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Category: transformation

In reverse

Enjoy your work, then you will love your job
Enjoy your workout, then you will love your body
Enjoy your food habits, then you will love your food
Enjoy your own company, then you will love your partner
Enjoy your moments, then you will love your day
Enjoy your connection, then you will love your family and friends
Enjoy your lifestyle, then you will love your life
Enjoy your happiness, then you will love your success

But we usually have all these backwards. We do! Check again. For instance, we let our jobs decide if we will enjoy our work. Or we look at our unshapely bodies and end up despising workouts. And so on.

Thus there is no happiness.

In reality, we already have everything we need. We just need to bring the enjoyment to the here and now. It is only a mindset shift.

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How I wish I had the time to read books. And the time to learn a foreign language. And the time to learn to play an instrument. But I just don’t get any time at all. This is person X.

Person X looks back at the last 1 week – he did not do any of the above. However he could have done 70 minutes worth of these at the very least. How? By simply taking out 10 minutes a day.

Surely he can take that much time out? Even if not in one shot, 5 minutes in the morning and 5 in the evening are possible? So 70 minutes is easily possible!

It all depends on how desperate we are. We must ask ourselves honestly. Do I really want to read a book, or learn a foreign language or learn to play an instrument?

Note that the focus here is on reading / learning, i.e the process, and not the outcomes, i.e. actually discussing a book after reading it, or speaking in a foreign tongue, or playing Fur Elise. The outcome is what we all love, but the process everyone despises.

Instead, let us love the process. Intensely. We will be surprised how time makes itself magically available. Even 700 minutes will be possible.

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Alakazam! Hocus Pocus! Abracadabra!

Who wants to see some magic? All hands up I see?

We all want miracles in our lives. But we often look in the wrong places – despite them being all around us.

Just imagine.
A white seed gets mixed with brown soil, translucent water and yellow sunlight to become a pink flower!
A pink organ that was once smaller than a droplet, pumps red fluid throughout the body, for 100 years non-stop!
A brown cow eats green grass and gives white milk!

Aren’t these miracles? They absolutely are!

For such ‘mundane’ miracles, we just need to stop being self-obsessed and look at and observe the world around us.

My own views have changed over the years. Miracles are not about levitation or flying or even these worldly phenomena we have gotten so used to.

A really really really hard thing to change, is someone’s thinking and thereby life, for the better. My Guru did exactly this to me, and improved my life, and the lives of many around me, in unimaginable ways. Such are the true miracles.

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Report Card: E for Everyone

We are all constantly chasing material progress. And we understand progress. Two houses are better than one, and two million bucks is better than one million.

But what of spiritual progress? Is there a report card?

According to Swami Tejomayananda, there are only two questions one must answer when evaluating one’s own spiritual progress.

  1. How much does everyone want to be in my company?
  2. How much do I want to be in the company of everyone?

Note, that this is everyone. Not a cherry picked group of friends or family members or colleagues that we have a predilection for. Or a specific set of people we detest and wish to avoid at all costs.

Spirituality is about training the mind to accept and enjoy everyone and everything as they are. Even that nosy bothersome fellow at work, or that pesky old neighbour next door, and also that cranky boss who calls you up on the weekends for extra work.

If we are making progress spiritually, we will be courting inner peace, and the answers to 1 and 2 would be ‘very much’, if not more.

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You’ve nailed it!

Two prosperous neighbouring kingdoms were ruled by two friendly but competitive kings. One day, one of them decided to renounce the world and lead life as a saint. Hearing this, the other king also decided to follow suit.

They each went their own way, with no possessions more than the ochre robes they were wearing. 20 years of hermit-life later, they simultaneously chanced upon a serene river. Both of them decided to take bath there at the same time.

There was only 1 tree in sight with only 1 nail on it, where they could hang their clothes. Both the king-saints started bickering over the ownership of that nail.

An old woman came by and said “Look and learn from the two great kings of these nearby kingdoms – they had renounced everything. And here you two fools are fighting over a silly nail!”

It doesn’t matter if one has physical possessions or not.

True renunciation happens only in the mind.

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finite is finito

We are all running after finite things.

It might be a pile of money, a CxO title, ownership of a specific car or a mansion with a golf course and so on. There are some things that that pile of money may not be able buy – such as health or meaningful relationships. The CxO title (or any other title) too may have limitations, working well within an organisation or group, but not beyond. As any retiree would tell us, the perks stop with the title.

Can we ever be satiated then with finite acquisitions? Never. And that is simply why we are never happy. No amount of ‘enough’ is ever enough.

Spirituality teaches us to directly seek the infinite. But where is this infinite? Is this just mumbo-jumbo?

No. This infinite is manifested in all of creation. If we can see everything and everyone as part of our core being, but manifested in different forms, then we are on the right path.

But does this logic imply we must invite a murderer home? Not at all. Context is important, and foolishness must be avoided. If there is no life, then there cannot be spirituality or happiness. However, we can surely empathise and appreciate that extreme circumstances may force people to do extreme things.

Likewise, we all have people we cannot get along with. And we know others who prefer to avoid us. Can we consciously and objectively bridge these gaps? Can we train our minds to be happy in spite of the company of such people?

Any efforts in this direction are not for the benefit of said people. They are purely for us – for our own inner transformation. Because with each step of this transformation, we will progress closer to the infinite.

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The waverer

‘Sama’, an ancient word in the language called Sanskrit, refers to equal, match or plain. It is also very close to the English word ‘same’.

Hindu scriptures often talk of mind control through ‘sama’. Such as remaining mentally balanced or ‘sama’ – in the face of both success and failure. Both pleasure or pain. Both richness or poverty. And so on, for other such pairs of opposites.

Surely this is easier said than done.

Experience tells us that we prefer happiness to sorrow. ‘Good’ events, like having a shiny new car or a good bonus, make us happy. And we want more of these things. Whereas ‘bad’ events, like being stuck with a rickety old excuse for a car, or a so-close-but-i-missed-it promotion, leave us dejected.

But can we say with 100% conviction that what makes us happy momentarily, is what we seek in permanence? Because that shiny new car might be vandalised as it stands out among other older cars in the neighbourhood. Or that missed promotion might make one frustrated enough to quit their job and find their life’s calling in a unicorn- startup.

There is no such thing as good or bad. It is just our mind telling us so, based on its own assessment at that particular point in time. We all know how volatile our minds can be – feeling one way now, and completely opposite a few seconds later.

Why then do we leave the choice of being happy or joyful to such a wavering mind?

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The greatest discovery of all-time

Károly Takács, at 28, was Hungary’s top pistol shooter. He was the favourite to win gold at the 1940 Tokyo Olympic Games. But a grenade accidentally exploded and blew away his right hand – the shooting hand. He wallowed in self-pity, right? Nope, not Károly! He just focused on training his left hand instead! He went on to win golds in the next two Olympics, shooting with his left. Unbelievable? Yes, but true. Imagine how hard it would have been to be in his shoes.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma was rejected by Harvard University 10 times, and also by several jobs including KFC. Stephen King’s first novel Carrie was rejected by 30 publishers before being picked up. Wilma Rudolph – the ‘fastest woman on earth’ in her time – wore a leg brace, suffered infantile paralysis but later won 3 Olympic golds. Edison failed 3000 times before making the first light bulb.

And us? No, we are too scared to fail, and even more scared to try! We feel we bear the burden of the earth on our heads. That a single misstep would cause everyone to take notice, and curse us into oblivion. We are so focused on ourselves and our shortcomings that we never realise one thing. That everyone is so immersed in themselves that they do not really care about us!

Give this a thought – do you remember what clothes your friends and families wore 2 weeks ago? 1 week ago? 3 days ago? Or what kind of bags they were carrying? Or what they said? Hardly! The world has moved on, but we stay rooted to that one insult someone threw at us…way back in kindergarten!

Oprah Winfrey said “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” There is even a book called Attitude is Everything! We would still be in darkness if Edison had stopped after the first try, or even the 2,999th. We can never give up – because we each might be the creators of a lasting legacy for future generations to come. It is the least we can do to repay our ancestors – for giving us the tools and technologies we are blessed with today.

It is human nature to be condescending to others, and so others will continue to sneer and laugh. But we need to concern ourselves with only our own attitude – the right attitude. Because even the impossible then becomes possible.

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learn – earn – yearn

In school and college, it was all about:

  1. winning alone
  2. defeating others
  3. getting the best job interviews, and
  4. bagging the highest paid offer

In the workplace, realisation dawns, that life is about:

  1. winning together
  2. working with others
  3. the ‘best’ job being but a mirage in the mind, and
  4. money being there, but yet never enough

We spend the first quarter of our lives learning how to earn a living. Then we spend next two quarters earning that living. And the last quarter, yearning for whatever was left out.

But we never really live, because we are always focused on the ‘me and the my’, instead of the ‘we and the why’.

‘We’ for inclusivity. And ‘why’ for clarity – why do we have so many things, yet feel empty?

In this age of excesses, less is more. And it comes from more austerity, more self-sacrifice and more charity.

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Smash, I mean trash that snooze button!

Waking up early is awesome.

So say successful CEOs, entrepreneurs and everyone in between. There’s plenty of books that advocate this too.

Personally, I love the rush from getting up early. The extra undisturbed hours to do productive work more efficiently, whether you use it for exercise or meditation or studying (or all of these combined!) – is just too good to miss out on.

But practising it regularly? Phew, easier said than done!

For one, with the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep, one would have to hit the sack at around 9.30 am. “Say what?! But that’s when I start cooking my dinner!”…said a lot of earthlings.

Well it’s time to change up a few things. We could start off, by sleeping and waking up 5 or 10 minutes earlier than our usual time every day. And a week later, 5 to 10 minutes before that. And so on till our desired target is hit.

How about the mental power needed to withstand this change? One pro tip from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi – he doesn’t allow his mind to get in the way at all. At 5 am, irrespective of which timezone he is in, he just bounces off the bed, giving no chance whatsoever for his mind to coax him back to sleep “for just a few more minutes pretty pleaaassseee”

Also, we think changing our sleep schedule is difficult. But we are actually masters at it, having each done it time and again, when travelling abroad, and across many timezones too. Let us think of this as a one-time travel to a timezone that is x hour(s) ahead! (x = current waking time minus 5 am).

Do share your thoughts, tips and experiences in the comments section below!

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It’s (not) only words

“It’s only words and words are all I have to take your heart away…” crooned boy-band heartthrobs Boyzone back in the 90s. And even before that, Rita Coolidge sang the same words in the 70s, preceded by the Bee Gees in the 60s. That is indeed a while back. But the import is not lost.

While the original connotation was romantic, there are practical takeaways for us. The words we use can have a huge bearing on those around us. Especially the words used when one is irate. And I’m certainly guilty of this.

Picture this. A neighbour greets you:

“Hey – it is so good to see you today after a long time – especially during your morning walk! Have a wonderful day”


“Hey – Where have you been?! You go for morning walks? I’ve never seen you at this time before.”

A simple morning greeting, can have profound differences on the other person’s mood and day. As the recipient of the second version above, my impulsive thought was – “Am I being accused?”

There are 2 learnings here for me:

  1. Use words with care. They are like a bag of feathers being released into the wind. Once gone, it is hard to bring back.
  2. Stay unperturbed about the words others use. We cannot control others. But we can control how we react to them.

‘1’ helps us be better human beings amid others. ‘2’ helps us be better human beings despite others.

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The 8 hour grab

What all did we accomplish in the last 24 hours?

Yesterday I slept 8 hours, worked 8 hours, ate my meals 1 hour, read a book 1 hour, practised piano 1 hour, exercised 1 hour, learned a new skill for 30 mins, meditated for 30 mins, ablutions 30 mins, blogging 30 mins, TV/entertainment/catching up with friends 1 hour, commuting 1 hour.


Yesterday I slept 5 hours, worked 8 hours, ate my meals 1 hour, felt lazy and procrastinated 1 hour, practised piano 15 mins, daydreamed 45 mins, stressed about something 1 hour, planned (my future) 30 mins, re-planned 30 mins, ablutions 30 mins, worried 30 mins, TV/entertainment/catching up with friends 1 hour, commuting 1 hour, and the other 3 hours I can’t figure out where it disappeared.

How do our typical days look like? How much is slipping through the cracks? Is 8 hours of non-work non-sleep time every single day not more than adequate for bettering ourselves?

Time is indifferent to the experiencer.

The control rests squarely in our hands. But only if we have grabbed it.

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I’m tired of this

Scene 1: You are driving home from work. Tired. Really Really Tired. Your boss calls you. “Hey, that client presentation I asked you to finish. It’s too long. Do it again, pronto.” You reach home, and shout at the kids, scowl at the wife, eat dinner in silence and go to bed grumbling.

Scene 2: You are driving home from work. Tired. Really Really Tired. Your boss calls you. “Hey, you did really good this year, I’m considering you for a fast track promotion” You reach home, you hug the kids and the wife, take them out to a nice dinner and come back home and watch a movie.

Notice how the tiredness (something physical) vanished completely, as soon as there was something good to look forward to (something emotional)?

We think we are incapable of many things. But the reality is that we are capable of anything. More often than not though, we are not incentivised enough for going the extra mile. This prevents us from giving our best and limits our potential.

We can stay motivated and incentivized forever though, if instead of waiting for praise (that rarely comes) from others, we give ourselves a few pats on our backs. It is self-fulfilling in nature – because being happy with ourselves, will make others happy with us. And the cycle will propagate.

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Step aside

When does one become ‘senior’ in an organization? Is it when one has 5 years of experience? Or 10, 20, or 30?

There is no right answer. And for good reason. 25-year olds can and do run companies, just as 65-year olds can and do too.

Everybody’s experience levels are different. Just as their skill sets and temperaments are.

Someone with 30 years of experience might be great in a banking role, but a recent graduate with 2 years of experience may far outweigh that experience in a technology role.

But it is good to treat everyone well, senior or junior. For, today’s reportee could well become tomorrow’s boss.

If someone thinks you are not fit to do a particular job, that is only their opinion. And opinions being free, may come and go. If our mental make-up is not strong, we can quickly feel inadequate.

Forget what others say. No Chairman or Founder or CEO was ever born for or accepted in a role de-facto.

We each have the capability to be anything we want to. As long as we don’t let ourselves stand in the way.

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Ownership bias

“Sabse bada rog, kya kahenge log”

This catchy and rhyming phrase in Hindi, translates to “The biggest ailment of all, is what will people say [about me]?”

Many an industry, business, career (and fortune) is being made around selling one product alone – ‘social acceptance’.

We tend to be the consumers of this product – via social media, fashion, luxury items, fairness creams (yes that’s a thing!), certain qualifications, many (fake) relationships – among other things.

Nothing inherently wrong with this perhaps. But we must be cognizant of this craze for social acceptance.

Do we own them objects, or do they own us?

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“Help me, I’m addicted!”

We all have habits that we want to change.

Here then, is the most important chain of life.

Thoughts –> Words –> Actions –> Habits –> Character –> Destiny

To change our habits, we must change our thoughts. But that is often where we get stuck.

If I love junk food, and eat 3 burgers a meal, it would be very hard to give burgers up. However it would certainly be easier to eat 3 burgers, but also include some fruit or salad. i.e. it is easier to bring light to a dark room, rather than shovel the darkness out. Cant stop eating burgers? Add a 5 minute workout.

Said another way, it is easier to add some good, than subtract some bad. This keeps our thoughts in check and reinforces positivity.

Eventually, the good will outstrip the bad. Time to unblock the chain.

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The Middle Path

Hardcore atheists and theists are at two extremities. One doesn’t believe in a higher power, while the other submits entirely to it.

Looking back at everything that we have experienced in our lives, is it possible to completely deny the influence of anything except ourselves? My teachers influenced my education, as did my mentors my career.

Conversely, is it possible to leave everything to a higher power? I wouldn’t even get off the bed then!

We keep blind faith in our drivers (a quick snooze at the wheel?), barbers (one knife swipe when our eyes are closed?), pilots (we don’t check their flying capabilities before belting up) and countless others (in math, we started with let’s assume x=1).

We would do well to apportion some faith to a higher power, and some faith to our inner power.

Vedanta teaches us that in reality, there is no difference between the two powers.

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The six-pack

Can we have a world with only good and no evil?

Asked another way, if we put only good, kind and loving humans on a new life-supporting planet, would that be an end to all of humanity 2.0’s problems?


The reason? Our minds.

Hindu scriptures characterize the mind as having six enemies viz. lust, anger, delusion, greed, jealousy and pride.

As long as the mind exists, these six villains prevail. Which is why, one needn’t go far in search of trouble – they exist in our own homes, and within ourselves too!

Is the solution then to get rid of the mind? No, that is not pragmatic.

The six enemies spring forth from self-centeredness. Lust is to satiate physical desire. Anger is from unfulfilled desires. Delusion is from self-aggrandizement. Greed and jealousy come from discontentment. Pride showcases a (k)no(w)-it-all, and goes before a fall.

Moving the attention of the mind from ourselves, to the needs of others, can obliterate the six enemies in one fell swoop.

Once these inner enemies are conquered, no outer enemies remain.

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I, Me, Myself

A woman and her 5-year-old son visited a saint. “Sir, I have told my son many times, but he just does not give up eating sweets. I would be forever indebted to you if you could cure him of this problem please”.

The saint remained silent.

The next week, the woman came back with the same request. The saint was silent again.

This repeated for 4 weeks.

On week 5, the saint told her that he would speak to her son. The woman asked him in surprise why it had taken 5 weeks for this. The saint replied, “It took me the last 4 weeks to give up sweets myself!”.

Who are we to pass judgements on others, when we have so little control over our own actions? The focus has to be on our own transformation, not others.

Let us strive daily to be the better husband, wife, mother, father, daughter, son, brother, sister, relative, friend, colleague, boss, employer, employee, teammate.

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