldn’t be the cause of a messed up meeting.

Except, that in the tension and anxiety of that moment, Steve tore out all the odd pages instead!

So it’s not all rosy, even for the best, even for those who have scaled Mount Success today. Just need to develop some thick skin, learn from our mistakes, and keep ploughing on.

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El Genioso

Everybody wants to be a genius. But not everyone is. Most aren’t. Wikipedia actually doesn’t even have a proper definition. It says there’s no way to quantify any thresholds on who makes it to genius and who doesn’t. IQ 200, and hence confirmed genius? Nope, no such thing.

In a podcast hosted by author and optimist Simon Sinek, he talks about how the word genius was originally not even a trait. The word came from ancient Rome, where genius was actually a good spirit that every human being was thought to be protected and guided by. So it was never “you are a genius” but that “you have a genius”. Along the way of course all this got corrupted.

Simon also posted this once:

The genius at the top doesn't make the team look good. A good team makes the person at the top look like a genius.

There’s no need to be a genius and lose sleep over it. Instead, it’s more important to be ge-nice, i.e. a nice human being.

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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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Back to back

There are two very critical ‘back’s in life. No its not like there’s a substitute back when one’s got back pain.

These 2 backs are essential for growth and success.

The first back is setback. We often only look for victory everywhere, but setbacks are a part and parcel of life. If there is no setback, we will never have the chance to learn and improve our game.

The second back is comeback. This is how we implement our learnings from the first back, i.e. the setback.

Taken together, setbacks and comebacks are an insanely powerful combination.

No need to fear setbacks because without one, we would never know how to do better. And there is no shame in comebacks, only honor.

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Love or enjoy?

Heard this in a talk show recently. The guest was asked about people spending more time in offices and working and it leading to burnout.

He said that it is indeed true.

So what to do?

You need to enjoy your job, not love your job. 

That was his advice. Why enjoy and not love?

Because he said love for one’s job brings attachment. Which then invariably leads to stress, anxiety and disappointment, especially when something doesn’t go as planned, when results are delayed despite efforts, or colleagues do not collaborate and so on.

Hence enjoy, not love!

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Is there a question here?

A star investor-cum-poker player once had an 82% probability of winning a hand. She was on the biggest stage of her poker life ever. And the prize money was the most she had ever played for too, and so, no pressure at all!

As luck would have it, she lost. It truly was a bad luck moment. From an 82% probability of winning to actually losing. Probability isn’t certainty, as we all know.

At the same event, she met a celebrity international-level poker player and said to him, “Damn it, that was such terrible luck. How I wish I was given a better hand to start with. I hate it when I encounter bad luck. I’m so unlucky”. To which the man simply replied, “Is there a question here?”

Needless to say, the lady was taken aback. And as she herself recounts later, the celeb-champ was not wrong. That guy was more than ready to discuss poker strategies and in-game tactics till the cows came home, but he was least interested in wasting time talking about things that were outside of his control (like bad luck). Nice lesson for me in my daily life!

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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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2 types of passion!

Apparently there are two types of passion. Harmonious and Creative. This I came across in a podcast where the guest was none other than famed surgeon and author Atul Gawande. Here’s what he had to say:

"I'm gonna give you another framework that I work with on this. There are cycles of how the work works, and it's understanding those cycles. So surgery is a harmonious passion in a very straightforward way. I can go in to do a two or three-hour operation and I will get something done and I will lose sense of time. And it, I can't tell you what a great experience it is working with a team focused on doing something where everybody is skilled and, and working harmoniously together. But there is nothing creative about it. In fact, you're trying to be anti-creative. You're trying to do things the same way every time. What you accumulate are thousands of people you've taken care of and not necessarily something that builds something larger. Whereas writing or doing certain kinds of research work, that's six months of effort, not always harmonious. Painful. A learning curve every time, but at the end of it, incredibly gratifying. And I found my six month cycle of doing with the creativity added in is my sweet spot."

So interesting isn’t it? That’s probably why it always helps to have at least two or more passions to focus on. One can be our daily office jobs, while the other could be something more creative for the evenings. Worth trying!

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